Monday, 19 January 2009

Final performance dates announced

Our two performances will be:
Cast A - Friday 12 June 2009
Cast B - Saturday 13 June 2009.

Put that on the calendar section of your mobile phone before you lose it and have to create a Facebook group asking your friends to tell you their numbers again.

Well, I'm struggling to decide what to do with Don Curzio. The score clearly demands a stammer. In the John Eliot Gardiner CD that I've got (a terrifically characterised performance with cracking recits, by the way) the guy doing it really hams it up ("due mille pe-pe-pe-PEEEEEEEEEEEEE-zzi duri", that sort of thing).

Now, I'm a bit uncomfortable with this. Sure, that's what the score says, and no doubt it was hilarious laughing at people with speech impediments in the late 1780s, but then they also found cripples and dwarfs and foreigners unspeakably funny too.

Even up to the 1970s, stuttering was a cast-iron audience-pleaser. Sometimes it was at least done with wit - see for example Sam Kydd's elocutionally challenged factory worker in I'm All Right Jack, furious at a group of paparazzi: "Tell 'em to go and f, f, f, f, photograph something else", he says. But acts such as Jack Douglas or the Scaffold's 1968 novelty-single hit Lily the Pink plundered the pound shop of cheap laughs.

We don't do that sort of stuff any more, and quite right too. That's not political correctness, it's just good manners: a guy who can speak perfectly well ser-ser-ser-ser-stammering for comic effect is just sadistic and crass.

Well, I say I can speak perfectly well. I wasn't making much sense last Saturday night, but that was Hugh and Roger's party, and things always get a bit out of hand there.

So: what to do about Curzio and still respect the score? Well, it struck me that he could machine-gun stutter in the way that elderly Tory peers do on current affairs programmes. "Well, I, I, I, I, I, have seen the, the, the, the amendment, but when it comes to, to, to, to the vote, I, I, I, I..."

You get the sort of thing. Not a speech impediment, more an affectation; and wouldn't that be more in keeping with a doddery old milord anyway? Is that characterisation rather than stereotyping? Well, I hope so. Unless you have any better ideas...

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