Thursday, July 20, 2006

Guardian Unlimited Arts | Arts features | Take that as a warning:

According to legend, the Royal Shakespeare Company once posted a warning to audiences: "This production contains real fire." Whether the promise was fulfilled in all senses, it certainly set a trend. Theatres' entrances are now festooned with cautions, some addressing health and safety issues, others more concerned with matters of taste and decency. As illuminating as what managements choose to warn against is what they choose not to.

So, earlier this year, Sam West's revival in Sheffield of The Romans in Britain alerted audiences to stage smoke, but not to the nudity and rape that are the play's most notorious feature. By contrast, the Oxford Stage Company's current reworking of Paradise Lost does warn about strobe lights and "scenes of nudity", but doesn't mention the smoke (which is, in fact, likely to be a water-based haze effect, more accurately described as "fog"). Notices outside Fuerzabruta at the Roundhouse in Camden mention strobe effects too; but, amid a massive, exhilarating and alarming assault on the senses from all directions, I don't see how you're supposed to pick them out.

12:01 AM