Saturday, March 3, 2012

The Recruiting Officer

I still blog. I swear.

It's just one of those things, every year, when January and February roll around... and it's nearly impossible to get out of bed and do anything, let alone take pictures and think of stuff to write, and you're just weighed down by the heavy grey skies and the London stench and all you want to do is eat biscuits and watch Take Me Out and Thor because your brain can't handle anything with more substance than that. Luckily, however, it's not February anymore! It's March. So there's no excuse for me not to get off my ass and start blogging again.

But let's get to the point. Last night I had the pleasure of seeing The Recruiting Officer with Shaun, and it was such a great experience! We did not initially book tickets because Mark Gatiss was in the play. Yes we did. However, once I looked into it a bit (and by "looked into it" I mean Shaun said things about it to me in passing and I saw stuff on tumblr), I got really excited! You see, the 18th century is one of my very favorite centuries, and honestly I wouldn't have cared who was in the play just for the opportunity to see people frolicking around a stage wearing British soldier spats and feathered tricorns. I would pay many monies just to see random people off the street dressed in 18th century garb, doing a country dance, or anything cool and historical really. I'm a simple fellow.

So when we entered the intimate theater to the sound of folksy, Baroque-style music being played by young men wearing period costumes, I felt I'd already got my full twenty-five pounds' worth. One of them was even playing a stand-up bass like a guitar, slung over his shoulder. It was the best thing of my life. I don't even know how to describe it without just throwing up with happiness. The stage itself was incredible; there were three big wooden chandeliers decked with real candles, as well as a wall of candles at the back of the stage and little colored lanterns all along the edges of the balcony seats. I mean really, a completely immersive and intimate theater experience. I was in love before the show even started!

I'm not a theater buff by any means, so I can't give a very informed review, but as a person who likes good stories and good acting and who likes laughing and feeling emotions, The Recruiting Officer didn't disappoint. Tobias Menzies was hilarious and genuine as Captain Plume, as well as a total babe. It was really cool to see him on stage, because I remember having a major crush on him as Brutus in Rome. Yes I am super shallow; I don't care. Mackenzie Crook, who you'll all know from The Office UK and Pirates of the Caribbean, was despicable yet sympathetic as Sergeant Kite. He and Menzies both played recruiting officers (surprise!) who used sketchy-ass tactics to get young men to join the British Army. Watching their antics was comedic at first, but at the end of the play you see the musicians leaving the stage one by one, marching off as soldiers, and soon there are none left at all. It was melancholy to say the least, leaving me all sad and emo, yet still amused by how funny the play was. I wasn't sure how I was supposed to feel at the end, which was frustrating, but either way it was a nice mix of emotions. (This is the worst review of anything ever.)

The highlight of the show for me was Mark Gatiss's character (whaaaat?), Captain Brazen. He was hilarious! A complete fop, but as much a villain of the story as there could be, so of course that just made him more compelling. What a ridiculous character; I loved his quirk of naming off everyone he knew who had the same name as every person he met, and sharing odd details about them. So funny! One day, I can only hope to write a character as funny and compelling as Captain Brazen. Gatiss portrayed him so well it was like the character was written for him.

There are a million other things I could say about the show, but I'll leave the real reviewing to actual people who know what they're talking about. All I can say is, if you're in London or nearby, you should seriously make an effort to see this play -- it's a good'un! One of the most fun nights I've had in a very long time! (I mean, other than the Lights concert where we met Allen Leech. Other than that.)

Oh yeah and Shaun and I creepily waited in the foyer for Mark Gatiss so we could get him to sign Shaun's program, and for photos! We were the only ones waiting because we're total creepers. I was way too terrified of Tobias Menzies' total hotness to ask him for a photo, so I just let him run past with a motorcycle helmet under his arm. A motorcycle helmet. I mean, seriously, could he be more cool?! No. OKAY I'll shut up about him already! Okay! Here's the pic of me with Mark. It's blurry but whatever, I will post it all over the internet regardless of image quality.

Photos from here, copyright Johan Persson.

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