Review: Entertaining Mr Sloane

by Jane

More and more as I go to the theatre, I find for me to come out of a show raving (which, okay, I do frequently), the show has to surprise me in some way, even if it is just something small, something I wouldn’t have picked, or haven’t seen before, it is in the surprise, and thus the true point of difference, that I find myself longing for in the theatre.  That’s not to say I don’t enjoy other shows, or they don’t have their merits, but their merit may lie in the fact that I am learning more about the history of theatre, or I am just seeing great minds come together on a good product; something I enjoy, but isn’t something that shatters my perceptions.  Entertaining Mr Sloane was the second type of show: it was a fine text in a good production, and I recommend it as a good night of theatre.  In which I guess it was surprising; as I start my review here it was not the show I was expecting to see.  It never broke the barrier, but I can’t expect everything to.

It does amuse me that in A Singular Act Peter Ward says at the 1985 STC production:

“After twenty years its assaults on post-war British middle-class mores and moralities had lost their the shock of the new and the lewd.”

Sean Taylor and Jackie Weaver. Husband and wife playing brother and sister. It was a little creepy the two of them had the longest kiss in the play.

Two other thoughts which came from the show which weren’t “reviewer” thoughts:

– The day before I saw this show, I saw the AICSA forum on Greening The Arts (maybe a blog post on that later), where Rob Brookman spoke about the Sydney Theatre Company’s Greening The Wharf project.  One of the things which he said which just struck me as so odd, was designers and prop-builders at the STC have now been instructed to reuse sets as often as possible.  The reason it struck me as odd was that this was even an instruction to be put down!  Every school and amateur theatre company would always reuse and repurpose sets, it had never even figured into my mind that the professional companies wouldn’t.  So I don’t know if the State Theatre Company reused sets for Mr Sloane, but what I did want to comment on was how much I loved sneaking a peek into the rehearsal room when I was at the Red Carpet party for The Seven Stages Of Grieving and saw the rehearsal set constructed out of the flats from last year’s The Things We Do For Love.

– This weekend, there has been quite the twitter conversation among Australian theatre goers and companies as to the etiquette of  tweeting in a live performance, sparked from this article in the Sydney Morning Herald.  At the performance of Mr Sloane I attended, there were three people in the front row of the theatre taking notes through the whole show.  The stage lights brought great attention to their large white note pads, and it distracted me at the back of the stalls; I hate to think what the actors would think.  If you must take notes, at least have the decency to sit at the back of the theatre (but don’t bring a torch, like the girl who sat next to me during Metro Street last year, I won’t let you use it).  I don’t know why you would want to take notes anyway: it would just take you so far out of the production, and if you have to write it down at that moment to remember it, is it really worth remembering anyway?  Creative Staff, particularly in previews, is a different matter, but I’ve never seen them anywhere other than the last row.  So if that is how I feel about pen and paper, you could imagine I wouldn’t take kindly to tweeting.  Love it for after, but during?  Really?