So, last night, I got to see Betwixt!, which is playing at the Trafalgar Studios on Whitehall. I was a tiny bit geeking out about going because of the cast and had been wondering if Peter Duncan was going to be wearing a green checked suit or pushing his hand into anything squishy and poisonous to nod to the nerds in the audience, but mainly because of Ellen Greene being in it. I'll freely admit to keeping the DVD of Little Shop of Horrors though my ongoing sprees of throwing out pretty much all of my possessions and despite my misgivings about the edition I own not subtitling the songs (it's a fucking musical, what the hell are they thinking?) but that story of vaulted ambition and the grimy love story between the clumsy plant nerd and the love-bruised woman who can't see any more that she might still be deserving of love after the things she's done to survive? Totally essential education for all young people. I can't imagine for one minute why I had it on repeat, or why Sheridan Smith's Audrey had me crying when I saw it.
Still, to have the chance to come to a tiny studio theatre and hear Ellen Greene sing almost totally eclipsed any thought about what the musical might be like until we actually went in and I turned to Paul and said, "What if it's shit?"
Luckily, it wasn't bad at all. It's a really sweet story about a writer who can't find his next story and the avalanche of camp of a room-mate who flounce-tumbles into his life and how they sing their way at moments of emotional crisis into a magical world of evil princesses with supernatural powers, transplanted daytime-tv celebrities, post-decapitation romance and a fucking amazing kick up the arse song at the end from Greene about doing the things you know you should because they're beautiful.
It's a good response to a recession to react with joy and love in aggressive quantities. Yes, the bleak reminders that it's bleak are bleak reminders that it's bleak, but in many ways, a fun, camp, joyous musical about the magic of creativity is a really important call to arms right now, and I'm not for a minute going to slap that kind of sentiment down.
At the after show party, there were some people making comments about how it couldn't transfer to a larger theatre as though that were a bad thing. Some things are best kept away from that kind of machine. This is great for what it is, it's theatre that couldn't be anything but theatre and it's lovely for that. I don't think I'd have enjoyed it from a distance or in a crowd and I think the sentiment would be diluted if it were part of that kind of a machine.
I also got to meet and briefly speak to Ellen Greene at the party - much as I'd love to pretend she was some sleb or something, she came across as a wonderful, passionate woman who really cared about what she does and was engaged with how the message of her work came across, even if it involves her dressing in leather and fishnets to do it.
Yup, you caught me on an effusive day. I'll get back to being cynical soon, don't you worry.