Friday, 2 September 2011

The Faith Machine

We were at the theatre last night; it had been a long day (up early to go to Nottingham and back) and the play was two hours and forty minutes so I was expecting to fall asleep. Didn't. The Royal Court is an actory place. Once I was sitting next to Alfred Molina (the time his phone rang and played Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy in the second act of Enron) and the last time we were there Alan Rickman was standing at the bar scrutinising his drink as if it were one of Potter's B-minus potions. This time we had one actor, someone I'd last seen as one of Brookside's smarter residents, standing at the front of the stalls and surveying the audience just to check who'd recognised him.

It's a great place. The food's good and it's on Sloane Square right next to the tube station. The auditorium is intimate and comfortable and it's off the usual tourist map. They do really need a good plumber though. Everything leaks in the ladies' loo.

But let's consider the play, why don't we?

I don't think it's supposed to be about a selfish, selfrighteous beautiful young woman who does absolutely everything own her way, and makes everyone around her feel low, small and humiliated. I think it's supposed to be about a campaigning, dedicated, pure-hearted woman who does everything in her power to make the world a better place, and occasionally makes the odd mistake. Two characters come on doing that ridiculous  "I-am-an-actor-taking-my-place-before-I-start-acting" walk, then we open as she selflessly/selfishly storms out on the man she loves because he's taken an advertising job for what is clearly an unethical drugs company instead of devoting his life to writing his novel, and to her. We lightly skip over how he didn't have to earn a living as she could have supported him with her inheritance - but doesn't.

She marries a man she doesn't love, and he knows it, making three of them miserable.

Then there's her dad, the bishop, who resigns over whether or not Christians should approve of homosexuality. We sort all that out in a debate between him and his African colleague. There's their gay friend, who gets married, and the reformed Russian prostitute who does the cooking and cleaning at the Bishop's place in Greece. That's the light relief.

I don't think we're supposed to see her as an irritating obnoxious woman, who's so beautiful and passionate that she gets away with it. I think we're supposed to see a beautiful, passionate woman with a burning need to help those less fortunate than herself. I just thought it was a pity that she didn't acknowledge the common or garden needs of the people who love her. Compassion begins at home.

Anyway, I thought she was a right bitch. Do see it. And please disagree.

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