Friday, 1 October 2010
The Country Girl, by Clifford Odets
I saw this play last month in England, at a superb theatre in a small country town in the Cotswolds. I was excited when I sat down in the packed house because two of my favourite TV actors, Martin Shaw and Jenny Seagrove (of Judge John Deeds fame) were starring. What a disappointment - not the actors, the play. Rarely have I been so bored watching a stage production. No story, no action (the most exciting parts were the scene changes), just a static exchange of emotions between the three main actors, much better suited to TV or film and at most, the first six rows of a theatre audience. Martin Shaw had some scope for his virtuoso acting skills, but poor Jenny Seagrove merely drifted about the stage being the 'long-suffering' wife (no doubt as per the director's instructions). My point is that I could find no actual reviews of the play, only dazzling advance publicity. The programme said: "Like the play? Write a review for our webpage". I should have clicked that the operative word was 'like'. Clearly, my adverse review would be ignored. And was. After an extensive internet search, I did find a review of a New York production in 2008, which coincided exactly with my own feelings: different actors of course, so it had to be the play. The proof of the pudding was in our own audience's reaction. A lady next to us did not return after interval, and the muted conversations eavesdropped upon at the bar were all of one accord - big disappointment. Has anyone else out there seen this play? It was going on to London this month: my brother commented that audiences would vote with their feet. One thing I was impressed with though - the proliferation of excellent theatres in the English countryside. Culture is everywhere. On a more successful occasion, my sister-in-law took me to a Mahler concert in the Birmingham Symphony Concert Hall. Absolutely mind- blowing - the 8th. You can keep your pop concerts - give me the real thing.