Monday, March 29, 2010

Whereas yesterday, Shutter Island. New movie from Martin Scorsese.

After a glowing review from a workmate whose judgement I implicitly trust, I thought it was worth seeking out. Although it's a little bit scary for my natural liking.

Leonardo di Caprio was very good. His sidekick - very good. Ben Kingsley - very good. The film - hmmm. I love to think I just didn't get it. But on further discussion with this workmate, I think it was probably meant to be just as it was. Which was heavy handed and would I go so far as to say rubbish? Maybe that's a little too far.

But the script writer could've taken a couple of lessons in avoiding clichéd nonsense. That might have helped it a little. The musical director could have taken a lesson from anyone that ever produced a film without a soundtrack that drowned out any pleasure in the cinematography. Yes, it looked lovely. As lovely as it was meant to - which wasn't very. To be more accurate, it looked as foreboding and sinisterly chilling as it was meant to.

But as a film, albeit one heavily nodding to Hitchcock in case he's watching, it did not thrill me.

I found out subsequently that this esteemed workmate also rated Borat.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Mr Write by Rob Drummond for the National Theatre of Scotland at the Traverse on Friday night (not that you needed all that detail) was a remarkable thing.

Mr Drummond sets out to create a play on the spot, using input from the audience to so do. Specifically, the life of one of the audience members as input.

Now the first and most important thing to say about this is that it's a play for kids. I say kids and I suspect that's too dismissive. A play for teenagers, I should say. So as far as I'm concerned, a certain amount of care should be taken with the subject matter to accommodate the presence of the younger members of our society in the audience. And care he did take. I suspect to the detriment of the eventual play plot which I think left Siobs and Brian feeling a little disgruntled slash patronised. But to my mind, the end product was perfect for the target audience and perfect for all those, like me, who have the heart of a nine year old trapped in an oldening body.

It's hard to say very much about this play without it sounding rubbish. He started by urging his chosen subject to pick a word from a dictionary and then he, miracle of miracles, guessed it. I say miracle. Siobs and Brian said sly trickery. But what do they know?

Then all sorts of questions to build up a picture of the little one's life. And I daresay you can find out interesting things about anyone if you try hard enough but this girl had a lovely turn of phrase and some adorable eccentricities. She said she'd been raised by 4 St Bernards in her parents' giant garden. And she had a phobia about the charmingly infuriating Disney song Little April Showers. Good phobia choice, I say.

Obligingly, she was surrounded in the theatre by her classmates which gave rise to endless hilarity as she spoke kindly or less so about various of them.

And then the technical man does a bit of wizardry and Rob picks up his laptop and bashes out a little play referencing a whole bundle of the things that the little one had told him. Now partly I'm impressed as watching him interrogate her was a little bit like watching someone doing my day job. And to do it live in front of an audience of handfuls of people is no mean feat.

But I most loved the swiftness of conceiving the story with an eye to making it (to my mind - mindful of my sceptical audience) something bigger than just a display of cleverness and quick wit. I think (I hope) Mr Drummond might have sent away his young audience with a little bit more belief in themselves. As well as sending his subject away with a copy of her script. And for a teenage audience presented with a million more choices than they ever had 50 years ago, that (to my mind) is no bad thing.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

At last (how slack) a jumbley collection of stuffs on our website about my show. Read and enjoy it here. Though apologies for its jumbley nature as I can't seem to make the spacing work.

I guess it gives you the gist of it at any rate. Enough to whet (or wet as I horrifyingly saw it spelt yesterday) a handful of appetites anyway I hope.
Production meeting last night thwarted rather by a technical mishap which meant we couldn't enter the Top Secret Venue. Eeek.

Still, a productive meeting in amongst the back alleyways of The Location was had by all.

Roll on roll on festival show. It would be aaaaaaaaaaamazing.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

It amazes me, when I'm not doing a show, that I ever find time to do a show.

We have a pre-emptive / preparatory / optimistic (however you might call it when we don't actually know if the show is going ahead) production meeting tonight. And while useful and important, not to say vital and valuable, it feels like a bit of a hassle in the middle of you know, dull stuff like doing my job. And movies to see and people to see and so on and so forth.

I suppose my state isn't helped by the fact that my job calls for evening work now and again (and don't my lovely local Indian takeaway chefs know it) so maybe that eats up more of my spare time than might otherwise be so.

But nonetheless, it seems hard to imagine, idle and lethargic after a day in t'office, that the necessary energy can be mustered to drag out to chilly rehearsal rooms with scratchy carpets to shout and parade about and tell other people what to do.

I suppose I love it really. Of course I love it really. But what a miracle and a sign of the most tremendous commitment from everyone (most everyone) involved that these things ever get off the ground.
My my. The suspense.

My Secret Venue licence application is, and I quote,

"quietly percolating its way to the top of the pile"

And he'll be in touch when it arrives there.

Lovely kind man at the Council.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The father of my children (Le pere de mes enfants) is a very French film.

I shan’t ruin anything by telling you the story as it features in all the promotional blurb. So unless you’re an avid review avoider, you shan’t suffer here.

The film, based I believe on some true events, covers the events leading up to and then in the aftermath of a film producer’s death. He runs a small production company, Moon Films (I bet it sounds better in French) but he doesn’t seem to be terribly lucky in the things he decides to finance. The excerpts featured (which they must have had a great time putting together) mostly dealt with bearded angst. They reminded me of a terrible film I went to see with Mother, mostly silent, featuring some sporadic and vigorous dancing in a variety of desolate locations.

Anyway, his poor investment decisions left him owing money all over the place without the artistic exultation to carry it off. His adoring and adorable family – three girls and beautiful but careworn mother – support him as best they can but beautiful but adoring is starting to get a little anxious. So…

Well in truth, my judgement from here on in is hopelessly flawed as I took a little nap. And woke just before a gunshot and our hero lying on the pavement. So I must suppose he took his own life. Though there was no blood. So I can’t really comment on how well the tension escalated until the audience was rapt with the impossibility of the situation and could easily gladly see that suicide was the only way out. Because I slept through it.

I think possibly his wife left him in the run up to the shot. As she made a guilt laden comment about it in the aftermath. The children sat round brimming beautifully with tears snuffling their abandonment. The production company rambled on for a bit. Some discussions with Russians but no real resolution. The oldest daughter discovered he had a long lost son whom they’d never met. And she felt a bit angry. And suddenly they were all packed into a car and drove off out of Paris. Fin.

The cinematography was genuinely lovely. The relationships they created between father, wife and girls was really charmingly natural. Fine directing. And I’m probably not allowed to comment on the plot as the end might have been the only possible loosely open ended option open to us given the events of that pesky sleep-filled midriff.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010


Body balance as it's Wednesday. And most people have more or less come to terms with the routine by now as it's about to change into the next one. So we were all slavishly following Silvia as she bent and flexed. But there was one new girl, a sweet looking thing called Dee. She positioned herself (stupidly) behind me in the studio.

There's one particular move when you tuck one leg under you, stretch the other out behind you, twist yourself round so the opposite elbow to leg is propped on the floor afore your knee and then balance the other arm atop the first. The first time I tried to do it, my arm rolled away underneath me and I rolled to the ground like a woodlouse whose shell was too heavy for its feeble body. But I've kind of got the hang of it now.

But poor Dee had not. Prop up the arm, balance the other arm - and over she went. I tried hard to hide my mouth behind my arm so she didn't see me snickering meanly to myself. I tried to make it look as if the rest of my face was composed into a patient and gentle expression.

Onto the other side and I was thinking with pleasure about how I could blog about this incident (such a small tiny life), snortling to myself as I ran through what I might say, not quite concentrating on what my limbs were doing - and over I roll.

Deserving retribution. The best kind.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I can't quite decide if I was always going to like Girl with a Dragon Tattoo (or rather Man som hatar kvinnor - so much more elegant in the Swedish) or whether it was just simply an excellent film.

It was beautifully true to the book for starters. The casting was great. My only tiny tiny bugbear was that Erika wasn't quite as stunning as I felt she should have been. But this could just be because I love Blomkvist. And I didn't like Salander's black lipstick. But that aside, the script was neat and quick. They packed a giant fat story into two and a half hours. (James Cameron could learn from this, I feel.) It was twisty turny without being impenetrable. It was bleak enough and gory enough but not too gory. I think in fact that both violent and sexual encounters were handled beautifully. And it's gloriously teetering on the edge of the sequel.

All in all, a film which I loved.

Giant big enormous hats off to director Niels Arden Oplev. And I am so glad that Hollywood didn't get hold of it first. Thanks all. You served my favourite novel of 2009 ever so well.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Major Strasser: What is your nationality?
Rick: I'm a drunkard.
Captain Renault: That makes Rick a citizen of the world.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Now I felt a little bit guilty because I had a bone idle weekend. My only real effort was trying to blog in the fabulous gothic four poster bedded room. Just because I could. Except as I quickly discovered, I couldn’t. As the wifi signal wasn’t sufficiently sturdy.

But I rushed back to Edinburgh in time to catch a National Library of Scotland talk about the Traverse. Although the talk lasted a mere 70 or thereabouts minutes, I still managed to take a little rest in the heart of the discourse. I blame Bonnie.

It was noteworthy for showing me David Harrower. Maybe I hadn’t seen Dominic Hill before so that was a little exciting too. Dear Joyce was there in her faithful pink boucle jacket. Some academic from Glasgow and two other playwrights who, to my shame, I had not heard of. Mostly they dwelt on the heyday that apparently was 1985. And whilst Brian had enjoyed the entire season’s programme, I was too busy preparing to enjoy Vanessa’s Joe Le Taxi and Ingrid’s besheeted Iris in some strange play about birds and gods to be paying much attention to what was going on up the road. Perhaps this can account for my nap.

Tuesday was the Beauty Queen of Leenane at the Lyceum. I love that play. I love the evil wickedness of it. Unfortunately, I loved the production that Siobhan and I saw at the Brunton in the autumn just a little bit more. The text does a lot for you in this play, I think. Not that it acts itself. But I felt that mother and daughter were very slightly lacklustre in the first couple of scenes. But it was a Tuesday night. And what on earth do I know anyway?

I sprang to attention when Pato (John Kazek I think – always too mean for a programme) popped up on the stage. So maybe I was suffering only from a surfeit of oestrogen. (Though I also sprang to attention when it rained at the start. Hats off to the set. It was pretty much perfect. Though I’d have moved the fire down stage.) He was quite marvellous. Though rather too attractive for the character for my liking. The point, to my mind, is that he isn’t anything exceptional but she loves him.

Anyway, it wound to its twisty turny end very respectably. And the work colleagues whom, in a moment of dangerous madness, I’d dragged along with me, appeared to be content when it closed. So it could be (as Joyce has been kind) that I was just being mean-spirited. I need to check in with Siobhan. She’ll tell me what I should’ve thought. And would’ve sooner if I hadn’t stood her up. Thanks to the man in the box office who let me move my ticket without paying the 50 pence charge. But maybe I’m missing too much from this story to be intelligible.

Alongside all of this, I have wildly and rashly pulled out of my kindly (surely through gritted teeth as they have a Tempest in week 1) donated QMH week 3 venue slot. A prize slot. 8 til 10pm. But the Secret Venue verdict still awaits. The QMH programme goes to print in two weeks. How could I mess them about more than I already have? So I withdrew with grovelling apologies. And now it’s Secret Venue or bust. No pressure.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Because I'm sorely lagging behind here:

The Lovely Bones: looked beautiful though strayed into overly fanciful to my mind, Peter Jackson coped manfully with apparently studio imposed constraints and The Girl (Saoirse) was gorgeous. But unless you have no attention span for the written word, you're better to read the book.

Promises Promises: Douglas Maxwell, Traverse, last week. Very funny. Slightly dare I say implausible although like all the best stories, based on a truth. Apparently. Very nicely written. A performance that was mostly masterful but oddly scatty in patches. And a very smart set.

A Single Man: gorgeous looking, most particularly the Spanish James Dean. But rather too lingering for my liking. Colin, to my mind, horribly miscast. Whereas Julianne Moore gave me hope for my spinsterhood. If I can just learn to apply my eyeliner like that.

And Glee continues to enthrall me and brighten up my Monday nights.

Then last night, faithful first Wednesday of the month, bumper session of committee meeting, general meeting and reading of - we contented ourselves with - act one of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Womanfully, I didn't thrust my hand forth to offer my reading talents. It always seems a bit wrong when you're part of the organising committee. And we had plenty other takers. But what a cracking play. Superbly spiteful. I love it.

And in a most adorable gesture that restored some of my flickering faith in humanity, lovely Amina, dancing master / evil spirit from Polished brought us cakes. The first time she has baked cakes since arrival in these lands, she said. I wonder if this is the first time that this has happened in the ten years since I've been attending these meetings. Or maybe I'm just having a misty eyed moment. Whichever. Amina, we thank you.

Monday, March 01, 2010

The National Theatre of Scotland's Wall of Death was so tremendous that I felt it warranted a work blog too. Impressionable times.

Though I say that and it would not have been everyone's cup of tea I think. Ross would have been dissatisfied. And Siobhan would have out and out hated it. However, for children who grew up playing amongst the mud and candyfloss sticks of Goose Fair (for yes, my childhood was just like that), it was delightful.

Part-theatre and part-art, it was a happily atmospheric (despite the least atmospheric aircraft hangar of a venue, the Royal Highland Centre) sliver of what it might be like to run away and join a circus. Albeit a circus spent circling vertical walls on a petrol-powered motorcycle. It kicked off with an art installation courtesy of Stephen Skrynka whose claimed ambition to ride the Wall of Death (WOD) gave the show its premise.

Then we were ushered through into a kind of giant pen containing the WOD. And in the most thrilling moment of the whole piece, you were invited to lay your hand on the wall exterior as the motorcycles clattered and clunked around the innards. This more than anything brought home, to me at any rate, the utter madness of the venture. (Though maybe it isn't really utter madness. My physics has never been great.)

Then ushered round to the back for a little Q&A session with the Foxes. I had a dutiful little crush on the troupe head and father of the household, Ken Fox. Though I hid my admiration more successfully than Russell did. And we learnt a little about the life of the travelling WODer. And then the spectacle itself. Packed to the gunnells with how can they possibly and surely they won't and oh my god really?? moments. It was amazing stuff.

The girl rider married into the family, having never WODed before. So there's a slim chance for me yet. But given that the marriage came about when she answered an ad in a Job Centre for a rider, having formally been an equestrian instructor, perhaps my credentials are currently a little lacking.