Thursday, 30 October 2008

A Fiennes howl

In the days before the internet I could have lived my entire life without experiencing the musical charms of Eydie Gormé. Now, thanks to the web, I know more than I could ever have imagined about her ‘musical journey that spans over 40 years’ (actually that should probably read ‘nearly 50 years’ but Eydie’s website isn’t updated as often as it might be).

Among this minefield of information is the fact that one half of the West End Whingers theatre blogging partnership (mission statement: ‘We cut into our wine time to tell you whether it’s worth missing the Merlot for the Marlowe’) has a cat who he named Eydie after the great Gormé.

I know this because the Whingers told me so in their review of the current production of Oedipus at the National, where Ralph Fiennes is howling the house down in what a number of critics have seen as an over-hammy interpretation of the title role. Eydie the cat may be named after Eydie the singer, but that doesn’t stop her being referred to at home as ‘EydiePuss’ – the thought of which is somewhat distracting, to both the Whingers and, as a result of reading their review, to me, when you’re trying to focus on Sophocles.

It’s also hard, as the Whingers point out, to remove your mind entirely from the fact that even by Greek-god story standards this is a gloriously implausible storyline. Even if you didn’t know the outcome in advance, it surely wouldn’t take you as long as Oedipus to wake up to the fact that Jocasta is the mother whose bed it was foretold he would defile. When the character you’re playing is so slow on the uptake, it difficult to imagine how you can be other than hammy (dictionary definition: ‘marked by exaggerated and usually self-conscious theatricality’) in playing him.

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