Saturday, November 22, 2003

Arts in extreme

I've always said that one surfs on the highs of the arts. Good art has the capacity to energise one. Bad art drains.
Most specifically, of course, I refer to theatre, although I'd say the phenomenon applies broadly. For instance, leaving the art gallery after viewing the Conder exhibition and also the Clifford Possum, I was floating on the pleasures of the eye.

But then there was one night this week, oh such a hot night, when I was plunged to the depths, the nadir. My heart plummeted treacherously the very instant that the performer entered. Alarm bells screamed in my head. All I could think was, oh, how am I to endure this. I do not have the option of leaving a show - and when a couple rose and quietly left, I was consumed by envy. I found myself checking my watch frequently - a useless and frustrating pursuit. The performer shouted away tediously, leapt about the stage desperately, throttled a zillion props and devoured the audience in heavily-accented offensive. Poor thing, I thought - but only briefly. I needed all my pity for myself.

Tonight I went to the amateur theatre and had one of those rewarding experiences - one of the highs. The production of a Ray Cooney London farce was worthy of the West End. The timing was split-second, the cast consummately able. And it was so devastatingly, absurdly and wildly funny that we, the audience, were so sapped of energy after the endless convulsions of mirth that we barely had the strength to applause.

I was exhausted when I got home. Drained but on a high.

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