Wednesday, February 26, 2014

I spent a whole weekend in London without even a flicker of a theatre.
I passed plenty of theatre fronts as I got lost again in Soho on the way to brunch.
I read about a lot of stuff I wasn't going to see in back copies of Time Out.
And I went to see all sorts of wondrous constructions at the Royal Academy. 

Sensing Spaces it was called. An exhibition offering installations created by various architects inviting us to ponder on the effect of different uses of space. And light. And human interaction. And, in the case of the spindly twisty lighty things above, smell (tatami mats, specifically). It was rather fabulous. I'd urge you to seek it out.

But theatre it was not.

I shall atone for my heathen disinterest tonight.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

I went to see Private Lives at the Lyceum and slept through (yes, sorry, MM) two thirds or maybe three quarters of it. (I deliberately drank no wine or fortified spirit beforehand, to protect against just this eventuality.) The set was beautiful, mind.

I went to see The Lego Movie and remained wide awake, laughing and smiling throughout. Without even the aid of popcorn. 

Should I be worried?

Monday, February 17, 2014

August: Osage County. (The film.)

Featuring a stellar cast of Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, that thin, clever looking girl Juliette Lewis, the round faced girl with a sulky expression from all sorts of teenage angst films Abigail Breslin, Ewan Macgregor, a marvellous (spoiler alert) too soon dead Sam Shepard, a beautifully mournful Benedict Cumberbatch and a stunning pack of other people. 

Andy Ellis messaged me the day after I'd seen it. Did I think the director has misunderstood the author's (Tracy Letts') intention. Did I now? I've been puzzling over this. 

I saw the stage play whenever Steppenwolff brought it to the National Theatre. Two or three or four years ago. And I really loved it. Cracking set, cracking cast, brilliant performances. Almost a farce in its speed of delivery, you laughed despite yourself: you knew you shouldn't and that's why it was so right. A catastrophic tale told with swift, searing wit, I was left satisfied that they were all nasty enough to deserve each other. 

The film, in contrast, was melancholic. Slow, considered, concentrating on the slow, sad disintegration, you laughed (occasionally) despite the insidious story, not because of it. This presentation of the  twists and turns was replete with dashed hopes and exasperation. More of a reflection on our hopeless inadequate inability to cope with life's shit than a cruel(ly funny) castigation of those who take lazy shortcuts to try. 

I liked it far less than the stage play. And that sounds like a disservice to the actors which is unfair as they were, to a letter, outstanding. But this was self-loving misery, not fly on the wall misery. Interestingly, the writer's own adaptation. So can we blame the director? Or the perils of a Hollywood that wouldn't accept a three hour story? Or was this a reflection of a presumption that a cinema-going audience cares more (or less?) about the humanity and heart in a story than a smart, supercilious theatre crowd?

I remain unsure. Do go see it. But don't expect to laugh much. 

Saturday, February 08, 2014

She didn't call back. Why ever would she? I don't suppose Adam House has the same lure as the Royal Court. Bit like Alan Rickman never returned my call when I gave him first dibs on Caesar last summer.

So I waited a week.

I waited until approx the same time a week later, in fact.

And I called.

She answered. And this time I was marginally more ready but I still stuttered like a school girl.

"I'm so sorry," she said, charmingly. "I meant to call you back but I've had such a busy week. It all went a bit nuts as we've just heard that one of my shows is getting the South Bank Award."

"Goodness, don't worry, I know what it's like," I said. "I was pouring my life's blood into presenting at the IPA Scotland's Foundation Certificate training event this week and it really saps your strength."

Actually, I said:

"Oh my goodness, that's wonderful news. Was it Let The Right One In? Sounds like the London transfer has been going really well. I saw it in Dundee and loved it (thank you, FOMO.)..." And I spoke for a while about how inventive and smart and beautiful it was.

"Oh," and she sounded genuinely pleased, "you liked it? I'm so pleased. So, you're wanting to do Festen?"

I (humbly): "yes please."

She: "well, we are looking at a West End revival later this year."

I: "of course. It's its tenth anniversary this year (thank you, David Eldridge on twitter). Of course you'd want to. It's a cracking play." (Holding my breath.)

She: "but of course that doesn't stop us doing other productions."

I: "that would be really wonderful."

She: "oh yes, some of the best productions I've seen have been amateur (I: shudder). I often think they find the truth of a story where the professionals miss it."

I: mute

She: "so tell me about yourself, anyway."

I: (shit. Panic. Not prepared. Not expecting to have to account for myself.)

She: waits

I: (foolishly) "well, I work for an advertising agency."

She: (doesn't seem to be what she wants to hear)

I: "I live in Edinburgh. Our theatre group, we're sixty years old this year so we thought this would be a really great way to commemorate that (POST-RATIONALISING) given the birthday party in the...." (voice tails off)

She: "and is this the first thing you've directed?"

I: "oh no. We do four shows a year. (List stuff that's cool.) We're doing August: Osage County next. We're doing (full title of) Dissocia in the Fringe festival."

She: noises of encouragement. She likes these plays.

I: "I've done all sorts before. (What would she like?) Abi Morgan. (Is that really the first name that comes into your head, Claire?) Mark Ravenhill. Sarah Kane."

She: "oh my goodness, what beautiful work." (Breakthrough.) "Did you do the Psychosis?"

I: (RESULT) "Oh yes. I love the language in that"

She: "the poetry. Quite wonderful. Such richness. So sad that she"

I: "so sad that she"

She: "well, I'll send you the details of the person you need to get in touch with. Give me your email address."

I: give her my email address. Some confusion around the spelling.

She: "well I will send you those details. And do you know, I don't know what your budgets are like but I always like to come and see my productions so if your budget can run to it and if I could come and see it when it's on, I would really love that."

Oh. Wow. Me too.


Monday, February 03, 2014

The hunt was on for the exotically named Marla Rubin. The lady who reportedly holds the key to the Festen performing rights.

Google. Marla Rubin.

A whole host of articles as it seems she's an extremely illustrious producer. West End. Broadway. Most recently attached to the NTS' production of Let The Right One In which just transferred to the Royal Court in a beautiful bit of orchestration by Vicky and John T. Pictures of her with various dignitaries. Lots of warm very warm words from writers, directors, actors.

And I need to find her. Hashtag awkward.

Google again. Marla Rubin Productions telephone number. (Well, it's worth a shot.)

Another plethora of entries. A listing mostly of those scrappy business directory type entries. Websites that have sprung up from scraped content from other, more respectable websites.

One particularly dubious one featured a telephone number. Nothing ventured and all. I phoned it. 5pm on a Friday.

The phone rang.

A lady answers the phone.

I speak my request.

"Who wants to speak to her?"

I explain (sheepishly) my role in proceedings. Trying to avoid mentioning the dread word "amateur".

"I am she," says the lady. 

I am silenced temporarily. I'd assumed secretaries, underlings, minions. Not just Marla Rubin on the end of a phone.

"Oh," I say, finally. "Hello. Do you have a moment to speak?"

"Actually," she drawled (beautiful drawl), "I've been pretty busy this week and I've got a few calls to make right now. Do you mind if I call you back later this evening or Monday?"

"No, no, I don't," stutters the fawning fool (which is me).

"Great, give me your number."

So I did.