The Man Who Was Thursday
Three Bridges (New Zealand)
M-G Do you watch Mark Gatiss shows?
PAYNE League of Gentleman?
M-G Ah, so that was an interesting show but no, the ones since then, Dr Who, Sherlock.
M-G This could have been a pitch for a feature film to be produced by Gatiss.
PAYNE He’s always in his shows.
M-G He’s not likeable is he – the actor in this work though; he is very likeable.
PAYNE And he played all the characters.
M-G Yes, so maybe Gatiss would never pick the show up because where could he slot in? But he would be convincing as any of the characters – likely he’d choose Sunday, the head of the anarchists. It’s a really fun show. It has a chase scene. Like, I want to be in it too.
PAYNE How do you do a chase scene in theatre?
M-G Well, he sort of just ran through the audience, which I’m telling you, I understand is not very effective, but live… something weird happened in this show, I can’t explain what but other audience members I spoke to said the same and I can only imagine it is a combination of an efficient design and delivery, and clear character definition, and a very good text. While the set was essentially bare, save for a man and a chair and a sword, and black curtains – I found myself imagining the locations of the work in vivid detail. Details that surprised me as they weren’t even being described on stage.
PAYNE I’m imagining them now.
M-G The actor then said afterwards in the bar that theatre is an imaginative art – that film and TV etc. give you all the answers but theatre can not. Or something like that. I’m not sure I agree, but this show – I agree about this show.
PAYNE Yeah, theatre best not compete with TV and film for didacticism.
M-G Another thing, after one show, so I’m told, someone came up to complain that the show is unkind or offensive or something like that: to anarchists. I am not sure how anyone could come to this because my reading was that this was a satire of the indulgence of Scotland Yard. I can’t say too much more without spoilers. The other thing is I’m not even sure one need read the work literally. I found myself troubled on a more internal political level. Genuinely wrestling with my own compulsions to police vs my wishes for anarchy.
PAYNE Don’t you say “ACAB” (All cops are-
M-G Bastards yes, but then, and I think you can agree that like watching mystery shows and /or police detective novels etc. it’s very captivating. And I think we all want to feel moral. Like Life on Mars was a great show.
PAYNE Not least because of the Bowie title song and because people say I look like a young John Simm. Did Man Thursday have a soundtrack?
M-G No and maybe that’s the limit of a 55 minute fringe show. Oh hey Sherlock Holmes… Is he a policeman?
PAYNE No he’s a private detective.
M-G But he tends to work on the side of the law doesn’t he. Does that make him a state apparatus? Is he a tool of oppression?
PAYNE Mostly he’s solving fairly domestic murders so I shouldn’t think that’s the case.
M-G Maybe his powers are wasted on the puzzles he is routinely involved in.
PAYNE He should have been an anarchist?
M-G I left thinking we should all be anarchists and also worried I wouldn’t make it through customs on the way back to the UK again for saying so here in print.
PAYNE Does an adaptation of a novel written in 1900 hold its weight 120 years later – or is it just entertainment now?
M-G well, I think, as we said, even in 1900 it was meant to be taken as a metaphysical exercise as well as literal.
M-G No buts. It is very entertaining.
PAYNE So it is not anarchic?
M-G I spoke to a potential audient who said they did not attend as they didn’t want to see a white man play dress ups and do ‘great acting’ and see ‘great directing’. And I think maybe, that person, for themselves, they were right. Despite the New Zealand origins of the actor, it’s a very straight, white English work of theatre.
PAYNE But it is troubling.
M-G Within those boundaries, yes, very. And like Kafka’s Ape, it felt like a work as at home in the fringe as it could be on a mainstage.
PAYNE Which is not a good or a bad thing?
M-G There’s a great line in the play about not letting anarchy devolve into chaos and I can’t remember it now, but I do recall the very alienating and disturbing blackouts that happen throughout the work.
PAYNE From blackouts?
M-G In a room full of people – I suspect everyone was feeling very alone, at those moments.
PAYNE How many elaborate and possibly comic disguises out of five?
M-G Five police badges out of five.