Have we forgotten what the purpose of theatre is?
To entertain and amuse the masses?
I ask simply because I feel, more and more, as I read reviews of shows which are perfectly enjoyable, and fun, that it seems people have lost sight, and have turned the theatre into a far too serious event.
No, Pirates!, an update of the Gilbert and Sullivan classic Pirates of Penzance, which I confess, I have not seen, nor know how to spell [the original, that is... I saw Pirates!], is not a classy, sophisticated show. But I laughed a number of times, and enjoyed the music, dancing, and even much of the acting. They may not have been the best cast ever encountered in the history of theatre, but I got caught up in the story, and enjoyed the fun, ridiculous tale, and the not even subtly broadway dancing. And good fucking lord can the general sing fast. Both the scathing reviews I read [Boston Globe and the Theatre Mirror] complain about it's variance from the original. To which I kind've have to point out, the subtitle is "Gilbert and Sullivan plundered", not "Gilbert and Sullivan tactfully updated to please those who came to see the original show and not an updated version"
The shows are not written or performed for critics, or uptight theatre people, who are far too aware of the fact that they are supposed to only appreciate the most high class of work. I am not calling anyone out here- I am incredibly guilty of this as well. [Seriously. Ask me how I feel about Wicked sometime] They are written for everyone. And maybe if we all got off our high theatre horse and simply enjoyed these shows without a head of requirements and purity, we could see the show as a incredibly fun, bawdy piece of fluff, meant to be embraced in its silliness, not over thought and criticized. It's hard not to notice that when everyone around you in the audience is laughing quite happily.
A few months ago my theatre company did a production of Fools by Neil Simon - a terrible show, which we did a pretty poor job of [my set was glorious though]. However, as bad as it may have been, my parents, and indeed, most of the audience, loved it. This is because it's not something they do 3 or 4 times a month. It's a rare occasion that they see a show, and so they don't over think it. They don't go into it thinking "this will probably be another piece of community theatre shit" they go in expecting to be amused and entertained, or affected in some way. And they are. I learned a lesson from it. Theatre is an art... but it didn't have beginnings as a high-class art, and it certainly shouldn't end that way. or middle that way. It's about the event and spectacle of live theatre. [and Pirates nailed that, PS]
I just... think we need to lose the pretension a little bit, fellow theatre folk. Stop analyzing everything, stop being so critical, and sit back and enjoy the moments, however campy, silly, or ridiculous they may be. This isn't to say that we shouldn't all try to make the best thing we can... but it is okay to enjoy some mindless tripe for what it is, and not look down on it.
Did I mention how fast the general could sing?
It was kind've astounding.