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Alright, theatre needs a kick up the arse

Most of the West End and supporting media is populated by the manliest men with manliest tastes, who only produce or consider the existence of theatre because they need to tick boxes and make what they perceive to be easy cash.

No wonder so much theatre is so joyless. It got me thinking…

You see the size of the task dear old Stiles and Drewe set themselves when producer Jamie Hendry decided it would be a good idea to put one of the best loved children’s stories of all time on the biggest stage in London and they should write the music. Naturally, they wrote 20 songs.

The good news, though, is that this is a brand new British musical. (An exotic bird in the woods of the West End). The bad is that, in line with the tide of right-on idiocy that is overwhelming British Theatre, (see: Freddie Flintoff cast in Fat Friends The Musical/ Louise Redknapp in Cabaret & John Partridge in La Cage Aux Folles, I could go on) someone thought that Julian Fellowes would be a good candidate to white-wash and straight-wash The Wind in the Willows.

It’s all too easy, however, to get side-tracked by the visual assault of Rachel Kavanaugh’s production when you’re watching this stage version of Kenneth Grahame’s 1908 children’s novel slowly, slowly unfold with a ‘celebrity’ cast that is going through the motions. Cringe-making embarrassment, though, isn’t restricted to Hound and co.

The whole thing is a mess.

There is no cohesive vision in The Wind in the Willows; it lacks depth that would give it savour. ‘Property is theft!’ is blathered at some point. You won’t be singing or dancing your way out of the building – that’s for sure.

I can’t remember much else to be honest.

I don’t need to labour my contempt for it too much, however, as the merchandise for that matter, says it all.

As horrendous as it all may sound for you reading this online – shows like this are actually a lot less appealing in the flesh. Worse still, the show includes veiled attacks on the poor, clumsy class politics, a 3 hour running time and a woozy design.

Anyway, I propose that:
1.Theatre like this is not pandered to.
2.Shows like this are *largely* ignored.
3.Commercial junk written and produced and performed by a largely all-white cast are left to get on with it in private, away from the West End and hard-up families.

Basically, theatre needs to work harder. I don’t care if it’s a new musical. There needs to be a rethink – audiences deserve much better when they are paying these kinds of prices.

Just think of my manifesto as having builders in. A lengthy stretch of hellish with (mostly) white men you don’t know making a lot of noise as they destroy everything you once held dear. But then, when it’s all over, you’re all set up to have a massive dinner party.

Naturally I will be here throughout the whole fiasco, and continue to find the good bits of theatre — whether they’re fashionable or not.

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