Wednesday, June 16, 2010

go on, go on

I often think about methods of repetition, and how my life goes in circles, like Lottie chasing her tail. And I think about how the days bleed into one another, making Thursday the same as Monday. And then I think about Endgame which is my favourite play ever, and how bleakly awesome the human condition is. And now, after Wednesday night when I went to the theatre and saw Ian McKellen and Roger Rees in Waiting For Godot I think about how funny the bleakness of human existence is. That's what Beckett is all about, examining why we go on, even when we can't go on, and should we go on - what's there to do if we don't go on? No, we must go on, because going on is all there is to do. One of the things that makes Beckett accessible to me is that my entire life, my mother has (perhaps unconsciously) spoken like one of his characters. He writes in a language I understand, with his jokes satisfying my immature side. Theatre, no, Art is supposed to make you think, and I will challenge anyone who comes out of a Beckett play not thinking about their existence and motivations. Especially the current Waiting For Godot production - it's mesmerising and awesome, from the heartbeats in the music, to the ridiculous Potso, to the relationship between Vladimir and Estragon, although I admit I was mildly concerned by how old and tired Rees and McKellen looked, until they started dancing. Their movements are those of tiredly cheeky old men, and there's an element of The Goon Show in Beckett, some of Spike Milligan's sadness. If you've never seen a Beckett play, run out and go to the first one you can find.

And if you've never heard The Goon Show then really, you aren't a human being. My dad played me tapes of this radio show when I was a kid, and I've never quite recovered. Libby and I used to sit around reading the scripts together, hooting with laughter. Napoleon's Piano and The Flea were two particular favourites. The show consists of the adventures of Ned Seagoon, voiced by Harry Secombe, and his encounters with Gryptype-Thynne and Count Moriarty (voiced by Peter Sellers and Spike Milligan respectively). There's also the hilarious brown-paper trousers Bluebottle (Sellers) and the less-than-half-wit Eccles (Milligan). The show is surreal, absurd, ridiculous and fantastic, all in one, with bizarre plot lines that make no sense. They used to play it very early in the morning on ABC radio and when I couldn't sleep, I'd listen to it and be in a good mood all day. Now you can buy the cds. I presume it's on you-tube somewhere. Prince Charles is also a big fan. Libby and I used to try to get out of PE with the excuse that we had "The Lurgi", and blowing raspberries ala Bluebottle is common place in my household. I wish there was a radio programme like this on these days. Or just anything decent on the radio, really.


Chris Stokes said...

I recommend The Very World of Milton Jones. It's not as seminal as The Goon Show (obviously) but I reckon it's the Goon Show of its day. I think you can download the first series from

lizzle said...

Maddie, I really like it when you update your blog.