Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The bastard Man Who Lives Opposite has got a sturdy set of blinds covering all of his windows.

My Saturday nights are ruined.

Monday, July 28, 2008

A bumper trip to Lake Windermere this time. We had a meeting at the crack of dawn in Bolton which obviously, after a cruelly early start, did not start on time. And then, as we will be in the Lakes for the next two days, we drove up to Lake Windermere so I’ve spent a very arduous night sitting around on the hotel lawn which leads down to the Lake and then in various beer gardens /restaurants drinking drinking in the sun with my two faithful colleagues. It’s not such a bad job sometimes.

An early start after a lovely weekend. I spent an hour and a half tieing strings onto balloons for the parade which launches the Jazz Festival on Saturday. The parade missed the Pipers Trail by a cat’s whisker. The Pipers Trail is an initiative conceived by the Army to boost flagging recruitment. I did not see much evidence of recruitment activity but the ‘Trail’ was impressive enough.

Then the Grassmarket handing out brochures for the Jazz Fest to the accompaniment of some thumping blues band. And the day culminated in a reunion trip to Alex / Mme de Merteuil’s house to watch the Oscar deprived John Malkovich and Glenn Close pouting at each other. She’d set up a projector like an angel so we could all cluster round and watch it.

And much as the film (again, David) seemed dated, I could only marvel at the performances of the leads. And the simpering blandly wide-eyed face (easy for permanent-face-of-horror-me to say) of Michelle. We all watched and quietly mouthed our lines to ourselves. Though maybe (surely not) others are less self-centred than me and just appreciated the overall spectacle.

Sunday a day of chores but I say that very self-pityingly and I did manage a lot of practical stuff but also squeezed in late lunch with one long-lost and one more recently seen friend at Bruntsfield in the faltering sunlight and then Batman of the Dark Knight which was a genuinely excellent film. Brilliant script. Great acting. Super effects. That is how a twisty-turny thriller should be.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

I saw my first festival show last night. Although it isn't technically a festival show yet but only a preview. But I daresay it won't change all that much between now and its official start next weekend.

It was Fall by Zinnie Harris at the Traverse. Zinnie of my Traverse writers' workshop fame. So I looked forward to it with extra enthusiasm because in some small pathetic way, I felt like I knew her a little. And interesting from a student's point of view to see how well she practised what she preached.

All of this goes to say that I had high expectations on arrival at the theatre.

And 12 hours on, I'm still not quite sure what I thought.

The biggest problem I think was that I wanted to like it so much - political so meaningful content, written by Ms Harris, directed by Dominic Hill - that perhaps it would never quite have met my expectations.

The set was lovely. Dingy but that was intentional and made it very atmospheric. It was a series of room sets really with odd pieces of dingy furniture and all set on casters so it could smoothly roll to and fro. Beautifully lit although I couldn't help feeling they were still tweaking. JGH would have known. Pertinent and poignant sound effects. Some nice use of projected images.

And the acting was excellent. Really (mostly) convincing characters. An odd mix of people flung together and forced to rub along which I guess is how some of the best plays start out. A few fluffy lines which (meanly) amused me but I guess they're only second night in and I'm glad to see it happens to even the best of us. It could perhaps have done with a bit more pace but again, second night in, they'll have sped up by next weekend.

Maybe it was the plot I didn't quite like. Or a couple of the characters that I couldn't quite believe in. The dramatic climax I particularly struggled with. Do you know it's maybe that it felt - in places - that it was better suited to being a film - although in other places, it was self-indulgently theatrical so maybe that's not right either. Clutching at straws, I thought that maybe this is the future of theatre and I'm just not imaginative enough to get it. Or maybe I was just too tired / drunk (two beers on the train on way back from meeting in Glasgow and then dash to the theatre) / grumpy.

I think the upshot of all of this is that I need to discuss it with someone else that has seen it. Ross sees it next week I think. Then I shall be able to put my thoughts in order!

Or maybe it's just that I wanted so much to like it but I didn't that I am inevitably disappointed. I saw Zinnie in the bar as I came out from the show and - though I don't believe for a second that she will have noticed - I couldn't bring myself to give her a grinning smile in case she did somehow horrifyingly make me talk about it. Small Siobhan.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

After weeks of filling my bus journeys and gym sessions with trashy literature, I decided on Monday that it was time to turn to the 12th Night.

So I trudged along to the gym with script in hand. Feeling very blase about how easy it was going to be to learn my not very many lines.

But then I took my faithful seat on the exercise bike and tried my hardest to learn my first speech. And struggled like a struggling thing.

I conveniently blamed the fact that my Sebastian lines aren't written (yet at least) in iambic pentameter. Whereas my previous Shakesperean foray was largely pentametered which I'm sure made it easier to learn.

Having made a raft of excuses for myself, I snatched the script up resentfully this morning and set off with it for my (missed, so more time for study) bus. And made better progress.

So maybe the only lesson is trying to learn Shakespeare with a thumping base line drumming away in your ear isn't the best plan.

Monday, July 21, 2008

I got back yesterday from a just under 24 hour camping trip in the very lovely Glencoe (this was the campsite!!) to see that The Man Who Lives Opposite had red roses on his dining room table.

I am glad that for once, the poor fellow was able to entertain un-watched.

Or perhaps he just saw me set off with 23 bags on Saturday morning and sprang into action.

Friday, July 18, 2008

I had hoped The Guardian would agree with me this time so was disappointed to read this review of The Visitor.

I had expected to love it, given that the same guy had directed The Station Agent which was a film both quirky and charming to my mind.

This one, however, was much more closely aligned with my own opinion so my faith in their judgement might be gradually restored.

The New York Times is even more favourable.

I can't seem to find any comment from the erudite Mr French. Shame.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

I'm feeling pathetically nostalgic for my last year's Festival show, little Tiny Dynamite. Fuelled, of course, by Mariapia's husband whom I met for the first time at the weekend who idiotically said he'd really enjoyed it when he came to see it. And this neatly reminded me of how charming it had been.

So I've been mournfully listening to the soundtrack over and over on my ipod ever since. I even found myself listening all the way through one of the filler tracks: Night Falls by the Pet Shop Boys from their Battleship Potemkin soundtrack, chosen carefully for the rain and squeaking ship sound effects which may have sounded a little like a movie soundtrack to the uninitiated.

Helpfully designed to make me pull myself together however, this morning's inbox holds my list of Jazz Festival duties and the long-awaited list of cuts to Twelfth Night. So not only will my evenings shortly be occupied with jazzy duties but I can resume my learning duties on my bus journeys and cease this pointless self-indulgent nostalgia. Much healthier!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Out with a client for dinner last night and maybe still floating on an early morning gym-induced high, I babbled and babbled like a lunatic.

At one point, I forced myself to cease my flow. "But I'm talking too much. Am I not boring you?" "Oh no," he said manfully, "on you go."

But I knew that this wasn't the truth because at the same time, he lifted his hand to cover his mouth as I always do when I'm trying to disguise the fact that I'm yawning and yawning. A dead giveaway.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

In Glenrothes yesterday, innocently walking along the street on the way back from a meeting, I passed a woman and as she walked by me, she covered her face, as if in horror at what she was seeing. A new low.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Last night was La Question Humaine which feels like a better title than The Heartbeat Detector.

I wrote earlier this week on the work blog that our Filmhouse subscription had led me to see a lot of terrible nonsense but the odd brilliant film here and there. Last night felt like divine retribution.

I expected the film to be brilliant. I paid no attention to the reviews in advance as I vaguely remembered it had been well-reviewed when it came out. More to the point, it featured Mathieu Amalric who I think might even beat David Tennant to the head of my list of favourite actors.

And it started beautifully promisingly. Looked good. Fine acting. Nice suspenseful but surprising plot. But then it all got a bit strange with too many untied ends for my liking. By the end - desperate times - I'm ashamed to say I fell asleep and saw only highlights of the oddly disjointed ramble to the end of the film.

Now reading Philip French, I see that actually I'm just far too badly educated to have appreciated the full gravity of the story played out before us. I feel sure (history student and all that) that I should have known, for example, that the raves that the main man wanders along to recall the orgies that were such a part of SS life. I did not see this. I merely wondered why they were all laboriously taking a boat to a shambolic party in a half-empty quarry. Naive.

I think perhaps I need to see it again to appreciate all the complexities. I shall not rush.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

A terrible postscript to the Night Of Shame.

I passed the Man Who Lives Opposite in the street on my way back from the gym last night. Previously these encounters have given rise to a slightly awkward hello.

Last night, he stared stonily ahead. I think the bridges of neighbourliness are burnt.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

I saw a really lovely film at the Filmhouse last night, La Antena. It's an Argentinian film, made in Spanish, but largely silent so the language is pretty immaterial.

It's an extraordinary thing. Like a more optimistic version of Tim Burton meeting a silent 1940s movie and having a strange slightly surreal but adorable love child.

Most surreal of all, it's directed by a guy who started out directing Shakira videos. It's always encouraging to see that these people have better taste than you'd initially imagine.

It's about a city whose inhabitants have lost their voices. It also manages to be a cunning allegory for Nazi Germany.

I probably shouldn't say much more than that for fear of ruining the pleasure of it. But go see it if you can. It's a charming unique thing that makes you want to be clever and artistic yourself. Surely always a good thing.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

The excitement over the read-through on Sunday conveniently made me forget all about my terrible behaviour on Saturday night.

I should have seen the signs. The Man Who Lives Oppostite suddenly acquired a bright red accessory on his living room table during the course of Saturday. For those with better eye-sight, it may well have been clear that these were tall red flowers. I thought it might be some fine new tableware. Not that this really matters because it was but a prelude to the Night of Shame.

I (as it turns out, also) had friends round on Saturday night for tea. Pathetically recreating apparently the cocktail of choice in NYC at the moment (champagne which I conveniently translated into cava, vodka and elderflower cordial), things became lively quite early on. The Man Who Lives Opposite was doing more of his topless DIY which attracted much attention from the cackling entourage on my side of the street.

And then poor man, we noticed he had a guest. You may remember he has had a guest once before. That night, he also acquired flowers for his usually bare dinner table. That guest was also a man. May have been the same man. They ate, presumably drank and appeared to do some DIY together. Which gave rise to endless speculation about the nature of their relationship.

But the major source of intrigue was that they also stayed up til 4am. And who knows, maybe beyond? But thoughtlessly, they kept disappearing from view despite our endless vodka-fuelled peering through the poor man's windows.

The next day I was, and still am, ashamed. I dread seeing him in the street. I fancied I felt him staring through my window remorsefully last night as I tried to look intellectual and above such base behaviour, reading innocently and peacefully on the couch. Nonetheless I fear he might take out a stalking order or injunction against me. It would almost be well-deserved.

Monday, July 07, 2008

So anyway, I am to be Sebastian in the Twelfth Night. Post-audition, I was of course full of love for Viola's lines and dreamily imagined myself movingly describing Patience plonked down on her monument, smiling at grief, to a tear stained audience.

I have now more or less recovered from the disappointment and am embracing the opportunity which playing the more or less mute brother affords. I have approx one page of speaking in the first act - although Gordon hasn't revealed yet what he plans to cut so some of this could go - and then maybe five to six pages (again subject to snips) in the second act.

So I have pleasant fantasies of an autumn with thinly scattered rehearsals, few but beautiful Shakespearean lines and a brilliant boy disguise.

The cast is lovely. Those that I know are, at any rate. And I'm sure the others won't be any different. And I shall be in a play with Caroline for, I think, the first time since Arcardia. So I look forward to much dressing room giggling.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Oh and Brian thoughtfully pointed out that much as I nurture an idea about doing the first act of The Pillowman in the one act play fest next year, maybe they would not grant this permission to so do. So I have emailed the agents. Seven months in advance. Anal control freak.
I realise increasingly what a control freak I am.

I'm trying to sort myself out with some reviewing work during the Festival. I had mooted the idea with the guy that runs Fringe Report. I've had some sporadic contact with him over the past few years, largely pathetically trying to promote one show or another of mine to a largely South of England so never going to come and see it audience. And he was quite keen on the idea.

But then of course little miss greedy for readership got too big for her boots and thought hey, how about she reviews for the Evening News? In her greedy head, next best thing to being Joyce Macmillan at the Scotsman. Small Thom Dibdin in waiting.

So I've been emailing Arts Editor at the Evening News at inappropriate times of the day and night to harrass him into considering me. Eventually he sent me an email saying yes, he'd love to have me but they couldn't pay me. As all I'm after is some free tickets to save me spending too much money, this was an agreeable arrangement.

But now as the festival draws near and I compile my list of things to see, I'm getting increasingly impatient with his lacksadaisical approach. I've booked my Traverse tickets (almost) as I dont' suppose I'll be allowed anywhere near a real theatre and will be stuck with rubbishy amateur stuff. But I now need to arrange the list of shows featuring people I know. And I've got a couple of EIF things booked thanks to Ross. And a couple more I'd like to book. And before I know it, my time is all full up.

I emailed him earlier this week saying it would be good to know what / when I might be needed. No reply. To add insult to injury, I get an email from fringe report man saying reviewers need to do ten things and can they look down this list and tell him what they can do.

What I suspect will happen is I will patiently wait and wait. Then be able to do nothing that the Eve News try and send me to as I'm already busy. And then be way too late to do anything for fringe report. Dreamy times.

I need to calm down and stop tormenting myself over it though. All this pointless anxiety about something that really doesn't matter simply isn't healthy.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Caught a trashy movie last night, Wanted. Directed by Timur Bekmambetov and starring James McAvoy and a very beautiful Angelina, it was actually far better than I expected.

Some punter reviews it on the imdb website and says that it was "wantonly executed". I immediately resolved to direct something wantonly in the future. I don't quite know what it means but I like the sound of trying.

Anyway, much of it was your archetypal fighting / slashing /gory shooting stuff. But there were some really lovely touches which elevated it for me above your average Hollywood 'strong language and violent content' movie. Including one sequence relatively early doors featuring a (computer) keyboard and a tooth. I shall leave the pleasure of discovering this moment to you.