Emily and Phoebe

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Cor Blimey, Mary Poppins!

To the theatre last week to see "Mary Poppins Travels with the Beatles". I really don't know what to say about this. I mean I really don't know. Greeks can be a litigious bunch, so if I describe it as a "disgrace", a "farrago" or a "brain-curdling abomination" that might not be accepted as fair comment and I could find myself in court. So I won't. (Do you see what I did there?)

It probably suffices to stick to the facts. "Mary Poppins Travels with the Beatles" is a version of the classic Disney musical in which the Sherman brothers songs (with the exception of Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious [can't be bothered to check the spelling]) have been replaced by Beatles songs with the lyrics rewritten in Greek. And... that's it. Seriously. That's what passes for "high-concept" in some quarters. I can only assume that what went through the mind of the writer was something along the lines of "Mary Poppins = good, Beatles = good, therefore Mary Poppins + Beatles = double good!"

The whole thing is utterly bizarre. The original plot has been faithfully adhered to, but is overlaid with odd Fab Four references so that it becomes completely incomprehensible. Admiral Boom, for example (neighbour of the Banks's who lets off a cannon to mark the time) stands stage right throughout the whole show on a yellow submarine. Even more bafflingly, the directors of the bank who fire Mr Banks are John Paul George and Ringo! (This is a show for Greek schoolchildren. How many of them actually are actually going to know who the Beatles are?) My personal (excruciating) favourite was when the cast launched into "Mary in the Sky with Diamonds".

Now all this might not matter too much if the show was actually any good, but the singing was substandard, the dancing rudimentary and the production values non-existent. The images projected onto the screen at the back of the stage throughout the show, for example, were either poor quality or nicked (the "dance with the penguins" - remember Dick van Dyke hoofing with his trousers round his knees in the movie? - was accompanied by a two-minute scene from Happy Feet! I would be utterly astonished, by the way, if it turned out that the producers had bothered to secure the rights to use this scene - or any other copyright material, for that matter. Actually, I wouldn't be surprised if they think that the P.L. Travers book, the Disney film and the Beatles catalogue are all in the public domain and used all of them without permission.

It could of course be argued that all this is beside the point and that if the children liked it* then who am I to criticise? Well, as Nevi so wisely said, children like all sorts of things that are not good for them - which is why one of our jobs as parents is to teach them to be discriminating.

*Emily and Phoebe did, quite, though they had the advantage of having seen the film and knowing some Beatles songs. Goodness knows what some of the young audience made of it.


Blogger CaliforniaKat said...

Personally, that sounds frightening. In fact, I thought you were joking at first, but soon realized it was real...after all, we do live in GR. Suffice it to say, I don't want to see it, when I can't even imagine it.

1:33 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

It wouldn't have been so bad if it had been "lovingly ripped off" (that's Eric Idle's description of Spamalot, his stage musical version of Monty Python & the Holy Grail). But the quality was so low that it was just hugely disrespectful to the audience.

7:17 AM  

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