Thursday, October 28, 2004

oscar wilde: the musical

I hate musicals.

The way that actors almost get to a point of plausibility then scupper it by bursting into song. The way it isn't written to properly express any feeling, just to move the plot along in Hallmark-card rhyme. That infuriating pasted on smile that the actors do so fixedly. The way the singers are all drama school lightweights with no soul whatsoever. The way they have no passion for music, merely for reciting other people's words.

There are one or two exceptions. Cabaret (set in a cabaret, so they're meant to sing), Rocky Horror of course, and that episode of Buffy (taking the piss out of the whole format). Incidentally, two people I know said they considered getting rid of their TV after seeing the Buffy musical cos it was clearly the best thing that could ever be shown, and all subsequent viewing was bound to be downhill. It's a point of view that I respect.

Much about London still enchants and enthralls me, but the overload of adverts for musicals on the tube escalators gives me a barely containable urge to run amok in the West End with automatic firearms.

The Sound of Music is the only film that's ever made me sympathise with Nazis. Grease is the most despicable film of all time, reducing the social revolution of rock n roll to a gaggle of sappy sentimental white kids.

And Andrew Lloyd-Fuckin-Webber, composer of special election campaign music for the Tories, wasn't he one of those tossers who said they'd leave the country if Labour got in in 1997? Well go on then you twat - fuck off.

But it's not all bad news from the world of musicals. It's with a glad heart and a smug chortle I report that on Tuesday last week the Shaw Theatre in London opened its new production, Oscar Wilde: The Musical. Really, I'm not making this up.

Why am I pleased? Well, it closed after one performance because it was such a massive pile of pants.

It came from the same pen as the Cliff Richard musical, inventively titled Cliff.

The pen in question belongs to Mike Read. That's the former Radio 1 DJ and Saturday Superstore presenter, not to be confused with Mike Reid, the former Runaround presenter and the bloke who plays miserable old toad Frank Butcher on EastEnders.

Mike Read has a special place in my heart. A place reserved for gleeful revelling in the implosion of the careers of talentless twattish egomaniacs.

In doing the interviews for my Strawberry Switchblade uber-site, guitarist Jill Bryson recounted creepy tales of being on the business end of Read's unsavoury lechery.

Who'd have suspected such amorous advances from a man who refused to play Frankie Goes To Hollywood's Relax, basically because it uses the word 'come'?

Then a charity shop trawler friend found The Aldermoor Poems, a book of faux-sensitive, entirely useless poetry published by Read from the same time as he was harassing Jill Bryson. Should you really not value your time on this earth, you can check out Mike's weekly poem webpage.

Mercifully, he was swept away in the de-Smashey-&-Niceyfication of BBC music broadcasting and made to serve out his time as a Classic Gold DJ, but he won't roll over and exit with dignity.

As if his Cliff Richard biography and musical weren't enough, he then did Oh Puck!, a rewrite of A Midsummer Night's Dream as a musical set to hits of the 1980s.

Really, I'm not making that up either.

And then last week he inflicted Oscar Wilde: The Musical. The Daily Telegraph's review - under the headline Wilde suffers again thanks to Mike Read - said it was 'hard to feel anything other than incredulous contempt'.

The Guardian's no-star review suggested that the sketchy sound in the theatre may be because 'the sound system is being affected by the hefty rumbling of Oscar Wilde turning in his grave'.

Does he get the message? Is his kevlar-armoured ego even dented?

'Every time Charles Dickens published something, The Times shredded him,' he said.

He's just not going to stop is he?

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