Theatre of reality
Another magic moment from Kyle’s show. Marcus has a lot to live up to.
Gospel by a southern soul legend, just hang in there for some weird jacket action towards the end of the clip. Seems O V wore the same suit for both gospel and secular work. O V spent quite a bit of time in prison for drugs related offences, the drugs also destroyed his teeth and nasal passages giving his later recordings a - singing while under the dentist - kind of quality and of course hastening his early death.
Marcus Coates, Michael Smythe and I went to see the Jeremy Kyle show in Manchester. We waited in the heavily smoking queue, a little nervous of what was ahead, scanning the crowd didn’t really help, they were a frightening crew, stringy yoofs, half toothed, bloated sportswear wrecks, noses pasted to left and right, girls of indiscernible age dressed as hardcore hookers, burger tops, basically people who looked like they were thinking about going on the show sooner or later.
The audience were groomed from the off, firstly by the girls who turned out to be the Greek chorus, a Geordie Ophelia and an Essex Iseult both with super expressive faces, like the mask from Scream the film. Ophelia informed us that the contestants were real people, that we shouldn’t laugh at them. Then she warmed us up with the grizzly contents that were in store, each further personal horror scenario was greeted with an ever increasing roar of enthusiasm, culminating with the announcement that we would have the results of 2 lie detector tests greeted by a roar like a collapsing iceberg.
From the moment we were seated – inside a hardboard set on the shabbiest of seating, all gaffa tape and stains - the crew started to work the audience, a number of standard jokes all designed to isolate the individual and to ridicule anyone that stood out – someone that didn’t join in with the practice clapping was forced to stand up and explain themselves. A ginger punk was repeatedly ridiculed in a series of standard ginger jokes. Jeremy continued the technique, slick and charmingly cruel. So I clapped furiously when told, although not wanting to, from fear of being picked out to be picked on. On either side of the stage stood the girls with the expressive faces, they led us in clapping, moaning with sympathy, jeering, often at what seemed exactly the wrong moments, their elastic faces pulling ghastly parodies of empathy, hate and pathos, they switched constantly from being apparently utterly absorbed, to chatting and giggling with colleagues. This is our fractured society represented, our internet age culture, connected to everything and nothing, the supremely slick and functional interacting with the dysfunctional disconnected, generating a tidal wave of meaning.
The objects/subjects of the show were ushered on, barked at by Jeremy, the whole thing was so smooth, there were no retakes, it seemed like a totally scripted and complex play in which we were all had a vital role. Actually as a whole it was brilliant as a piece of theatre, the jumping in and out of character, reality and TV, performing for the audience, performing for the cameras and performing with the subjects. The crew played roles throughout. The unnecessarily vast security bouncers - each with a crevice like crease in the back of their shaved heads - stepped up at vital moments to intensify the potential for a violent explosion. As Jeremy broke off for commercial breaks other crew stood in front of the subjects to shield them from the stares of the audience. In reality the subjects said very little, Jeremy held all the cards and with the crew he worked the whole show. This was so much the best live thing I have been to (better than Prince, Il Tempo Del Postino, Egremont Crab Fair – see previous blogs), massively thought provoking, complex and simple, easily assimilated and understood, and darkly underpinned by the reality of the subject’s problems and everyone’s empathy, fascination and revulsion for them.
If Agrifashionista could be half as complex, half as revealing, half as brilliant I would be wholly delighted. If you want to go we have 3 tickets for 5th December.
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