Thursday, May 31, 2007

Hit and Miss (A Matter of Life and Death - National Theatre)

I'm not sure whether this makes me a dead white male but I must admit that last nights trip to see Kneehigh's A Matter of Life and Death at the National didn't particularly make the earth (or the heavens) move for me.

Adapted from the classic 1946 Powell and Pressburger film of the same name it tells the story of bomber pilot Peter Carter who falls in love with the voice of radio operator June in the moments before he forced to bail out of his burning Lancaster without a parachute. In confusion of a English pea souper his conductor to the other world misses him and despite jumping to his death Peter wakes up alive on the beach near June's lodgings, finds her, falls madly in love and is forced to appeal to the court of universal law to allow him to stay on Earth.

This is a spectacular production, full of energy and playful inventiveness, a never ending whorl of shapes and colours as the large cast sing, dance and perform acrobatics around a constantly moving set of beds bikes and staircases. In technical terms its a masterpiece.

However in the end all this energy cannot obscure the fact that there is little emotional depth. Tristan Sturrock and Lyndsey Marshall don't convince as lovers, and without that central attachment its hard to care whether Peter lives or dies. Much of the attempted comedy falls embarrassingly flat, and Douglass Hodge who was outstanding in the Globe's Titus Andronicus is so busy running around he hardly has the breath to get his lines out at times.

So enjoyable if patchy fluff then, maybe one to take the kids to.

1 Comments:

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