Tom Sutcliffe: Perhaps the dreaded interval is good for more than just selling ice cream

A critical view

I'm not easily alarmed at the door of a theatre, even in these days of litigation-wary admonition. A threat of strobe-lighting, or fog-effects or gunshots won't even make me break step.

But there is one ticket-tearer's warning that has the power to make me falter and I encountered it the other night at the Royal Court, where Mike Bartlett's Love, Love, Love has just opened. The phrase was this: "There are two intervals". Perhaps it's a little too melodramatic to say that it's a remark that makes the blood run cold. But I'd be lying if I said that it didn't take a bit of warmth off the evening. It wasn't always like this, of course. Time was when two intervals was pretty standard – theatre managements having a strong incentive to ram the audience into the bars so that the eye-watering mark-ups could do their bit for the bottom line. Now that audiences can drink in the auditorium, that's not quite the imperative it used to be, and in any case the culture has shifted towards a shorter cadence, as plays shape themselves closer to popular forms of narrative. The single-act play used to be as rare as double intervals were common, but these days it's routine.

Curiously, I think that fact – and not just Bartlett's sharp and funny script – meant that my expectations were confounded the other night. The reason that "Two Intervals" is so baleful a phrase is that one interval is bad enough. Too early to allow for anything but a provisional discussion of the play, too short to let you relax, too busy and flustering to do anything but disturb your concentration, the interval exists, mostly anyway, solely because of the limitations of the human bladder. But something odd happens if you feel that it isn't an interval at all but a gap between two plays. As soon as it dawned that Love, Love, Love was to have a three-part structure – with each section offering a different period in the history of the same family – I readjusted. This wasn't a long play with too many intervals. It was three single-acters conveniently presented in a single evening. And the gap between part one and part two wasn't just an artificial interruption. It was an opportunity to build and share presumptions that would provide some of the fuel for part two.

Experienced directors have always known that the placing of an interval can be critical to a production, of course. In some Shakespeare plays it can significantly alter your perception of the dynamic of the work – a kind of theatrical pause-button that temporarily holds one aspect of the play in your mind for longer than would be the case normally. I remember Terry Hands once telling me that he'd rescued one of his productions simply by shifting the placing of an interval. What had felt moribund and sluggish in the previews was suddenly animated and given new tension, because he'd found a way to prevent the energy of the audience leaking away through that hole in the integrity of the drama.

The experience at Love, Love, Love was exactly the opposite though. There, it wasn't a matter of the interval affecting the play, but the play completely changing the nature of the interval. And though part of that effect was undoubtedly down to relief at the discovery that we were going to have two and a half hours of good time rather than bad it was also because the interval was indispensable. It wasn't a fracture in the evening's drama, which then had to be repaired by us as we struggled to get back in the mood. It was part of it – a necessary space in which the black comedy of recognition that fuels the evening could itself be acknowledged by those watching. It made for a rare treat; an evening on which you could feel equally happy going in either direction through the auditorium doors.

There's a hole in my Nerdplex...

Part of the Seventies detailing in Tim Burton's new film Dark Shadows is a cinema marquee advertising a showing of Deliverance, John Boorman's 1972 thriller about a canoe trip gone bad, pictured. I take it Burton admires the film, or it's making some other point, but it got me wondering about other marquee homages in cinema. I confidently expected the internet to supply a comprehensive list – or at the very least one of those YouTube compilations of three-second clips of "Movies Being Advertised in Other Movies" – but I couldn't find one anywhere. If you know of one, I'd be grateful if you let me know. And if you don't, could someone get on to patching this worrying hole in the Nerdplex right away.

Passing round the hat

Paul Schrader and Bret Easton Ellis have gone to the DIY venture-capital website Kickstarter to raise funds for a thriller called The Canyons.

This isn't the first time that Kickstarter has been used for film financing, of course, but two things are interesting about this pitch. The first is that we already know the names of the talent involved and, although they haven't been seeing green lights with anything like the frequency they used to, it is intriguing that they are prepared to pass the hat round in public.

The second is that they are asking for only $100,000 – a measure of how digital photography and distribution cut the cost of independent movie-making. A $25 pledge gets you a DVD and two posters when the film is released. For $500 or more, you are promised that Ellis or producer Braxton Pope will live-tweet a screening of your feature film at a time of your choosing.

News

literature

News
Dermot O'Leary attends the X Factor Wembley Arena auditions at Wembley on August 1, 2014 in London, England.

television

News
news
Arts and Entertainment
At this year's SXSW festival in Austin, Texas

Music Why this music festival is still the place to spot the next big thing

Arts and Entertainment
Russell Tovey, Myanna Buring and Julian Rhind Tutt star in Banished
tvReview: The latest episode was a smidgen less depressing... but it’s hardly a bonza beach party
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv Some of the characters appear to have clear real-life counterparts
News
Brooks is among a dozen show-business professionals ever to have achieved Egot status
people
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
A cut above: Sean Penn is outclassed by Mark Rylance in The Gunman
film review
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
James Franco and Zachary Quinto in I Am Michael

Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight

Arts and Entertainment
A scene from the movie 'Get Hard'
tvWill Ferrell’s new film Get Hard receives its first reviews
Arts and Entertainment
Left to right: David Cameron (Mark Dexter), Nick Clegg (Bertie Carvel) and Gordon Brown (Ian Grieve)
tvReview: Ian Grieve gets another chance to play Gordon Brown... this is the kinder version
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman in the first look picture from next year's Sherlock special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Because it wouldn’t be Glastonbury without people kicking off about the headline acts, a petition has already been launched to stop Kanye West performing on the Saturday night

music
Arts and Entertainment
Molly Risker, Helen Monks, Caden-Ellis Wall, Rebekah Staton, Erin Freeman, Philip Jackson and Alexa Davies in ‘Raised by Wolves’

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
James May, Jeremy Clarkson and Richard Hammond in the Top Gear Patagonia Special

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Game of Thrones will run for ten years if HBO gets its way but showrunners have mentioned ending it after seven

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
Mans Zelmerlow will perform 'Heroes' for Sweden at the Eurovision Song Contest 2015

music
Arts and Entertainment
Elizabeth (Heida Reed) and Ross Poldark (Aiden Turner) in the BBC's remake of their 1975 original Poldark

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Daniel Craig as James Bond in Skyfall

Mexican government reportedly paying Bond producers for positive portrayal in new filmfilm
Arts and Entertainment
Disney’s flying baby elephant is set to return in live-action format
filmWith sequels, prequels and spin-offs, Disney plays it safe... and makes a pachyderm
Arts and Entertainment
Nazrin with Syf, Camden
photography
News
The QI Elves photographed at the Soho Theatre. They are part of a team of researchers who find facts for the television programme 'QI'.
people
Arts and Entertainment
‘The Royals’ – a ‘twisted, soapy take on England’s first family’
tv0-star review: Sean O'Grady gives it his best shot anyway
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, DJ Taylor
    How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

    How to make your own Easter egg

    Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

    Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

    Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

    The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

    Cricket World Cup 2015

    Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
    The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing