Monday, 16 January 2012

The Miserables

About 6 months ago I was on a shoot with my dear friend Peggy and we decided what a treat it would be to go to the theatre to see Les Miserables. Peggy was my first friend in the Advertising Industry when I got a job in a Production Company in Soho, and we have been friends ever since. Neither of us had ever seen Les Miserables despite walking past the theatre it's at for many years so we thought this would be a good option. Therefore, it was decided that Peggy and his wife (Mrs Peggy), The Wig, Me and another friend, Mrs Mole, would go together.  So finally, after a long wait and several hundred emails back and forth between us trying to organise a date, on Saturday night, we all went up West and took in a show. Incidentally, Mr Mole had declined the invitation saying he had previously seen the show and once was quite enough. At the time, I remember thinking what a silly old  grinch Mr Mole was but after approximately 17 seconds of the first half, I knew precisely what he meant.

Les Miserables, The Queens Theatre, London, W1

Les Mis, to give it it's shortened name, is a very famous and long running production based on the novel by Victor Hugo, a French Poet, playwright, novelist, essayist, visual artiststatesman  and exponent of the Romantic movement in France. Wow! What a busy guy! Other than that, none of us knew anything about the story which we decided would make it a more enjoyable spectacle. Luckily its quite an easy story to follow but what was much harder to cope with was the fact that everything was sung. There was no talking. Only singing. This might seem obvious to most people but it was not obvious to me when I booked the £65.00 (plus the £2.50 option to change the date if necessary) ticket fee. And this type of performance is definitely an acquired taste.

The first half was 90 minutes long, which seemed like a very long time to wait for an ice cream, but the second half turned out to be much more painful. Not only did we have to contend with numb bum cheeks (the seats were rather lacking in the padding department), we also had to listen to someone humming along to the music in the row behind (this produced the first round of giggling between The Wig and Mrs Mole into), but worst of all was the relentless hacking cough of the teenager sitting 3 seats to the left of me.

One of my many faults is my lack of sympathy for ill people, but this alongside another of my faults (extreme intolerance) makes for a nasty combination. This kid could have been coughing up a lung for all I knew, it certainly sounded like it, but if he was that ill he really should have got up and left the theatre. Or just stayed at home and looked up boobs on the Internet or whatever it is teenage boys do. I mean, how selfish can you get, spluttering all through a musical. It was relentless and no amount of perfectly aimed stink eye's and tuts from me made any difference. He didn't move from his seat, but just sat hacking away. It was revolting. Rather like sitting in a TB riddled pit I'd imagine. The Wig could sense my anger silently bubbling away, which he seemed to find somewhat amusing. But it wasn't until the sneezing fits started to the other side of us that The Wig finally exploded. Or he would have exploded had we not been in a theatre watching one of the characters sing their way through a very moving dying scene. Since he couldn't laugh out loud, The Wig had to keep it in, which produced a strange snuffling noise (like a choking pug) and some quite disturbing shoulder movements. But worse of all was the sweats. He was literally sweating the laughter out of his forehead like a sprinkler. Then the sight of him set me off, but because I too had to keep it in, I started crying uncontrollably. And couldn't stop. It was the most painful and embarrassing experience I've had in a long time. And the singing carried on and for what seemed like an eternity. 

I don't want this to sound like I didn't have a good time. I had a really good time, it just wasn't what I was expecting and was rather a lot of money to pay to get a stitch from suppressed laughter (and possibly contracting TB from a germ infested teenager), but it certainly wont put me off going to the theatre again. I'll just see something less 'singy' next time. It feels a bit mean for me to give a score to something like this as the theatre was lovely, the performance's were great, the costumes and scenery were all good, it just wasn't my cup of tea really, but you never know unless you try.  The Wig however scored it on the way home, giving Les Miserables 6 French Revolutions  out of a possible 10.  The low score was mainly due to his disappointment at realising that SuBo wasn't going to be in it singing 'I Dreamed a Dream'. So, I think if you love Musicals, you will really enjoy this, but if you don't love musicals, go and see The Woman in Black. Or stay at home and look at boobs on the internet.

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