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

5 comments:

ginger said...

Hi Ruth, I wish you luck in deciding what to do. I've been in similar situations - I imagine buying my tickets, going to the event, sharing it with family and the reality of the price of the thing shocks me back to reality! It does sound like a great play though. Wish I could go!

Amanda said...

I know what you mean. I had a few nights out with friends before Christmas and it was ouch with how much money was being spent. I'm more careful, had to be and have to be, it does need thinking about. Shame though....

Boot Button Bears said...

It is a dilemma isn't it. There are so many things I would love to take my 13 year old too as well, but the cost is just too prohibitive. Culture and education certainly come at a price sometimes.

Boot Button Bears said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ruth said...

Thanks for your comments ladies :0)

If I don't go I'll feel like I've been deprived , but then ....
If I go to see it in Cambridge I first need to go and stay with my parents etc etc .
I also looked in to taking my son to "Warhorse" whilst we're in London for Hugglets - course there were NO tickets for that one !
Drat ! :0(