Tuesday, April 27, 2010

btw I'm not sure what's going on with my typefaces. I'm not of a mind to worry about it right now. But be assured that I know that it's inconsistent and ugly!


Written by Lucy Prebble.

Directed by Rupert Goold.

Headlong Theatre at the Noel Coward Theatre which I believe is the third theatre the production has visited since it opened.

It was very good.

I went to see the film documentary about it a couple of years back. And slept through big large chunks of it.

To my utter mortification, I slept through slim slivers of the stage show on Saturday. But only I think because of heat and weariness (I made it through to the second act without shutting my eyes once – aside from a blink – give me a break…). And don’t in the lord’s fine name tell my aunt that I napped. I imagined that I hid it really well. Although to be fair, leaning forward, hand on chin on knee, eyes wilting, probably isn’t the most discretest nap I’ll ever have.

Anyway, what Lucy and Rupert accomplished brilliantly was taking a story which is both a little dry and a lot complicated and turning it into something incredibly user-friendly. They were interested (so the programme notes claim anyway) in not just the ramifications of the company collapse for the individuals involved but the wider effects on our society. You must, they suggest, question the sense of a certain form of trading when this has happened once already. And then of course the banks slithered. Vindication.

It was slick (in a good, not a dismissive way), polished, colourful, energetic, fast-paced, thought-provoking (well you know, when I wasn’t sleeping). The cast were great. A couple of half famous people were in it. But half famous and not were all spot on. The staging was brilliant. Clever clever clever. The script was witty. Pointed. Direction was considered and imaginative.

I have a sneaking suspicion that I might be quite so glowing out of sleepy guilt. But who cares? It was a cracker of a show.

And is it political theatre for the twenty-first century? Maybe so.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Arkle's A Mad Man Sings to the Moon last night at the Hill Street Theatre handily batched three of my dear (though they may not know it) friends into one show. And what a show it was.

Dear Nick was presumably the titular mad man. (Though I'm not convinced that I'm correctly using titular there.) Disconcertingly comfortable with the gun, he was most poignant in his empty-hearted monologue about how little his life had given him.

Dear Karen was cute. Especially so when she donned the bunny costume and re-created its squishy death. But she got a nice little heartfelt piece about needing to take the chances flung at you because when would they be flung again which she delivered very beautifully.

Mrs Posh - not one of my dear friends but I'm sure she's a very nice lady - was suitably disdainful. I very much approved of her anxiety when the toilet situation arose.

And dear Ian was just dear Ian. Doing Ian being an intellectual which I always love to see. Eerily similar to whatever he was in our Arcadia a few years back. But none the poorer for it. And he in fact, dear Ian, went on to save the day. Or at least the lives of the three others trapped in the cafe.

The play puzzled me. I can see the point of it, I think. The clever conceit. The fact that the Mad Man was driven to hold up a cafe because nobody talks to each other any more. And in fact, see how really, he saved them all as they were able to reconnect with what was really important to each of them. Kind of.

Except for me, that was where it flopped a little I think. Yes, Posh Lady realised she should get her kids back. But did arrogant and focused PR Man have any kind of revelation at all? Did the 'hilarious' wind up of his politician client and exposure of his vile sleaze actually change anyone's minds about anything? Bunny Girl escaped in the end to seize her chance at stardom but she'd been planning to do that anyway. The Man Who Stared at the Stars - well, you found out little about him apart from the fact that he Stared at the Stars. And spoke calmly to the Mad Man. So hard to see how he benefitted. And the Mad Man. Well, I think anyone that's stupid enough to take 15 dogs home from a rescue home to live humble-jumbled into one small house together deserves everything that's coming to them.

I'm not entirely sure what a character arc is - but I think I know - and for me, in essence, the arcs were neither convincing nor satisfying. So as a play, it left me vaguely dissatisfied.

Please, dear friends (and posh lady and Michael M and Mr Director), if you happen to be reading this, don't be offended as I thought your production was very good. But what a peculiar choice of play. That's all.
Urgent earthquake warning here.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Poor Larry. A frantic day of panic write-ups, debrief, x2 focus groups finishing late meaning I couldn't make Closer to prompt but could seize the opportunity for a caffeine-fuelled overspill of disorganised ideas to trapped in a corner but apparently ever-kind and patient Larry who is to be my theatre group producer for my festival show.

Thanks for your tolerance, Mr Larry.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Another quarter of the way to being official.

I've just sent off my wording to the Fringe Programme.

Thrillingly, as we're a "site-specific" venue - well, actually, it's nothing at all to do with that and all to do with the fact that we're a new venue - I can't pick the proper performing space so as yet, my details are not submitted. But I've alerted the Fringe people to this and with luck, it can be fixed.

Thrilling days.

(Even more thrilling though is the apparent fact that Man At The Bus Stop has children. x2. A boy and a girl. I wanted to bustle up to him and shake his hand - but the back story might have been too complicated.)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

A veritable plethora of artistic delights this week.

Monday: Persepolis. Which was charming, intelligent and thought-provoking.

Wednesday: Il y a toujours que je t'aime. (Inadequately (in my opinion) translated as I have loved you so long.) Lovely, elegant, understated. Beautifully French.

Friday: Kick-Ass. Great fun. A perfect Friday popcorn movie. In Mindy, I have a new role model.

Saturday: The Odd Couple. The female version. Lorraine, as ever, superb.

And tonight I'm stepping out to prompt for Closer.

Apparently, Marber has rewritten it for performance in South Africa, specifically in Durban, brief home oh so recently to my little sister, with an all-black cast. Which would make for interesting viewing. Though I'm sure it won't be as good as DG's all-white version. I shall keep you posted.
This is the sort of review that sends chills down my spine. Lyn Gardner has cruel fun with it too. Warnings feels like a curiously apposite title.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

I've now had 3 emails from random strangers asking for a copy of the Tempest script. Presumably with an eye to auditioning rather than just chancers on the lazy hunt for a Tempest script. And it's still more or less a month to go til auditions.

How exciting is that?

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

I was a bad neighbour tonight.

I have known for a few days that tonight was the appointed night for a vital neighbours meeting about Stair Security. But selfish spiteful uncommunity-spirited here valued her Body Balance over her communal safety. So I shamefully, as silent and secretive as a child stealing a biscuit from the barrel between mealtimes, snuck up the stairs to my flat on my return from work ten minutes afore seven, whisked into my "casual" clothes and snuck back out again past the dreaded door containing the Caring Sharing Giving meeting convening in - by then - only 3 minutes.

Luckily, I wasn't spotted.

Clearly I am not a Good Samaritan. I am the sort that would rush by a little old lady who'd fallen down in the centre of the road as the rubbish removal truck approached her because I was worried I might miss the first five minutes of Glee. I felt ashamed of myself. But an hour later, I felt stretched and toned. So this squished down my shame a little bit.

And the Lords were smiling down on me as I passed my more community spirited neighbour as I stepped along to the supermarket to gather ill-deserved provisions and was able to catch up on proceedings, take note of the Security Providing bill and offer wretchedly to gather money to get the lawn mowed.

O guilt. It's the most wonderful motivator.

Monday, April 12, 2010

But the real news is

O. M. G.

I think I have myself a venue licence.

Scrap the think.

I am assuming I have myself etc.

So we can crack on.

Hooray the day.
Last night, An Education. Which is a frothy little delight of a film.

Carey Mulligan is as gorgeous as she was supposed to be. As gauche, wide-eyed but delicious as maybe Barber was or wasn't but it doesn't matter as it makes for a lovely story. Alfred Molina is particularly brusquely endearing as the oafish dad who wants to believe that his daughter's about to be taken off his hands. And Peter Sarsgaard. Well I feel vaguely creepy passing any kind of comment on him but I expect. No wait. I would have been seduced by him too. So it's probably just as well as I didn't go to a posh girls school somewhere in London.

I don't think it makes any wider points about life and love than that we all want to believe something wonderful is round the corner. So when it presents itself, maybe we don't ask as many questions as we should.

I'm very jealous of Lynn Barber. As far from being ruined, I suspect it was the making of her.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Nice picture from my little sister in Durban (not that she's in Durban anymore but no matter).

I shall continue my purposeful toiling with renewed toiling vigour.

Wednesday, April 07, 2010

Panic over, by the way. I watched x5 Oscar nominations Blood Diamond last night. Brilliant brilliant. So my judgement can't be wholly impaired.

Having said that, I'll clearly never have Joyce's intuition, wit and sensitivity.
What a difference a skirt makes.

A slightly later bus this morning. The Other Man at The Bus Stop in attendance.

Now The Other Man will be new to you. He dresses the same every day. Well, there may be small indiscernable differences but nothing very evident. And the dress that he adopts would not look out of place at a hunt. Tweedy kind of trousers. A tweedy kind of jacket. A flat cap. (Admittedly, this would not quite be hunt wear.) Sturdy shoes. And importantly, a satchel slung over his shoulders with initials embroidered onto it. Presumably his initials but maybe he picked it up cheap in a second-hand hunting man's shop.

Anyway, the point of this observation is that in all the years which I have been (sporadically) travelling on this particular bus, The Other Man at The Bus Stop, unlike The Man at The Bus Stop, has not once stepped aside to let me stride onto the bus ahead of him. Months and weeks and days of shoving himself forward to clamber on ahead of weak and delicate me.

And yet today. At the moment of decision, he surged forth and then - wait - stepped back and let me on first.

The sun is out. The skirt is short. A happy day.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

High art vs. low art.

A weekend of contrasts.

I went to see The Blind Side on Friday with no expectations. I fancied a popcorn movie, felt I should see what the Sandra Bullock Oscar fuss was about but expected to be pretty scathing about it. But it was quite sweet. The story was nonsense although obviously I’m not allowed to say that as it’s based on a true happening and they showed you the real life photos in the credits at the end just to remind you so. But Sandra Bullock was, in my humble opinion, more or less solely responsible for turning this movie into something worth seeing. Partly (if not mostly) because you were busy marvelling that she had it in her to deliver such a performance.What would Tilda have made of it? But anyway, it was a harmless couple of hours’ fun.

In contrast to leaden 11 and 12 on the Saturday. Peter Brook. His triumphal return to the UK. It made the 10 o’clock news which is what tipped me off to it. If theatre makes the ten o’clock news, I tend to think I should go. Well, more fool me. Though I should admit up front that my opinions are rather hampered by the fact that I had a big sleep during our matinee. And my wakeful moments were punctuated by trying not to laugh as Ross slept peaceably next to me. Between us, we can’t have seen anything like enough of it to justify the startling £22 ticket price.

From what I can piece together from post-show discussions, the play was set in some kind of African village, maybe a century or two ago. Most of them were pranking around in tribal-esque outfits anyway. And there was some sort of debate and ongoing discussion about whether a particular prayer should be repeated 11 or 12 times. This got pretty heated at some points. I woke up when they “burnt” one poor fellow’s feet as punishment for his heretic beliefs. And then towards the end, one of the men who appeared to be integral to this discussion laid down and died by a tree. And maybe another one had died a little bit sooner. Or was going to die. Certainly, the puff pertaining to the show would have you believe that many died as a consequence of this discussion and debate.

Well, you’ll see from that feeble rendition of what might have been a much more intricate, involved and engaging plot that I didn’t take much from it. But unfortunately most of my waking moments were spent marvelling at the fact (my fact, anyway) that something so heralded could be quite so interminably dull. Very well acted I daresay but even this was hard to judge when the plot appeared to consist of so little.

In its favour, it looked lovely. The Tramway (nice venue, never been) is all stripped brick and exposed rigs. The set for this piece of art was a red woven cloth or blanket which covered a good portion of the stage, two small heaps of sand placed onto this cloth or blanket, four small spikey things which appeared impossible to balance on but balance they did as these formed four small seats or alternately bits of set (you see, I admire this flexible austerity!) and three bits of twig like wood on low wheeled platforms (which unfortunately made me think only of Mike Phillips being the grass-hopper in ill-fated Pinocchio). And to one side, a small man played a variety of musical instruments creating some much needed momentum at presumably appropriate points.

The whole experience makes me sad because it makes me wonder if I just have horrible piggy plebian eyes. How is it that I stay awake and spry and able to stuff constant popcorn into my greedy mouth throughout rubbishy populist Blind Side? Yet can’t keep these piggy eyes open in the presence of true greatness?

Or is it just, as Brian speculated, that Peter Brook was exiled to France all those years ago for good reason?