Decided on Saturday night to get me some of that there culture that everyone’s been talking about, so made plans to see a play. Besides, this being all-star weekend, there wasn’t a hockey game on the telly. (And yes, to paraphrase Liz Phair, “why do Canadians fuck doggy-style? A: So we can both watch the hockey game.”) So, headed out with friends to Nonya for some fine Indonesian cooking. Mmmm, prawns on a bed of shredded mango, followed by skewered lamb.
Afterward, headed with friends up to Théâtre La Chapelle, to see the final (thank gawd) presentation of West. Boy, can you say, “earnest”? A bunch of early-20 actors all acting Brit-street-tough, accompanied by the requisite chick wearing the short skirt, who gets the occasional scene talking about how she likes to get laid, get drunk, get an abortion. The play’s all about some London street gang, and all their little street problems of territory and mommy/daddy doesn’t like me, and I don’t want to work in a factory/office/construction site yadda yadda. So, adding to this tediousness is the fact that these actors adopt faux Brit accents. C’mon! Speak normal, we can figure that you’re supposed to be British. The playwright, who’s name has fortunately slipped my mind (David Berhkoff or something), the chuffwit, decided to impress us all with his adroit use of quotes from Shakespeare. It didn’t work.
Being in the theatre reminded me of just how much I don’t care for that whole environment: go see a play, and you realise that it’s always the same people–other actors who attend a friend’s play to ensure that said friend will attend the other’s play. Theatre students who, upon seeing one of their profs in the audience, will begin fawning in that quintessential “I’m so sensitive maybe I’m gay but I’m just not sure yet so I guess acting like this at least makes me look artistic” way. Older folks, who may have once been local theatre actors themselves but whose time in the limelight is long past, now just hangers-on, who stand around during intermission, pseudo-intellectually discussing the merits of the play and the play’s actors, and how the play compares to a similar production that ran at either the Fringe or a French theatre or the main english theatre (very short run); how the lead actor brings so much more to this production as opposed to the previous production, he brings the anger, the looks, the build, OH SHIT SHOOT ME NOW!
All these people–the hangers-on, the has-beens, the never-weres, the overly made-up, black-stretch-pants-with-white-thong-showing girlfriends, who sit raptly through almost two hours of dross and pap, sucking at their designer water bottles as though these, the water bottles, were pacifiers–these, the “cultural elite” of young hip anglo Montreal, waiting simply to be the first to jump to a standing ovation at the end, to metaphorically fellate the actors, to ensure that the same mediocrity be repeated endlessly.
The sad part is that it’s even worse in french theatre, where every play, regardless of the subject, will almost always include some pitiful scene where the actress will lift her top, flashing her breasts à la Tralala in Last Exit to Brooklyn for no other reason than to show how shocking and avantgarde they are. Newsflash: this isn’t the catholic-prudish early-70s anymore.
I really should start walking out of shows more often. I really should.