17 October 2007

Mmm Mmm Mmm Mmm

A friend of mine in Manchester often says that he usually prefers the productions in the Royal Exchange's Studio theatre to those in the main theatre itself. He finds them more experimental, more interesting, and often simply more fun. I've only been to the Studio twice, but have been pretty impressed both times, especially by the staggering Knives in Hens.

This season sees two plays that premiered in the Studio getting a full run in the theatre proper. I'll be curious to see how they work out. The first, The Flags, won a ganseyload of awards last year, and had a healthy run at the recent Dublin Theatre Festival, although it didn't get unambiguously positive reviews.

Written by Bridget O'Connor, and directed by Greg Hersov, who seems to direct everything at the REx, the play is apparently a hugely funny tale of two lifeguards:
JJ and Howie are lifeguards on the second-worst beach in Ireland. The job running the BEST beach in the country is unexpectedly vacant and these two are determined to clean up their acts and get the job. The trouble is JJ and Howie are not very good at being lifeguards. In fact, they're alarmingly bad...

The best beach in Ireland, according to the play, is Banna Strand, perhaps best known as the spot where poor auld Roger Casement was captured in 1916, trying to smuggle in arms for the Easter Rising. In the play it's described, apparently, as the perfect beach 'with tits and ass as far as the eye can see'.

A big hit in Manchester, but met with scepticism in Dublin. I'm intrigued. It could be worth a look - maybe on a Monday.

Anyway, speaking of lifeguards, have you ever considered what happens when an enormously fat person is drowning? No, I hadn't either, until today, when I read that a Denbighshire company has created a 28-stone training dummy so that lifeguards and firemen can practice rescuing obese people. Lifting them takes some doing, I gather.

All of which reminds me: if you're ever at Alton Towers, about to set off on the stomach-churning launch of the Corkscrew, it's best not to glance over towards Rita, Queen of Speed, at least if you've not yet braved its insane acceleration.

Because if you do you'll see, piled on the ground below the tracks, heaps and heaps of crash test dummies.

I'm not sure if they were intact.

But I'm pretty sure they didn't have arms.

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