How I got into this. John Sturrock called from the LRB. He knows that I like opera a lot, and that I now and then get tired of writing papers about the mind/body problem for philosophy journals. 'Would I like to report on the new pop version of Aida? (Elton John, Tim Rice and, rumour has it, a transparent swimming-pool.)' I pretend to have heard of Elton John and Tim Rice. Sturrock sounds amused, possibly at my expense. 'Sure, what have I got to lose?' I say.
That is sheer bravado. For one thing, though I'm passionately fond of seeing again Fred Astaire movies that I've seen a dozen times before - I'm prepared to make long trips to seedy nth-run cinemas in bad neighbourhoods if so required - I haven't been to a musical play in maybe forty years. I know nonetheless (a priori, as philosophers say) that I do not like them. They are noisy, and banal, and manipulative, and vulgar, and the singing is amplified. I know this, as I say, prior to experience, and independent of it. Moreover, I am painfully easily embarrassed; and I believe that musicals are the kind of plays in which the actors encourage the audience to come up on the stage and join in the fun. I did not see Hair of course, but I'm certain that everybody in the stalls eventually had to take his (/her/my) clothes off.
LRB 30 March 2000 | PDF Download