Thursday, May 17, 2007

A Matter of Life and Death, Olivier

A Matter of Life and Death is an old film which was optimistic. Now it’s a new play which isn’t! Fascinating! And undynamic!

Where the film is clearly all lovey, the play is clearly all warry. In his heavenly trial, the protagonist is confronted by his war-victim father, the widows of the Coventry and Dresden bombings, and, somewhat tendentiously, by Shakespeare. The meaning is clear: war and Shakespeare will always triumph over private passions.

What prevents this pessimistic, death obsessed coda being bleak, is the way it’s full of life! There’s a calypso band, a ping-pong game and a sexy bit, as well as a Norwegian and a panorama of life on Waterloo Bridge. Some of this is virtuously delighting, but some of it is self-delighting virtuosity. Spot the difference.

If the production, with its constant use of clever-clever bicycles and too-clever-by-half hospital beds, sometimes seems self-consciously clever, at least there’s a good actor. And thank God someone’s finally been brave enough to stand up against war!


Andrew, a West End Whinger said...

Very pleased to see that The Reduced MB is back in business. More please!

alexf said...

Wow, someone actually reads this stuff. Who'da thunk?

thanks andrew. more on its way. although he's being relatively reasonable at the moment, which makes it a bit harder.