Monday, 5 May 2014

I can't sing - The X Factor Musical

Theatre addict as I am, I find it extremely difficult to stop myself from going to see a musical that is closing. There is something so irresistible about the possibility of a show never returning to the stage. And in this particular case, that is a more than likely outcome, following the early closure on the 10th May.

Having opened a mere 6 weeks ago surrounded by a lot of hype, the X Factor musical was absolutely panned by the critics. This obviously had a knock on effect on the sales which were not huge. And they desperately needed to be. Placed within one of the largest of the West End's theatres, the London Palladium, it demands over 1000 tickets to be sold every night in order to fill the house as is necessary for a new musical. Needless to say, this did not happen with sales dipping to as low as half what they were hoping for, on some nights.

However, the failure that has caused this musical to close so early can not be blamed on the size of the London Palladium, but on Harry Hill's poor writing. I am not a huge fan of Hill's slapstick comedy anyway, and as the musical continued it became more and more absurd with crazy props and a plot I couldn't always follow. Considering that only a couple of years ago, the age old classic of The Wizard of Oz was on this very stage, the X Factor musical was very unsophisticated. But even if you ignore my personal tastes in comedy, the plot was undeniably rubbish with undeveloped characters and an odd pacing - some parts moving far too slowly while others moved confusingly fast. The songs were musically samey throughout, the lyrics were uninspired and the choreography lacked individuality.  Props were overwhelmingly and unnecessarily large, in an effort to fill the Palladium's huge stage (or maybe that's why it was placed within this theatre in the first place) yet still the stage felt a little empty. However much you may enjoy Harry Hill, what became abundantly clear is that he is not talented when it comes to writing musicals.

Saying that, the cast did brilliantly with the underwhelming resources they had to work with. All were talented (and could indeed sing very well). There were some humorous moments that I managed a small giggle at, although most of these were from sarcastic referrals various characters made to the musical's early closure (that obviously would not have been added had the musical been a success).  They interacted with the audience in a faintly amusing way. Furthermore, the actors imitating the celebrity judges and Dermot O'Leary were spot on, playing their characters' mannerisms to a slightly exaggerated perfection.

The failure of this musical reminds me strongly of Viva Forever. Firstly this is due to the plot as they each chart a young girl's journey through a talent show and her subsequent disenchantment with fame. Secondly both were written by similarly successful comedians but both were flops. It just shows that musicals which are put on purely to cash in on a brand, don't work. Leave the theatre world alone to do what it does best. And I have to admit before I go, I am feeling faintly smug that this little part of Britishness has remained safe and (almost) untainted by Mr Simon Cowell's greed.

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Friday, 2 May 2014

How to survive your dissertations

As any of you who read this blog, or who follow me on twitter will know, I have been rather stressed recently. The wonderful university course that I am on has given us not one but TWO dissertations to strew over that were due within a week of each other. And although there were some crazy-arsed moments and I didn't stop crying for about 10 days, guess what? I actually survived. But having two, puts me in a better position than most, to give some advice on how to get through this stressful period and how you can come out the other side with a ghost of a smile on your face.

Make friends with clever people
You will be able to pick their brains whenever you like, and they will always give you the right answer about where to find that document or how you actually reference a website when you have no idea when it was written or who wrote it. Plus you can borrow their books knowing full well they are excellently useful and steal their this stressful time of your life there is no time for actual friendships so you must use every person you know, shamelessly to your advantage.

Make friends with stupid people
Keep a few of these in your will be depressing if you know everyone around you is going to get a better grade than you.

Have no filter
There is enough stress in your life already, so why add to it by conforming to society...take this chance to go absolutely nuts. You can say whatever you like, and you can just blame it on all of your worries that are doing weird things to your brain. And cry. A lot. It makes you feel better and is expected. Just let it all out.

Embrace reality TV dramas
I am sorry but you are going to have to get into one of these horrendous pieces of television...Made in Chelsea is probably the best one as  there are a few hot people to stare at. Plus, if people are that educated while at the same time act so thick yet STILL be rich, then you imagine how rich you have the potential to AND common The possibilities are endless.

Do not go to the library
Everyone knows that the best resources are online these days, google books can fill in the rest and you don't have deal with the stupid first years that I mentioned in the previous blogpost. And all that productivity is annoyingly depressing. And you don't have to pack up your station every time you want a cup of tea. And you don't get glared at if you drop a pen on the floor. And you can eat, which is very very important at times like these. Pretty much stay away.

Take up a new hobby
Your brain fizzles out and dies during the dissertation writing process, so you need something to keep it alive. Plus, you do need to be proud of something you have achieved at the end of it all and that probably won't be the tear-stained document that you are attempting to write

Buy a lot of post-its
They are one of the only things that got me through this whole period...I needed them to mark important phrases in my millions of books, I wrote to-do lists every day (that normally didn't get completed, so I would just have to cross off the 'Monday' at the top and change it to 'Tuesday' then 'Wednesday' etc...) and I wrote inspirational notes for my friends and myself that we attached around our laptop screens.

Ignore all normal meals
This is possibly the one time in your life where an ice-cream-only diet is not only acceptable but compulsory.

Embrace alcoholism (NB this can be substituted occasionally for tea while you are actually writing)
You need a day off every now and then but to your horror you will find that your brain doesn't allow you it anymore. The whole time you will be distracted thinking about that dissertation of doom, waiting for you when you get home and you will be guiltily thinking how you should probably be working on it right that minute. The only way you can shut off, is through excessive binge drinking. which will invariably lead you to sobbing in a toilet cubicle at 1am about how you are going to fail. But it is worth it for a few hours of downtime away from it.

Save money
Printing and binding is SO EXPENSIVE. It's about the cost of a small house. So make sure you have saved up a bit of your student loan for this, especially if the due date is at the end of term.

And finally, Don't despair - you will get there eventually. And once it is done, it will feel amazing.

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