Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Bedroom Drama

Generally, I detest going to the theatre. The seats are almost always uncomfortable and that is the only thing to think about if the show is bad, as it often is. Several years ago Antony dragged me to the National Theatre to see Jerry Springer, the Opera. It was abysmal. The Home Counties audience tittered smugly away as though they were being very ironic and knowing, taking the piss out of The Jerry Springer Show. I guess they failed to twig that The Jerry Springer Show is itself a pisstake and way funnier than anything the self-satisfied writers of this pretentious tosh could dream up. I squirmed in my seat and examined my fingernails for what seemed like the longest time. It’s all rather dated now but the reason I’m telling you the story is this: after an eternity the audience applauded and the lights went up. As we exited the auditorium I took Antony’s arm and exclaimed “Thank God that’s over. Can we go and eat?” Antony gave me a bemused look and replied, “Lily, it’s only the interval.” I find the whole theatre experience tortuous.

The only thing worse than going to the theatre is going to watch friends in the theatre. Not only does one risk having to sit through a couple of hours of self-indulgent waffle but at the end of it one often has to decide between straight out lying or being cut dead forever by one of one’s nearest and dearest. It’s double jeopardy.

Myself, Nick, Flossie and her son Dougall set off for the Lion & Unicorn pub in Kentish Town to see Jamie performing in Bedbound, a play written by Enda Walsh who also wrote the film Hunger. Flossie said that when she booked she was advised to arrive an hour before the performance. I rebel at that notion. It’s a trick to get one to spend a precious hour of one’s life buying drinks in their scuzzy pub. We arrive fifteen minutes before the play is due to start. And it is a scuzzy pub. A polite lady standing next to us at the bar asks the oafish landlord for a glass of tap water. “We don’t give away free water. We're running a business here,” is his charmless reply.

Eventually we are allowed upstairs. The set consists of a bed covered with old blankets and comforters, standing on a square of carpet. There are various pieces of bedroom furniture – chests of drawers, footstools and the like arranged around the rest of the room. The audience are invited to sit on those. I am quick thinking enough to grab a chair. Most of the punters end up sitting on the floor. If I must endure theatre, at least I want to endure it with some padding under my bum.

The lights go down and suddenly Jamie rears up from beneath the bedcovers with staring eyes and crazed curly hair. “Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck!” he shouts. Or words to that effect. And he is off into a fast-paced monologue. The set-up of this play is most curious: a father and his daughter who spend all their time in a bed. As they talk, they reveal the mad history of how they got there. I soon find myself enraptured. The dialogue is brilliantly hilarious and raw. The characters are fascinating: repellent, funny, aggressive and pathetic all rolled up into one. I find myself absorbed right to the end without once thinking about dinner. And, I’m relieved to say, the two actors, of which Jamie is one, excel.

I thoroughly recommend Bedbound and I really mean it. It’s on at the Lion & Unicorn Pub in Kentish Town until the 22nd of November. Bring your own water.