Punchdrunk – The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable

The Drowned Man was full of drama, emotion and poetry. I went alone, spur of the moment, having got one of the last £20 Entry Pass tickets the day before. I vaguely knew what to expect and felt nervous upon entering Temple Studios. However, my nerves were replaced with excitement as masked audience members gathered into a lift. Some were released on a different floor, but most of us alighted to a dancing cowboy character.

Somehow, I lost that story-line and ended up following the plot between Wendy, Darlene and Marshall. I picked characters I was drawn to but also tended to stick to the crowd. When I deviated into a room on my own, I got momentarily scared and came out to search for white masks.

I’d spent the first few minutes trying to work out my feelings towards the experience. The only parts I’d say hindered my enjoyment were that there were too many people, and I would also have liked to know whether it would be best to follow lots of characters or just one. The crowds meant you couldn’t hear what the cast were saying all the time; although I’m not sure you always needed to, it would have been best to know what was going on more. At one point it was too crowded to see what was going on, so I followed a woman out a faux fire-exit, but she turned to ask where the exit was. This was probably the worst part (you’re not mean to talk!) – she exclaimed that it was “ridiculous” and so I walked away from her. If you’re not enjoying something, at least respect other’s right to and do what they said and go to the black-masked individuals for assistance.

As the time ticked on, I became immersed in the experience. I hadn’t been to an experimental production before and I gradually tested my boundaries. I thought the play was well acted, the expressionist elements were intriguing and I particularly enjoyed the aspect of dance. It captured the period, but also existed in a surreal place not fixed in this universe. During the scene where the adulterers are caught, I managed to see it from two different perspectives which was interesting. It played with time as you pieced the story together.

Then, I decided to divert from my main characters and followed a woman who interested me. It opened up a whole new story as I read love letters in cabinets. The woman left the room and walked up some stairs. I followed her and she offered her hand to me. I took it and she started running. I ran with her, I heard something drop and went to pick it up (it was my debit card and travel card) then continued to stumble my way down some stairs. It was the final scene and she placed her hands on my shoulders throughout. The voiceover called ‘cut’ and she tightened her grip for a second, before letting go. She took my hand again at the eruption of music. I moved awkwardly as she pulled me towards a box and indicated me to go on it. I stood, wondering what was happening. It just meant I had a good view for the last dance and bow.

I left with a smile on my face, back in reality with secrets running through my mind.

Don’t be such a BORE!

It’s a bit of a late update as I am really busy, but I wanted to make sure to mention this.  After grabbing some Nando’s after work one day, I met with my parents at the National Theatre to see After the Dance.  I was tired as it was but then saw a sign saying the production would be THREE hours long, including two intervals!  I hoped it was good!

The time flew by so fast that I would have to say it was one of the best shows I’ve seen in a long time.  It also seemed extra meaningful for me to see it at this time in my life, although I expect it would be relevent to many.  It was really interesting to read in the programme how the play is considered a ‘lost’ play, and thus isn’t that well-known.

It follows a group of friends who ‘talk of nothing but the old days and the old parties’, and seem to be slowly destroying themselves with their drinking habits.  I consider myself to having a drinking problem, purely for the reason that I sometimes don’t know when to stop and it causes me problems, so it’s something that I’m trying to find a better way of doing.  To drink, and still keep my health, and my friends!  I know I’m not the only one that behaves like an idiot when drunk, but that doesn’t mean it’s okay.

Anyway, there was a division with some of the characters who didn’t drink, and it escalated into questions of life, love and relationships.  The first half was mainly sugar-coated with humour, yet by the second part the audience was met with the raw emotions underneath the masks.  It was beautifully tragic.  The script was amazing and the actors brought it to life.

One of the threads that ran through the play was the idea of being a ‘bore’ if you didn’t drink.  This is probably one of the big reasons why I over-drink.  Sometimes I tell myself I’d rather be boring that too drunk but it doesn’t work.  I’ve been called boring a few times by people I know are ignorant of who I am.  Yet, I am affected by what people think.  On parents evening once at secondary school my history teacher told me and my parents that I needed to participate more in class, something which I’d been told my whole life, and yet they added that I would ‘never be the life and soul of the party’.  So, is it any wonder I like a drink or two?

I think labels like that are terrible, and the reasons why I didn’t participate more than others were not purely down to shyness.  As I noted to two school friends last night, maybe the shy people would say something if everyone else shut up once in a while.  I feel my shyness is a battle, but it is something I fight against because all my passions require a bit of confidence – spoken word performances, dancing, and organising many “events” for friends.  Yet, I also embrace my shyness, as it is a part of my nature, as people will often be able to tell during my poetry sets, or when talking to me for the first time.

Anyway, it is a subject I could go on for ages about, but the point I’m making here, is that I know I don’t need a drink to have fun (I had a sober night and stayed up til about 2am last night with my friends), but sometimes the idea of a being a ‘bore’ probably does influence my habits.  I find it hard to stop, so I just need to get the right balance and be more conscious of my choices – easier said that done when you start to get tipsy.  I think I just need to stop planning to get drunk, and worrying about being drunk “enough” and just relax and enjoy myself, and stop being such a fucking stereotype.

Overall, the play was emotionally engaging and intellectually stimulating, and I’d defos recommend it!