Thursday, July 16, 2015

Beware of Playwright With Axe to G̶r̶i̶n̶d̶, er, Wield

Douglas Gordon with taxidermied wolf
I barely know how to title this news, or how to comment. This reaction by the writer/director/actor of Neck of the Woods (loosely based on Red Riding Hood), says so many things, none of which qualifies as an "artistic statement" (though it's clear he wishes it was taken as such).

From ArtNetNews:
After critics axed Douglas Gordon's play, "Neck of the woods," the 1996 Turner-Prize winning artist took an axe, literally, to the newly-opened theater complex in Manchester where the play was staged, taking out a chunk of wall. He then drew what appears to be a claw around the damaged part—and signed it... 
The play—which premiered last weekend as part of the Manchester International Festival (MIF)—is conceived as a re-telling Little Red Riding Hood, and designed to be as frightening to adults as the original story is to children. Little Red Riding Hood is saved from the belly of a wolf by a woodcutter, so the show features several axes. The axe used for the attack is believed to be a stage prop. 
...But the critics weren't impressed. The Daily Telegraph said the play had "the unmistakable whiff of a vanity project,"... 
Meanwhile, the Guardian described it as a "humourless and sedate Red Riding Hood retelling" that "takes itself very seriously" and is "so old-fashioned you wonder if Gordon has any familiarity at all with contemporary theater."

So it didn't turn out as expected. (There's a post, on what seemed to be a promising play, HERE.) That happens all the time. People - and plays - get bad reviews all the time, and, yes, it's tough, but it's part of the business. If this was for publicity, it was a very expensive, largely ineffective stunt, which adds up to bad business all round.

(So tempting to talk about the "imitation" of life here, what with taxidermied wolves in the mix too...)

I'm disappointed that someone who apparently immersed themselves so fully into the Red Riding Hood fairy tale as well as peeling back the dark nature of man and the true nature of wolf, would resort to such a thing. Apart from anything else, it's not very creative and really just says "tantrum".

Beware indeed.

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