Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Bonjour. Je suis en France. A Barbancais, en fait. Aujourd'hui, it fait chaud.

And that is sadly as far as my French goes. At least without fear of inaccuracy. As Siobhan said cheerily as we scampered through Paris, my French is rusty.

I spent Friday night in Paris with the aforementioned lady and we drank kir royale and strolled along the banks of the Seine. On Saturday, I set sail for Figeac, location of a friend's wedding. Sunday was the ceremony itself. The sun shone, the bride was blissful, the speeches heartfelt and everyone was happy. And Monday, I came up the country a little au maison du Brian.

Since arrival, I have done almost nothing. Except eat, drink, read and make a little polite conversation. My one brave attempt at activity ended in disaster as I got lost and Brian had to come and rescue me as I had rambled too arbitrarily and inattentively over quaint rural pathways. Today we enjoyed the eggs of the hens of The Woman Who Lives Opposite, scrambled for lunch. I'm typing away on Brian's laptop with the front door flung wide to the deserted lane outside with a soundtrack of a hundred birds cheeping and one strident cockerel, perhaps in the barn of The Woman Who Lives Opposite, shrieking for attention.

I feel a life of idleness in the country would suit me well.

But instead tomorrow I return to a life of frantic activity in the city. Ah me.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Continuing my run of illustrious casted plays, I went to see Madame de Sade in London yesterday. As part of the Donmar season, this offered up Judi Dench, Frances Barber and Rosamund Pike and two other lesser known beings.

This hot on the heels of having spectacularly managed to declaim rather loudly in the lunchtime restaurant that I wasn’t going to drink as I didn’t want to sleep through the play as I had through Godot. Simon Callow, lunching pre-Godot we may assume as it’s on in London at the moment, was sitting two tables away and gave me a wicked and penetrating stare. I can only be grateful that I didn’t finish the sentence with the important information that I’d slept through only his stage time.

Anyway, Madame de Sade. An odd play. Cheerless for the most part. It told the miserable tale of the Marquis’ wife, her patient and forgiving 18 year wait for him to be released from prison / exile only to end up with her refuting his final advance. This was Rosamund. Then we had the wicked and depraved neighbour, Frances. The mother, Judi. The cute feisty sister, the pure (and by the end, nun) sympathetic onlooker and the dumpy and increasingly rebellious maid.

The set was fairly impressive. A panelled drawing room painted in some neutral maybe grey maybe greenish paint with metallic patches so it caught the light really beautifully. A few artful pieces of furniture to give them something to sit on. The costumes were really gorgeous. Proper French pre-revolution heaped up hair and frills and bows. They must have been heavy but looked beautiful. And it was pretty neatly lit. Although I’m not sure I would shifted the pools of light about quite so unceasingly given that they were meant to be inside. But that is pedantic.

The extraordinary thing was the dull bleakness of the script. None of the characters were sympathetic. Although perhaps this was just bad acting. The plot wound on. And on. The play was divided into 3 portions. Now. Which was about 1772. Six years later. And then twelve years later. The revolution. When it seemed that the whole family might be on the brink of destruction. If only the brink had come sooner.

The script was an ill-constructed series of monologues in essence in which the author, through the mouths of various of the characters, professed to struggle to understand how one might derive any kind of pleasure from the sadistic acts in which the marquis was said to engage. The director did their best to liven it up with a series of discordant sound effects and shifting shafts of light but even the very proficient acting we were treated to didn’t quite adequately explain madame’s sudden volte face at the close of the play. Given that this was – according to the programme – what the author has set out to do, I would not award him ten out of ten.

Still, good to see Judi in the flesh.

Friday, May 15, 2009

All is well that ends well. I should have gone to see West Side Story at the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh on Wednesday night. But due to a sorry chain of events, this was not to be. As it turned out, I rather fell on my feet as I ended up there in the corporate hospitality portion last night instead. So I suppose, although I missed the delightful company of my true friends, it could've been worse.

The show anyway. Well I was disappointed. JGH had led to expect greatness was the trouble. He talked enthusiastically about it months back which was what originally led me to seek out tickets. And it was kind of ok. But given that it was billed with great fanfare as a 50th anniversary production, I expected more. Though I daresay this was my fault. 50th anniversary production implies greatness but why really should it be any more great than any younger or older production?

Anyway, it was an odd patchy thing. The orchestra were brilliant. Effervescent, I might go so far as to say. The set was tall and thus impressive but eminently portable. The main man, Tony, was suitably cute and had the most beautiful voice. Momentarily I understood how my mother can rhapsodise so endlessly about a voice. He was stunning. To my ignorant ear anyway. Maria was cute but warbley when she sang the high notes. The girls in general were pretty, witty and cute. The boys were spindley, ragged and effeminate. Entirely lacking in the chutzpah (perfect word, Darrell) that should be displayed by Sharks and Jets. Which led to an oddly unbalanced production.

I still managed to choke out a tear or two at the mournful bit. Though as I'd been scoffing and tutting only minutes before, I tried to be discrete. And the entire experience was made all the more delightful by the charming enthusiasm of the marketing boys and girls at the Festival Theatre who plied us with du vin blanc both before, during and after the show. And Emma was about so I got to catch up with her which I haven't done for a while which was also lovely. So all in all, a lovely night. Just goes to show there's a place for all of us. Somewhere.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Exciting times at the bus stop this morning. Crossing the road to reach the bus stop, I thought I saw The Man (Not) At The Bus Stop with heavily gelled hair (which was unusual) and a suitcase (even more unusual) trying also to cross the road, not at the crossing (exceedingly unusual). I crossed in safety and waited. But he did not appear. A little peculiar.

Then I realised it was not The Man at all as The Man approached the bus stop without heavily gelled hair and proceeded to make his usual ambling circuit of the pavement as we waited. But all of a sudden, he set off in the wrong direction, back towards his abode. Forgotten something. How many times have I done this? I felt deep sympathy as the minutes before the bus came ticked down.

The bus approached. I dawdled as best I could clambering aboard. And hooray! There He is in the distance rushing towards the bus. With a big bag! And He and I went on our usual way. All is well that ends well, as they say.

Much more importantly, I hear my friend Mr Neill has not been eaten by monkeys and is safely back amongst the piranha free pavements of Edinburgh. Welcome back, sir.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

DG put this together for the venue programme during our time in Killin. It was intended as a filler really, til I had a cast and a 'vision' and so forth. But I'm now rather fond of it.

The question is whether this is a flyer worthy image. I'd still need a back. And Jon has taken rather a fine shot that could well serve that purpose. But I wonder whether this might be a front? What do you think?

I'm all too aware that I am hopelessly in love with urban minimalism. So for me, this conjures up images of modern contemporary bleak hopelessness. Doesn't quite get the wartorn bit across. But it is a picture which I took and thus own so the tricky copyright issues which may arise if seizing someone else's distraught city centre pic don't arise. You could argue I should have learnt my lesson with CCC which featured another urban city scape, Edinburgh in that case rather than London. I fear, you see, that to not my eye, it just looks dull.

Send me wise advice, dear readers.
I'm sorely neglecting my blog at the moment. I feel regretful about this. Siobhsn mournfully said her heart sank every time she patiently logged on and I hadn't written anything. Which is most times at the moment. Then again, a client has just somehow happened across Jon's homecoming portrait of my oafishly grinning burlesque attire which feels like an odd crossing of the line between work and play. So maybe it's for the best if my blog is hopelessly neglected.

I shall just have to focus on its professional intent which is hard when I'm making so little 'professional' headway. However, I have concocted a worthy use of it. So. Well, see above rather than below. Illogically.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

A lovely day of chaotic culture. I saw Copenhagen this afternoon at the Lyceum. By Michael Frayn, I'm pretty sure it was about a meeting of two physicists in World War Two Denmark at which they may or may not have exchanged information enabling one of them to dart off and make an atomic bomb. A cracking script. It was a pretty silver birch adorned set too. And they clearly thought they'd try and make up for lack of action by varying the lighting more or less continually. Which made it look lovely but they could probably have had a bit more faith in their actors. Anyway, it could be a script to consider if I ever want an exceedingly wordy and intellectually challenging two and a half hour long 3 hander. A portion for next year's one act perhaps. There weren't too many foul languaged words in it. Just a lot of shouting.

This evening, I went to see Wolverine. Enough said.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Gregory Burke references the new IRN-BRU ad in a recent piece for the FT. I find this hopelessly exciting. I am pathetic.