“How can a guy climb trees, say Me Tarzan, You Jane, and make a million?” Johny Weissmuller
Now the thing we are lacking here in Abu Dhabi is regular good live theatre, in fact theatre shows at all. I miss the proximity of the West End in London for theatre trips, the quick jaunt down the M3 for touring productions at Southampton’s Mayflower Theatre and the offerings at our local theatres The Anvil and The Haymarket.
As the teenager is studying GCSE Drama it’s important that she sees as much live theatre as possible, so when we were kindly offered complimentary tickets to the latest production on offer here, Tarzan at the National Theatre, we jumped at the chance. Now the information about the show on the ticket website said “For the first time in UAE Tarzan comes to life on stage with high-energy performance unlike any others. Get ready to swing into a fall as we take you on a jungle Adventure.” Sounded promising, we met friends there and took our seats in the half empty theatre.
Sadly, the blurb oversold. The show was quite poor, some of the costumes were shabby, the humour lame interspersed with some questionable acting and singing. After the presentation of flowers and trinkets to the hosting Sheikh, the opening scene set the vibe, with the Apes in mismatched costumes and out of sync dancing. There was some respite with the track ‘Who Are You” by The Who for us Brits to have a little sing-a-long . Tarzan swung in (more pulled along by backstage crew) dressed in his scruffy loincloth type affair looking like he had not taken being on stage half-naked that seriously. The sound cues were off and there were a lot a ‘ba-dum chings’ which highlighted the comedy, or lack of, but it did make us laugh, whether it was for the right reasons or not!
To be fair to all the actors, it was a tough crowd with a diverse audience from many different countries who didn’t understand the British Panto style humour and there were lots of noisy younger children. The crowd perked up when a snippet of 1D (One Direction) came on in a comedy sketch moment where the actor playing Jane’s dad was left on stage alone to dance to ‘Live While We’re Young’ dressed like an extra from Dad’s Army. To give him his due, he was the best of a bad bunch. Jane was good at screaming, which she did a lot, overplaying her hand in a series of high-pitched continuous decibels.
I can honestly say I have seen better school productions and it’s such a shame that with all the grand theatres here in Abu Dhabi no-one has taken the inclination to bring good touring productions here. We have an abundance of the world’s top music artists from all different genres coming to perform in the UAE, but in comparison the theatre scene is seriously lacking. We have had the odd gem but it’s very sporadic.
So I asked the teenager what was the best bit and her answer ‘when the girl in the row in front fell off her chair!” Sums up the night really! On the upside at least this is a post that doesn’t involve me eating and drinking!
All views are my own based on my experience. Unless otherwise stated, all photos on this page © Jo Brett 2013. All rights reserved.