Review: Sleeping Beauty ~ theatre notes

Friday, July 13, 2007

Review: Sleeping Beauty

Sleeping Beauty: This Is Not A Lullaby, directed by Michael Kantor. Devised Paul Jackson, Maryanne Lynch and Anna Tregloan. Scenario by Maryanne Lynch and Michael Kantor, design by Anna Tregloan, lighting by Paul Jackson, choreography by Tony Bartuccio. With Alison Bell, Renée Geyer, Grant Smith and Ian Stenlake, music performed by Simon Burke, Peter Farnan, John Favaro and Andrew Sylvio. Malthouse Theatre @ Merlyn Theatre, CUB Malthouse, until July 28.

Ever since Vera Lynn captured the hopes and uncertainties of an entire war-torn generation, the idea that our lives have a soundtrack has become a truism. Popular songs are the emotional subtext of contemporary life: they express the heights of our passions, the wastelands of our desolations, our disillusions and hopes, our joys and desires.

This is never more true than in the blazing confusions of adolescence. The songs that matter then stay with us for the rest of our lives. Like Proust’s madeleine, a mere phrase of music can evoke whole narratives that are utterly personal to each of us. This is the idea that underlies Sleeping Beauty, in which the classic fairytale is reworked as a modern fable of sexual awakening told exclusively through well-known songs.

The devisors – director Michael Kantor, designer Anna Tregloan, lighting designer Paul Jackson and dramaturg Maryanne Lynch – have done something so completely obvious that, on reflection, it seems astounding that it hasn’t been done before. But I have never seen anything quite like Sleeping Beauty. For antecedents I had to reach back to the 17th century writer John Gay, who set the songs in The Beggar’s Opera to popular ballads, opera arias and folk tunes of his time. But in the 21st century we get the lyrics unchanged, to make a kind of theatrical collage of popular classics, opera, rap and gospel.

Sleeping Beauty extends Michael Kantor’s explorations of vulgar theatre – recently, vaudeville in Not Like Beckett, or pantomime in Babes in the Wood – and brings the form to an apotheosis, inventing a theatrical language that has the virtue of being available to anyone with even a passing acquaintance with popular culture. I found the show progressively more fascinating, as the songs and production layered meanings in ever more intricate ways. It was these unfolding complexities, as much as the power of the performances, which made this show transcend its initial aura of MTV video. As in any collage, the meaning emerges from juxtaposition and angle as much as its components, and the devisors work these aspects with deft hands.

It’s heartening to see theatre that draws so intelligently on the lingua franca of popular culture. The show includes a short interlude of projected anime, a moment of overpowering sensual overload that evokes both the vulnerability and violence of adolescent eroticism. And while this production shamelessly exploits the emotional immediacy of the songs, it equally exposes the innate drama in the lyrics of masters like Elvis Costello and Paul Weller. To this end, all the lyrics are clearly comprehensible (in a couple of cases, I shamefacedly confess, I understood a song for the first time).

Lynch and Kantor are drawing on Angela Carter’s feminist reworkings of fairytales, in which the stories are interpreted as metaphors of sexuality. Little Red Riding Hood, for example, is in Carter’s telling a fable of sexual maturation: her hood (which makes an appearance in this production) symbolises menstruation and the wolf is the consuming experience of adult sexual passion. Here, the story of Sleeping Beauty charts adolescent sexual rebellion and transition into chastened adulthood. Sleeping Beauty (Alison Bell, revealing that she has a startling singing voice as well as acting chaps) is the suffocatingly adored and infantilised younger daughter of a conventional nuclear family: Mum (Renée Geyer), Dad (Grant Smith) and her older brother (Ian Stenlake).

The scene is set by Madness’s Our House and Paul Weller’s sardonic portrait of suburban life, That’s Entertainment, with the adolescent Sleeping Beauty imprisoned in her pink and white virginal bed. The shift into the nightmarish drama of the subconscious is signalled by an extraordinary version of Elvis Costello’s haunting ballad I Want You. This song was, strangely, a feature of The Burlesque Hour that I saw a couple of weeks ago, but here it is transformed into a savage ballad that reveals the darker side of possessive love, excavating the unacknowledged incestuous desires that lie beneath parenthood.

Mum metamorphoses into a bowler-hatted witch, who – in a highlight scene that demonstrates the frankly terrifying power of Geyer’s voice – curses Sleeping Beauty with Eminem’s rap Go To Sleep (“Now go to sleep bitch! / Die, motherfucker, die!”). Sleeping Beauty’s long swoon has overtones of suicide, invoking the ancient connection between sleep and death, and it’s clear that the deathly impulses – both self-destructive and murderous – are against her adult, sexual self. Mum and Dad adore their little girl so much that they don’t want her to grow up.

The story follows Sleeping Beauty’s dreams, as she wanders through a series of grotesque and comic oneiric encounters, and here Kantor’s gift for unsettlingly beautiful theatrical image comes to the fore. The story doesn’t, as in the orthodox version, finish with the happy-ever-after of Prince Charming’s kiss. Rather, we realise that legitimised desire – the repetition of the dulled marriage of her parents – is as much a prison as Sleeping Beauty’s infantilised girlhood.

The loss of innocence, as her mother tells her in yet another show-stopping Geyer moment, is the “bitter earth” that nurtures the fruit of experience. Or something: the dramaturgy here follows an emotional, rather than a rational, logic. Despite its upbeat flavour, the last song – promising that “death is not the end” – is Nick Cave at his most savagely ironic, and it leads to a lyrical closing stage image that is a surprisingly moving evocation of the unsullied night.

It is worth the price of the ticket just to see Geyer – that miraculous voice is spine-tingling, as capable as ever of reducing an entire audience to awe-struck silence, and her theatrical debut has to be counted a triumph. But it’s not as if she throws her fellow performers into the shade: the night ultimately belongs to all of them. There were one or two rough edges on opening night, but it won’t be long before this is the hottest show in town.

The performances are first class, running the gamut from pathos to broad comedy to out-and-out foot-stomping passion. Backed by an impeccably tight band, each performer creates moments of utterly riveting theatre: there’s Grant Smith’s passionate renditions of Costello’s So Like Candy or a lament by Brahms, Alison Bell’s bad-girl Britney impersonation or her surprising acoustic version of the Divinyls Boys in Town, and Ian Stenlake’s over-the-top performance (dressed in a bloodied coat of feathers, like a camp Sid Vicious) of Bowie’s Rock’n’Roll Suicide.

Tregloan’s set is, for all its extravagant effect, very simple: it is effectively a series of curtained boxes, which open to reveal – with the help of Jackson’s lighting – an inventively various series of stage moods. The band is visible above the stage, in a box of its own that is also a playing area, and Tony Bartuccio's showbiz choreography adds an irresistible kitschy glamour. It adds up to a sheerly enjoyable and sometimes breath-taking production, a bastard hybrid of rock concert, cabaret and rough theatre, filtered through the spectacular visual imaginations of Kantor and Tregloan.

The whole is as close to Richard Wagner’s idea of “total theatre” (Gesamtkunstwerk) – the idea that all the different elements of theatre are fused into a single, overwhelming experience – as anything I’ve seen. And yes, it’s theatre, not an over-dressed concert: at once a superbly realised entertainment, and a work that plunges into the anarchic depths of the psyche, turbulent and savage and beautiful.

Picture: Ian Stenlake (top) and Alison Bell in Sleeping Beauty. Photo: Lisa Tomasetti

A shorter version of this review is published in today’s Australian.


Anonymous said...

There might be an error in the script: "Read more..." button didn't work for me, and I had a brief moment of shock (that that was the end of your review!, that nothing more was coming!).

My question. I've heard this idea of Angela Carter's interpretation of fairy tales a few times now. Feminist too. Now, I remember doing fairy tales in high school, in Croatia, with this same idea appearing, as our official interpretation, of them being tales of growing up (either cautionary tales for girls or adventure tales for boys), and also tales of rules: the young prince who has to leave home, kill the monster and find a princess is the incest taboo in a children story. Then I remember at uni, in Italy, studying Japanese folk tales, this repeated lesson in how similar they are around the world, because the lessons are the same, and adolescence is the same, and a analysis following along the same lines. But do you think that's all and only to do with Angela Carter, and her feminist reading? Because I don't remember Carter's name mentioned at any point, just this towering lesson: fairy tales are about sex, death and control.

In my mind, the interesting bit is where the same ideas are assigned differently and accepted as such. I thought it fascinating the way you discussed Ibsen on TN, Ibsen writing the last well-made plays of our time. In the version I remember from my Croatian high school, Ibsen was a daggy not quite modernist, not quite not, whose literary value was only in leading onto better things. None of that well-made play nonsense made it onto our literary plate.

(This is slightly off-topic. I thought I had no interest in seeing Sleeping Beauty until I've read your beautiful review.)

Alison Croggon said...

Thanks Jana - I don't know why the code isn't working, it works on Safari, but none of the links that previously worked fine seem to be working in Firefox. I will work on it, but I'm a bit baffled. In the meantime, just click on the "full post" link...

Feminist re-tellings of fairytales and myths were all the rage in the 80s - (and still are) so it's probably unfair to load all of this on Carter. There's Cixous, Carson and loads of others, including my own modest efforts. And Carter would be the last to take credit for all of it - there's a bunch of scholarship behind all this thinking. Carter's just very famous for it!

I'm inclined, btw, to think that these interpretations can be a little limiting, in the broader sense. So many of them are about eating, for instance, because when they were told, people were very often very hungry; and the wicked stepmother figure comes from a historical time when re-marriage meant more mouths to feed. Maybe sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. All the same, these re-tellings have been

Alison Croggon said...

(...I don't know what happened there. My kids complain all the time that I don't finish sentences, and maybe it's migrating to text too...)

anyway, yes, these retellings have injected all sorts of vitality into the fairy tale traditions.

Alison Croggon said...

(...I don't know what happened there. My kids complain all the time that I don't finish sentences, and maybe it's migrating to text too...)

anyway, yes, these retellings have injected all sorts of vitality into the fairy tale traditions.

Troubador said...

Do your kids complain about you repeating yourself?

Paul Martin said...

Ah, the humour, the humour! You made me laugh out loud, Troubadour.

Alison Croggon said...

I exist so my kids can complain about me. But I'm sure, underneath all that mockery, they love me really.

Apologies, I don't know what has been happening to my internet skills today...

Anonymous said...

Gorgeous review, Alison - never mind the hiccups! Wish I could transport myself to Melbourne to check out the show. Just saw NIDA's production of Sweet Charity tonight, which was a heart-lifting, toe-tapping, laugh-out-loud delight. And musicals aren't usually my number one choice.

Alison Croggon said...

Thanks Christine - I have now javascripted myself into a coma, but it all seems to be working now...

Anna Davern said...

"The devisors ... have done something so completely obvious that, on reflection, it seems astounding that it hasn’t been done before. But I have never seen anything quite like Sleeping Beauty."

Have you never seen a rock eisteddfod? It's pretty much the same only a lot cheaper.

Alison Croggon said...

Hi Annadee - yes, I have seen a rock eisteddfod. And no, it's not the same.

Anonymous said...

But in the 21st century we get the lyrics unchanged...

Forgive me for quibbling... But there were several tamperings. Some in the service of the "plot" (such as it is)... e.g. instead of "Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow", mama has. (In Bowie's 'Life On Mars'.)

Sometimes contrary to the plot... (Instead of "this bitter earth" we got "this big old earth" -- how jolly -- in the Dinah Washington song.) (That one was particularly baffling, as "bitter" would have plugged right back in with the Brahms lied... which, itself, is a misquotation of the bible. In the same set of songs, Brahms even uses some of the apocrypha. Yeah, sure, this is part of the point? of the show... telling/retelling of stories, the mutations which [sometimes] assist the evolution of the species...)

Sometimes the lyrics were just wrong. (In 'Boys In Town', the "bus in top gear" and the "I think they're pretty phony" lines were changed without any gain.)

Anonymous said...


Despite the fact that I am exactly smack in the middle of the target demographic of this show, it teed me off that the only song that rates as current is the DMX/Eminem/Obie Trice "Die, Muthafucker" Carabosse curse/rap. (One can hardly count Britney's 'Oops!' cos a solitary line was used from it.)

Why was there no Arcade Fire, for example? Why is the show so resolutely boomer/postboomer? Does it? -- Can it? -- speak to younger audiences?

The show struck me as lazy. I don't mind working hard for a show, but if I'm required to do ALL the work -- project worlds -- then I gain nothing from the experience. There's no dialogue. It's just inkblots.

Anonymous said...

"Oops! I posted again..."

(Did a Moses!!)

Alison Croggon said...

Hi Chris - There's something wrong with the software - it keeps seeing double. I've removed one of your posts so others don't have to...

Yes, there were slight changes to the lyrics. But hardly substantive (anyway, I probably didn't pick most of them up). As for the "younger audience" business - I can't generalise, but certainly my kids and their peers - admittedly, inner-city urban kids, into the independent music scene in Melbourne - don't seem to be very generational about music. It's all available to them in ways it just wasn't for us, and they listen to everything. Lou Reed, Costello, Paul Weller and David Bowie are as cool as they ever were. They listen to Arcade Fire and to the Pixies and Radio Birdman, Nick Cave and Rufus Wainwright. They're planning to go to this show, so we'll see what they think; but my suspicion is they'll like it.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Alison Croggon said...

Hi fox - yes, it does take all sorts. Thankfully; if we all agreed, the world would be much duller. I spoke to a couple of people who thought SB was a load of tosh. I thought they were missing the point by a country mile, but there you go. And it certainly wasn't a "play": theatre is not confined to productions of plays, and thank god for that, too.

To segue for a moment: Chris's narky comment about Castellucci moments on his blog is, actually, a little unfair: the top hat and tails business reminded me rather more of what Kantor did with Smetanin's The Burrow in 1994 (?) in Western Australia - a very beautiful production - so that you might as well say that Castellucci was doing a Kantor. (Disclosure: I wrote the libretto. And for those who think this is a problem: Kantor also directed my play Lenz for a Melbourne Festival - 1997 I think - which I hated so much I didn't attend after the dress rehearsal and wanted my name taken off the program. It's fair to say that our professional relationship has been marked by, ahem, frank and honest exchange.)

Anonymous said...

Admirably courteous to the fox and hounds, ma'am.

Noted. I don't think I saw Kantor's production of The Burrow. (Pretty sure I saw Horton's, in 1995, with Dan Potra designs... and I remember the set, not the costumes.) And I couldn't say, with any certainty, how long the top hat look has been with Castellucci.

I'll stand by the horsie headgear, tho, from the Duran Duran video. :)

Alison Croggon said...

Yes, you would have seen Horton's. All due respect to Chamber Made, but Kantor's premiere production (also designed by Dan Potra) which was on in Perth and then Sydney was very different (grungier, darker, and much more passsionate) and to my mind vastly superior, and I'm still proud to think I was involved in it. Moments still haunt me. It was my first experience of a full-on theatre production, and I thought it was always like that. Ha!

richardwatts said...

As always, Alison, and interesting, informed and considered review, although I differ with your conclusions about the production.

For me, alas, its musical and visual collage, while entertaining, was not as effective as it should have been. It seemed to fall short of what it could have been, I feel: when the production should have been awe-inspiring, it felt wooden (eg Grant Smith's rendition of 'Deep in the Woods'); when it should have been confronting, it felt overblown (eg the scene where - and I cannot recall the song - three of the cast donned beehive wigs and long nails). Even the screening of anime scenes felt like lazy theatrical shorthand.

I applaud the fact that such a production has been devised and presented, but for me it lacked the edge required to make Kantor and co's Sleeping Beauty the visceral, macabre, magnificent production I felt it wanted - and needed - to be.

Alison Croggon said...

Hi Richard

I think it's clear what we think, and de gustibus and all that - we're not going to convince each other. And we were all there on the same night, and I don't think different seating would have made a great deal of difference to the experience. But I'm just curious: your review and comment are full of things the production should have been, and I find it a little puzzling. Eg, you sketch out the premise - "Beauty's long sleep then, is indicative of the way in which young girls are taught that to be attractive, they must be passive; helpless until rescued by their own Prince Charming" - and then say it doesn't illustrate it. And I'm a little baffled, because I think it really did that quite clearly - Beauty's initial passivity and then her rebellion, and the disillusion of her happy ever after marriage, etc, where she and Prince Charming are enclosed in a box. That argument was very clear, surely.

The silent kiss business was I thought personally very effective - but we're back in opinion-land - the show wasn't about denying feeling, but exploring it. And the three mad witches in beehives and ridiculous long nails were clearly meant to be over-the-top and funny, not sinister...they made me and everyone around me laugh, anyway. And it really is in a different vein from Barrie Kosky's work and to my mind is a development of Kantor's previous work. One of the things I thought about it in fact was the opposite, that Kantor is getting out of Kosky's shadow.

I'm not saying this show is beyond criticism, by any means: just that nothing I've read so far makes me stop and think, because it doesn't chime with some unnoticed or unreported aspect of my own experience. What I'm wondering is whether, because of the full-on entertainment aspect of the show - and even Chris said it was superb entertainment, even if he didn't think it was theatre - people are thinking that it can't be "art", ie, serious as well. More negative capability, chaps?

Anonymous said...

Quite right, Alison, this is not a battle to the death! But it is an opportunity to refine our points of disagreement.

The kiss, to me, clinched the fact that this was all a sleight of hand. A theatrical thimble and pea trick. It wouldn't have been the least bit surprising to me, then, if Sleeping Beauty had turned into a parable about date rape. By then it had become so arbitrary.

Yet, man, this should have been an unforgettable scene. It could have been like the scene in that film L'Ennui in which an academic older man is "doing it" (in his head at least) to a dumb young woman. (In the film, she is presented from his perspective, as being rather slow and bovine.)

But, there, in a pivotal (and superbly choreographed) scene, the power balance is reversed. We watch the man fucking the unseen girl -- it's all about his pleasure -- when, suddenly, mid encounter, she rises up towards him, hungrily, into the frame. She could swallow him whole. In a moment, we understand that she has the man in her power. He is her drone. She is subject, not object.

In the same way, Alison Bell rose up -- responsive to the kiss. Eager. Hungering for the passion. And I felt nothing but bemusement.

All these riches we were taunted with. A million semiotic invitations. To look beneath the surface. But under every thimble, there was nothing. No pea. Nothing but unfulfilled promise.

Funnily enough, the similarity to Douglas Horton's style of direction (semiotic riches signifying bugger all) is what teed me off. :)

BTW, Lady A, I don't really understand what you mean by "More negative capability, chaps?"

Anonymous said...

P.S. I thought the show was one Tears For Fears song short of a Neighbours commercial. (Heh.)

Alison Croggon said...

Just for the record: a test sample of three young people (my kids, aged 12, 17 and 19) went to see Sleeping Beauty on Saturday night. They loved it: yes, it was all fab, no problem relating to it, it wasn't too "old" for them (they know all the music), they thought their friends would love it, it looked like theatre to them, and Renee Geyer doing rap is a complete winner and they want the recording. Though they weren't as enamoured of the anime bit as I was. So it certainly got the youth vote.

Anonymous said...

First of all (and as pointed out by Chris), the lyrics did not 'remain unchanged'. Rather, they were butchered in a vain attempt to fit them - and for the most part unsuccessfully - into the narrative. Perhaps even more frustrating were the moments where stage direction was taken directly from the lyrics (I nearly walked out during Starman when Sleeping beauty did indeed "Switched on the TV" and apparently did "Pick him up on Channel Two").

Secondly, this sort of thing HAS been done before and far more successfully too. Admittedly it is in a cinematic context, but did you see Moulin Rouge? Rock Eistedford is an obvious and, despite what was said above, devastatingly accurate comparison (Sorry Alison, your "no it's not the same" argument doesn't hold much water).

The bottom line is the show smacked of a bad university production with a budget. Hackneyed, cliched and obvious themes with no real meaning behind them set in what we are told is an 'edgy' and 'rebelious' framework, but what is - in reality - simply tiresome.

I'd completely forgotten about the projected Anime clips until Richard pointed them out. I think that speaks volumes about how useful they were.

Apart from some loose blocking and choreography, there seemed to be no direction of the actors. Instead they were left to cycle through a range of first-year-drama-student patented facial expressions during songs the songs they weren't singing.

Good points? Renee Geyer was fantastic. The younger girl (and I'll apologise now for not including any other names) is a great singer, but manages to over act her way clear of any real praise. The younger bloke has a similar approach, but doesn't even have the saving grace of being a good singer.

The set, with the obvious exception of the dangly circular saw thing, was great. The band was also great.

So there you go, at least I finished on some positives.

Alison Croggon said...

Hi Mark - I guess we'll just have to agree to differ! I've seen a lot of theatre in my time (and quite a few rock concerts) and felt this was fresh and original. As did a number of hardcore theatre types I've spoken to who adored the show. The rock eisteddfod comparison is imho fair - in a non-perjorative way - in so far as SB is absolutely and obviously plugging into that strand of popular culture. And doing something very interesting with it, which is quite unlike what I've seen of rock eisteddfods. Or Moulin Rouge - as you mention, that's a film, not theatre, and the actual artform does count in art. This plugging into popular culture - the vernacular, if you like - is, as I said earlier, one of the things I really liked about it.

I'm quite fascinated - and actually surprised - by how this show has prompted more commentary - and even outrage - than almost any other I've reviewed here. Is it that putting actual popular culture into a "high art" context is somehow disgraceful? Is some boundary crossed here, or something?

Anonymous said...

I think the reason behind the outrage (if that's what it is) is a lot simpler than that, Alison. And you nail its backstory/rationale in your first pars...

The songs that matter then stay with us for the rest of our lives. Like Proust’s madeleine, a mere phrase of music can evoke whole narratives that are utterly personal to each of us.

I, for one, felt toyed with. These wraiths of memory and desire were conjured up but not controlled let alone harnessed.

I was reminded of the use of Billy Holiday's song Strange Fruit in a Hollywood potboiler. Appalling.

Clearly, many felt the lack of a clear dramatic spine acutely.

The show struck me as emotionally dishonest... (I think the phrase comes from Michael Billington in reference to Les Mis.) But the dishonesty was incidental. It wasn't a deliberate strategy. It was emotional driftnetting...

Theatre should be a silver bullet, surely, not a B52 carpet bombing raid.

Alison Croggon said...

Hmm. Dishonest? I think that's a rather different accusation from unsuccessful. You're suggesting cynical manipulativeness here, and I really think that's unfair. I'm not sure what you mean - that the conflicts and passions of adolescence are trivial and not worthy of "art" (Goethe and Wedekind didn't think so)? That's it's meretricious to explore them with songs that popularly resonate with those emotions? That the makers were comparing lynching with the lesser brutalities of middle class conditioning (even though there was no such comparison, after all)? I didn't feel manipulated, except insofar as all theatre is manipulative - which it is: I feel cynically manipulated in much of Williamson's work, or say that Joe Penhall thing the MTC put on a couple of years ago. But I was happy to go with this, it gave back, with interest.

You could make the same accusation about "dramatic spine" about Heiner Mueller's Hamletmachine or Kane's 4:48 or any other works of the so-called post-dramatic stage. There are different kinds of dramaturgy. What can I say? It worked for me.

Casey Bennetto said...

Alison, I think these folks are saying - and I haven't seen Sleeping Beauty yet so I haven't got an opinion here - that the use of such songs in this context is unfair not to the piece or the theatre but to the songs themselves. I don't think anybody's arguing that it's somehow heretical to use modern pop/rock in this framework.

Maybe that's where the "Moulin Rouge" comparison comes in. When I saw "Moulin Rouge" I felt cheated; I felt as if it had been constructed by someone who held little respect for the songs and used them as theatrical/cinematic shorthand, attempting to capitalise on the established emotional 'pull' of the songs without bothering to perform them in full (or in earnest). I felt like I feel every time I see a little of "Australian Idol" and hear someone sing one verse and chorus of a "classic song" and leap to the outro as if they were in a hurry to get to the "good bits" where they can warble on in a tiny pseudomelismatic orgasm.

And for sure, if a song like the La's "There She Goes" - a song that conjures up oceans of romance and addiction, notwithstanding its use over the opening titles of "So I Married An Axe Murderer" - is shoehorned into the service of a plot that feels beneath it, if its use is reductionist, then certainly I understand where folks are comin' from. A good pop/rock song is its own entire world, and a lover of that song is bound to be fiercely protective of the ways in which it is interpreted, just as Sondheim would surely get a little antsy if someone chopped a couple of songs out of one of his pieces, or as the Beckett estate would hunt down and kill anyone who chose to do a version of "Godot" in which every third word was replaced with "rhubarb" (hmmm! not a bad idea!). And remember the Peter Frampton/Bee Gees "Sergeant Pepper" film, where the female romantic lead was called Strawberry Fields? Shudder.

I'm not saying that any of this is true of "Sleeping Beauty"; again, I haven't seen it yet, though I look forward to doing so. Just guessing that that's maybe where some other folks are comin' from.

(Written and authorised by someone who ripped off The Small Faces for a cheap gag in his own work, so there you go.)

Alison Croggon said...

Thanks so much, Casey! I don't want to come across as miffed or defensive because people don't agree with me - and nor do I think I'm "right". But I have been genuinely puzzled by some of the responses here, which seem to abuse the show for being exactly what it says it is, so it's nice to read something that makes a totally clear argument about why people might take exception.

I didn't feel that it was a cheap or inappropriate exploitation of the songs (for one thing, the performances are for the most part very worthy interpretations). Though it certainly exploits their emotional power, that seemed right for a fairy tale about adolescence. But yes, I see those perils... Pop in and let us know what you think when you've seen it.

Anonymous said...

Dear Alison and fellow readers

I’ve been reading reviews and comments about SB with a lot of interest, because I had a very strong experience in the work, and have been curious to see if anyone else has responded in a similar way. What I’ve found though, is an absence that I’m intrigued and a bit saddened by – that while the work itself is playing (albeit in the most deceptively, apparently superficial ways – the “that’s entertainment” of pop cultural referencing) with deep questions of female identity, embodiment and socialisation, the struggles of the female intuition, sexuality and subconscious, I’m only able to find writing on it that feels to me to be of the intellect, of the theatrical review or the cultural critique. Not, of course, that there’s anything wrong with that, Jerry. But I’d like to throw my experience as a female, in her body, living in and constructed by this world which birthed the songs the show sings, the world she observes on the stage …

So, I’m sitting on the train post-show, travelling home. Tears are still welling, as they have been since SB’s little body was absent from the play’s opening, her space constructed for her by the desperate desires of those around her, since she made her physical entrance on stage, well after her world was already made, predetermined to step into the spaces moulded for her. Tears that sat under my eyes while she, now present, is held in the bed that the projected desires of others have made for her. And don’t get me started about the utterly awful sense of entrapment, the shrinking, disappeared body of herself during the incestuous interpretation of “I Want You.” I’m on the train, upset, re-membering my own body as my chest is hurting and my throat tight, and while I want to scream for SB and for other silenced girls I find I can’t, or at least I won’t because it’s not polite on the 9:15pm. See what I mean. And I realise with a thud that my own body is arms crossed tight over chest, lips held, churning inside and eyes looking out out out through the glass into space looking for answers. And I of course, am a mirror of SB’s own body curled in her sixteen year old inarticulate frustration/confusion/anger/whatever.

I know, like all art, this one’s pressing my buttons and I’m of course bringing my own experience to it, and I’m receiving and projecting and all the rest from my own subjective place. Which is kind of one of the points of my anger. Not at the show’s wit, or it’s style or theatricality, all of which I admired. Not at the show’s use of the power of music and lyric to slip in under and behind our usual rational hearings of things and kick deeper into our emotional, intuitive selves. But anger at the fact that I never felt SB had HER own subjective place. She was, and is, always the object, always playing the part – good girl, wild girl, back home with hubby girl. And hey, it doesn’t matter anyway because, as the final Nick Cave song says (and I was desperately trying to wring some irony from it), there’ll basically be somewhere better when we’re dead, happily eternally ever after, so don’t bother hoping or trying or working for anything better down here on Earth. Accept your lot girl, and keep smiling. Could I feel any more disempowered in the theatre?

Anyway, I’m stringing some thoughts together now to put words to what’s hurting and wrenching in my body and what I’m thinking is that I really like how clever the show is, a witty and seamless marriage of contemporary pop culture with the old European tales. The archetypes remain the same, the new echoes the older. And here’s where my upset rises again, because where’s the alternatives? Where’s the options? Is this the only way, ever, to be a female in my culture? And, dammit, the bloody tears are welling again while I re-member the audience, full of bright young people, boys and girls, and I despair to think that they’re buying the line that this is the only way to do your gender:- SB and PC, damned to become the sexually jealous mother and possessive controlling father and repeat and repeat and …?

I remember now, as I’m on the train, that maybe why my chest is hurting is because I was holding my breath. I was waiting, hoping, and yes, desperately desiring, SB to break out from the slick and smooth theatrical conventions, to smash the performance paradigm and offer us her own voice (and there’s a whole other book of essays about whether such a thing even exists outside the voice/s set for her by her culture), or at least a wordless protest, some roar from outside the fables and the lyrics. And it never came. It never came. And this is where my tears spill over. And of course I know that this sadness, no, it’s a deeper grief from my guts, is all about my own unfulfilled desires, my own expectations projected onto the work. So can this really be called a criticism of the work? When my pain is about what the work doesn’t say? Or is this a criticism of the same broader culture that the play embodies and reflects, the one that only allows female desire as long as it fits within the patriarchal songs we already know.

It’s so very not coincidental that I’m crying on the train, taken back by song to memory to my adolescent becoming adult body, and that, right now, I’m extremely pre-menstrual. So my emotions are closer to my surface. So I’m more sensitive to these soft subtle gross connections of psyche to body to space. Some might utter those previous two sentences disparagingly, as a judgment to dismiss and disempower. I feel it differently. This is exactly the place of SB’s story – the place of change, of potential, of life and loss – perhaps the right space from which to experience the show. But I’m aware of my subjective position, and, I hope, have been able to articulate it. SB’s tragedy, for me, is that I only ever see the most fleeting of moments of awareness and question of her bondage to the path culturally set. Silent pain that rises in her face, but is then pushed away by the next song, to be finally buried at her wedding. If only she’d been able to roar.

Catherine Ryan

Anonymous said...

I couldn't resist jumping in on this one.

I saw SB the other night and was bitterly disappointed. I hadn't read your review at the time Alison but I already had quite high expectations.

For me the two main let downs were:
a) the choice of music
b) I didn't feel it was truly theatrical

With the music, it really struck me as if proper research hadn't been done or care had been taken to really find the RIGHT songs for the right moments. It seemed like somebody had just flipped through their record collection (especially when the 3rd David Bowie song made its appearance). The moments where the right songs were chosen only served to highlight this. The use of Eminem, "I Want You" and "This Bitter Earth" was inspired but "Boys In Town" was fairly predictable (both my friend and I guessed it would be making an appearance at interval), "There She Goes" was just downright confusing and "Our House" made me blush with embarrassment for the actors. It also seemed quite dated and not applicable to teenagers of today. They're great songs yes.. but the songs a lot of today's teenagers are aligning with aren't great songs. If you're going to delve into the mind of a teenage girl and her sexual awakening in 2007 (which judging by her costume they were trying to do), don't rely so heavily on tunes from the 70's. I was half expecting them to pull out some Carole King while we were there.

There's something about the use of popular music that often seems so lazy to me. It either uses songs to do the work for them or to borrow from another posting shoehorns them into inappropriate places. I felt the same thing in Moulin Rouge. Rather than creating an emotion, they piggy-backed on the emotions that pre-existing songs carried with all their many associations. For me, the moments in both Sleeping Beauty and Moulin Rouge that really worked were when they made very artful choices of music and then subverted your expectations of the songs and their historys (ie. Smells Like Teen Spirit in MR or Go To Sleep in SB).

It seemed lazy to me and it didn't really feel like theatre either. It was a theatrical presentation of some karaoke (wonderfully performed yes.. no question.. but still karaoke). I agree with the comment about it being like a rock eisteddfod and I also felt if you're going to call SB theatre, then you may as well call Madonna's concerts theatre too - she was after all using a lot of the same imagery and even allowing us a little manga interlude to get into the head of "what it feels like for a girl" back in 2001. And if I'm watching a theatre show that reminds me of a Madonna concert from 6 years old, something ain't working.

And just to throw in another comparison (why not hey??), Boulevard Delerium for some reason I did find inherently theatrical and absolutely rivetting. It seemed to draw upon popular culture and work it into a theatrical setting with much more precision and skill - NICK

Anonymous said...

And just to be a real annoying music nerd, Death Is Not The End is a Bob Dylan song though Nick Cave did do a wonderfully optimistic take on it - NICK

Alison Croggon said...

Hi Nick and Catherine

Thanks for both those fantastic responses!

Strangely, Catherine, looking at the gender of correspondents, I almost asked in my last post whether response might be conditioned by gender (but then thought it might be thought a cop-out). I began to wonder whether women might read those dramaturgical arguments about rebellion and disempowerment and the sexual neutering of middle class gender conditioning more acutely and viscerally than men. And your post makes me wonder even more. Which is not to say that responses would divide along gender lines - I know men who adored it, and at least one woman here didn't like it at all - but certainly, those who have objected to its lazy dramaturgy haven't at all mentioned, as you do so eloquently in your post, the feminist reworking of the fairytale, and what it means. (What do we have in the theatre to respond with except our subjectivity, our experience, our lives?)

I think you're on the knocker here, and what you say runs parallel with what I experienced. I thought the show was pretty bleak: to me it was about the socialised crippling of passion and, yes, female silencing, as you say so clearly here.

And now I begin to perceive something, as if through a glass darkly. Could it be that rock and roll is still a boy's world, a boy's fantasies, and that using those songs to express a girl's sexual and social disempowerment is part of the discountenance here, the feeling that the songs are being abused and misused?

Anonymous said...

Hey Alison,

That's an interesting point about the gender divide.

I hadn't read Catherine's post when I posted mine and going back to look at it, I agree with a lot of what she's saying. I really liked the way the show set up this construction of Beauty before she made it into the world and as soon as she makes it to the stage she's suffocated by her family but I felt there needed to be a moment where she could explode and let it out. Life On Mars was the closest we got (unless you count the Britney moment - I don't!).

As a side note - while watching it I noticed the Castelluci similarities so was interested to learn from your posting Alison that Kantor had been using the top hat elegant imagery back in the 90's.

I think you're right that I'm feeling the songs were abused and misused but I think boys rock and roll can still be used by girls to good measure and sometimes even more effectively. I remember Tori Amos' album Strange Little Girls where she performed legendary songs by male artists including Eminem to great effect. Some of her versions I thought were superior to the original and she really made them her own and brought a new level of emotion to them without changing a single lyric. It mainly worked because for the most part her choices of songs was so inspired. The album as a whole plays out to make its own political argument. I guess I expected this show to have that level of thought put into its song selection.

The predictable thing would have been to tell the story using Kate Bush, Carole King and hell even Tori Amos songs to plot the girl's journey and so I did welcome the fact they didn't go with the obvious options but it did end up going down such an oppressive bleak path that seemed to disempower Beauty and strip her of her voice, her rage and her hope. And in 2007, I wondered why? - NICK

Anonymous said...

Hi Alison,

I think you might be doing your respondents a bit of a disservice by inferring that they are split down gender lines - women "getting it" and men feeling that their territory has somehow been encroached upon by the alien and "other" narrative themes.

As a male, my major beef with the narrative would be that it isn't especially alien or other, but I get the darnedest feeling that I'm meant to believe it is - and this limits my ability to buy into the subversive elements of SB that I think the production team wants me to perceive.

The tagline runs something along the lines of "this is not a lullaby" which made me think I was in for something genuinely innovative, arresting, haunting and, yes, macabre.

Instead, what I got was a very cross-generational experience - someone telling me something with great excitement that the rest of us have known for years. Like Nanna sending you her first email.

Maybe I'm being hopelessly naive, but I think a lot of people who have grown up over the last two decades are actually very au fait with the feminist reclamation of folk and fairy tales. We can see the Christian propaganda in Hans Christian Anderson, we do question why it's always the stepmother who's wicked in the Brothers Grimm. We are aware that the female body is usually the locus of action rather than the agent of it, the fetishistic reward for the often unnamed prince.

And because we do live in a new world of gun-toting Red Riding Hoods and Cinderellas who'd prefer a block of chocolate, thanks for asking, SB came across as a Johnny-come-lately to this Gen Y-er.

Especially since it's quite reminiscent of "Labyrinth" in basic narrative construct (and Bowie content) - which is more than 20 years old now.

That's not to say that I'm not interested in hearing a subversive feminist perspective - more that you need to delve a bit further than SB did if you want to be include in the ranks of truly iconoclastic theatre.

All that said, I actually didn't mind the narrative of SB and, rather than feeling threatened as a male, my favourite moments were the shining girl power moments that occasionally punctuated the piece.

"Life on Mars" felt like an appropriate evocation of Beauty's frustration at her familial confinement; "Cherry Bomb" a glorious refutation of the roles being thurst upon her, even in the dream world. By contrast, "Boys in Town", her capitulation that the only way out of her labyrinth is if a man draws her out, was a disappointment thematically (though I actually enjoyed the arrangement).

No, it's not any masculine-angst over the feminist elements of SB that made me tempted to leave at intermission - it was the yawning generation gap.

I've already mentioned how I feel that the production was thematically a generation behind and I really felt this was beautifully exemplified by the choice of music throughout the piece. I know you're not going to agree but it really felt to me like a Rock Eisteddfod for the boomer generation.

Which isn't in itself bad, but doesn't welcome me into the fold at all.

Still, reading Catherine's wonderful post, I realise that it really did have that visceral effect on some people and my perspective is a very personal one. Indeed, reading Catherine's post has made me yearn for that feeling of connection to SB even more.

I went to SB expecting innovation, expecting subversion. What I got was more of a nostalgic look at the last generation's innovation and subversion. What was new and shocking then re-gifted as something new and shocking now.

By the time the third Bowie song reaches its climax, I'm looking in the tiger's mouth to confirm, yep, this beast is totally toothless.

I'm guessing that the expense of music rights probably paid a role here - but wouldn't it have been more interesting to look at the songs 17 year olds a listening to now and use them as the vehicle for satire and observation. What does "Fergalicious" say to young girls? Should Gwen Stefani be a role model? And, if not, what's the counter argument? Lily Allen? Beth Ditto? Someone that hasn't come along yet?

And, most embarrassing of all, the sing-a-long at the end (even more than the excruciating "Our House" segment). What bigger signpost that we are in safe territory than Renee Geyer encouraging the people to all clap in time and sing the words they know by heart? All is known, all is familiar, go home and go to bed.

That said, the cast did a stellar job, particularly the Renee Geyer, Allison Bell and Grant Smith, and the show is genuinely incredibly entertaining for all its safeness. It just doesn't do what it says on the tin.


Anonymous said...

Ah Seth, you've taken the words right out of my mouth - NICK

Alison Croggon said...

Fair points, Seth and Nick. At no point would I have claimed that this show is Castellucci...!

Anonymous said...


I havnt looked through all the comments, i was getting a little tired of adults and their unrelenting cynicism towards everything. I don't understand why they have to somehow adulter (pun?)everything that is, essentially, just what it is.

I saw Sleeping Beauty and being relatively new to the theatre scene, i generally didnt know what to expect.
What i did get was, put basically, an emotional, interesting, definately different, eclectic, experience. I absolutely LOVED the play, or musical if you will.

Another thing i'm slightly offended about is how everyone is up and ready to shout about how the song choices made it so difficult for a young audience to relate. i for one am not ready to apologise for my loathing and continued boycotting of the mass produced, mainstream, bubblegum, cliched, predictable garbage people my age are being fed today.

As simple as we may seem, teenagers are resourceful enough to find another well when the one we drink from dries out.

Me and my boyfriend, between us knew 90% of the songs. (and in fact have quite a few of them on our respective ipods). The song choices were no problem. The manner in which they were included also helped shed some new light as to what they really meant.

What Sleeping Beauty was trying to convey was generally realised. What exactly was the play falsly promising you?

There were of course, a few loose ends which remained untied, but personally, this is something i always prefer. It's also useful as a means of discussion post-play. Ultimately I despise the smug satisfaction of knowing everything.

And as an added note, let me just say that Renee Geyer rapping was mint. Im probably one of few my age who know who she is, but i was lucky enough to stumble across her in mum's CD rack one day. I totally understood and was left wide-eyed at the contrast of her rapping to Eminem. I loved it.

Alison Croggon said...

Thanks, Anon. Argument and theatre go together, and this is actually a good thing. Fwiw, all the young people I know have exactly the same music listening patterns as you do. I actually think there's a significant shift there: when I was a teen (I'm 45 now) music had a different significance and was a marker of gender and age in a way that seems to me, in my casual observation, to have changed completely now.

Anonymous said...

I'd agree that there is a shift in what teenagers listen to today in comparison to times past - I'm not too far out of my teens either.

What I would say though is that GENERALLY there's a difference between the mind and mentality of your average teenager and those that log onto a theatre review blog ;)

But besides, I wasn't saying that the song choices made it difficult for young audiences to relate. When it comes down to it, I couldn't really care less whether a young audience relates to it or not. That's up to Michael Kantor and the Malthouse to be concerned with if that's the demographic they're chasing. My beef was that the song choices weren't always the right ones or as well considered as they could have been. Hell they could have pulled out a lute classic from the Renaissance if that meant we could have been spared Our House.

I guess it comes down to Seth's point about the safeness of the show. Its marketing led me to believe it was going to be edgy but to borrow from a lot of previous postings - a show thats drawing upon feminist texts of the 80's, theatrical productions of the 90's, songs of the 70's, Madonna concerts of 2001 and ends with a Renee Geyer sing-a-long doesn't quite fit into the edgy category. - NICK

Anonymous said...

Hey Alison, Seth, Nick et al

I’m enjoying all your thoughts on this. I was also curious like you Seth, as to why most of music for the story of this 16 year old girl was the stuff that I, as a Gen Xer, am really familiar with. I reckon that the profound nostalgic connection (and I mean on a deep visceral level, not simple corny sentimentalism) I have to the songs used in the show really helped push me to the places I went. And seeing as the show’s creators are around my Gen too, it makes sense to me why that era was favoured – memory works like that, it’s a potent thing..

I’m interested too in your Lily Allen et al suggestion (and hey, how about Bjork? – she’s my Gen I know, but still pumping it out, like Tori), and yes now we’ve got girlpower and raunch culture (but there are plenty of feminists who argue, like Germaine Greer in “The Whole Woman”, that these are no liberation at all), and “a new world of gun-toting Red Riding Hoods and Cinderellas who'd prefer a block of chocolate” - I agree. But concurrently with those guntoters we’ve got the scary rise of “Princess” culture – of tribes of little girls wrapped in impractical pink frou-frou frocks and high heels and make-up for the under tens. Where the commercially marketed dresses from the Disney version fairystories are the hottest fashion item at kids parties – and I wonder how far we’ve really come. And I’m seeing this as a Gen X-er with my friends’ and family’s young kids around. This worries and upsets me. Commercialism is also selling the same old crap to the next generations, and it’s my desire to rip that open, and make us look damn hard at the cost of that. Not only for middle class females, but for males, because those dynamics trap us all in those roles. And then beyond the middle class too – because the deep meanings of those stories have potent reverberations through class as well. And we haven’t even touched on how heterocentric it is. But as I said in my first post, this is about my desires, and is it fair of me to impose those on someone else’s art? Nope – I should probably just shut up speak up and make my own. Except that I feel it’s an opportunity lost, but that’s just my perspective.

I’m not sure about your boy/rock and roll idea Alison, but I do think you’re on to something. What I’m thinking here is that this show is a metaphoric expression of mass dominant culture (as I’m thinking maybe the fairytales could have been in their time) – and music is used as the expression, as the representative symbols of that culture. Therefore, for me, no matter how hard Beauty sang, she was still singing the dominant story, which is not necessarily her own. Taken away from the context of this show, I do think that girls can do rock and roll (or other musical forms) and make them work for them in their own context. But in this case, the songs were always operating with their representative symbolic weight first, and then organized in a neat narrative structure of the SB story. And that claustrophobic symbolic weight is where I suspect, maybe, my responses came from. And in that respect, the show was successful in making me feel the anger, frustration, chasm between what my body and mind were begging Beauty to do, and what the dominant culture allowed her – which was no option other than silence or singing their tunes.

I reckon that SB made a very clear and strong point – that is that we’ve not moved on. Princesses are still with us as cultural icons … (and don’t get me started on Australian Princess, there’s a whole other rave to be had on that one…). I just really want to know what the creators wanted us to think and feel about that. I felt the statement was made, the situation reflected (and done really well and powerfully for mine), and I was left to be trapped in it while the mirrorball spun on to eternity, unless I screamed my own way out, but without any pathway, or guide, or even invitation that I could.

Maybe I’m naïve, and my hopes are ill-founded, but as you say Nick, this is 2007, and I too was hoping to find offers of other ways of doing this gender, and yes Alison, class, thing. I really don’t want to believe that us humans are destined to make the same mistakes over and over. But then, maybe Thom Pain’s right next door, and the pain never goes away. But….

Thanks for the conversations, and sorry Bob for missing your song credit.

Alison Croggon said...

Hey, you're on dangerous ground there, Nick - you might get stalked by teenaged intellectuals brandishing their copies of Hamlet and Lou Reed vinyls...

I can't believe how long this conversation is going on! I think I'm talked out on SB - I fear I'm only repeating myself. I'm not sure I'm so at odds, either, with some of the things said here: I don't want to defend things I didn't claim. Fwiw, Catherine, I think your feeling of loss is indeed what the show was doing, and I read the Cave/Dylan singalong as irony. And yes, I'd agree it's a show made by and probably aimed at people of my age - though I don't think of myself as a babyboomer. (In fact, I'm not sure I agree with those categories at all, which seem to me to be fantasies of the mass market, but that's another topic altogether.) It sure demomstrates what a personal thing musical taste is...

I've been thinking a bit about expectations, since they seem to play so much into this discussion (and also, as it happens, into my experience this weekend of the RSC). Having seen Kantor's Babes in the Wood (a high spirited celebration of panto) and Not Like Beckett, I wasn't expecting a Kosky-esque radicality in this one. I think Kantor has a more populist edge, which for my part I enjoy.

Anonymous said...

"...but certainly, those who have objected to its lazy dramaturgy haven't at all mentioned, as you do so eloquently in your post, the feminist reworking of the fairytale, and what it means."

Oh come on, Alison. Sleeping Beauty isn't even Liberal Feminism 101. You aren't going to win us over -- or shut us up -- with straw man arguments! They look like evasions.

Okay, perhaps I didn't made my point clearly. The thing that was lacking in this show was intent. "Clarity of intent" then. Or agreement within the team about intent. Sleeping Beauty was noncommittal. There was no obvious (structural) integrity of purpose. If you didn't bring your own baggage along, there was nothing but sepia-coloured dried-blood-blots.

Yeah, sure, theatre is a two-way thing. But -- and anyone who has been a performer, writer, director, dramaturg or attentive theatregoer will know this -- if there isn't an agreed and clearly-articulated through-line behind the scenes, then nothing can be communicated. It's all arbitrary.

That through-line certainly doesn't have to be communicated to the audience -- and it's highly likely in an abstract work that the meaning inferred will differ vastly from the team's -- it's more like a trellis for the theatrical vine. [Ick, I can do better than this... tired, okay?] It's one of those sine qua non elements of good theatre. These are the times -- like reading poetry -- when the audience member can say: I have no idea what's going on, but I believe that there is something going on and I am willing to invest my time and energy in finding out what is going on. We feel it before we think it.

Let me give you an example... on opening night when the kiss was delivered, it was entirely possible (and it wouldn't have surprised me one little bit) if the team had decided that the show would turn into a parable about date rape and sexual assault. Or, equally (un)likely, that they decided that Beauty should slap his kisser, hard. Then (why not?) kiss him hard. Or that beauty was grossed out and not interested in boys. It really didn't matter. And if it doesn't matter to them, it won't -- can't -- matter much to us.

Perhaps I was more disengaged than I should have been -- golden oldies, national athems, Roth Newton jingles, Madness song, Alex Downer speeches, (you name it) all trigger a "You're being fucked with" shut-down reaction in me -- but I reckoned there was nothing substantial to engage with. It was more like, lets throw some glitter in the air and it will catch the light. People will turn them into constellations of meaning. (Suckers!)

Something for everyone, usually, ends up being nothing much for anyone.

And, man, what a wasted opportunity to mix it up a bit. To educate the boomers... Where was the Fiona Apple, Joan Wasser, Jenny Wilson, Lily Allen, The Knife... not to mention Missy Elliott, Alison Goldfrapp and Pink... or even bloody Fergie and Kelly Clarkson!

Alison Croggon said...

Hey Chris, can we start arguing about Lear? (And when did I say I wanted to win you over? Your experience is quite as real as mine - what's interesting is teasing out what those differences are.)

All the same, I don't know how you can suggest, on the one hand, that the feminist argument is irrelevant, only in the eye of the beholder (it's perfectly obvious - you could perhaps criticise it, as Nick does, for being too obvious) and then, on the other, abuse it for having no "intent"!

Anonymous said...

Haha Alison! I hope I didn't cause any offence to the teenage intellectuals out there - I was one of them and hated being patronised so I hope I'm not living out the cycle.

I hope you're right that the singalong was ironic. But imagine if the singalong had been with Go To Sleep instead? Then we would have had ourselves a show!

In fact I'd more than happily pay double just to see the Malthouse subscribers chanting along with "die motherf***er die!". Maybe I should pop Michael Kantor an email.

That's my final word on SB. See you at Criminology. Can't WAIT for the arguments on that one!! - NICK