Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Barrack-Jones – Well here’s a howdy do.

Hail fellows and females well met – Sir Haulway Barrack-Jones here with my first report on the Brisbane theatre landscape having been shunted-off to three shows in my inaugural week of reviewing.

Well, here’s a howdy do, but more of that later when I get around to talking about Opera Queensland’s new production of The Mikado, which yours truly first saw in the winter of ’85.

That’s when W.S. Gilbert – Gilly – and Sir Arthur Sullivan’s – Sully- collaboration was on extremely shaky grounds as both of them were getting to the end of their tether.

The one thing the two men had most in common – apart from certain warmth (and in Sully’s case a particularly active form of it) for the ladies – was a remarkably short tether.

Perhaps the shortest tether ever in the history of the British theatre. Although theatre people, being theatre people, that’s a tough call.

The Mikado, however, was week’s end following two rather different shows, which demonstrates what contrasts are available within the Brisbane theatre scene.

The week started at the Judith Wright Centre of Contemporary Arts – more affectionately and practically called The Judy – with a strange 60-minute piece called The Disappearances Project.

In appears that 30,000 persons going missing in Australia each year, although 86 per cent of them turn-up within a week.

I can understand that as I have often gone missing, most notably during police raids, bar room brawls, and at times which it appears that I am either going to receive a good bollocking or be in demand of money with, or without, menaces.

However, I must say I generally pop back when things cool down, particularly if there’s a charming ankle or pretty face involved or, even, a couple of conciliatory vinos.

Mediation through the consumption of alcohol can be extremely risky unless so much is tossed down that the participants collapse into an exhausted slumber.

I digress.

Getting back to the show, it consisted of two actors – a man and women – facing the audience for around 70-minutes and recounting the pain and misery of those left behind and in their own words.

It’s all based on research – very academic – and while some thought it pulled at the heart strings, others were not so sure. One chap said he believed it was a ‘shocking example of non-theatre’ as the performers had just put together a few lines lifted from research.

My argument to that is that it was in the telling as I’ve heard fellows reading from the Karma Sutra who have sent audiences to sleep, while Marie Lloyd singing the Come into the Garden Maud back in the ‘90s had the chaps placing their toppers on their laps for the sake of decency.

Stimulating stuff.

I digress.     

Watching the concerns of the family and friends of the missing - played against a back drop of dull suburban pictures and a droning soundtrack – made me think of two famous cases from the world of letters.

I can still remember the hullaballoo when Agatha (Christie) went missing in Christmas ’26 for 11 days and turned up in Harrogate, Yorkshire, simply taking the waters.

That’s the town with the motto Avx Celebris Fontibus or a citadel famous of its springs if you prefer.

I told her at the time that going to Harrogate was a complete waste of doing a runner.

“If it had been me I’d have been off to the South of France to take in the vineyards,” I quipped.

She ignored that but then she was always a fairly logical sort who hadn’t much time for my hedonistic preferences.

I think that was being married to the dashing Colonel Archie Christie who won her heart when serving in the Royal Flying Corp and then abandoned her for a certain Miss Nancy Neele.

No. The real mystery was that happened to the American genius and author of The Devil’s Dictionary, Ambrose Bierce, whom I last  saw in  the summer of ’13 when he jumped on a horse and galloped away.

I shouted after him, “where are you off to Amie?’ and in typical fashion he shrugged and retorted casually over his shoulder, ‘Just off to Mexico to see if I can pick up a take away for supper.”

He never returned but left us some remarkable works including this favourite line:

 “A total abstainer is one who abstains from everything but abstention, and especially in activity in the affairs of others.”

Brilliant stuff. Wish my creditors could read that and take it into account.  

Mum used to talk about the disappearing trick, which performed so well whenever Dad was coming back from a late-night at the pub, but never realised it was so popular.    

No comments:

Post a Comment