Mr. Patinkin gets self-indulgent on stage for two hours.
10 January 2009
Mandy Patinkin in Concert - Duke of Yorks Theatre - Friday 9th January 2009
"In Mandy Patinkin Concert"??
Cast: Mandy Patinkin - Mandy Patinkin.
To the Duke of York's Theatre, very recently vacated by Harold Pinter's No Man's Land. The venerable Mr. P. popped his clogs late in the run, and apparently the lights on Broadway dimmed in tribute. On stage at the Duke of Yorks, the cast stood in tribute for ten minutes' silence, although the audience apparently thought that this was just part of the play.
Shoved on in its place is Mandy Patinkin in Concert (not, as Him Indoor's mother, Pat Malaprop, thought "Amanda Tinkin? Never 'eard of 'er!). It was a bitterly cold evening, and there was much entertainment to be had from admiring the range of vastly inappropriate hats sported by the audience in the foyer, from those knitted jobbies with the long swinging plaits that make the wearer - often male, for some reason - look like Pippi Longstocking, through the pale blue leatherette "Nanook of the North" look to a fantastic fur hat/coat combination that made the female (I think) wearer look like a tall furry pepper grinder. The aspect of the hat which made all other contenders pale into sartorial insignificance was a real racoon tail hanging from the back, making the wearer appear like the bastard offspring of pepper grinder and Davy Crockett. Alas, this outfit was real fur, not fake. And doubly alas, I missed my chance to hiss my usual rejoinder at the wearers of such articles: "Excuse me, Madam, I think you'll find there's blood dripping from your coat", which always embarrasses the shit out of such people and makes me cackle with glee for at least an hour every time I use it. Try it sometime - its fun.
Anyway, Mr. Patinkin strides on the stage, which is artfully designed and lit to look like "Backstage". His pianist is "off" and the replacement, apparently, has been "flown in". What? Flown in? In London's West End there is apparently no spare pianist? Mr. P, despite his self-laudatory I Love Barack Obama/Fuck George Bush stance, is so environmentally arrogant that he jets a spare pianist in? Obviously it was a rush job, as the poor man sits there all night playing the pedals with unshod feet, displaying an incredibly manky pair of black socks that look as if they've seen much better days. Mr. P. then makes another "joke" about bottles of Evian water that makes my green hackles rise, and this revew starts to write itself in my head.
What I thought we might be getting was an evening of the Elaine Stritch - At Liberty kind of thing. You know, a bit of personal background, a few shocking revelations, some self-deprecating humour, a bit of angst, some nice songs, a few jokes - him being a bit of a raconteur, in fact, showing the audience a side of him that they don't know. Instead, we get two hours (without interval, please note) of I'm a starry luvvie self-indulgence. Oh, granted, the man can sing, and sing well. But there's a big gap between his chest voice and his head voice, and when he goes falsetto (which he does regularly), he sounds like Tweety-Pie and screws up his eyes like he's straining on the toilet.
And his diction is awful. Not for the entire two hours does he manage to end any of his sung words with a T or a D. Not once does he put any of the stuff he sings into any kind of context (what show it comes from, what's happening during the number etc). Presumably, of course, we are all such luvvies in the audience that we know Mr. P's entire back-catalogue. - sometimes, during the first few bars of a number, there is a whoop from some sad sap in the stalls which is intended to inform the rest of the audience "Oooh, I know this!" And not once does Mr. P. actually stand up straight while he sings, prefering to hold the "Deformed Crane" tai chi position throughout.
One song, "Bring him Home" (complete with shocking vibrato on all the held notes) from Les Mis, is dedicated to "All the Israelis and all the Palestinians". Mr. P. then launches into a speech from The Tempest. "It's from The Tempest", he says, "by Shakespeare. Well, this is England, you all know it, so I won't have to tell you what the plot is!" This is met by a stony silence - this is indeed England, and we don't appreciate being stereotyped as Shakespeare-ites, thank you. Half way through the big "I'll break my staff in two" speech - damn, I just stereotyped myself - he "dries". Everybody sits there silently hugging themselves in glee. Oh, how I wish at this point I knew the play well enough to shout out the next lines and wipe the smile off his smug face.
Anyway, it was an OK two hours. I could have done with an interval. I could have done with a lot more of Mandy The Raconteur and a lot less of Mandy The Luvvie. I could have done without the "God bless you, Shakespeare" and the bowler hat and waistcoat covered in Vote Obama badges. I could have done without the Deformed Crane position, and I could have done with a lot less of the smug self-indulgence and a little more of the "I'm here to entertain you" over the "You're here to listen to me" attitude. Perhaps I should drop Mr. P a short note telling him that the house was significantly papered last night. And ask him to buy his accompianist a pair of shoes, poor sod.
What the critics said:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/culturecritics/charlesspencer/4209176/Mandy-Patinkin-in-concert-at-Duke-of-Yorks-Theatre-review.html (I SWEAR I didn't read this until after writing my review)