Thursday, 22 April 2010

bad review

Last night I saw The Real Thing at The Old Vic (funniest moment: trying to make way for Tom Stoppard but being squeezed into him by Kevin Spacey pushing through the crush from behind me). It's terrific. Here are my more specific thoughts:

1. The design sets the play inchoately in the sort of period it was written - 1980s. Mostly, it is more or less timeless and undistracting, except in a massive way, for me, in scene one. What things have totally changed since the early eighties? Telephones and email are the big one, which is why it had to be set then not not now. Luggage is another.

At some point in the early/mid-nineties, pretty much all luggage went from being old-fashioned suitcases, sometimes with wheels that didn't work all that well, to the modern style with the pull-out handle. The first time you saw this luggage, it looked a bit silly. The first time you used it, you realised it was simply better. In about eighteen months, every luggage factory in the world must have switched, and that was that. The luggage in scene one, which was set absolutely pre-luggage watershed, was post-luggage watershed luggage.

I can't remember a precise date, and the web isn't telling me one. My friend Ellis Sareen once told me, when we were discussing luggage, that the switchover came about because of the sudden availability of wheels that were up to the job. The reason for this: in-line skating. You are probably wishing you spent a lot more time with me and Ellis Sareen.

My equal favourite small museum in the world (Natural History Museum at Tring shares this coveted title) is the Ace Luggage Museum in Tokyo. It is, I think, the private collection of a boss of a luggage company and is on the top floor of an office building. It's all about the curation.

2. I had similar-but-different thoughts about the cricket bat in the famous cricket bat scene. I might go on more about these later. I would have used a first generation Powerspot, but the bat used didn't jar.

3. Just after a Press Night is not the time to have fun saying, which I wanted to every time someone asked if I had liked this excellent production of an excellent play: 'Silk purse from a sow's ear.' At least I knew it was not the time. Mostly.


Anonymous said...

Nope, at the Luggage Museum it's all about having to turn the lights on and off yourself. That filled me with delight.

Claire said...

I had the very same luggage conversation in my own head when working my way through an Inspector Morse dvd.

elegancemaison said...

BTW is that a good review for the play itself? I couldn't make that out with all the wittering about luggage etc. Though I am the same myself if I spot an anachronism in 'period' books, plays, TV drama and so on. But back to the wheelie luggage. I first spotted the pull-out handle luggage when I lived in Ealing in the early 1980s. Walking to the local tube station on the Piccadilly/ Heathrow line I passed loads of (civilian) aircrew happily (and easily) wheeling their cabin bags along the pavement. Initially friends and I all thought it a bit 'grannie shopping basket' in style and resisted adopting them. However I soon got converted and spread the word though even younger relatives and friends resisted them for years.

Anonymous said...

I saw a very up-to-date use of wheelie suitcases recently in a production of the Comedy of Errors at The National Arts Centre in Ottawa. It was set in

present day Montreal and when the twin from Syracuse (think Toronto) arrives at Ephesus Airport, all of the other actors enter from all doors hurrying

through with their wheelies behind them. It's very funny. Another great touch was hand-cleaner dispensers by the doors.