The lovely Louis plus-one’d me to a performance of The Wizard of Oz at the Royal Festival Hall last night. I thought it was aimed much more squarely at kids than at adults, but L thought it was more in-between and hard to say. At least it’s no Wall-E, which, coming from Pixar, was such a disappointment, having no winking-at-the-adults chat that Toy Story and Finding Nemo did. Wall-E is very, very dull. Extremely. Don’t bother. Unless you like squeaking robots, and not much else.
But anyway! Back to Dozza and co!
Well. The 1939 film was the first to give me a nightmare when I saw it aged 3 (and about to succumb to my first bout of chickenpox. Yes, first). Subsequent films on that honour roll include Silence of the Lambs (when I was 9 – why didn’t they try harder to stop me?!) and, er, that’s pretty much it. Maybe Nightmare on Elm Street, which I also saw at a ridiculous age. THANKS, older family members.
So. It was good fun, what with Toto being played by the cutest, goodest little Westie ever!
Show-stealing cutie-wutie-patootie little dog aside, the show was okay, and I personally think it’s definitely one for the kids. Seeing the story played out again, after so many years, led me to realise how terrible it is. When you watch the film, you mostly see Judy (“aw bless, but oh dear), the Munchkins (“oh dear”) and the glorious, rich technicolour. Watching this made me realise how awful the story is: Dorothy dreams of a crap wizard, who is a total fake, who bestows junk upon her friends in lieu of courage, a heart and a brain, and then buggers off in a balloon. She, meanwhile, always had the power to go home, thanks to the slippers, but Glinda was too lame/selfish to tell her about that to begin with.
Um. But there’s some lovely singing, and Sian Brooke as the Dotster does some good Liza-esque/sub-Judes breathy chat, and Gary Wilmot ran up the stairs THIS CLOSE TO ME and was awesome. Whatta legend. He was great as the Lion, albeit very camp – I wondered if a Cowardly Lion really had to drive the point home with such downward-falling wrists. He’s afraid of stuff, yeah, but does that really demand camp mannerisms? Kids won’t pick up on it, and adults will literally find it too heavy-handed. Hm. Still, he is t’Wilmot, I will bow before his interpretation.
The orchestra was mere rows in front of us and did a great job, and it was nice to see the conductor having a little dance as he did his thing – bless.
I like that the sets made it obvious that this was all Dot’s dream, as I’ve always interpreted the story that way (despite reading a few of the books myself – still I do not believe) , and surely the casting has always driven that home anyway?
I liked it. There aren’t many occasions when you can have a good, open, hearty laugh in the theatre as an adult, while nudging your companion with an extremely ironic/”I LOVE IT” look on your face. It’s summer panto. Overall, though, I think it’s one for the kids.
What was interesting for me was the difference between reviewing theatre and reviewing film. Tonight, I saw an “interesting,” or not so, film, at a screening full of critics, PRs and the like. Industry people. I was just on time, and had to get down on a very comfy and squashy sofa in the front row, the only seats left. It was the kind of sofa that sucks you in and makes you feel as though you will never leave (unforch, the film just reinforced that). It was a way of getting to know the other front-row people I guess, although at that proximity, the screen is daunting and neck-achingly huge.
Very very different it is for the theatre critic, who gets a lovely handshake from the counter-dude when picking up press tix for the Sunday Times (well, L did, but I would expect NO LESS), and gets to watch the action with a proper audience, including crying kids and over-eager adults. There’s even a special drinks thing for the press at half-time! Although we’re not sure if David Walliams was included [we thought we saw him, but no one was bold enough to go and stare hard and make sure].
The atmosphere is very different when reviewing films. Either you get a full critic/film industry audience, or you get a DVD and the comfort of your own laptop/fast forward button. It is nice to get the feel of a proper audience atmosphere; of course, the theatre crits are seated near each other in good seats, so they are in a little enclave of their own. Again, I would expect no less.
Sometimes, though, especially at festivals, I do feel a bit like, “oh, we all thought the same,” after a screening, especially because there’s no general public to give you another pov, but also because film critics can often feel like “ooh, we saw it first,” and the public will only see it in a few months’ time, so we win, this is exactly how it is. The film means this and who cares what you say when you eventually see it on DVD. Funny how I had never thought about these differences before.
I do have to go with film though, on balance – a screening that has drinks at 6 will have ended by 9 at the absolute latest, if not an hour before. Dozza et al kept us awake well beyond that… zzzzzzzzzz
PPS: Well, okay, here it is from the Indy:
There was derisive laughter when Dorothy exclaimed at the wonder of Emerald City because it was a puny green squiggle on the screen.
Yup, there was. We was guilty, guv. Soz.
Have a look at this excellent listicle-review of the thing! Blogs are just so neat.