Commissioned by TCS who then refused to print his review, LAURIE COLDWELL feels his experience at the Medics Revue is one that needs to be shared.
Wednesday 24th – Saturday 27th, 11.00 at the ADC Theatre. £4-5.
Laurie Coldwell was sent to the Medics Revue by TCS. They refused to publish the review he wrote.
I’m on the bridge now, the indifferent, dark and violent waters swirling beneath my feet. They tell me it’s a long way down, but I wouldn’t know yet. I’ve tied a sack of bricks round my waist and I really do hope it’s enough.
I thought I was doing alright. I thought I was coping, but now it’s clear I wasn’t. That was apparent when I got the call from my editor: I was to review the ‘Medics’ Revue’. My heart sank, my breathing quickened. How was I to review a show that left its apostrophe out of its own title? How was that show even going to make any – never mind grammatical – sense?
They sent me last year. I told them not to, but they did – no-one listens to me. Last year David Nicholson-Thomas’ lighting was exemplary. The lights went on, the lights went off, in perfect time and harmony, no matter what collapse of humour and threat to human evolution was taking place on stage. Perhaps he would be here this time, to hold my hand and illuminate the darkness. There was no such luck. There was just Sarah James, for whose sake, I hope had broken arms, for every scene faded slowly up and slowly down, no matter what the performers were doing on stage. There was enough screaming agony echoing through the impenetrable caverns of my mind for her not to prolong it.
It started with a video. It was confusing and it terrified me. I just couldn’t comprehend it. I couldn’t understand what it was for. Why were people laughing? It took me a while to realise. They were medics: they were recognising people in their lectures. “Look there’s Yang Chen doing a funny face. Ahahahahahaha. He’s in my lectures!” I made a mental note to never go to the doctors. How could I ever trust people that laugh when they recognise people? How was that right? Millions must die at school reunions each year.
But the laughter slowly died as the show went on. The novelty of recognition lost itself. Amidst poor projection, poor, lazy song parodies, poor performance and without the sympathy real poverty engenders, laughs only came from shock. I sank into my shell and started to count the sketches. Surely numbers would not mock me too. 6 sketches, 7 sketches – my strength grew in the security of discrete numbering. So secure, so safe and not at all awkward to watch. But then a roar of laughter came from the audience. Someone had said “What, you want to shit on my face?” Medics collapsed in the aisles, I think because faeces is a little bit medical and because swearing is a little bit naughty.
I didn’t, as it happens, want to shit on Jessie Ke’s face either, though I certainly felt she deserved some on there – I was distracted by the physical excellence of Andrew Melville. Adrift in a sea of bad writing, here was a medic I knew. Medics can be funny, clever people too – just like the ones I’d befriended in my lifetime. It was there in his eyes, just not in the words in his mouth.
And that’s what it was: lazy writing where respected Sir Dizzee Rascal’s ‘Bonkers’ is turned into ‘Conkers’, where ‘The woman who swallowed a fly’ becomes a post-mortem and anything about sex is to be giggled about. Especially if it’s Tinky Winky talking about ‘Tubby Custard’. Amidst all this, if Andrew Melville, with that careful physical talent of his and that knowing look in his eye couldn’t save some laughter from the blundering of his fellow performers and the words in their mouths – if he couldn’t do that, what hope was there for any of us in this world?
I packed my stuff up during the S Club 7 finale. It was something stereotyped, but I had told my eyes and ears to not work in case my brain stopped working; there were tasks to do yet that I needed it for. I walked through the ADC bar, faces giddy from ‘The Merchant of Venice’, no doubt. How could they ever understand what had happened in that hour, with their happy faces? They couldn’t. They still had hope for the world.
I found some bricks on Thompson’s Lane, near Jesus Green. They were heavy – friendly, even. I’m on the bridge now, the indifferent, dark and violent waters swirling beneath my feet. They tell me it’s a long way down.