Theatre: The Emperor Jones


Tuesday night I had the chance to see The Emperor Jones at the National Theatre starring Paterson Joseph. The production originated at the Gate Theatre in 2005 and has been pumped up and given the usual National Theatre treatment such as loads of cast members on stage for no comprehensible reason, shirtless men, gigantic sets, and a large percussion orchestra. Most of the time that is enough to make a show enjoyable but this time I kind of wished I had seen the original production rather than this monster one. Sure the jungle beats were infectious (and so loud that nodding off even during a bit of a dull exposition was only temporary) and Joseph gives a great performance, but it all seemed like it could have benefited from remaining a bit smaller scale...

The play is about a southern American conman Jones, who establishes a dictatorship in the West Indies, only to find himself facing a people's revolt. It made Eugene O'Neil famous. But it isn't the jolliest night out at the theatre as paranoia, madness, dance and shirtless men take over. It is however a short descent as the entire performance lasts about seventy minutes without an interval.

Watching it with Fliss, she commented if she was going to blog about this piece she would just say... "Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm... That was interesting" and "Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm... The black men sure were fit". They sure were. I don't think she would rate it as one of her most entertaining nights out... Even if we both were grooving along to the jungle beat... I suggested to her that perhaps she might have found it more entertaining if it drew more relevant parallels to the present day with the music of today... Maybe a few samples of Jungle Boogie. At least then you could groove out of the theatre...

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