Celebrating my birthday by trying to actually write about (or even mention) some of the theatre I see.
29 is a weird birthday - I keep thinking of ways to celebrate 30! - but it’s been a nice day. And on Monday I did fun stuff, and on Saturday I’m having a joint party with a BFF whose birthday is tomorrow. Yay :D
So yeah, Waitress
just arrived in London and I got preview tickets for a great rate from a colleague who gets group rates, so I went last week, with @januarium and @mokatiki. I hadn’t even known it was a film, I knew nothing about it besides that the soundtrack in particular had got rave reviews.
The songs are indeed great! YAY. Sara Bareilles is very hit-or-miss for me as a singer-songwriter, although I really love the songs I like, and I’m really glad these worked for me.
The musical itself was fun, despite some messy bits.
Things I liked:
- The way London theatre’s dance ensembles/choruses continue to get so, so much more diverse in terms of body type and race.
- Yay focus on three women and a lot of it being stuff where they talk. The protagonist’s friends get subplots, although the black best friend’s one gets MUCH MUCH less time. Hers squeezed at my heart, though - her husband is badly disabled, so she’s a carer and waitressing, and she won’t leave her husband and she’s having regular sex with her boss and it’s sort of enough.
- The happy ending isn’t about romance, but about the protagonist getting her own business and having her friends and her kid around her
- Baking is appreciated as a genuine creative outlet
- The subversion of all the stuff about the pie contest. If she wins the pie contest, she can make money and escape and that’s gonna be the climax - oh wait no who cares doesn’t even happen
- Her abusive husband is actually very well portrayed in some ways. His threat to kill himself because he can’t live without her, the yawning desperation for someone to love him - he clings much more often than he looms - and how tense and frightened she is whenever he’s around, even when he thinks they’re having a nice time. I was glad we were pretty close to the stage - the actress did great things there.
- While obviously IRL doctor/patient is bad BAD BAD, they do enough to give her agency (she kisses him first, for example) to let me go with it in fiction.
- Female gaze and good sex jokes. During the sex song, two of the three women get cunnilingus and there are no blowjobs, and the other woman both spanks and gets spanked. Approved. It’s also funny and cute.
- The way she ends her affair with the married doctor - “without a bodycount”. She makes that decision, even though it hurts, and it made me respect her a lot.
- It starts with her getting pregnant by her husband, and she’s never happy about it. Never wants the kid while pregnant. Even when she has the baby and that sparks things, she breaks up with the doctor before having the kid. She dumps her husband, sparked by having the baby to protect, but that’s been a long time coming - so the lovely maternal-strength moment wasn’t soured for me by a sense of ‘just have the baby and you’ll become magic because you’re fulfilling your role in life’ or whatever.
Things I didn’t like:
- The romanticising of stalking. This was by far the worst thing. The other best friend has never had a boyfriend (or, implicitly, sex) and wears glasses and stuff, and her friends get her on this app. She has a fifteen-minute date with the guy, and the next day he shows up and sings a song about how he’ll follow her forever and she’s the one and “if you think I’m not there, I’m probably waiting outside”!!!!! ARGH. It’s fucking terrifying. The actor was charming and hilarious, and they get together at the end and then it’s nice and I just tried to put that song out of my mind… but holy shit. It’s never subverted, and it makes for a REALLY weird juxtaposition with the protagonist’s abusive husband who is taken seriously as a threat. Especially since the musical understands that abuse can go along with desperate love! But I guess nerdy guys can’t be dangerous, huh?
- Lack of understanding of nerd culture. Far less important, but definitely eye-rolly for us :D The nerd friend and her nerdy guy are both into historical re-enactments, they’ve done dozens each and they’re from the same town and both play major roles (Betsy Ross and Paul Revere). The chance that they don’t, at minimum, recognise each other vaguely is non-existent
. Come on, this is a community enterprise people do together! They must have mutual friends! I also think it’s ridiculous, despite the nerd friend’s very deep anxieties about romance, that she’s wanted a boyfriend/romance/sex and never been able to have it EVER despite her immersion in this local hobby. I mean. Historical re-enactments are basically if cons and amdram had a baby, as far as I can see, and errrrrybody fucking at THOSE.
- The hints of classism. Don’t get me wrong, this is still a musical about mostly working-class people which is horrifyingly unusual, so yay. But oh man, her abusive husband (we rarely see violence from him, and nothing graphic on stage, but it’s always simmering) is a construction worker in plaid, and she has an affair with the married fancy doctor from Connecticut, and his education and wealth is part of the contrast with her horrible husband. I’m just so glad it didn’t end in him rescuing her.
- ABORTION IS NOT A DIRTY WORD. FFS. I grow to loathe the words “options” and “alternatives”. She says she doesn’t judge people who have abortions and the doctor doesn’t seem judgy or hesitant to suggest it, but HONESTLY. This is something I despise about most American media.
So I can see it going either way for people, but I enjoyed it a lot.This was originally posted at https://lokifan.dreamwidth.org/377918.html. Comment wherever you like :)