Jerry Springer: The Opera
Posted: Oct 20, 2003 11:53:06 PM
I have been in London for just under a week. At first I was going to treat it like any other city I have visited so far: make a list of things that I need to see and do, and see and do them. However, there's something different about London. For one thing, there's always something more to do, and so I have had the splendid opportunity to cram my days as full as they will go with activities of all kinds.
The museums and art galleries are a given, and there have certainly been enough of them to satisfy me for now and for quite a while longer (if I had the time). But what I'm writing about today are all of the unusual quirky diversions that crop up all the time in London, the boundless and endless opportunities to do the kind of things that would make the people back home do a double-take.
No, I'm not talking about that. Stop sniggering!
There was Speakers' Corner of Hyde Park, for example, where every Sunday morning professional nutbars come, with either a small stepladder or (literally in some cases) a soap-box, and preach, or complain, or lecture. And, because it is the right of every Brit and tourist to be heard, you're allowed to argue with them. So I did - I found a likely candidate (he was telling everyone that they were going to hell, particularly Americans of the Jewish-Masonic International Conspiracy) and spent a good twenty minutes debating theology. He was abusive, a tactic that he obviously employed to distract from the weakness of his arguments, so I ignored them completely and pressed on.
And I won. There's no official measurement of such things, but I received a round of applause from the rest of the audience at one point, a friendly slap on the back from a complete stranger after we were done, and (best of all) a shut-down to the order of "I'm not talking to you any more" from the speaker himself.
That debate was at least more energetic than the one I witnessed in the House of Lords a couple of days ago: the second reading of the Ragwort Control Bill is not exactly the most thrilling experience in the world. I will try to get into the House of Commons tomorrow, because that's apparently a little more lively. What with politics and such.
I'm getting around London primarily by the tube, by the way, which is surprisingly intuitive to use and reliable, if a little crowded. Sure, there have been 'incidents' somewhere on the system every day I've been here - signal failures, people going onto the tracks or under the trains, and at least one proper derailment - but on the whole it has been very helpful.
Every evening so far I have trundled off to West End, the entertainment hub of the city, and I have sampled a wide range of movies and shows, both alone and with friends that I've met on the way.
Two movies: one excellent (Intolerable Cruelty), one awful (The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen). I saw them to do something relatively normal. You need to do that on the road or you lose touch with reality. Er, more so.
One play: Mousetrap. Written by Agatha Christie, first performed fifty years ago, and performed every week since then, often several times. The longest running play of all time. I was at performance number 21,178, which should give you an idea of how long this thing has been running. It was quite engaging. No, I'm not going to tell you who the murderer is - it is part of the tradition that it must never be revealed save by watching it live.
One musical event: Stomp. They strike everything in the search for rhythm, including the kitchen sink. It was quite fun. No, I'm not going to try to imitate it.
And yes, I went to an opera. I decided that it had better be something supremely tacky, something that will show up the darker, more disturbing side of the London theatre, and amongst a strong list of candidates (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Lion King, Fame: The Musical) I found my match. Yes, it's Jerry Springer: The Opera.
Words cannot describe this production. There were musical numbers such as 'Talk to the Hand,' lyrics such as "dip him in chocolate sauce and feed him to the lesbians," and a memorable tap-dancing Ku Klux Klan sequence. Halfway through the opera Jerry is shot and sent to hell, where he has to stage a reconciliation between God, the devil, Mary, Jesus, Adam, and Eve. Jesus, who in the first half plays a man who wants to wear a diaper/nappy everywhere, was particularly well done.
And that's London.
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