Damn, I love the theatre. It’s one huge playground. A wonderful play-barn where everyone can pretend. From the Actors who play and pretend to be the characters they are playing to the Audience who pretend they know what’s going on before their very eyes.
I’ve just had a great couple of hours trying to make sense of the latest ‘play that hasn’t been performed for 400 years’, the never boring ‘Venice Preserved’. I say it wasn’t boring because I approach all plays over a hundred years old in the same way. Like a crossword. As best as I can I analyse the lines thrown at me at increasingly high speed and treat them as I would a clue, with each solved piece of dialogue bringing me to a closer understand of what the hell is going on. And so, it was with ‘Venice Preserved’. If only I had, had as long as the cast to research the text. A month might have done it. 28 days solid of slowing the words spoken, to a speed whereby every sentence could be broken down for its meaning. The performers don’t know how lucky they are. (Do they ever feel sorry for us the audience, who have a couple of hours to make sense of a long-dead language? A language they have spent the last few months, at their leisure, interpreting?)
At one time I would have apologised for my lack of understanding, (no confidence) but the fact is, we don’t speak like that anymore. And at speed the language becomes impenetrable. And hey, I know I wasn’t the only one having difficulty. In conversation with my squashed in neighbours we all had the same problem…basically, ’er what did they just say?’ But as I said, I did enjoy myself and surely that is the end result wanted by all involved.
I didn’t understand the directors desire to express this play as ‘noir’, I thought that a little more than an affectation. But was relieved he didn’t feel it necessary to introduce dark, balaclava-ed SAS men armed to the teeth, abseiling down from the flies (see previous directors). However, like other productions I’ve seen recently, it’s unfortunate (in my view) that heavy modern music seems to be a ‘thing’ this year.
So, my verdict?
Good to look at. The basic story not too hard to grasp even without understandable dialogue. Good acting in most cases and a comedy break to relieve any stress headache beginning to form.
I would say go and see. But be like me, don’t spend more than 16 quid.