It’s a Sunday Times column by Camilla Long – published yesterday in, of all places, the newspaper’s Style supplement – that offended me on so many levels that I didn’t want to dignify it by including it in a round-up of more ‘serious’ press coverage of a West End opening, even down amongst the gossipy tittle-tattle of the Daily Mail.
Long’s evisceration of Hollywood star Bradley Cooper is an example of how mainstream media so often belittles theatre. It’s from the same school of journalism that labels dedicated stage actors “luvvies” (urgh!).
To start with, Long obsesses about Cooper’s body, being both dismissive and lewd, in a way that, were she a male writer discussing a woman, would have the political correctness hotline ringing off the hook. She then suggests that he is the one who is body obsessed and vain to boot, “drinking” in the “entirely unmerited” standing ovation from the audience at the performance of The Elephant Man she attended.
Does she just really dislike this actor? Oh goodness, no. Turns out she just plain can’t stand theatre.
- The play “wasn’t bad” it was just “pretty awful”
- She was left wondering why she’d spent the time “doing something I technically hate, which is going to the theatre”
- And yet, against her instincts, she’s now contemplating popping in to the Aldwych to see Beautiful: The Carole King Musical “in spite of a long-held belief that anyone who likes musicals has no emotions and had no friends as a child. It is absolutely no life.”
That’s all of us no-lifers told, right? I mean, seriously, WTF.
Oh, and by the way, this appeared a day before today’s embargo for review coverage. But to that, Long will no doubt said that she bought her ticket (I assume?) for a Thursday matinee and this wasn’t a review because, how could it be, it was in the Style section – again, I emphasise, the Style section – alongside the newspaper’s weekly fashion barometer and a feature on Dolce and Gabbana.
All of which, as I tweeted yesterday, begs two questions (amongst about a dozen others):
- why does Camilla actually go to the theatre?
- what exactly is wrong with her?! (translation, does she have no soul?)
Okay, maybe that second question is mean, I take it back. I’ve never met Camilla Long, but from afar, I admire and abhor her in fairly equal measure. I think she’s a talented writer, with an often amusing perspective, a feel for the zeitgeist and some coinable turns of phrases. But her signature bitchy tone turns me right off: quite frequently when she reviews films (she is one of the Times‘ film critics, after all – her pannings of my two favourite films last year, Boyhood and Pride, made me apoplectic) and inevitably whenever she gets within spitting distance of anything theatrical.
My recommendation to the producers of Beautiful: politely turn this woman away at the door. And my recommendation for Camilla herself: give us all a break and just stop going to the theatre, or at the very least, stop writing about it.
The original article
If you don’t have a subscription to The Times, I wouldn’t advise going past the paywall unless you like paying to get annoyed.