Sunday, October 15, 2006

Osama, the musical

Sandwiched between some worthy reflections on homelessness, and Nick's disgust, inter alia, at a self-deceiving heavy drinker, come his reflections on a new production of Cabaret. Nick complains that reviewers, such as the Guardian's Michael Billington and the Telegraph's Charles Spencer, describe the production as "political" whereas Nick found in merely titillating.

I haven't seen the production, and so I can only go by my own reading of the reviews in question. The central point pushed by Billington is that the show is a brilliant depiction of a society "dancing on the edge of an abyss". Much the same is true of Spencer, though he is more explicit than Billington in explaining how the musical makes its point, focusing on the shocking scene which is also the focus of the movie:

As well as catching the seediness of the Berlin cabaret scene, with far from glamorous designs that owe a debt to Thirties' expressionism and the cartoons of Grosz and Dix, Norris powerfully captures the rise of Nazism. The hauntingly beautiful melody of Tomorrow Belongs to Me suddenly turns sinister when we realise that the blond who is singing it is wearing a swastika, while the show's shocking final image graphically illuminates the ultimate destination of the Nazi experiment.

I've put in bold the only words from that paragraph that are quoted by Nick. Is he truthful, honest? You be the judge.

Nick is good enough to let us know what he thinks such a musical ought to be doing:

if the show truly did make the audience think about totalitarian movements old and new which want to abolish democracy, oppress women, kill Jews and gays and establish a global empire, the critics' swoons would be justified.

In other words, Nick wants an very didactic production of "Osama, the musical" in which the true horror of AQ plans for a global Caliphate are explained through song and dance: a sort of Brechtian Eustonism or Eustonite Brechtian theatre. How fortunate for the dramatic arts that Nick decided to become a journalist.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

How fortunate for the dramatic arts that Nick decided to become a journalist.

Oh, strewth - can't Nick and Norm get their shit together and write their bloody play or something? It's not 'Eustonite Brechitan' theatre we're talking about here, as Brecht's best plays were always smarter than that. What Nick's after is the kind of issue-driven 'identity politics' theatre which has no room for doubt, complexity (or indeed good jokes). Similarly, Nick's approach to theatre criticism is based on the same principle of 'Does This Advance The Struggle?' -if not, then it's automatically dismissed as 'reactionary' (or some such similar epithet). It's like expecting Desperate Housewives to be written by Andrea Dworkin.

PS: Nick obviously missed out on tickets for the opera Ghadaffi (sp?) - a Living Myth, which is a relief for the rest of us.

10/16/2006 09:05:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't know what Norm's Brechtian play would be - he seems to have surrendered on the Iraq war, according to his current post -now says he would not/should not have supported the Iraq war if he knew what then what we see now, but wouldn't have opposed it either, what a brilliant mind - it is the most pathetically self obsessed whine you have ever seen

10/16/2006 11:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon, I rather agree that "As I have said two or three times before, nothing on earth could have induced me to march or otherwise campaign for a course of action that would have saved the Baathist regime" is just a 'self-obsessed whine' since he admits that, in that case, he would be objectively pro-civil war. And I don't know of any earlier criticism of Saddam or Ba'athism per se in his other published writings. It looks at lot like he opposed Saddam just as the Yanks went in. Amnesty were critical a lot earlier, but we know what he and Eve Garrard think of them.

10/16/2006 11:37:00 AM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

Geras has been running a "favourite musicals" poll on his site. I wonder if Nick has entered?

10/16/2006 01:15:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just a thought, Has Nick seen Bent? Or would he complain about the focus on gay men rather than Jews?

PS (a bit off-topic): Nice little piece on the Decent Left here (via Dead Men left)

10/16/2006 04:26:00 PM  

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