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Street party postponed

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I'm sorry, in a way, that the Coronation Street musical Street of Dreams has been pulled on its tour for re-writes and the development of "further ideas." But also slightly relieved.

Not that I was necessarily dreading having to review the show one day, but I would feel curiously under-qualified to do so. Because I haven't watched a single episode of Coronation Street since Ena Sharples in a hairnet used to bully little Minnie Caldwell over half a pint of stout in the back snug of the Rovers Return.

I'm not proud of this admission. I haven't watched EastEnders, either, nor have I listened to an episode of The Archers on radio since Walter Gabriel used to growl and grump his way around the country lanes alive with birdsong and the sound of refined actors pretending to be full of the joys of spring.

That's the thing about The Archers (it still is when I don't reach the off button quickly enough after the news bulletin): it's so damned phoney, and the more realistic and up-to-date it becomes, with tales of woe and debauchery simmering in the background, and all that agricultural accuracy ladled in by its agricultural experts, the more damned phoney it sounds.

With the TV soaps, it's merely a matter of time. There isn't any. Although I am dimly aware of who Bet Lynch is, and the actress who plays her, Julie Goodyear (or should those names be the other way round?), in the show known to everyone except me as "Corrie"; and of course Ross Kemp and his thuggish brother in EastEnders are absorbed by some sort of osmosis along with the indelible image of Barbara Windsor as their mum.

But I suppose my refusal to watch these TV soaps is part of a real fear that I'll be sucked in and become addicted, and that really would make life awfully complicated. I had to get rid of Sky Television because I was watching far too many football matches that I didn't really want to watch, and now with the Test Match summer looming, I'd be hopelessly enslaved all day to the cricket.
The other thing about Street of Dreams is, as Paul O'Grady himself, the compere, says to the audience: why would you want to go to the theatre to see it when you can stay home and watch it on the telly?

The answer to that, surely, is that the stage show is an "event" where the private enjoyment of watching the show at home becomes a communal, tribal statement of affiliation and shared participation. Let's hope the show sorts itself out so we can see how that side of it is working. It might become a sort of Rocky Horror Show in curlers and carpet slippers, or a Singalong-a-Sound of Music with "hey-up, chuck," and a long boring whinge from Bill Roache as Ken Barlow, the character who's been in it since the start. For me, Coronation Street is still in black and white.

Street parties will be two-a-penny, soon, anyway, as the Diamond Jubilee weekend approaches and we all start talking to our neighbours again. Mind you, there may not be too much rejoicing round our way, chuck. Two people have recently died in our street, one of them unexpectedly, from a sudden brain tumour. And poor old Ivy, the widow who fell over in her bedroom a few weeks ago, is still in hospital.

One just hopes there's not any of the sort of cataclysmic carryings-on that feature in Detroit, which opened in the Cottesloe at the National Theatre last night. An invitation to a barbecue turns out to be an incitement to all sorts of bad behaviour, including same-sex smooching, spectacular fallings-off wagons and an incendiary blaze that spreads from the burger grill to the houses themselves.
Libby Purves in her Times review rightly congratulates the stage management crew who glide around between scenes repairing the damage. Two of the guys are intriguingly bald middle-aged removal men, presumably part of a back yard speciality team brought in for Detroit and, the last show in this theatre that was also played in a backyard and traverse arrangement, Moon on a Rainbow Shawl.

I seem to remember there was a big conflagration scene quite recently in either Corrie or EastEnders. Perhaps a visit to Detroit might inspire the producers of Street of Dreams to fan the flames even higher, along with the rest of the re-fit.


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