Rogues & Vagabonds

theatre, film & tv past and present 2001-2008 & 2013…

Look Back in Languor • Lynne Harvey • 14 June 2006

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LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM – OCTOBER 15: Ken Loach attends the screening of “Inside Llewyn Davis” Centrepiece Gala Supported By The Mayor Of London during the 57th BFI London Film Festival at Odeon Leicester Square on October 15, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images for BFI)

Whilst preparing something disgusting in the kitchen last week, I was taken out of the TV fugue of knifings, bombings and DIY SOS, by film dialogue so good it made me stop, look and listen – and what was coming? A Ken Loach film, The Wind That Shakes The Barley, winner of the Palme d’Or at Cannes. From the little I heard, a worthy winner. Apparently the judges had looked for films which reflected compassion, bonding, hope and solidarity, all of which can be found in any King of the Hill episode. How about looking for a good script well executed? Now that’s a bit harder.

Walking in to Waterstone’s the other day I was confronted by the smiling cardboard faces of Richard and Judy and the legend: ‘Richard and Judy’s book club choice’. If anything is going to put me off buying a book, it’s an R&J recommendation. Of course, the chosen books become bestsellers, as did the ones chosen by TV goddess Oprah Winfrey from where this idea comes. The drones who buy these books are prolific, with their imagination either undeveloped or zapped by aliens, but how self-limiting to be reading what two cosy TV presenters recommend and not have the intimate joy of finding their own personal classics?

The British Soap Awards (ITV) was a presentation in club politics, a conglomerate that has got too big for its boots, with awards, interviews, red carpets and worshipping of false gods. The soap clan, for that is what they are, are wearing the emperor’s new clothes. The people in them – few are actors, most are line speakers who emote a bit – are feted by chat show hosts, given far more kudos than they deserve and are made to believe that the dross they are in is worthy of its own award show. It is not. It is melodrama writ large for people to veg out to, people too tired, lazy or unable to use their brain, and no award show is going to change that. Oh the irony in the award for ‘The Best Comedy Performance’. Aren’t they all?

Strictly Dance Fever (BBC1 Saturdays) is finally over and so are the vomit-inducing sob stories of the finalists. All to win votes of course and like kids with a new craze, everyone had to have one. How refreshing if someone had the balls to say “Actually I haven’t got a granny on an iron lung or a mother selling pebbles to keep me in sequins, I’ve just worked my arse off and I’m hoping you like what I do”. Would have got my vote.

I’m guessing the two gals sitting behind me at The Shrewsbury Music Hall to see Pinter’s Old Times would rather be watching Corrie. They both opened a packet of crisps just before it started and then proceeded to place crisps in their stupid mouths, holding each one in their mouths before they ‘crunched’ – this always when they thought it wouldn’t be heard or heard too much. Every rustle, crinkle and craunch was heard by all around. I distinctly remember:

DEELEY: Is that what attracted you to her?
KATE: What?
(Rustle of crisp bag)
DEELEY: The fact that she was a thief
(Crisp placed in mouth)
(Pause including crunch of crisp)

It certainly wasn’t how Pinter wrote it or how London Classic Theatre wanted it portrayed. In the interval I and a few other brave folk looked round but they were oblivious, lost in their conversation about a man who “sends the most hilarious texts” and not one word spoken about the play, either to denigrate, agitate or celebrate. They might as well have been in a café.

Lynne Harvey © 2006

Originally published on R&V 16-06 -06


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