Sunday, March 18, 2007

Boxing Day

Another Boxing Day; it's dreich and dark outside. We've eaten the first of many turkey left-over meals, walked the dog, and are now ready to settle down for 'Mary Poppins' on the box.

No, wait!! It's a bright but chilly Sunday in Tbilisi, and Mary Poppins runs in the Musical Comedy Theatre, a 45 minute hike from my home. Wow! Normally I would not take this hike, especially twice on the same day (I have learnt not to trust the local papers for starting times of performances), but for memories' sake it was worth checking it out.

I realised why the performance was sold out - this new, or very well renovated theatre does not have many seats! Not only is the stage limited, for a bit of an intimate performance, and with little stage technology, but inside the auditorium two large staircases swing their way up to the upper tier. If the stairs had been outside there would have been room for another 100 seats. I will say nothing about the loose chairs stood on terracing in the stalls area. Nor will I say anything about where I sat, having somehow got myself into a sold-out performance - but the hairs of firemen seeing this would have stood on end. Perhaps it's meant to create an club-like atmosphere.

It was not like the film. Obviously the actors were different - the little boy with the jug ears in the film must be sixty by now, and hopefully had that operation, but the story was quite different (involving two babies, for example), and the songs were from everywhere - including, I am sure, one from the Sound of Music (Do Re Mi? - it was discussed on a music list recently); the 'spoonful of sugar' song became a riding song, and other songs appeared at odd places. They were also short, mostly. Judging from the costumes and the sets, this theatre runs on a shoestring budget, and hence could not have afforded the scene shifts - though imaginative stuff could have been done. (Sue the architect!)

Mary Poppins was wonderful - she looked, and behaved, just like the character in the book and (Julie Andrews?) in the film. You would trust her with any child, and she would be able to deal with ADHD without any problem. She even went and said 'hello' (gamarjobat) to the children in the audience.... The boy (man) in this show did not have the ears, but he acted with an impressive lithp. The mother of the children seemed a bit of a vamp while her husband was the generally gormless type you'd know from the film. The domestic staff wore uniforms that might have escaped from '101 Dalmations'. There was a rather daft love story involving two dogs, stuck together at one point, but I am sure that little detail would have passed by the mainly juvenile audience.

The show lasted for about 1 1/2 hours, fastly paced, with lots of songs and dances and the children seemed to follow it very well, and enjoy it. That's good then.

Having been allowed into this sold-out performance (with paying), the theatre staff afterwards thanked me for coming. That's the friendly Georgians for you!