Damned By Despair Review and the rest of my weekend

So, shall I start where I left off?

(Image from Time Out website)

Damned By Despair at the National, should itself, be damned, it was awful! Turns out I really should have read something about it before I went, it was predominately based on religion, not my favourite topic at the best of times and it had been dubiously updated to modern times for no logical reason that I could see. I actually left at the interval, something I have never done before, because I just didn’t want to waste the rest of my evening there, and I saw a number of other people doing the same from an already half empty theatre. I did feel rather sorry for the actors, it must be miserable to perform for a half empty crowd, but it felt generally miscast (the lead baddy was frankly strange and not in the least threatening, with or without the gratuitous violence) and it was lazily staged, someone described it as looking like Pride Rock from The Lion King! I’ve read in the reviews that the original play by Tirso de Molina, written in 1625, is considered a masterpiece, that may be and a good production would be perfectly watchable just not to my personal taste, but this rehash has done it no favours.

To be honest, I think the main problem is that the play itself has very little relevance to an audience today and by updating it to modern times it further alienates those watching it from understanding any of the characters motivations in a play written and intended to be set in Roman Catholic Spain in the 17th Century. Plus lines like “fate will wipe it’s arse with you” and talk of “bling” just felt like a desperate bid to show understanding of the ‘youth of today’!

On a cheerier note, I popped to Kingston on Saturday to pick up a couple of bits and pop for a production I’m working on at the moment, more on that in a future post, and sent longing looks towards many of the yarns in the John Lewis haberdashery department.

Sunday was a trip to the Prince Charles cinema just of Leicester Square for a screening of Stand By Me, one of my favourite films and the first time I fell a little bit in love with River Phoenix. It’s such a lovely film, with great performances from the four leads, and an amazing soundtrack. It was great to see it on the big screen, tickets were only £4 (£6.50 for non-members) and we went for some tasty Chinese food afterward just round the corner!

The day was finished off with Downton Abbey and chocolate puddings, marvellous!


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