Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Venue packs and a packed venue

Much of yesterday was spent creating the venue pack for our next production. It's one of the most crucial jobs in any cycle (because it's crucial to selling the show to the venues, and so making the whole thing happen), and also one of the most difficult (because I have to talk about the piece more than a year ahead of its happening, which is virtually impossible, especially for devised shows like this one, for which I don't even know the story!). I resort to suggesting possible approaches, styles and forms - making a big thing of the Chinese link, which is, I'm sure, going to be the key for marketing the show. Nisha (quite rightly) feels the pack looks too wordy, and needs some careful re-working in terms of layout. But the Yue opera images are wonderful and should excite people.

To the King's Head to see Tim Hudson (who was Hugh Burton in Bullie's House and Toby Belch in Twelfth Night) playing Boris Johnson in Who's the Daddy? This show got the most enthusiastic response I've ever seen on the Newsnight Review: a sort of Serious Money effect for journalists, I think - it's successful because it creates a press story about the press, which always makes them happy. The tiny space is packed out, which at £22.50 a ticket (!) represents an awful lot of cash. But the plans for a West End transfer have apparently been scuppered by the writers themselves - it seems the internal politics of The Spectator can take this lampooning in the back room of an Islington pub, but not in a big commercial space. It's no great loss: in spite of some very funny scenes (Blunkett getting a blow job from a gay chef in the belief that it's Kimberley Quinn), this is basically an ill-plotted farce with no political bite, and only Tim's terrific performance in the bedrock role holds it all together (in a very basic way at one point tonight, when he has to dash offstage to remind another actor to make his crucial entrance...). There's no real political satire either - anybody who portrays the incredibly right-wing Blunkett as an old-fashioned Socialist class warrior is missing a trick. At one point, Boris advises him to do something better with his time, like repealing Magna Carta, which feels much closer to the mark!

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