Thursday, 8 April 2010

Theatre space

Over the Easter weekend I went to see a couple of plays at the Round, the theatre in the round space of the Dukes Theatre, Lancaster. (I last went a year ago to see Sabbat.) The space has clearly been recently refurbished (perhaps it had before Sabbat but if so it was then effectively disguised as a C17 barn) and is a delightful and intimate space.

The two plays concerned two pairs of people going for a walk in the Lake District National Park (in fact Easedale on the way to Codale tarn). The first concerned the final walk of someone dying of cancer. At the start of the second, Lois commented that at least it couldn’t be as miserable as the first; she was wrong. (Being in error about plays in the Dukes’ Round is becoming a pattern!) Both were fairly well written and well acted: entirely fine for a modest night out. But they were more poignant for me than they might have been because of their setting. The notion of a final walk in Easedale seems too close for comfort.

But what also struck me was how unusual it is for the intentional space of theatre to have that effect. Whilst I can react to the characters and the action in an unmediated way, suspending natural disbelief in even plays rather arch plays such as last years Caretaker, the space usually remains the space of the stage, not the space depicted. Hence the normal relevance of comments such as those above about the actual space.