I once went out with a trainee Stage Manager from the Central School of Screech and Trauma, which meant that I had the envious task of attending a lot of student and semi-professional productions (guaranteed to put you off the theatre for life). One such episode was a production of Giovanni d’Arco, by Verdi, held at the Bloomsbury Theatre. Uh-oh, I thought – opera. Me and opera get on like two cats in a sack – I mean, what’s the point of it? If it had some relevance, I could understand it, but as far as I can tell, it doesn’t – not one iota.
Anyway, I went along to the 'public' dress rehearsal , which was a bit misleading as I was the only member of the public there - not that I wanted to be of course. I was waiting for my girlfriend, but to get to see her I had to put up with three and half hours of bloody opera. Well, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration. I fell asleep halfway through the second act, sparing myself the full three and hour torture. Problem was, I woke myself up with up with a massive snore as old Joanie was ascending piously to heaven on a creaky old pulley operated by two sweaty stage hands. The poetry of the moment was irrevocably disrupted, and my Stage Manager and I parted ways soon afterwards.
Which is all a roundabout way of saying that Giovanni d’Arco is one of only two things I have slept through – the other being:
On Rotten Tomatoes, this film gets a 100% rating! Uh? Did these guys sleep through the same film as I did? I remember spending a cosy afternoon in the Duke of Yorks dozing fitfully to this. I have never slept through a film before or since, which should give you an idea just how boring this film really is. Visually, it’s absolutely sumptuous (but thereagain, maybe I was in the midst of some pleasant REM sleep), but it takes more than eye candy to hold my attention I’m afraid. Reading the synopsis at the Zeitgeist Films website, it really is as dull as it sounds.
Now, my wife – she can sleep through anything. We went to see The Usual Suspects when it came out, and she spent half the film asleep. To add insult to injury, she woke up just before the end and gave me a potted précis of the story, as if she had somehow absorbed the entire narrative by osmosis. What a weirdo!