Thursday, 20 July 2017

Yank

We went to see Yank at the Charing Cross Theatre with Abbie yesterday. I was keen to see it, not just because it's a new musical - albeit from the States - but because it tells a gay love story set against the backdrop of war, which of course is the territory of Brass. In the case of Yank, as the title might suggest, it's Americans fighting in the Second World War, on the relatively unfamiliar Pacific front.

I enjoyed the piece enormously. There were some blistering central performances and the piece is really very moving towards the end. I had a few of caveats. I felt the music, though largely appropriate, was perhaps a little one-level, and also that a fair number of the songs did nothing to drive the narrative forward. I also felt the writing was perhaps a little casual when it came to exploring a gay relationship at that time. I often feel that. There's a massive balance which needs to be struck between what a 21st Century audience WANTS to see and what feels authentic for the time you're setting a piece in. Casual gay snogging just feels wrong. Scores of characters whom the audience are meant to like being endlessly tolerant and open-minded also feels wrong. I just didn't feel the stakes were quite high enough until right at the end. It also felt like the audience was being told rather constantly that the two central characters were in love, but actually we never witnessed two men in love. As a result of all of this I felt emotionally distant from the piece, which, because I'm the show's target audience, felt a slight shame.

But I am making it sound like it wasn't a hugely enjoyable, diverting and well-staged piece, which is was. It's well worth a watch. So get yourselves down to Charing Cross theatre to see it!

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