Rhiannon Harries: 'The drama of the West End is not as exciting as M&S'

Share
Related Topics

Celebrated theatre and opera director, neurologist, writer, sculptor, television presenter and altogether sickening polymath Jonathan Miller says he hadn't been to see a West End play in a decade.

This makes me feel much better. More of my cultural exchanges than I would like to admit involve the phrases "I haven't managed to get tickets yet", meaning I haven't got round to trying, and "I've read lots of good things about it!" Nul points.

Miller, speaking to The Independent in his slightly grumpy trademark tone last week, put his indifference down to a number of factors, some of which are more cerebral than others. A West End, in his opinion, too focussed on big names, for one.

He has received a fair amount of justified stick for that one, with plenty of commentators pointing out that Mark Rylance, the lead in Jez Butterworth's lauded Jerusalem is hardly a bit of celebrity fluff, and that Miller himself cast the rather starry Joanna Lumley (below) in the main role for The Cherry Orchard in 2007.

But I suspect that the celebrity complaint was a rationalising afterthought, and that Miller's disdain has more to do another of his statements: "I don't want to go to the West End; I hate travelling. I prefer to be at home with my grandchildren, and just go to Marks & Spencer."

Ah, now this is where Miller and I really do think alike. Not that I have the worthy excuse of grandchildren. And nor do I consider Marks and Sparks a cultural experience interchangeable with theatre (although it certainly represents one of the great pleasures of civilisation). But I don't want to go to the West End either, no matter how high the quality of what is on offer there.

It's not the travelling, although anyone who wants to hang around after a performance for a drink and can't afford a taxi can expect some seriously tedious nightbus action. The problem with the West End is that it's in the West End, which contains some of London's unloveliest places. Yes, there are pockets of interest and prettiness, but by and large theatreland proper is packed with bad restaurants, confused tourists and drunk teenagers; all the more so at this time of year. It is seedy, but in a dull way, without that frisson of excitement that can redeem a less salubrious part of town.

Still, I did manage to drag myself there one weeknight after work earlier this year to see Miller's updated Cosi Fan Tutte at the Royal Opera House, which was excellent and I'm glad I went.

I hope he'd appreciate the effort. After all, I could have gone to M&S – it was late- night opening that day, too.

React Now

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

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Spanish Speaking

£17000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - German Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Japanese Speaking

£17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are fluent in Japanese a...

Recruitment Genius: Graphic Designer - Immediate Start

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: Hang on – that’s not how it’s supposed to be written

Guy Keleny
Rafael Nadal is down and out, beaten by Dustin Brown at Wimbledon – but an era is not thereby ended  

Sad as it is, Rafael Nadal's decline does not mark the end of tennis's golden era

Tom Peck
Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

Is this the future of flying?

Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

Isis are barbarians

but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

Call of the wild

How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test