Adventures: Not always a win

Notes on recent events I have been to or adventures that have been had. Use the ‘Adventures’ category on this site to see other posts in the series.

Soho Theatre

Dean Street, Wednesday 20th March

Not every place you visit or show you watch will be a success. These are some thoughts on that, following a recent trip to the enjoyable Soho Theatre.

The bar at Soho Theatre.

Towards the northern end of Dean Street, illuminated in large neon lettering, you will find Soho Theatre. Immediately clear that it is an artistic venue, large glass windows fronting the building reveal an always-popular bar. Combining the aesthetic of a diner with an artist’s clubhouse, Soho Theatre may not provide much in the way of food, but will happily serve up refreshments to bar-hopping visitors and those attending the shows that run throughout the afternoon and evening.

Soho Theatre supports fringe, alternative, upcoming and independent acts; always having a large selection throughout every month. With multiple rooms and stages, it can cater for theatre, cabaret, spoken and comedy shows all in the same night. Just today (Monday 25th March) eight shows can be seen on the website, put on by six acts. Talent ranges from up-and-coming to well established and internationally known.

This is another great venue for catching new, interesting or challenging shows, providing a broad insight into topics that appeal to the artists of today. I’d say, though not with an enormous amount of personal insight, that this is a venue where the zeitgeist can be found – before being studied, dissected, and probably quite thoroughly mocked.

Since Vault Festival finished for the year, I’ve been keen to find a new location to catch independent and fringe performances. I’ve visited the Soho Theatre bar for a drink once or twice, but never seen a show there. But listening to the announcements in the bar sparked my curiosity, as did chatting with others that orbit the place – be they regular patrons, artists or crew within the industry, relaxing in the familiar venue and among its eclectic crowd.

On Wednesday 20th I picked an act that looked interesting on their website, popped in for a pre-show drink, then headed to the downstairs part of the venue and took a seat. The place had a feeling of being a small comedy club – blackened walls, tables and chairs around which the audience sat, and small raised stage.

This article isn’t about negativity, so I’ll not go into details of or name the show, but I can’t say that I enjoyed it. It was a stand-up comedy affair that I had hoped couple be quite amusing, but it’ didn’t work. While plenty of guests did enjoy it, I found that most of the humour fell a bit flat.

The show ran for an hour, and I’m pretty certain I caught a glimpse of a rather fabulously famous patron of British arts in the small audience. At the end of the show I returned to the bar for another drink, whiling away a half hour listening to the crowd bubble around me. I reflected on my choice of show and how I would write this up as a post. Should I review the show and reveal the precise reason I didn’t like it? In the end I decided that this would be a better point to this article:

To expect every experience to be a perfect success, and to demand it as a prerequisite of enjoying your evening, is to set oneself up for disappointment. To feel that every show you attend, or every venue you visit will be mind-opening and immediately rewarding, is to put too much pressure of the adventure. After enough negative experience, this may even create a desire not to adventure.

Instead, perhaps it is better to go in with an open and curious mind, to find out what surprises may unfold, or indeed, fail to unfold. The goal isn’t to be happy as a reward of picking the right thing to explore, it is to enjoy the adventure itself and the process of experiencing whatever you have chosen to visit.

The show itself, well, didn’t work for me. But the venue is great, and it is supporting a good cause – in a time where commercial interests are penetrating ever-further into the interior of Soho, at the expense of the culture that made Soho so great in the first place.

This is a good bulwark that deserves to thrive, welcoming new and old faces as it opens up the creative power of the fringe scene to fresh audiences.

And for me, I am determined to remember:

Enjoy the adventure itself.

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