Big daddy Phil sublets his column to his daughter so she can see Russ Abbot as Doctor Dolittle at the Glasgow King's.
And then daddy took us in the big theatre with the King's Curtain and we were in the best seats in the house, front row, left of the aisle, Grand Circle, exactly where the ice creams would be sold from in the terval daddy said.
And as well there was Doctor Doenormousamounts and he was Rush About and all the animals were coming to him to be fixed and be inserted a large missile up a cow's anus and shouted, ‘With friends like me who needs enemas.’ Yeah, I thought it was a little bit out of my understanding too.
Daddy says, ‘You don't even notice his hip replacement.’
And as well, lots of other animals come with a boy. There is a wee duck in a basket, half ominous recipe idea and half just easier to hide the mechanics of it.
A young Irish tenor does most of the stage leg work and sings all those numbers the title-getter would do in a different type of show, or the same show in a different century.
A lot of the animals were animatronic animals, the pig, the parrot, the sheeps, the horse and cow and did that thing of repeating the same few moves over and over. Very, very lifelike if your life in a zoo has made you insane.
He talks to the animals and does excellent improv with the animals, co- habits with the animals, sailing together on the lovely set that rocked to and fro about as slowly as anything I have ever seen. It was a beautiful scene.
There was a giant lunar moth and a pink sea slug, yes there was, that has to push an island back into the warm ocean weather otherwise the natives will have to make grass overcoats and scarves and grass trousers and hooded tops.
There is one music man who plays piano or waves his hands in that totally unusually spasmodic way that conductors do when they are keeping up their iibertempo, their beat above the beat we can all hear. The beat that has more.
I spend a lot of time looking at him.
Dad does well. He has
6 THE lIST 2—16 Nov 2000
VERY LIFELIKE IF YOUR LIFE IN A ZOO HAS MADE YOU INSANE.
water and crisps easily on hand, is keen to chat to us before the show and not keen to try and look sullen and uninterested in what is surely more than just not real theatre. And he doesn’t mind when my friend Mia throws some paper down into the stalls and when we talk in a loud unhushed voice ' throughout the show. Or when a boy behind flicks some paper at his head.
Everything is so overly spectacle-based that it is hard to be kind of amazed anymore when clearly amazing things are happening all the time.
At half time dad took us exploring and we got lost down in the stalls and went right down to the front down the central aisle like at a very busy wedding and saw the piano man’s piano close up. Then we looked up at where our seats were. We were not in them, we were here.
There is so much music books here he must have a terrible memory.
I like it best as the lights dim for the overture and the world begins.
Daddy pointed out some nuns at the back of the stalls. He said:
'I'm not sure why, but those nuns amaze me, what do they think about it, why are they here, do they go to many musicals? Have they incorrectly booked for The Sound Of Music? Have they sat down in the Order and voted one day to come out into the world and see what it is they are missing, give the damn outside world one last chance? And they chose this. More pertinent/y do they accept that a man can talk to animals in a similar way that we have to accept that they ’talk to God’ - and do they perhaps see Dr Dolittle as a deep satire on religion and the reliance on faith and a god who seems to make up crazy animals to intrigue and confound the Christians (see Monkeys, Apes, Dolphins, Dinosaurs, furless Chihuahuas) and would appear to be once again letting his son’s homeland be ripped apart and be floating around doing very little as it
burns there? Do they? The nuns?’
Silly daddy. Russ Abbot seems underused as he has to act with a parrot whose voice is done by thee Julie Andrews. Perhaps this is enough for the nuns? ‘ Hopefully it is on CD, I hope they would not bring her along just to squawk in the wings every night. It was my first piece of populist theatre spectacle west-end, start with a celeb, just get thousands of them in and give them something that technically they can't complain about and seek the world franchises. The songs are jolly enough. Man: 'Doctor, Doctor, I can't stop eating hay and I love taking your daughter out for rides.‘ Doctor: 'It's OK, you are a little horse.‘ I Doctor Dolittle is at the King’s Theatre, Glasgow until Sat 4 Nov.
Famespotting Action Spectacular
Sounds like a movie tagline. Who are they? A rather fine indie band emerging from the industrial wastegrounds of Sheffield With a pro-North agenda and collection of genre bending tunes. Their lead vocalist and songwriter also happens to be a man of the Scottish Highlands, one Dr Jim Muir.
What's he doing down there? He ’rode a little horse down to Sheffield about seven years ago purely because of lack of oppurtunity.’
Oh, I see, a Highland refugee, so what does he sing about - the Lochs and Glens of his childhood? No, actually Action Spectacular's debut album From Here On In It’s a Riot is ’a collection of stories documenting the lives of me and my friends dorng twentysomething crap jobs and trying to escape from it on weekends, pretending to be rock stars.’
Sounds like Pulp's Different Class Funny you should say that because the southern music press has finally come to recognise Action Spectacular as Pulp's natural heirs.
So hunky dory no more north/south divide agit prop war of words? Not quite. The boys are still smarting: 'Coming from the Highlands, I've seen entire fortunes pissed off down the road. Let's face it, everywhere north of the Watford Gap has baSically been stiffed for the last 20 years . . . we feel qwte resentful that it’s taken us three years to get the London-based media to look up from their self-obsessed navels.’
Influences please? Johnny Cash, Iron Maiden, Psychedelia, Human League, ABC, 805 northern shoe-gazing bands. They obviously sound like none of these.
50 where have they been all our lives? They’ve ’done a few laps of the northern chicken-in-a- basket circwt' and their album is out on Curveball this week, though their contract has ended and they are currently looking for a new label. Curveball? Isn't that the home of. . . Flat Eric, yes. 'We always came second best to a fucking glove puppet, but you won't see him again. We sorted him out. We killed him, man!’
Hooray for Action Spectacular.
bl From Here On In It’s a Riot is available on
C urveba/l from this week.