Thursday, March 01, 2012


Tonight we went to see Wicked at the theatre in the Marina Bay Sands. This was a jolly way for my wife and I to celebrate three years together, the jolliness only diluted by (a) being in the sepulchral soullessness of Marina Bay Sands, (b) having two small children sat behind us eating potato crisps continually for three hours, and (c) having a migraine.

The migraine had gone past the fun stage of seeing bright lights and losing my peripheral vision by the time we got seated, which meant all I had left was the crippling headache part with heightened photosensitivity. Which was nice, because it's not as if modern musicals involve loud noises or bright lights.

Marina Bay Sands is like a post-industrial version of The Venetian in Macau. I don't mean 'post-industrial' in the sense of an economy that is no longer reliant on manufacturing, I mean in the sense of 'two goths in plastic trousers with some synthesisers'. It's all steel, glass and concrete, with the charm surgically removed.

The two small children had those metabolisms that everyone else is jealous of, because they kept noisily chewing crisps and scrunching packets for two and a half hours, until finally my wife shushed them. It's lucky she did, because five more minutes and I'd have been jamming the crisps down their gullets barehanded, shouting "that's the way to do it!" like a retributive Punch.

Aside from these three things, and if you're lucky you'll only have the Marina Bay Sands Existential Nightmare Experience to contend with, Wicked is very enjoyable. You've got the big show numbers, you have a mildly seditious message about Nazis/Gulf War 2.0/any other example of authority getting too free a rein, and you have people in tights gadding about.

What I didn't realise is that, with a 15 minute interval, the whole spectacle goes on for about three hours, which for a musical is pretty arduous. Especially after the first 150 minutes of listening to a child eat what were apparently individually wrapped potato crisps.

The humourous asides are good, although it's never really quite as clever as it thinks it is, and I didn't like the very ending of it, but I suppose I was having trouble adjusting, after we stayed up late last night watching the laugh-a-minute extravaganza that is Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. If we went again, I'd choose a row closer to the stage than row O, from where the cast are but as ants before the gods, but apart from that, a pretty flawless big Broadway experience.

Inside an artificial island in South East Asia, but never mind that now.


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