Blue Remembered Hills

“Into my heart an air that kills
From yon far country blows:
What are those blue remembered hills,
What spires, what farms are those?”

A.E. Housman

I have a question. And the question is “Why the hell did I go and see this?” Seriously. I have exams in three days for which I am probably less prepared than I need to be. Several members of the University Gang had already warned me of how bad this play is. Yet I spent an hour watching six actors dressed as children talking like Sam Gamgee and running around to no apparent purpose.

I can only assume that I don’t actually want to pass my exams.

Well. Perhaps I’m being slightly unfair. Technically, the production (staged by a company called Northern Stage, based, according to Google, in Newcastle) was excellent: the acting was terrific and the stage-effects were wonderful, with a lovely silhouette thing at one point, and a surprising yet delightful use of shadows to suggest fire. (What? I pay attention to these things, I was Technical Prefect at school…)

The actual script, on the other hand, was…underwhelming. Literally nothing happens for, oh, easily fifty minutes (make that fifty-five), and it doesn’t even happen in that dynamic, interesting way that suggests that something might be happening when you’re not looking. And then, when something does happen, right at the end (trying desperately to avoid spoilers here), it seems so completely irrelevant to what’s been not happening for the past fifty-five minutes that you sit there going, “Is that it? Really? Er…OK…” It’s as if the playwright (one Dennis Potter, if you’re interested) went, “Right, I have fifty-five minutes of dialogue, just need a cataclysmic event to stick on the end,” and picked one at random from a newspaper. And then added some poetry to make it Literary.

Basically, what I’m trying to say is that I can’t really see what the point of Blue Remembered Hills actually is. There must be one, given that it has somehow found its way onto the GCSE syllabus. Unless it’s all a massive scam designed to annoy the hell out of unsuspecting teenagers. Which, now I come to think of it, seems pretty likely.


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