Saturday, 26 March 2011

I speak six languages...

....not yet. Ich spreche noch nicht sechs Sprache, bien que je veuille couramment parler English (well, I can obviously do that already), Deutsch (hoffentlich werde ich fast fliesend sein, bevor ich an die Uni gehe), le francais (oh la la, mon accent est terrible mais je sais que j'améliorerai énormement quand j'aurai plus de temps pendant les vacances), and then: Russian, Italian and Dutch? These are all languages which I have flirted with in the past, and failed miserably at, due to lack of time, resources and space in my head. Still, I will speak six languages one day. As the song, which is from the musical "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee", claims "it's as easy as making jell-o". Actually, I agree with that. I'm confident that I now know what works for me and that I have transferable skills which I could use to learn the basics of any language, if I put my mind to it. Languages are just amazing, and I am actually finding it difficult to put into words what makes them so special. I will work on it, and produce a proper post soon in which I discuss this.

Anyway, as you probably guessed, today was amomentuous, long-anticipated occasion: my first ever visit to the Donmar Warehouse. Despite my usual, easy, direct line train journey taking two hours longer than it normally would and having to change trains twice, I made it to the theatre with forty minutes to spare. This was very lucky, because I was able to sign up for the chance to become a guest-speller in the show.

I was actually chosen! After a quick photo, I made my way to my seat in the circle. I could hardly believe my luck when, five minutes before the show began, I was offered the chance to move to a seat in the centre of the stalls! Of course I accepted the offer.

As the show begun, I felt so excited. The venue was as I imagined it: small, yet so spacious at the same time. I loved the way that the whole auditorium had been decorated to look like a classic, high school gym, and how the cast mingled with the audience before the show.

The news of my Donmar Warehouse debut became apparent after the opening number. I had almost expected my name to be read out. I was so happy, for I got to spend the first half of the show on stage, with the cast and in the thick of all the action. Whilst on stage, I could see every movement and emotion, and hear every single sound that the cast made. As an aspiring director, this really was an invaluable experience, and I was stunned by the amount of effort the cast were putting in.

My participation was amusing, to say the least. I thoroughly enjoyed being able to stand up and interact with the actors, as well as taking part in an actual, choreographed number, albeit only by jumping in the middle of a circle. The first word I had to spell was "intercourse". As usual, I was wearing a scarf, hence why I was introduced as having received my first hickey the day before, which I unfortunately found hilarious. When I had to ask for a definition and the word to be used in a sentence, I could hardly suppress my giggles. Luckily, I did manage to spell the word correctly. I was rather disapointed when my spell on the stage ended by my misspelling of "hao", which is apparently a Vietnamese currency. Still, I did receive a complimentary carton of orange juice, which I am still yet to drink.

As I have previously mentioned, the cast were amazing. They worked so well as an ensemble, yet all stood out as individuals, and kept the energy up throughout. I really adored Katherine Kingsley's performance, for I could compare it to her portrayal of Rose in "Aspects of Love" and was able to see how versatile she is as a performer. Despite limited lines, Ako Mitchell was inspiring in his roles and his comedic talents were clearly displayed. For me personally, the most poignant performance was Maria Lawson as Marcy Park. I identified heavily with her big solo song, hence why I have given my post the same title, and found everything about her portrayal believable and convincing.

The set design was extended to the whole auditorium, and I really found this helped with conveying the sense of the piece. I am not sure that I would really call it a musical, though, it seemed to be more of a revue. It was the first time I had seen any of Jamie Lloyd's work, and I was not disapointed - each character was clearly developed as far as the script allowed, and the staging was engaging. I also really loved the choreography, paticularly the bits which involved me.

So, why am I only going to give it three stars? Despite having an amazing experience on stage, and the cast, direction and choreography being outstanding, I just don't feel like I really invested anything in most of the characters. I think the show was too short, and that everything could have been developed a bit further to allow for more of a plot. Everything seemed to be a bit too stereotypical, which would have worked better if we had learnt more about the characters.

Highly enjoyable, though, and recommended for sheer comedic/entertainment value! ***