Lauren and I went to see Helen at the Globe for my birthday (day two of a three day birthday weekend; first a Friday night party, then Saturday London to see the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy, a fab dinner in a posh restaurant and a play with a handsome lead. Finally Sunday a long walk through the countryside and afternoon cream tea!) I'd seen a Greek classic adapted by Frank McGuinness at the National Theatre last year, Oedipus, one of the best one act plays I'd ever seen, horrifically terrifying and well acted by Ralph Fiennes. So I was hopeful, the Guardian only gave Helen two stars but lots of papers gave good reviews, so I wasn't worried.
Frank McGuinness cannot do comedy. It was the script that I think was ultimately awful, not the actors. I saw Pennie Downie in Hamlet last year and she was a great Gertrude, she wasn't irritating beyond belief like she was last night, it was the poorly written character who was irritating. And I know what to expect from the Globe, I saw The Merry Wives of Windsor last summer and it was one of the best Shakespeares I've ever seen, it was brilliantly staged and wonderfully funny- Andrew Havill in particular I still think of and giggle. Anyway, at the Globe you expect singing and dancing- the whole 16th Century experience- but in moderation!!! And when appropriate!
Also there was too much going on visually in Helen (a horrible set and confusing troupe of slaves prancing about at all times), but mainly I had problems with the lack of story and the fact that it didn't seem to know if it was a comedy or not- it switched from bawdy crude jokey shite to serious woe-is-me stuff, make your mind up! Lots of people were laughing, but I wasn't. It wasn't funny. It was really embarrassing.
Here's a quote from Lauren to finish off, who by the way didn't mind that it was awful so much because at least Paul McGann is some sweet eye-candy.
"Poorly written, poorly acted, poorly staged, Pauly McGann."