I was in London over the weekend ( do I really have to explain why?) and I found myself at the Harold Pinter Theatre watching Captain Corelli’s Mandolin. A musical.
There was a time when I loved musicals – the Omagh pantomime (pronounced ‘pantomine’) was an annual high-point, and I fell hopelessly in love with Debbie Reynolds after Singin’ in the Rain at the County Cinema. But since those boyhood days I’ve made a point of not watching London ‘shows’ when I visit. But this one, I got tickets for £5 each (don’t ask) and it seemed perverse to refuse.
The setting of Captain Corelli’s Mandolin is Greece during the Second World War. The plot was melodramatic and at no point did I feel any real connection with the characters, even though the acting, dancing, singing and sound-effects were first-rate. Overall, I enjoyed the play/musical more than I thought I would, but since I thought I wouldn’t enjoy it at all, that was a low enough base to start with.
But the casting of the play baffled me. For example, one of the Greek army soldiers was black. I don’t know what proportion of Greeks were black during the Second World War but I’m betting it was a low number and their rareness would have drawn stares and comment . Um , nope. The actor was black and clearly the message was, if you find something odd about this casting you’re probably a racisThere was also a scene where two army buddies are at the battle and one of them is mortally wounded. Before he expired in his mate’s arms, he declares “I love you. I’ve always loved you.” And they had a long, lingering kiss. The message was, these are not just mates but sexual lovers, at least in their inclination if not explicit action. There was nothing in the script before that point to indicate they were anything but non-sexually-inclined army buddies who relied on each other.
Then when the German army invaded, who was in charge of the troop of German soldiers? Why, a strutting, order-rapping, pistol-toting woman soldier.
Why do playwrights feel the need to lever in their PC-correctness into their work? I’ve since heard that the hit-play Hamilton is performed by an entirelyblack cast. Perhaps audiences hurried to it to show that yes, they too were colour blind. But Art is supposed to be about life, not delivering lessons that make no sense historically or any other way.
If I want a sermon I’ll go to church or a talk. If I go to the theatre it’s to see life, not political correctness that jars because it’s so bloody obvious.