I was tricked! I was asked, and I quote, “do you want to go see the circus at the theatre?”, it should have been “do you want to see theatre about the circus?”. So I turn up expecting amazing daredevil feats and jaw dropping stunts, instead I get the opposite. Half the row I was sat on didn’t come back after the interval, that gives you an idea of how the evening went.
I’m just going to say it, the pacing sucked. The entire thing dragged on to the point where I checked my watch every 30 seconds for the last 20 minutes, hoping it was almost over. Nothing seemed to happen. I haven’t seen the original 1954 film and now I don’t want to, I can only assume it’s an utter snore-fest. The acting wasn’t great and the cast seemed far too pleased with themselves during the polite applause at the end, perhaps they hadn’t noticed the large chunk of the audience that escaped during the interval and vanished into the night.
I was also surprised there was no warning at the start for people with epilepsy or those with asthma. Smoke was constantly billowing out from the stage, to the point where it started making me cough and a headlight was used to simulate a bike. This headlight was insanely bright in the dark of the theatre and when it turned into a strobe light then I was genuinely hoping there wasn’t anyone with epilepsy in the theatre. Clearly health and safety, as well as good storytelling, was absent from this production.
Though even with all this then it wasn’t the worst thing I’ve seen at Sheffield Theatres, Lady Chatterley’s Lover takes that prize, even full frontal nudity couldn’t save that train wreck. La Strada did have some redeeming moments, most notably the folk music was a welcome respite from the dreary plodding along of the story. The music and energy when these moments started was brilliantly refreshing, it’s a real shame there wasn’t more of it. I’d have gladly have just listened to them perform and scrapped the acting and storytelling element completely.
Basically keep the music aspects, scrap the rest and you’ve got something an audience can sit through. I think the paying audience walking out at the interval says far more than a legion of sycophantic reviewers saying how brilliant everything is.
And on that note we’re introducing a new rating system based on the percentage of the audience we think could sit through the entire performance. So the higher the percentage, the better the performance and vice versa.
If you’re interested in some pretty good folk music and you’re a masochist then La Strada will be showing from now until Saturday 27th May and you can buy your tickets here.