Thursday, 31 October 2013

The Light Princess

I had a meeting with Alistair from the Kaleidoscope Trust at 11am in Soho this morning. I rather like Soho at this time of the day. It feels relaxed. A far cry from the gay mayhem (or gayhem) of an evening.

I decided to stay in town and take myself on something of a cafe cruise whilst working on Brass (for the first time in any real detail.) I'm very much enjoying the process. The first step is to get some wit into the piece. In the first pass, I just crudely wrote the skin and bones of what needed to be said. It was all shamefully "on the nose" and desperately humourless. It's good to be able to begin the profess of addressing this particular issue. Rather liberating, in fact.

I walked from Soho to the South Bank and went a bit low blood sugar outside the Royal Festival Hall. Mez arrived and hurried me off for some food, warning Julie and Michelle (our companions for the evening) that until I'd eaten I might not be much company! Now there's a good friend!

We were meeting up to see The Light Princess, Tori Amos' musical at the National Theatre. There are few people in the world who are greater Tori Amos fans than me and I went in determined to enjoy the piece.

The overall experience was quite a mixed bag; it lost me, it found me, it lost me again, and then ended like a pantomime, which felt hugely disappointing.

What was great about it? The songs were beautiful; really interesting rhythms and some devastatingly beautiful melodic lines. The highest marks of all have to go to the acrobats, however, who spent the entire show finding astonishingly intricate ways of creating the illusion that the central character was floating. There were some truly magical moments.

What was less good? The orchestrations were relentless and too dense (way too much woodwind honking for my taste), I wasn't sure about the book, I thought the show was lazily directed and I wasn't wild about the choreography in terms of what was distinct from the extraordinary acrobatics. Overall it felt patchy, I suspect, because too many people had thrown their hats into the ring over the five years the show has been in development. And too many creative cooks water down any of the decent flavours of a broth. I didn't feel there was a strong central vision in the show; merely a sense that lots of different aspects had been thrown at the piece, only some of which had stuck to the canvas. Five years of development is a luxury which most shows don't have. I was quite astonished to learn that 20 minutes of the piece was cut in previews and that many of the songs were being written during rehearsals. After five years I'd expect a complete score, workshopped to within an inch of perfection!

What I'd hoped for was the space that Amos usually injects into her recordings; the sparse orchestrations drifting over the stunning pentatonic piano figures. There was rather a disappointing lack of piano coming from the pit in general. Space, it strikes me, would have saved  the orchestrations from being so disappointingly generic.

After the show we went to the upper echelons of the National Theatre with some of the cast. They were being wined and dined by a corporate sponsor and the lure of canap├ęs is great for all starving creatives. The view over the river from up there is amazing, particularly at night, and I felt hugely privileged to be there.

Scene when she wills something

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