Wednesday, July 30, 2003
I needed those drinks last night to calm my nerves. No, not the DTs; I'd just been left breathless after watching a businessman's harrowing descent into urban and personal hell at the National (yeah, yeah, Stranger, ten quid a seat, don't you think we've all got the message by now?). Or maybe it was the shock of seeing an ever-so-slightly chubby and very-half-naked Kenneth Branagh strut his on-stage stuff for a good quarter-hour, full-frontal tackle and all.
Of course, it's not meant to be sexy (giggling girlies in the stalls, please note) and our Ken gives a blistering performance throughout in David Mamet's Edmond, about a New Yorker who leaves his wife, his morals, even his humanity behind, only finally to find some kind of redemption after being sodomised by his cellmate (it's that's sort of night out, my dears). In fact, Ken, baggy boxers on or off, is the best bit about the piece. It's an anti-bourgeois, anti-capitalism, anti-practically-everything play that rattles its message home with all the charming subtlety of a Kalashnikov.
Anyway, back to the dangly bits. I reckon Ken showed a lot of pluck taking his kit off, but on-stage nudity has never really done it for me. Plonk me, protesting, in front of a buffed stripper, with a porn-star body, erect member in his one hand, Johnson's Baby Lotion in the other, and I'm more likely to collapse into embarrassed silence, than, shall we say, rise to the occasion. Honest.
But slip me a half-smile, flash me a twinkle from brown eyes, hold my attention, rather than that, for more than ten minutes, and, well, I'll be horizontal before you know it.