Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Dramatic end?

Charles Spencer's theatre review in today's Telegraph predicts the end of theatre as we know it, with 29 of London's theatres currently staging musicals and the lowest number ever (7) staging plays.

"Audiences seem to be losing their appetite for drama, comedy and thrillers, and heading to musicals instead. And producers seem all too happy to encourage them to do so.

Consider the case of Nimax Theatres, comprising the Lyric, Apollo, Garrick, Duchess and Vaudeville. All of these are traditional playhouses. But, with the exception of the Apollo, currently hosting a duff, doomed production of Kean starring Antony Sher, all the rest are offering musicals or variety."

Charles Spencer does not offer any opinion as to why audiences are opting for musicals rather than straight plays, just a warning that "London's commercial theatre is going the way of Broadway." Is it simply that where America leads, we must follow? Is it a reflection of the shallow nature of modern society, unable to concentrate on an intricate plot? Is it an indication of an underlying tension in society that needs to find some respite in escapist entertainment?
Is civilisation coming to a dramatic end?


  1. "Is it simply that where America leads, we must follow?"

    Why must? How are we Yanks to be blamed for the decline in the British theater. If anything, it's our theater that is derivative as is much of our television programming.

    IMO the decline in theater-goer interest in "serious" drama is that people are bored out of their gourd with the incessant left-wing propaganda that passes for seriousness in the theater, the cinema and pretentious television productions.

  2. That wasn't a value judgement, erp. Charles Spencer referred to London becoming like Broadway, so I asked if that were so.

  3. m. I understood that.

    My reaction was to the imperative, must follow, especially when Broadway is rarely innovative nowadays and even the musicals are often new stagings of the old or straight from the London stage.

  4. OT, erp. I forgot the significance of the day for you. Happy celebrations.

  5. I am not sure that there is such a thing as 'civilization', but only cultures that are more or less civilized; that is in tune with me and the way I think things should be done.

  6. Hi Crinny, remember our Theatre Workshop days? Where would we have to go now to find Brecht, Ionesco and Becket? Perhaps we should set them to music?

  7. The only theater I will go see nowadays is Shakespeare. When my wife and I were still together she refused to go with me, so I went alone. But I did get dragged to several musicals, which I can tolerate if they're not too campy.

    But "serious" modern theatre seems to only attract a cult following from what I can tell. I'm sure some of it is good, but it suffers from the general perception that modern art is burdened with, that of meaningless brain flagellation. The good stuff isn't covered in the news, and the bad stuff, the one-woman plays where someone slaps mud on their naked body while shouting obscenities does get covered, and thus poisons the market with the general public for anything that isn't recognizably traditional and entertaining.

    It also has to do with sheer economics. There's more money catering to popular tastes than to cultish obsessions.


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