Saturday, 21 November 2009

Wrong concert

Last night I went to the wrong concert; I should have been at the Red Note gig at the RSAMD, but Tramway is just around the corner making a last-minute decision to pop out easier.

So, BCMGs' Rumpelstiltskin instead; which turned out to be a pointless piece of work, a waste of time and money, mine, yours, theirs. The actual artistic materials all had a certain hollow slickness. David Sawers music was spare, well-orchestrated, in places very clever, in places going through certain motions in a annoying way. The set had one of those clever versatile constructions with doors and sliding panels, allowing predictably surprising hidings and revealings. The physical theatre was in an odd place between cleverly over-histrionic and stupidly am-dram.

I've been reading Christopher Small's 'Musicking' recently. One of the sharp sticks he pokes in the eye of classical music is to paint it as a bedtime story for the middle classes. This was just a bedtime story. Comforting, perhaps, for people who like their art to pose no challenges and ask no questions.

I'd been to see it because of my interest in music as a performance art, but the approach here was token, emaciated. The ensemble were in costume and make-up, which looked better than the default black which one might have expected. At times the musicians walked from one spot to the other, which was effective in articulating the structure and attention in the piece; and they had been taught to walk well.

But, the musicians were not involved in the piece in any particularly deep way. One of them actually, literally, stifled a yawn. No-one in this piece seemed involved with anything. Any element - performer, music, costume, set - could have been taken away and replaced by something else, and it wouldn't really have mattered.

Expensive, but worthless; pointless, with no sense of exploration, novelty, irony or self-awareness. Should have gone to the other gig.