Tuesday, 3 February 2009
What Price Culture ?
I was so excited when I saw that the new touring production of J.B Priestley's "An Inspector Calls" was stopping off at the Birmingham Repertory Theatre . Apart from the fact that I really , really wanted to see this resurrected , and now rave-reviewed play I thought it was the ideal opportunity for the 12 year old to experience a bit of culture . The only time he's been in a theatre was when he saw a truly dire local pantomime ( never again ) so I thought it was a lucky break !
The play is a stalwart of English Literature study, and I must have read through it several times both in school and long after leaving those chalk and paint smelling "E Blocks". It concerns the sudden arrival at an upper-class , Edwardian family dinner of one Inspector Goole ; a shadowy figure who seems to know the movements of each member of the family in minute detail .The name is a pun on the word "ghoul" - oooooh creepy shivers ! He is investigating the sad demise of a young woman whom it turns out they are all connected to , and have wronged in various ways (she being of an under-class they barely notice) The purpose of his probing questions is to throw in to stark relief each individual's lack of humanity and social conscience .
Stirling stuff just right for a thoughtful pre-teen . I'd read the reviews : "spine tinglingly good . Wildly imaginative , urgent and thrilling "- The Guardian ... and I knew the production was using an innovative set of a weird 1914 house and its interiors on the stage , perched on "crumbling" hydraulics , whilst all around the house was 1944 , and moving non-speaking actors . As if none of that was enough to whet the appetite alone it's being directed by Stephen Daldry who has won film making awards for Billy Elliot and The Hours . So far so good . Tootle off to the website www.aninspectorcalls.co.uk to look up Birmingham Rep's ticket booking . Hmmmmmm....
Now , here's the crux of the matter ; I really , really want to go and see the play . I really , really want to take my young , emerging sensitive teenager person to see a fantastic production in a wonderful theatre - but do I really , really want it £75.00 for 1 hour 45 minutes much ???? Because that's the cost of 3 tickets - although there are a few at £29.50 each not including booking fees . Oh , and one single seat on the extreme outer edge if you don't mind screwing your head around at £18 !!! These £25 seats are on the back row of the auditorium - that's a long way from the stage at 71p a minute !!! I momentarily had that "if you need to ask the price then you can't afford it" feeling ; which I avoid with horror by never dreaming of going in to certain jewellers to look at their wares ( thinking of trips to Chester here , where there are some delicious jewellers for window shopping only which display no prices and have "heavies" standing permanently at the doors !) Then I felt completely cross . Hello , do they know there's a recession on ? Isn't theatrical culture for everyone , or is it an elitist "event" which mere plebs will have to save up for ?? Rationalising the costs just doesn't help me out frankly , probably their profits are tiny - maybe they're even being charitable , the fact is it's a whole lot of moola . Ouch .
I could book seats for Cambridge Arts Theatre in May , when the production gets near to my parents neck of the woods . I've been there loads of times back in the dim and distant past , and seen plays ( educational) and the famous Footlights reviews with Stephen Fry , Hugh Laurie , Tony Slattery to name just a few , all before they hit fame and fortune . I remember the one with Emma Thompson - the theatre programme credited her wardrobe as being from Snob ; the very shop I bought my own clobber in !
Even then tickets will be £36.00 , including £2 booking fees per ticket ; maybe they're the equivalent of behind a pillar ? There's a steep jump to the next ticket price too at £21 per seat .
Oh well , I'll have to think about it . Perhaps I could get hold of that black and white film version with Alistair Sim as the Inspector . It's not the same though is it ?
T.T.F.N Ruth x