Emperor & Galilean (National Theatre)

Posted on June 22, 2011

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Fuck me, that was a marathon, not a sprint! And to think, it’s not even the full text!

This is one show that won’t finish before you do, I guarantee that!

But then, the appeal here isn’t really a sexy, sleek show, it’s a feather in the cap for articulate theatre-goers. This one is like screwing Bill Clinton, you just want to be able to tell people you did it.

‘Emperor & Galilean’ is an historical epic and my god it feels like it. After the interval the theatre was clearly less full as the weak fell by the wayside.

Never let it be said I don’t have stamina!

“Like black pudding or water-sports, it’s not something I’ll try again in a hurry.”

I can’t say I ‘enjoyed’ ‘E+G’, but I’m glad I saw/survived it. I feel like a better woman for the experience.

Now that I’ve done bitching, let me get on with the good things.

The Olivier Theatre is not my favourite location. It’s too big, there is too much empty space for a performance to traverse (especially if you’re in the balcony), so you need spectacle, and ‘E+G’ serves up a healthy dose of that. At some points you wonder if the stage manager was merely grabbing people off the streets, throwing a costume on them, and thrusting them out in front of the audience. I have NEVER seen that many people on stage outside of the opera.

And the set! Spinning, rising, wheeling, you can’t say they didn’t use every trick in the book. I mean, honestly, how far down does that pit go?! This is a set that has both length AND girth and isn’t afraid to use it!

Andrew Scott gives it his all (he’s on stage more or less for the 29hrs this play takes, and he is a rocket of energy).

‘Emperor & Galilean’ is an experience I probably will never have again. It’s the sort of production only The National could do and for that I thank it, but like black pudding or water-sports, it’s not something I’ll try again in a hurry.

Rating: A kiss on the cheek and a polite goodbye I’m afraid.

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Posted in: Play