Thursday, June 21, 2007

A Painful Scratch

Go figure. A play finally comes to LDN from NYC that I have looked forward to with baited breath (obviously unrelated to Matthew Macfadyen's starring role - oh c'mon, what woman isn't looking for her Mr. Darcy) and I am left crestfallen. The following evening, on the hunt for a bit of rebound fling (I mean fringe) action, I find myself immersed in the world of a mother who is accused of murdering not one but two babies and feel sanguine. The first being the 'Pain and the Itch' (in previews) at the Royal Court and the second being 'Taking Care of Baby' (closing Saturday) at the Hampstead Theatre.

The Pain and the Itch, hyped as 'liberal-baiting satire', aims to expose the progressive middle-class left-wing as just as angst-ridden money driven and hypocritical as their right-wing counterparts. The sort of conclusion one comes to after a dinner party of champagne socialists in Nappy Valley. The only problem is that at the theatre you have paid to feel possessed by a painful itch to fling yourself in their midst and knock heads together, or at least take one of the set's available golf clubs to its flat screen TV.

The harshest satire comes not from the stage, however, but from what the Royal Court failed to achieve. The theatre's new direction is ostensibly aimed at 'discovering the middle-class hero' - in short: people like us. But what we actually see on stage are people you wouldn't want to know. The whole idea of satire as a mirror to the audience is lost. Give me an extraordinary, moving and ethically worrying docudrama put together by the fast-rising edgy playwright Dennis Kelly (of last year's brilliant 'Love and Money') any day. It's just a shame any day ends Saturday.


Cheap Ticket offer:
£7.50 seats available for 'Taking Care of Baby'
22 June (tomorrow night) performance only, 7:30pm
Call 020 7722 9301; quote £7.50 offer

13 Comments:

Anonymous Benj56 said...

Excellent post CS. I am not sure murdering small children is on my list for a good time but insightful argument about the failings of the Royal Court. My wife has tickets for the Pain and the Itch next week. I am now dreading the few hours. Will let you know. ta ta

5:13 pm  
Anonymous Claire said...

Just booked 2 tickets for me and mate tomorrow evening. Cheers CS!

5:15 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How do you have the time superwoman :-)

Wish I could get there or to one of the many you put forward.

Guess it is about making not finding the time, eh?
Still reading and loving the blog.

5:22 pm  
Anonymous Lily said...

Just booked

Hoorah

Now the babysitetr which will cost £7 X 5!

Am sure it's worth it

5:40 pm  
Anonymous dave said...

Dominic Cooke wouldnt know the middle class if he was driving through Walthamstow dog races!

7:47 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have never been disappointed at the Royal Court funny enough I think the quality is of consistent excellence. I shall give thsi Pain and Itch a test then.

9:16 am  
Blogger Interval Drinks said...

Taking Care of Baby is certainly one of the better plays I've seen this year. Dennis Kelly's work always leaves you with a lot to get your teeth into, even if this current play ultimately dilutes its own impact by hitting out at too many targets. Seeing The Pain and The Itch next week...

10:11 am  
Anonymous jen said...

I agree I thoroughly enjoyed Taking Care of Baby. very moving performances. Afriad already booked up for Pain & Itch.

11:45 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dominic Cooke never made a claim to "search out the middle class hero". He talked about putting a wider range of social worlds on stage at the Royal Court which has done here with great success. Get your facts straight.

7:33 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"But what we actually see on stage are people you wouldn't want to know. The whole idea of satire as a mirror to the audience is lost."

Weren't there people in the audience you probably "wouldn't want to know"? Maybe they thought the same about you? The fact that a character is unsympathetic does not make that character unrealistic. And, by the way, I hope you can tell me which are these successful satires that contain only characters you would want to know...

8:01 pm  
Anonymous Hels said...

Ouch anonymous is somebody feeling a middle class insecurity complex? Good thing for freedom of ideas. Oh sorry that owuld be too scary.

10:36 am  
Blogger Interval Drinks said...

Saw this last night, and am in agreement. It's just too extreme to work as satire, the characters are beyond unsympathetic and I found the humour laboured. I did think Matthew Macfayden's leap from the cooly taciturn Mr Darcy to a highly slappable American pseudo-liberal was pretty impressive though.

1:39 pm  
Anonymous baked bean said...

Well I loved The Pain And The Itch. Found it totally original, hilariously funny and genuinely shocking in places. And what a surprise to find mischief and homur at this adress instead of earnestness and piety.

9:31 pm  

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