Every so often, in the office, a pub, or an airport lounge, I find myself having an argument with someone over London. Or, more specifically, why on earth anyone would choose to live here. Every time it boils down to the same thing: I’m presented with a fairly reasonable list of things that stink about the city (the price of housing, the price of transport, the price of beer, the price of anything else come to think of it, the fact that most of W1 smells strongly of piss until they hose it down at 8am, the tramps, the drug dealers, the crime statistics, etc etc). In return, I offer a couple of good reasons why I like it. Somewhere in the middle of this list, after true 24-hour shopping and transport, the Tate museums, any variety of specialist food / shop you could ever need within 40 minutes, I usually end up mentioning London’s many cinemas and theatres.
This is wildly hypocritical for two reasons. For one, I really hate cinemas. Although I walk past the Soho Curzon almost every day, and I’m cheered by its existence, I’ve never seen a film there and I probably never will. Who wants to watch a film in a room full of randoms with no easy access to a kettle or pause button? Not me. As for multiplexes full of sugar-caned teenagers stuffing week-old popcorn, I’d rather simply not watch the film at all, thanks very much. And the adverts before each screening are annoying. Gah.
As for the theatre: I never go. This is not because I don’t like it (I do, and unlike cinema there’s no home-based equivalent other than maybe watching drunks row in the street), and not for a want of trying, but largely because it’s a) expensive and b) almost impossible to get seats for anything worth watching unless you’re organised enough to book far in advance. So, despite living in London for years and working in what’s sometimes hilariously dubbed “London’s Theatreland” (where’s the Hamlet-themed roller coaster?), I haven’t been to the theatre since moving here.
Until yesterday, that is. Thanks to some marvellously good luck, good fortune and timing (bank holiday, theatre tokens, me noticing the sign going up at the Gielgud theatre the other week on the way to work, and getting in before the reviews are printed) Helen and I went to see God of Carnage at a preview last night. I won’t spoil the plot any more than the website itself does, but here’s a three bullet point review:
- Stupid name (and logo, for that matter – it looks like the kid from the Great Ormond Street adverts got hit by a bus)
- Very funny script that doesn’t seem to have been wrecked in translation (they/he/whatever left the setting in France, so all the Monsieur/Madame stuff still works)
- It’s good. Go see it if you get the chance.
So, that’s theatre covered for the next five or so years. Now I’m on a roll I might even get my arse down to see No Country for Old Men at the BFI, if they sell coffee.