A Jolly Good Puck?

Look, cards on the table,  a non-mincing of words:  when you get right down to it Miles Gregory should have buggered off, like, yonks ago.

NOTBAd hates to say this about The Milester; to criticize him is akin to admitting a character flaw in one of your children and regretting you didn’t leave them with Barnardo’s before you had bonded to the point where becoming a bone marrow donor for them stops being optional.

Because if Gregory had thrown in the towel earlier we, the recession-cowed ticket-buying public, would not have been kept waiting quite so long for his last gloriously extravagant theatrical huzzah at The Maltings.

We haven’t seen such decadent wantonness since Sam Fox basted her wallopers in Bolly, and mobile phones could be used for breaking and entering when a brick was hard to come by.   Only Jean Michel Jarre’s Destination Docklands laser display could have hoped to vie with Gregory’s lavish valediction for the title of ‘Most Dazzling Display of Dramatic Ostentation to Sear Retinas EVER’.

For – remember, remember – what treat lay in store for us on the fifth of this month that didn’t involve burning a Catholic?   That’s right – the haunting and powerful Death Song by international storytelling company, You Need Me.   Tense and breathless,  this claustrophobic story of a Mexican man in the 80s awaiting execution on Death Row is elegantly woven from the lightest of touches into a narrative fabric with the power to crush emotionally.

And then after that, on November 8th, almost as if to coax our trembling hearts down from our mouths and back into our chests, there came along the National Theatre of Scotland and Calum’s Road.

Calum’s Road is the true tale of one man’s courage and stubborn endurance in single-handedly building the only road on the Isle of Raasay in a desperate bid to stop the exodus of his community to the mainland.   When the road is eventually finished, the journey for one returning native is just beginning.

NOTBAd has been fortunate enough to see several NTS productions over the past few years and has yet to see a dud.   This company has an unerring ability to put their finger on the pulse of a story, to access the power of its telling and touch our spirit with warmth, wit, and wisdom.   Quirky and meaningful, with a feel-good factor off the scale.

As if this wasn’t enough, this week The Milester is smugly pulling from his farewell cornucopia (think Paul Daniels, a rabbit, and Debbie McGee’s backcomb) Filter Theatre Company’s  much lauded “thrilling incarnation” of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Oh, no.  Stop it,  don’t groan.

Yes, it’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, that old Bardic stalwart of school productions nationwide, the very announcement of which in the term’s newsletter reduces parents to bouts of glassy-eyed fist sucking and dreams of reproductive failure.

‘Cos it’s rubbish, isn’t it?  It has none of the action and angst of the tragedies, and as a comedy fails in its mission statement to be funny.  Ghastly, horrible, nasty nonsense, what with fairies and asses and Bottoms and… oh, other stuff that we can’t be bothered to recall being too busy reading the additives on our ice-cream tub and trying to restructure our mind to work as a crude teleportation device for our body.

But wait!   Therein lies the problem.   Over-familiarity has given birth to a love-child called contempt.   Maybe, just maybe, the real issue here is that we have never seen a good Midsummer’s production.

Think about it – a good production of The Dream.  Indeed, it seems an impossible dream, like perpetual motion or non-party politics.  Can such a thing exist?   Just because Filter’s production shares the same DNA as those on stage in a stuffy school hall smelling of farts and poster paint shouldn’t be to condemn it.   Because face it – our kids share the same DNA and yet that doesn’t stop us having favourites, right?  Right?

So it is with the lofty intention of  shaking up preconceptions and challenging prejudice that NOTBAd will be tackling A Midsummer Night’s Dream tonight at The Maltings, 7.30pm.   If you feel the same way as us on this, come along and we can form a support group…

Gregory’s tenure as Chief Executive may be ending in a theatrical feeding frenzy, but what are your thoughts on his legacy?   Have you seen any shows which had you hot and bothered or productions which left you cold?  Is the recent programming to your taste or do you feel it to be elitist?  Go on, don’t be too shy to leave a comment!


3 comments on “A Jolly Good Puck?

  1. Great to have a new post from Not the BAd.

    When I look back over the short year we’ve been in Berwick I’m dizzied by the kaleidoscope of images from all the performances and shows we’ve enjoyed at The Maltings…from Equus (brilliant), to open air Midsummer Night’s Dream (yes, I really enjoyed this – and normally, like you, I’m not a huge fan of the Dream), from the experimental Tempest in the Penny Lodging House, to Julian Clary (!!!), from Hardeep Singh Kohli featuring our own Mamatones, to Hamlet (The Panto!), from the real Panto last Christmas to Ibsen’s Ghosts (the only turkey as far as I’m concerned) and not forgetting the brilliant adaptation of Philip Pullman’s Clockwork and sizzling Third Party Production’s version of Dr Faustus…and that’s just a few.

    Seriously this is local theatre par excellence. Miles’ successor has big shoes to fill – but also a fantastic legacy to receive. Maltings – you rock!

    • Hi Jackie

      House move is out of the way so it’s business as usual!

      I agree, Ibsen’s Ghosts fell short and LCT’s Hamlet – dreadful both, guilty of being the coffee ones in a family bag Revels. Happily there have been many more orange and toffee ones to compensate.

      Where do you feel the new C.E. can go that The Milester hasn’t in broadening the programme’s appeal? Is there anything else you would like to see?

      Chastity x

  2. Hi Chastity – I’m pretty relieved it’s not me who has to make those decisions – and in some way I don’t feel I’ve been around long enough to have totally got to grips with all that is on offer…don’t mean to be too slippery in my response but need to give this one some thought. Meanwhile, I continue to revel in the Revels…! x

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