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The MBFC Forum Discussion
 


 
 

What follows is an edited version of a discussion which took place on the Reviews section of the Michael Ball Fan Club Forum.  It was one of the longest topics that has ever appeared on  the Forum, and represents individual points of view of the show.  It just goes to prove the depth and range of feeling that alone together has produced.
 

For more personal views, and to add your own contribution take a look at
these pages:  The Story  and  Audience Reaction

Many thanks to all those who took part and allowed us to publish your
comments here.

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Is there anyone who wasn’t at the Donmar show who didn’t like it?  I haven’t managed to watch all of it yet, but I don’t think it’s going to be my thing.  Maybe you just had to be there.  I can certainly appreciate Michel’s talent, but I didn’t feel “involved” not like when he is in concert.

Susie

I haven’t seen the Donmar video yet.  I don’t think this video will be everyone’s cup of tea.  I know myself personally will enjoy the video because I am the type of person who will sit down and listen to the words of a song and how it is sung rather than the melody line.

I am intrigued as to how different this material is from his usual thing – so I guess for now I have to wait and see.

Sue

I was at the Donmar and have the video.  The more I watch the video the better I like it and understand the message that Michael is putting over.  A lot of the songs were new to me and that took a bit of getting used to.  But the video has “grown on me”.

Joan

In a previous post, I expressed having difficulty with the Donmar video - I am watching it again right now and I like it when he’s more mellow; when he’s intense and angry it makes me uncomfortable.  Maybe it’s because I never saw him in the theatre, but got to know him through concerts.  He sure has an expressive face.

Bonnie H

Having been lucky enough to not only be at the Donmar, but to be there on the first night it was recorded, perhaps I can appreciate the video more.  I have to say I love the video, nearly worn it out during the last two weeks!

Dee

The first time I watched the Donmar video, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it or not – it’s just so different from how we usually see Michael.  But he did warn us that this show would be.

Sandra

I received my alone together  video on Friday.  I loved it.  To see Michael so close without all the usual stage trappings.  Was surprised at how many of the songs were associated with Barbra Streisand and Judy Garland.   So many of the songs that I personally love and sing were included.  His rendition of There's No Business Like Showbusiness was brilliant.  I jumped up and cheered when the show ended.  I wanted an encore.

Anne D

I’m sure it was better to see it live.  I never find videos capture the magic of live performance.  As for finding it uncomfortable to watch him being angry and upset – well, it shows he got it right.  I found the actual performance very hard to watch emotionally, especially the first time when I was taking it personally (him personally not me).   Which just goes to prove he got it right.  If he hadn’t been believable it wouldn’t have had that effect.

Pat  S

I love the Donmar video.  It’s a musical play that takes you through the journey of a musical performer’s life up to present.   I think the concept and Michael’s performance is brilliant.  To fully appreciate the show, I think it should be watched in its entirety, without stop, without distraction, and more than once.  I think you will certainly get involved then.

Carol

I was at the Donmar and have watched the video about 12 times now.  The more I watch it the more I appreciate the story Michael was telling.  I really think that you probably appreciate more if you have seen the show as the atmosphere was so intimate.

Joan

It is so good to read that people feel uncomfortable with Michael’s anger in Alone Together.  You were meant to!  I think to appreciate the video or for that matter the actual show, you have to forget it’s Michael performing.  View it as you would any other drama, with the added bonus of a great star acting it!  It is the most amazing drama I have ever had the privilege to watch, both live and on video.   Definitely, the more I watch it the more I get from it.

Chris

I have not seen the video yet, I can only comment on the live show.  I am fascinated by the darker roles in theatre.  I think psychologically they’re more interesting – so I really enjoyed seeing the show.  Concerts translate well onto film because of several elements – musicals can be more difficult.  The lack of audience participation makes them seem more distanced.  Also I don’t know what will be the effect of seeing it on the small screen – smaller images always seem more remote.

Letty

The selection of songs is awesome and the fact that the anger in some parts made us uncomfortable means Michael is a very good actor.  I have watched the video several times and like others am getting more from it each time.  I have to agree with the critics who said it was a very brave and inspired piece of theatre.

Jean

I’ve only been able to view the video once and am longing for the time to sit down and watch again.  I need a chance to gather all my impressions to coherency, but in short for now I’ll say I thought it brilliant and cannot imagine the courage it took for Michael to go out there and do it.  What a complete stripping away of the ‘protection’ of orchestra, well worn and therefore safe, comfortable songs and backup singers.  No ‘buffer-zone’ of the normal type venue either, but rather, the audience right in his lap.  No way to shield himself from the reactions worn on faces in the crowd.  And what a stripping down of the man…the character.  Right down to the bare bones of his pain.  I can’t imagine how amazing this must have been in person.

That he had the talent to carry this off brilliantly didn’t surprise me.  Nor was there any doubt to me that Michael possesses the depth of feeling, the empathy, even sympathy with suffering, pain, and fear that it would take to portray those emotions so accurately that people would be left squirming with discomfort.  What excites me is that he was willing to take the risk.  With public opinion, with fan loyalty, and with ‘himself’ conquering whatever fears and insecurities could have held him back.

Katy

I have agreed with all the remarks that the more you watch it and the more you let yourself sink into it, the more you will get out of it.  As Chris says, if it makes you feel uncomfortable, then it was meant to!  I don’t agree with Chris in that Michael isn’t there though.  I think there is a lot of Michael there and maybe that’s what makes people recoil.

Trudy

I have watched it twice – that to me is not enough – I think you need total immersion in the material and the actor’s performance to form an honest opinion of the show.

What I have seen I have liked a lot so far.  As I argue with myself whether what I’m seeing is simply an intellectual reflection, a cathartic journey, a dramatic musical tour de force, or an explosive piece of theatre.  I’m beginning to form disparate opinions about some phases of it and at the same time a growing coherent view of the total piece—I need time to absorb the whole material – not that I want to analyze each aspect and each song like a critic – but to get an overall reaction as part of the audience out there to be entertained and out there to be provoked.

It is a complex piece of theatre.  It will not appeal to everyone, especially to those who are used to seeing Michael as a concert stage entertainer or to those who don’t relish seeing the bearing of anyone’s soul on stage.  It is uncomfortable and it is provocative.

My own regret is not having seen it performed live – I missed the palpable interaction between artist and audience inside a theatre.  A filmed performance is too detached even if you get better close-ups.  Michael was acting out the role as a theatre performer and not as an actor whose every expression or gesture is microscoped to its littlest detail.  One may feel that the filmed version makes Michael look as if he is overacting at times.  No, it is because in the theatre all gestures and vocal inflections tend to be exaggerated so everyone in the hall can see and hear them.  This is why I would have wanted to have seen this performance in its proper medium.

Josie

I was lucky enough to be able to go to the Donmar and really enjoyed what I saw.  I did wonder if the rollercoaster of emotions I felt seeing it live would come across on the video.  I am pleased to say that they do, for me anyway.

Sue R

I’ve only just had time to read this page of the topic.  I think maybe I was misunderstood.  The Michael people are used to seeing – curls, dimples, smile, etc. isn’t there.  Michael definitely was!  What I’m sure we do get are lots of little glimpses of the “real” Michael and some of the feelings he has had over the years.  This was definitely Michael without his “I’m happy all the time” mask, and I for one am so pleased that I was privileged to see this stunning performance live, as well as on video!

Chris

I went to the concert on Friday (wow) and saw it and thought ‘mmmmm no!”  Then he sang Padam Padamand I had to get it.  I think it’s great, I love the bit at the beginning of Act II.   I love the Al Jolson and Judy Garland songs.

Corey

 I’ve just finished watching the video again and think it’s brilliant.  Michael makes me feel so many emotions, from laughing out loud to crying.  When he sits on the floor and sings, I just want to hug him and tell him everything’s all right.  He looks so vulnerable.

I’ve watched the video about 10 times now and understand more of the story each time.  The opening to the second act is absolutely fantastic.

Julie

I must say that having been to the Donmar live, I loved the video.   Carol and I watched it for the first time together last Thursday.  She didn’t go to the show, but enjoyed the video.  Unfortunately, videos don’t capture the atmosphere of the performance, but I think the picture quality and sound are excellent.

Jillian

I just think the Donmar show was amazing…I thoroughly enjoyed Alone Together live.  The video has opened up the show more.

Sue G

It was with some trepidation I put my copy of the video on this evening for the first time.  I had watched and listened to all the initial comments before I even ordered my copy.  I was so worried I wouldn’t like it and then I would have been so disappointed.  But do you know I love it!  I have been transfixed by it all evening.  It is a fantastic piece of theatre and Michael is wonderful at carrying us through emotion after emotion.  The choice of songs is inspired and…I love it.

Helen

I have seen it too!!!!!!

Most of my original thoughts have stayed with me.  The only thing I have completely changed my mind on is The Man That Got Away.  On the night I saw it, I thought it was the character saying he wasn’t the man he could have been because of the things that had happened to him.  After watching the video only once or twice, I now see it as the character telling how his father leaving had forced him to grow up whether he wanted to or not.  How it had made him cynical and wary of other people, which meant not letting anyone get too close.  That his birth should have been the start of this everlasting wonderful relationship, but it hadn’t been and he didn’t know why.  I think that from the point the spotlight goes out, the character is then talking about his mother and how it effected her that she had this set of circumstances thrust upon her and there was no getting away from them.  She just had to carry on, but she never gave up hoping the one love of her life would show up again.  So this strong, maybe slightly overpowering bond, has developed and it’s the two of them against the world in If You Were the Only Girl in the World.

A line from another song Michael sings sprang to mind as I watched ‘with one look I can break your heart, with one look I play every part’.  In my book Michael sure does that in this video.  The look at the end of What Now My Love or How Can I Lose You says more than a thousand words could ever do.   What really makes it work beside Michael’s abilities as a performer is the way he worked all of the audience so much so that it didn’t matter where you were sitting, you were drawn into this story as it unfolded in front of you.

Marie

At the insistence of certain individuals who shall remain nameless, here is my interpretation of Act I.  Haven’t had a chance to sit down and concentrate intensely on Ace II just yet.  Much of it probably differs from what you’ve gotten out of it, so I want to hear everyone else’s takes too!!!

Act I

Out walks ‘the actor’ onto the stage.  Standing up there looking out at all the people staring at him, he feels vulnerable.  “No, don’t look at me,” he says, expressing his uncertainty and lack of confidence.  An actor’s life is a lonely life because he’s always in the spotlight being watched – all eyes are just waiting to see him fail.

But then the acting truly begins.  He turns around, back to the audience, to compose his face. When he’s feeling down, he says, he just whistles a happy tune…and turning back to face the audience, all traces of fear and uncertainty are gone and he is grinning.  He’s trying to turn into something or someone else, like an actor does every night.

He sings about how everyone around him seems to be able to let go and have a good time, but for some reason, he can’t let himself do that.  There’s something in his life that just won’t allow that, no matter how hard he tries “what’s hard comes natural, what’s natural comes hard”.  What’s interesting about the end of this song is the way it leads into the next piece.  The last line he sings is “learn to be free”, which leads directly into “when you feel in trouble and you don’t know right from wrong”.  It’s almost like he’s looking to his conscience to guide him in that freedom that he’s learning to discover.  The knowledge that his conscience will lead him and always be there to fall back on gives him the confidence he was lacking when first he walked out on stage.  Once he’s found that, he’s ready to perform.  “Please look at me…I’m so glad I came”.  Through that little three-song medley, he’s crawled inside his head, searched for the confidence that would allow him to let everything go despite his fears of failure, and now he’s able to do what he needs to do up on stage.

When he sings the “just look at me” bits, he’s also drawing attention to the actor and his life, in a way introducing and summarizing all that is about to follow.  Brilliant intro, really.

WHERE OR WHEN serves to draw the actor back into his past.  He’s searching his mind for the memories that have all blurred together.  “We’ve lived before, loved before, laughed before, but who knows where or when”.  His life has gone by so quickly that it’s all only a vague and patchy haze of fog.  He knows that there’s something more hidden there, but he can’t quite remember it all just yet.  He needs to look further…and he does in the next piece.  This is what life has done to me, he says.  Life has taken everything out of me and left only a shell, just my skin where the person used to be.  That’s all I have to leave you, he sings…that and his memories…

…for the past comes back to haunt you.  PADAM, PADAM is the actor invoking his past, calling forward all those long-lost memories he hoped he had forgotten.  But the voice of your soul “sings of your guilt and the lies you build” and “dredges up memories you hate” – it won’t let him forget.  The song of his soul that he is hearing in his head as he attempts to recall the past is what we, the audience, is about to witness.  It is the ‘refrain’ that the actor wrote, for only he’s to blame for what he’s done to his life.

(and can I just say that I ADORE that song.  I think it’s brilliant and he is just incredible when he sings it.  I can just hear the pain, actually FEEL it “gouging that hole”.  Wow!)

Now that he’s called up the song of his soul, the actor begins to move us into his past, from the more stage-like invocation of it, to his actual life and memories.  “Who is the child without complaint…this is a child like your own…”  Childhood memories slowly emerge into view…”long ago, long ago, long ago”…whispered words that lead you directly into his memory of his father leaving him.

That memory is relived in the spotlight, where the actor visualizes how his father looked when he told his ‘little pal’ that daddy had to go away.  The actor kneels before his imaginary self as if he were looking into the pain of his own eyes way back then.  When he rises from that position, he is once again himself.  As he walks from the spotlight into the darkness, he is imitating THE MAN WHO GOT AWAY and what that did to his life, moving him from a bright and happy childhood into a world of shadow.  “Good riddance, goodbye” he tells the spotlight, his father, as it fades from sight and from his life.

Then he visualizes how his father says farewell to his mother, “If I were the only boy in the world and you were the only girl”, says the father, he might have been able to stay.  But life isn’t that easy and even though he’ll love her “forever and ever” and even though he’ll “say a little prayer for her” every day, he can’t stay with her any longer, no matter how much it breaks his heart to have to leave.

(now just exactly WHY he left, I can’t quite figure out, thought perhaps that’s the point.  I am now more inclined to believe that that was meant to be the actor speaking to his mother, rather than the father, and that just makes the words all the more poignant.)

And now, once again, the actor is reliving the memory of saying goodbye to his parents.  In reliving it, it almost seems like he’s leaving his memories of them behind him as well.  He feels like he just needs to let go of them and to let go of his past so that he can allow himself to live.

Well, once he’s succeeded in that, he’s “got no strings to hold him down” anymore and he’s free to do as he pleases.  He tests this new found feeling of freedom and realizes that he can do whatever he pleases for the first time…even “build a stairway to paradise”.  Expressing his dreams and all his expectations for life, he begins to see all that he could possibly be if he tries.  Life can be good he realizes, all “happy talk”.  Optimistic and full of dreams, he sets out to enjoy life to the fullest.  But “the best of times” aren’t all as great as he thought they would be.  An interesting take on this song, which could be so upbeat, but he takes it on the more ironic level.  These are the best of times, so we should live life to it’s fullest.  But even at the fullest, if this really IS the “best of times it isn’t all it’s made up to be.  (I love the facial expressions in this one – they really aid in giving that undertone of irony to the whole thing).  He ends the song with a repetition of ‘is now, is now, is now,’ as if he is trying to convince himself that this is indeed the best it’s going to get…

…but, “is that all there is” then?  He thought that stairway to paradise would bring him somewhere far more spectacular than this.  Life, in short, isn’t living up to his expectations and he’s questioning that, asking himself “Is that all there is to life?”  Very bitterly, he answers his own questions:  well heck, if that’s all there is, what do we have left do except keep on going?  After all, “there’s no business like show business.” and whether or not you’re happy, you need to keep acting.  “There’s no people like show people, they smile when they’re down.”  Again, another bitterly ironic twist to this song that serves to bring us back to the connection between the show and the actor’s life.   And of course, the show, just like life, must go on.

The whole show just fascinates me no end and I can’t get enough of it.  It’s absolutely amazing how much is in that show.  Half the stuff I see in there I can’t even get down on paper because it’s just sheer emotion that can’t be put into words.  It’s just incredible.  And I seriously think this is the one Michael video I will need to make a copy of for fear I’ll wear it out.

Rebecca

Reading your and Marie’s excellent reviews, I am struck by the variety of interpretations which spring forth from this show.  I think there is a duality to the story, to the songs, and the way one leads into the next, which allows this diversity of impression.  It’s the sort of show which enables us to bring our own histories and experiences to it as well, which probably color our understanding of the meanings behind the performance.

Katy

I know what you mean, I think if there is one song that really confuses me in the whole show it is the conversation with his mother or the father expressing his feelings to the family he left.  I tend to still go with the father.  I think it’s the “at night when I’m lonely, my thoughts are for you dear only” line that does it.

Marie

Thank you Rebecca for a very thought provoking review of ALONE TOGETHER.  I think every person who has deep thoughts about the meaning of the performance and the various songs will have a slightly different take on them than the next person.  I think that’s how it should be, because after all, it’s up to each one of us how we choose to interpret them.

Some of the meanings are crystal clear when they are in relation to the life of a performer.   What’s not so clear is which of the songs relate to Michael’s life as a performer.  That’s why there is so much more to enjoy than just a normal concert tape.  I’m with you on this one Rebecca – this is the video I will watch more than any other.

Trudy

Made a date with myself to sit down and watch ALONE TOGETHER for real…no interruptions, no distractions…and I’m just SO blown away by it.  Anyone who has only watched it once and was left feeling unsure, please do watch it again.  You have to get past the shock of it…give it another chance.  It’s brilliant!!!

It made me cry in several parts.  I did see it as “very” dark, but not without hope.   At the end of it all, this show struck me as the story of a very, very wounded person.  One who has faced his demons head on and came out battle-scarred, but surviving, knowing himself, and ultimately stronger than before the battle.

Act I
He starts trying to tell us his story by first attempting to bully his still-existent insecurities into submission, and if he can’t quite force, or whistle them away, he can hit his stride, when all else fails, just by singing.  As soon as he tells himself to just sing, he finds his courage.

In BLUE he sings of having lived, and having been marked by life.  He bears scars and he’s going to show them to us, but he has to go into his past to do so, and searching his memories is painful.  (this song is SO pretty) Stamping his feel in PADAM his memories assault him.  It’s a wrenching journey for him, but he goes back all the way back, to before he was who he is now.  To childhood…where the damage took place.

Clearly, there was damage.  His face as he sings LITTLE PAL recalling his father’s words, feeling so let down, so sorrowful, so bitter.  His father’s leaving is not the only cause for pain; there was other pain inflicted before the leaving. THE MAN WHO GOT AWAY seems a lament for both him and his mother.

There’s a bit that makes me think his mother left him by dying.  It could have been anything, but for me, it was that.  It’s because of the look on his face at the end of ONY GIRL, as his expression changes from one of love and happiness, he then looks down and a look of infinite sadness crosses his features, and it just made me think of her dying.  The way he sings SAY A LITTLE PRAYER supports that impression for me, even the way he finally seems angry, because that is a normal emotion too, when a parent dies, thereby abandoning the child. I cried here for the first time.

MOTHER/FATHER…oh this is sad, sad, sad.  Again, I feel I am seeing a deeply wounded person before me.

NO STRINGS  - the music is manic, even a bit deranged.  I see this moment as the one in his life where the deep damage takes hold…to me, he sings this not with the joy of experiencing freedom, but with a recklessness that reveals the seeds of his future loneliness being firmly planted.  Not only have the parental bonds been severed, but also his ability to form “any” bonds.   STAIRWAY TO PARADISE is sung in an “I’ll show ‘em, I don’t need anyone” sort of near-delirium.  It’s like the way some people drown their pain in a bottle, he will drown his with this driving ambition.  Then, in HAPPY TALK he “does” seem drunk and bottle brave.  Swigging from his water bottle, loose bravado on his face…so, some of that sorrow drowning, as well.  (The water bottle boy/girl bit is a hoot!)

In BEST OF TIMES, he’s trying to convince himself he’s where he wants to be.  The best of times is now, because he things he’s succeeding in putting the pain of the past behind him, and he’s fulfilling all his determined expectations.  In IS THAT ALL THERE IS he is so cynical.  Disappointed by life, by the persistent pain of his wounds, life seems to hold no joy or mystery for him.  BUT – showbiz is his seducer.  He sings of it with a mixture of wonder, excitement, and resentment.  The music is frenetic and suggests to me that he is both the master and slave of his art.

Act II

Opens by showing us the master.  On stage, he is well and truly free of his demons, at least as much as is possible.  It is all I can do to keep from leaping off my sofa and cheering when his medley ends.  (Good heavens, but Michael is so obscenely talented!!!  Amazing enough he memorized it all, but he delivers it with such precision!  He sounds like a true vaudevillian, he is the consummate actor, his voice is perfection…this is one point in the show where I am simultaneously absorbed by the story and also applauding Michael.  I am grinning till my face aches and I have tears on my cheeks.  It’s just unbelievable!!!)

But then, NICE DREAMS/SOLITUDE sings of his denial, his loneliness.  No matter how many transformations he makes onstage, he can’t escape himself.  Despondent, he discards his jacket.  Getting up from the floor, he dons his jacket again in a ‘getting on with life’ sort of way, then starts and turns…SHE TOUCHED ME…somehow love has snuck up and caught him unawares.  He sings as though he can’t believe she got through his defenses.   Appears afraid of love; of the vulnerability.  He doesn’t trust his feelings, doesn’t want to lose control.  He tries to preach caution to himself, but finally, he is swept away by love.

REMIND ME/I WISH I COULD FORGET YOU – she may have left him, but he’s the one who made it happen.

With WHAT NOW MY LOVE and HOW COULD I LOSE YOU, he turns to really look at himself for the first time…he looks all the way back to his childhood, remembering this was the last time he was really happy, sees how he got where he is, and sees that he is doomed to keep pushing love away.  He sings of a ‘terrible weakness inside me’ and blames this for all his losses; the loss of his parents, which children often thinks is their fault, due to some flaw in themselves, and now this weakness has lost him his love as well.  It is as if he is seeing the real depths of his wounds for the first time.  He mourns the people he has lost as well as the happy person he once was.  This is so heartbreaking!  He looks so infinitely sad – really seeing the person he has become and what it is bound to cost him. “That’s how I’ll always lose you…oh”.  Tragic, tragic!  Total despair.

LIFE ON MARS – he sings of the farce life has become.  Nothing is real anymore.  He is coming unglued.  Broken down, he collapses at the back of the stage and the Bach prelude plays, a melancholy (but beautiful) quieting of his mind…

OVER MY HEAD/GLORY GOES – he is thinking of death.  What will it be like?  Is it better than this?  He is asking God for answers.  When he asks, looking up into the heavens, if his mother will be there and envisions her arms around him, my heart just breaks!

ALONE TOGETHER/THIS IS WHAT IT IS – perhaps God answers, perhaps he decides for himself; he is alone, but never alone.  There is the restoration of hope in this song.  He finds the sudden comfort and security of a world full of people around him, carrying the same fears and pain as he does, and the light of that revelation penetrates his darkness.  There is peace in his features again, which we have previously only seen when he was remembering the happy parts of his childhood, or when he lost himself on stage.  But this time, it’s the here and now and him.  It’s like a rainbow after a storm.  It’s such a relief!!!

I’d have loved to have been there, but, thank God, they made a video!  A cd would be fab, but there’s a lot you’d miss if you never see it.  His expressions are essential to the plot.  I still can’t get over the desperate agony on his face in WHAT NOW MY LOVE.  Jason Car accompanies him wonderfully on the piano.  Incredible, incredible show.  Perhaps I should make a copy of it…I really may wear this one out.

Katy

What a resonant account of that poignant story of a performer’s life—you seem to have it down pat what this musical monologue is all about.  I’ve seen it twice, but somehow I’m still in the process of sorting out the message, the mood and the music.  Maybe, I’ll never be able to articulate my whole and detailed impressions.   But each time (that I’ve watched it) has given me greater joy and appreciation of what a wonderful piece of theatre Michael has co-devised and has performed.

In the MUSICAL STAGES interview, he did say that the song LITTLE PAL used to be sung to him by his mother and grandmother when he was growing up and meant a lot to him personally – so does the song IF YOU WERE THE ONLY GIRL IN THE WORLD.  He talks a lot about the creative process for ALONE TOGETHER in this interview.

Josie

I don’t know if I’ve got it down Pat, but I’m glad you liked it.  That’s my second viewing impression and who knows they may change, but I don’t think so.  This is how it strikes me, but that’s what’s unique about this as well…it can strike different people different ways.  Unlike traditional musical theatre, in which the story is, well, the story.  Clearly told, handed to us without much effort on our parts.  (That’s not a criticism…I adore musical theatre and am glad it doesn’t always require the effort to understand it that ALONE TOGETHER does.   AT does ask us to work at it a bit and I like that it does.  But it also means that none of us will come away from it with the same map of where we’ve just been.  I’m glad you’re still keeping at it (or is it just an excuse to keep watching?)

Just re-read my own review and thought that my describing his face at the end as a rainbow after a storm is even still a bit too sunny…it is a ‘battered’ rainbow to be sure…yet, it shines; after all the dark clouds and tearing winds that have been there before.  I’m looking forward to watching again, just to see that part!  I woke up with it in my head this morning…have a feeling it’s not done with me yet.

Katy
PS – what was said about the problem of videoing a stage production; that the close ups of facial expressions meant to be readable by an entire theater can make the actor appear to be over-emoting on the video is very true.  I’ve always wished that in creating show videos, they’d just plop a camera in ‘best seat in the house’ position and roll tape.  I am glad for the close-ups in this, after all, though as it is wonderful to really be able to see the expressions so clearly.
Oh my, oh my…am listening to the vaudeville medley as I write and I just can’t believe this part.  He sounds fantastic!!
Katy

Wanted to share my feelings about video…ALONE TOGETHER…I had read reviews of the show...so I knew it was not to be Michael as usual.  I have to say I love this video…yes, I have his concert videos and love them also…but Donmar show is something very special… To watch Michael as the “Performer” is just amazing…he is amazing and brilliant…this really shows off his talent in a dramatic part…I have watched it about 6 times…just this past week…each time picking up on a line…a movement…an expression.  It/he totally draws me into the ‘performer’ and his journey…I love the songs…the twist he puts to them…ways of hearing them in a different way.  Yes, I love this video/show/this side of Michael and am grateful to all who put it together so that I could see this side of Michael.

Donna

Katy, I liked what you wrote about HAPPY TALK.  When I was watching earlier in the week a few things struck me about that song too.  The way Michael sings the “talk about a bird learning how to fly, making all the music he can make” line with his hands to his chest and then spread out as wings but now flapping wings more of soaring wings like the character is learning to stand on his own two feet and make a go of it and then arms spread out again for ‘talk about a star’ but this time as if to say ‘that’s me.  That’s what I’m going to be, a star.’  I didn’t see the reference to drink and partying at first, but after you’ve watched the video a few times you start to notice something new in it every time, don’t you?  I think the character is enthusiastic about enjoying all the good things in life having dreams, experiences, relationships, and the character definitely takes his last swig out o the bottle as if it contains something stronger than water and it’s not for the first time either.  There’s so much information in any one song and you are sure that’s what it is yet, someone else could have seen it completely different…it’s very clever.

Marie

Thanks you all for each and every comment about the show.  Michael’s aim was to have us thinking, if I remember well.  Sounds like the show made us think an awful lot.  I was lucky enough to see the show three times in London.  I’ve already watched the video several times.  I got the feeling I could never be fed up with it.  Every morning I wake up to a new song and it goes around and round (padam…padam…) in my head for the whole day.

Rose-Marie

I just watched the HAPPY TALK bit.  When watching it again, I thought ‘hang on, maybe this part isn’t how I first saw it’…he does look happy, anticipating joy…(the bird learning how to fly and making music with hands to chest and then flung out enthusiastically is wonderful) and I first thought…huh…maybe he isn’t drunk…but then, yeah, there’s that swigging again, and the loose way he moves his body and the bit of slackness of expression at the very end…so yeah, I do still think he is drunk, but more happily drunk then I first thought...still afraid, but holding on to that dream.

Katy

The video has been in my home for weeks and I hadn’t watched it.  I knew it was a serious piece of theatre.  I wanted to allow myself a solitary journey.  This morning I have done just that.  Superlatives escape me, other than….

Michael is BRILLIANT!!!  The show is BRILLIANT!!!

Even though I know Michael has said it is a story about an actor, I was left with a heart wrenching feeling that it mirrors all our lives.   We don’t all go on stage looking for worth or approval, but it is a quest we all endeavor.  And in the end, what we really need is love – from a lover, a friend, or God.

Marilyn

I love this video…at times not sure what ‘performer’ is trying to tell us…I did after a few watchings get the HAPPY TALK…drinking, etc.  Still hung up on IF I WERE THE ONLY BOY/SAY A PRAYER.  I know thought is that the father is saying to wife, but a times I think our ‘performer’ has met someone…falls in love…maybe the first love then loses…love…mother…father…I still don’t really know…guess I will just have to watch a few more times…oh what a terrible thing to have to do.  Please write more when you can.  Enjoy going round with others on meaning this brilliant show…Michael really does have us talking about meaning…didn’t he say something of the sort…that he wanted each of us to figure it out.

Donna

On our comments re a filmed version tending to show some over-acting during close-ups, this is Michael’s comment on that (in a recent interview)

“I was very concerned about the filming because it is an intimate space and it’s a very theatrical piece and I thought it might look over the top on screen, but it really doesn’t.  It’s not flattering, it ain’t beautiful, I sweat, I’ve no makeup on…”

“You mean it’s real?”

“It’s dead real!  And I have no problem with it at all…”

Josie

Donna, that very part you are feeling hung up on is the part I feel like discussing next, related to how his body language makes it seem to me what I interpret it to be.  I think it’s really cool how there are so many possible conclusions to be drawn about this show.  It’s what makes further discussion of it so interesting!  I really like hearing what everyone thinks, particularly now that I’ve seen it and can understand where everyone is coming from!

Katy

If you need to watch again…check out his expression and stance as if a young man falling in love…maybe his first love…seems to be younger…then later on when talking about those lost…refers to ‘person I fell in love with” to me refers back to…”If I were the only boy” also as he sings “say a little prayer” at start of song he is happy…optimistic…part way through his tone changes to anger…disappointment…at the end of ”say a prayer”…I think he has lost his love…then goes into Mother the loss of Mother Father First Love?  After that GOT NO STRINGS.  Did he leave everything behind…did they all leave him?

Donna

It sounds like some of the very things which make me interpret that part the way I do, make you take a different spin on it.  Isn’t it amazing how that happens?

Katy
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