Friday, 25 May 2012

the suit (d peter brook)

A lull. A lull which goes with the process of creation as well as the fact that whilst the play is on I tend to find myself going to the cinema less. In truth I missed writing about Cold Souls, which I saw in Cinemateca and quite enjoyed, but I was up to my neck in Harper and somehow didn't have the headspace.

London offers more headspace. In large part because it's less creative. For me, obviously. Anyway. Back in town scarcely 48 hours, I saw that it was possible to get a £10 ticket for the Brook. I sort of feel that there's an obligation to go and see the Brook. Because I have missed so many previous opportunities. Yet, as with the last play of his I saw, whilst The Suit is charming and astutely directed, it feels like this is late Brook, Brook-lite. The play is a fable from the townships of Apartheid South Africa. There is a sprinkling of politics, but not enough to either offend or engage, some lovely songs, a certain amount of ingenious if unspectacular stagecraft and some pleasant, relaxed acting. There is nothing to dislike, but nothing to get too excited about. There seems very little sense of risk. Perhaps Brook was always a more conservative director than his sense of formal innovation suggested. Marat/ Sade and US were as much a reflection of their time (and perhaps Marowitz, who knows) as his own sensibility. What he brought was the elegance and, at the time, visionary stagecraft. This might sound off, given that The Suit is set in one of the most overtly political environments of Brook's and indeed my own lifetime. There are references to the abuses of the school system and the poverty. But in the end this seems incidental. The director's mission is to charm, to woo international houses, as no doubt the play will do. The South African context feels like colour (as, say, a white box is colour); in spite of the supposedly tragic end to the fable, the audience leaves in a feelgood mode.

I enjoyed The Suit, but I feel I enjoyed it more than I needed to. I would have liked to have enjoyed it less, and felt more. 

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