Chris Tarrant once told me: “You are on your own planet. Stay there.”
I have never been sure whether this showed admiration or contempt.
But last night, I felt I was on my own planet.
I saw the play Great Britain (about national newspapers hacking telephones) at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, in London.
It was written by the same man who wrote the West End and Broadway triumph One Man, Two Guvnors and current London success Made in Dagenham.
The Evening Standard called it “a timely look at the tangled relationship between the press, politicians and the police”.
I would say more succinctly “trite, obvious and nothing new to say.”
The Sunday Times, Guardian and Independent gave it 4-star reviews.
According to the Daily Telegraph’s 4-star review, it had “a triumphant premiere at the National Theatre” and the audience last night seemed to enjoy it.
There had been a lot of work put into it but, to my mind, it sank tediously and disastrously amid a tsunami of atmospheric detail and mis-delivered jokes because it largely ignored the building of any rising linear plot and had no doubt fine actors attempting to deliver funny lines and failing because they were actors not comics.
It was a comedy show for people who never go to live comedy.
It was like watching university students at the Edinburgh Fringe perform a series of potentially funny self-contained sketches about the same subject which failed to gel into a single unified whole.
At the end of Act 1 – an act bereft of the build-up of any strong linear plot – my eternally-un-named friend and I were on the verge of ordering strychnine at the bar and could only admire one line each from the whole hour-plus performance. Both lines were about pandas in Scotland – nothing to do with the play’s subject.
Act II seemed better, but this may have been because my expectations were several levels below zero.
It was like listening to people farting around with words.
I would rather have the real thing.
I may or may not be spending New Year’s Eve with my chum Mr Methane (the world’s only professionally performing farter). A foreign film crew might or might not be coming over to shoot him… with cameras.
He is one of the least self-centred of performers.
Last night, I came home to a message from him saying:
“I have just discovered Musical Ruth on YouTube.
“She is Nuntastic!
“She/he seems to get paid by local Councils – mainly in the North and Midlands of England – to go around town centres gently harassing what is left of their dwindling consumer base. He is a quality performer/showman. We may actually know him. He/she does look a bit like Adrian Edmondson. Definitely a character for your blog I think.”
Mr Methane has a point but – hey! – it is almost Christmas and I can’t be bothered to contact Musical Ruth.
A very quick check round, though, unearths the fact that I do not have my finger anywhere near the pulse on eccentric performers because Derby-born Matthew Hunt (aka Musical Ruth) has been performing for 20 years, became a Nun act in 2006 and is now based in Poulton-le-Fylde, Lancashire – somewhere I suspect is a hotbed of oddity.
I have now seen three West End Theatre duds in a row.
And Musical Ruth.
Bring Musical Ruth to the West End.
Or take me back to my own planet.