A thought a day…Basildon take 2

23 Feb

After a busy day of rushing around London, getting lost in Finsbury Park and interviewing the very nice director of Watch Listen Tell I had the pleasure of attending the press night of David Eldridge’s new play ‘In Basildon’. Of course I’m not actually part of the press, my friend Hannah is but I can assure you I had so much fun pretending that I was.

But of course we had to get to the Royal Court, or as it likes to name itself “the coolest theatre in London” which it is, but I always resent things when they know how good they are! Hannah and I had planned to eat in the cafe bar at the theatre, but due to getting on a train that resembled Percy from Thomas the Tank Engine we were horrendously late for our table and by the time we got there we had lost it, probably to super uber hip actor. Instead we sat on a couch and ate some extremely tomato-y quiche. Which I thought was delish but Hannah’s least favourite veggiefruit is a tomato and her slice seemed to have more tomato than pastry so I doubt she liked it as much as I did. But what this seat did afford us was some prime actor/critic spotting.

I’m not normally one to get star struck by people. I like to think I handled my spotting of Sir Ian McKellen and Richard Wilson at Sadlers Wells with great dignity…in that I just stood quivering from afar admiring Richard Wilson’s orange nike trainers/tweed jacket combo and slightly squeaking whenever I mentioned McKellen’s name. The problem was I was standing a little close to them and so I think they were aware that I was doing this thus making my predicament worse. But to relate to last night and I must admit that when I saw Tamsin Greig descend the stairs I did shriek a little, likewise Hannah did when she saw Michael Billington and as we both when we saw the playwright himseld during the interval.

Despite all of that excitement we did still have the play to watch but I can safely say it is a must see event for this month! In my earlier post yesterday I wondered about how one could write an entire play about Basildon that wasn’t derogative. I am aware of the jokes made about the area, and even I wrote some into the post, but still I was a little worried as to how it would pan out in a 2 1/2 hour play. However, what Eldridge created was a fantastic cross section of both his love for where he grew up but also his disenchantment with the place. His slick language created characters of great vivacity and depth that were able to switch between their many personality attribute quickly. I suppose the success of this came when the play had the audience laughing within the first minute of performance. This simplicity of the language followed straight through and allowed the great acting talent to shine.

In the end the fact that the play was “in Basildon” was irreverent, as I suppose was the point. The play made light of all of the common grievances felt by many towards their home town, particuarly one that is situated so close to the capital. The feeling that there is something better not over the fence, but just outside the door exasperates this frustration throughout the play and is the cause for great entertainment.

I know this isn’t a very concise review, but is only supposed to be just a thought.So for now here is a video about Basildon 1970’s style! Complete with an old school BBC voiceover.

Basildon – Our Town, 1974


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