Hurrah for exploding props and nosy dogs

Share
Related Topics

Sadler's Wells isn't where you go to hear folk tunes; it's the home of top-flight ballet. But the audience at Thursday's opening night of Petrushka was treated to a brief burst of Irish song when – after a cock-up with a rope ladder – the director burst on stage to keep everyone entertained. It was a brilliant bit of improvisation by Michael Keegan-Dolan, the youthful Dubliner. He sang; the hitch was fixed, and a warm fuzzy feeling enveloped the auditorium when the show went on. Everyone felt they were in it together.

So often, disaster comes hand in hand with delight. A friend's wedding vows were interrupted by the entrance of the vicar's dog. It wondered in, sniffed the bride and bridegroom, and ambled off – but not before establishing a place in future family lore. Once the worst has happened, what's left to worry about?

In politics, the master of disaster is Boris Johnson. He knows that dangling suspended on a zipwire like a giant baby is worth thousands more votes than an earnestly delivered pledge. Perhaps the reason scandals never stick is that he doesn't try to present an image of perfection. Quite the opposite. He ruffles his hair instead of smoothing it. I am a human, not a PR suit, is the message. Being first to admit an imperfection is the most effective way to deflate your critics.

Wimbledon, our beloved summer tennis tournament, fetishises formality and close-cropped perfection. The stripes, the whites, the coil-sprung ballboys and that ceremony with Princess Anne. But apart from the tennis, what do we love most? Not the strawberries, not Sue Barker, but the hope of Cliff Richard, who pops up when it all goes to pot. It rains, he sings, and a weird sentimental love of humanity descends over SW19. It's not at all British, and yet, it absolutely is.

As Jenny Gilbert writes in her review on page 56, Thursday's ballet at Sadler's Wells was a four-star show improved, not worsened, by disaster. Jeremy Beadle spotted the joy of the boo-boo years ago, with You've Been Framed!, spawning a whole new genre of bloopers as entertainment. But the pleasure here is not of Schadenfreude, of revelling in another's discomfort, but of sharing in the embarrassment. It follows in the tradition of pantomime, a momentary inversion of the norm. That programme went off badly only when they started to show accidents that looked genuinely painful.

At the theatre, cock-ups can leave a sour taste if you've been left with little change from £200 for a night out for two, but some blunders are priceless. I would have paid good money to be in the house the night a phone rang uncued on stage, only to be answered with presence of mind by an actor nearby. Handing it to another character, he intoned: "It's for you."

After all, how often do we look back on a play or musical and recall a brilliantly delivered line? Chances are, it's the collapsing chair that stays with you for ever.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Analyst - 12 Month FTC - Entry Level

£23000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Business Analyst is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Chefs - All Levels

£16000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To succeed, you will need to ha...

Recruitment Genius: Maintenance Engineer

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join an award winni...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Executive & Customer Service - Call Centre Jobs!

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Day In a Page

Read Next
George Osborne appearing on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, 5 July 2015  

George Osborne says benefits should be capped at £20,000 to meet average earnings – but working families take home £31,500

Ellie Mae O'Hagan
The BBC has agreed to fund the £650m annual cost of providing free television licences for the over-75s  

Osborne’s assault on the BBC is doing Murdoch’s dirty work

James Cusick James Cusick
Isis in Syria: Influential tribal leaders hold secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over possibility of mobilising against militants

Tribal gathering

Influential clans in Syria have held secret talks with Western powers and Gulf states over the possibility of mobilising against Isis. But they are determined not to be pitted against each other
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

A growing population and a compromised and depleted aquifer leaves water in scarce supply for Palestinians
Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously

Illnesses, car crashes and suicides

Dozens of politicians, bureaucrats and businessmen linked to Indian bribery scandal die mysteriously
Srebrenica 20 years after the genocide: Why the survivors need closure

Bosnia's genocide, 20 years on

No-one is admitting where the bodies are buried - literally and metaphorically
How Comic-Con can make or break a movie: From Batman vs Superman to Star Wars: Episode VII

Power of the geek Gods

Each year at Comic-Con in San Diego, Hollywood bosses nervously present blockbusters to the hallowed crowd. It can make or break a movie
What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?

Perfect match

What do strawberries and cream have to do with tennis?
10 best trays

Get carried away with 10 best trays

Serve with ceremony on a tray chic carrier
Wimbledon 2015: Team Murray firing on all cylinders for SW19 title assault

Team Murray firing on all cylinders for title assault

Coaches Amélie Mauresmo and Jonas Bjorkman aiming to make Scot Wimbledon champion again
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

Vasek Pospisil must ignore tiredness and tell himself: I'm in the quarter-final, baby!
Ashes 2015: Angus Fraser's top 10 moments from previous series'

Angus Fraser's top 10 Ashes moments

He played in five series against Australia and covered more as a newspaper correspondent. From Waugh to Warne and Hick to Headley, here are his highlights
Greece debt crisis: EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

EU 'family' needs to forgive rather than punish an impoverished state

An outbreak of malaria in Greece four years ago helps us understand the crisis, says Robert Fisk
Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge: The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas

Gaza, a year on from Operation Protective Edge

The traumatised kibbutz on Israel's front line, still recovering from last summer's war with Hamas
How to survive electrical storms: What are the chances of being hit by lightning?

Heavy weather

What are the chances of being hit by lightning?
World Bodypainting Festival 2015: Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'

World Bodypainting Festival 2015

Bizarre and brilliant photos celebrate 'the body as art'
alt-j: A private jet, a Mercury Prize and Latitude headliners

Don't call us nerds

Craig Mclean meets alt-j - the math-folk act who are flying high