Why won’t they shut. up.? [spoilers for Together (2021)]

Obviously, don’t read this if you haven’t seen it yet and still want to watch it. I left what I see as the main crisis plot point out of this text, but I wouldn’t be averse to discussing it in the comments, if anyone who’s seen it wants to do so.

I just noticed that this was available on Hulu (now that I have fully joined the streaming world) and remembered that Armitage had appreciated it. After watching it, though, I was left with very mixed feelings. MacAvoy is very good, although I felt this kind of role is very much in his wheelhouse and probably didn’t present him with much artistic challenge. The last time I saw him (in Cyrano de Bergerac), he also spent a lot of time talking right straight at the audience.

The piece does have the virtue of honesty, if by that we mean ugliness. What happens when two much-more-unlikeable-than-average people get stuck in lockdown together? And then spend at least a third of the production breaking the fourth wall? I had the feeling this piece would have worked better as a live play, in that there’d have been some energy in the audience that could have responded to what is frankly often a barrage of words during the monologue scenes. I get what Armitage was saying about how there are some raw moments here, but he could have added tedious to the list. I honestly did not need the word “exponential” explained, and as a viewer, I don’t like to dramas to hector me or assume I am more ignorant than I actually am.

Then again, I suppose the experience of lockdown is tedious. One additional point for verisimilitude. In twenty years, they’ll make a sequel when the kid has to go into full time therapy to address the emotional trauma of being locked in a house with these people.

Although the piece often felt long-winded, I did think that it was dramaturgically well structured, with an anecdote that I thought of us as just too long near the beginning turning into an important plot point later in the play. At the same time, it was precisely that plot point that made me think that she got the short end of the stick of his obvious insecurities. Isn’t it essentially misogynist to claim that someone in a caring profession really needs to spend every second of her life engaged in virtue? Anyone who really expects that seems to me to be living on another planet. She may be a hypocrite but she does actually do something good for the world, as opposed to his jargony job which seems to be mostly about producing better marketing. It was hard for me to feel bad that his company collapsed.

I also felt, frankly, that the whole thing was too much focused on the personal as opposed to political, as if the fact that he in particular has such horrible politics (and behaves consistently with them — as if this kind of consistency confers some sort of moral superiority on him) is merely a matter of individual morality as opposed to a general social problem. I really got annoyed when he gestured in the direction of governmental failures: isn’t that what people in his general political position see as the sort of self-fulfilling prophecy of government? They won’t contribute to making things better but they are right there to criticize. If he was smart enough to buy asparagus crowns, maybe he could have called his MP to tell them some home truths?

Just to clarify: I agree there was a huge governmental failure involved in this whole incident [and not just in the UK; Americans were equally sold out by our leadership, who denied any problems even as they doubled their investments in teleconferencing software] — I just think that that is exactly what the people like this male character wanted. Isn’t it disingenuous to be upset by the consequences of policies that you support? That last glimpse is chilling, as if I should feel bad about sheltered middle class children bouncing in isolation on their trampolines. But weren’t they equally doing that before the pandemic? There’s a lot of talk about people who can’t shelter in their houses during the lockdown, but it’s really just talk. From both of them.

In the end, it wasn’t so much that I didn’t like it, as that I found it really dissatisfying. I hope this isn’t all the BBC has to say dramatically about the perils of lockdown. Then again, this is months old by now and it preceded Omicron, which added an entire additional level of distress to our individual and social situations.

Oh. And that sea shanty showed up. It feels less masturbatory if I just listen to it.

~ by Servetus on February 18, 2022.

12 Responses to “Why won’t they shut. up.? [spoilers for Together (2021)]”

  1. Haven’t seen this yet and still mean to, so will skip reading this for now. Thanks for the link love, though. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The BBC did a lot of different lockdown dramas – some really interesting lockdown stories, including one with Sheridan Smith. And then the lockdown videos with Michael Sheen and David Tennant. I

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  3. I’ve been avoiding dramas about the pandemic// lockdown, it’s too near for me, but I was regretting missing Together, because it had good reviews, but not so much now after reading your take on it.

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    • I think there were a few good moments. But I also wonder if something like this isn’t doomed from the beginning — just the logistical requirements mean you can’t have very much of a cast, for instance, and it requires the characters be caught up in their own thoughts. Also, this was made in June of 2021 and I just read an interview that said it was explicitly not supposed to be political. Maybe that would have flown better for me last summer. But post-Partygate, it’s very hard to for me to get on board with this kind of thing. (I also see that the positive reviews occasionally don’t like the monologues and fourth wall breaks, so at least I am not alone in that!).

      Liked by 1 person

      • Everything around Partygate stinks. The stories of sacrifices by families, in comparison, are distressing and not least because of their manipulation, when the No 10 parties were only leaked in the press when it was politically expedient to do so. It is also no surprise when those in this venal hapless government behave like hypocritical shits.

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        • Yeah, I think it isn’t surprising that political administrations break their own rules — but that they apparently sneer at others for following them is like an extra spoonful of s*** on the crap sundae.

          Liked by 1 person

  4. And this wins a BAFTA.

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