Socrates And His Clouds* (Jermyn Street Theatre, 6 June 2013)

Posted: June 7, 2013 in Theatre

To summarise the plot, a Brummie builder (specified as bald, so presumably wearing a wig) sends his ne’er-do-well Cockney son to be taught by the philosopher Socrates, who looks a bit like Demis Roussos, so can pass as Greek. Three ladies also pop up occasionally as muses and in various other guises. As there are frequent mentions of German bankers, accompanied by expletives, it might be assumed that some parallels are being drawn with Greece’s current economic calamity and the consequent stifling of one of the world’s oldest cultures; if so, it is difficult to decipher any relevant or coherent messages from this mishmash of random ideas. More serious political comment could be found in a Tom & Jerry cartoon, more satirical humour in a funeral sermon. As each scene ends, the lights dim and the ladies enter to shuffle some white blocks around the stage; unfortunately, this process is so protracted each time that the “scene changes” are reduced to being only marginally more entertaining than the scenes themselves. Everything we see and hear is lazy and amateurish – witless writing, sloppy staging, half-hearted acting; the short running length would be a redeeming feature except that it provides us with no opportunity to leave at the interval. There is some elementary educational content about the natures of democracy, debate, etc, so maybe this production was devised to tour primary schools, in which case it could be fine. However, it is now occupying a central London stage less than a minute’s walk from Piccadilly Circus and, judged at this level, it is hideously awful, the worst evening in the theatre of 2013 so far.

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