Tuesday, 25 October 2011

A painless Lyrical experience minus the lyrics

The Yorkshireman has already written about our little trip to the south of the city to watch The Painkiller at the Lyric Theatre but I thought I would belatedly throw in my two cents' worth as well.

My family assures me I have definitely been to the Lyric before (in its previous incarnation) but I don't really remember, so it was cool to go and check it out now that it has been completely renovated. It's quite a nice theatre actually. It's very well laid out and, although a good bit smaller than the Waterfront Hall or Grand Opera House, it's probably about the right size for the kinds of shows it tends to host. It's in a pleasant location too, which makes up for being a little way out of the city centre. It's well situated beside the Lagan and is only a few minutes' walk from the village feel of the coffee shops and restaurants on the Stranmillis Road. It was dark by the time we grabbed a couple of glasses of wine at the bar but even then the lights of the Embankment dancing on the black shimmering river proved to be quite a pretty view.

As for the play itself, well, I never really know what to make of plays. I've only ever seen a few and even then it tended to be on a school trip where the attraction was less the action on stage and more being out of school. I also like my theatre with a side of comedy and a generous helping of song and dance on top, so I wasn't sure what to expect from this music-free show.

In the end it was actually pretty funny, which was quite unexpected given that the plot centres around a hired assassin and someone who is suicidal. It was actually maybe a bit too slapstick for my tastes but I still laughed in all the right places. The acting was very good too. I've always had a bit of weird crush on Kenneth Brannagh (one of my favourite films is, weirdly, Much Ado About Nothing) and also he apparently went to the same primary school as me, so we're practically BFFs. I also have great respect for Rob Brydon, so it was a pleasure to see him grace one of our local stages.

So, having watched the Painkiller, even though I definitely enjoyed the experience, I'm still not entirely convinced about plays in general. I kept expecting the actors to burst into song at certain points and was a little disappointed when I realised I was out of luck. Also the sets, whilst impressive, couldn't quite make it real enough for me to notice the lack of special effects and clever camera angles. When a man "punches" someone on the stage, it's kind of hard to notice that no contact is actually made, no matter how quick and convincing the reactions of the "injured" party.

I also like to have a little insight into what the character is thinking and feeling, the perfect vehicle for this being a song, or even some background music reflecting the mood. However with a play (unless there's a soliloquy or something) you have to gauge that kind of thing yourself based on the actor's expressions, body language, etc, which can be a little hit and miss depending on the ability of the actor in question.

So whilst my night at the Lyric was most definitely painless (haha), I think I'll mostly be sticking to musicals in the theatre from now on. What can I say, I'm clearly just a sucker for a bit of the old razzle dazzle!

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