I see a lot of theatre. Since my reviews take up a generous slice of the entertainments pages of my local paper, that comes as no surprise. On average, I’m at a live performance of some kind a couple of times a week in the line of duty.
So you might think the theatre wouldn’t be the first place I’d look for a pleasure trip.
Likewise with books in general, crime and mystery fiction in particular. I used to publish them. I still edit them, and on average I read three or four a month for review, sometimes more. Isn’t that enough, some people might think.
Short answer – not even halfway enough.
The same with theatre. I’ve been reviewing for several decades, and have no plans to stop unless the local paper decides otherwise – but last weekend, celebrating one of those scary where-did-all-those-years-disappear-to anniversaries with a zero at the end, my first choice of activity was a London show.
The danger, of course, is that a show I choose to see will be a let-down. One of the perks of reviewing is the free ticket; I’m very selective indeed about the shows I’m willing to pay to see. And paying West End prices brings with it a heavy load of expectation.
This time every expectation was lived up to ten times over. Guys, let me tell you, everyone should see this show!
We Will Rock You, the Queen musical, is an unmissable experience. I laughed, I cried (well, almost), I nodded in agreement with the ‘message’. I stamped my feet, I waved my arms in the air, I even hollered the lyrics when the singer turned the mic toward the audience – and I don’t do any of those things. I just don’t. Sometimes I’ve been known to applaud so hard it stopped my wristwatch, but that’s as far as I go. Usually. This time I was blown away, and I’m still floating on that cloud whenever I think about it.
Cut to books. Three or four a month for review; sometimes three or four a week in total. So it takes a lot to create that total immersion feeling, when the TV’s blasting at full volume, two conversations are taking place a few feet away and the phone rings – and I’m so deep in a world of someone else’s making that I’m aware of none of it.
I’m just making a point and drawing a comparison here; there’s no everyone should read this book coming up. Not that there haven’t been a few over the past year; I’ve been keeping a record which will probably form the basis of a post or two in the coming weeks. I suppose, if I’m honest, I just wanted to tell you about We Will Rock You, and this is a lame attempt to link it to the Dead Guy mission statement.
But it happens, doesn’t it? Sometimes a book is just an enjoyable interlude.
(Anything less than that generally doesn’t pass the fifty-page test these days; I’ve grown picky.) And sometimes, often unexpectedly, it blows you away.
Just like that show. See it!