Wednesday, March 23, 2016

A guddle of things. 
I was much looking forward to Martin Mcdonagh's new play, Hangmen. He would probably class amongst my favourite writers for his dark and bitterly cynical view of the world. This was a story of one of Britain's most experienced hangmen, living out his life with the consequences of his career choice hanging around his neck. My appreciation of the full complexities of the plot was dampened by a nap towards the end of the NT Live relay so I can't pass any fair comment on the rug pull towards the end. But that which I saw was brilliantly scripted. Black as treacle, quick fire scathing, beautifully observed and ultimately, maybe a little more compassionate than some of his earlier work. Is Martin McD growing out of his heartlessness?? I would like to see it again and try for full alertness next time.
I've been wriggling with jealousy at David Grimes catching Katie Mitchell / Sarah Kane's Cleansed at the National Theatre. Apparently this is the first time that Ms Kane has made it onto the National stage which feels like a travesty to this devoted fan. At least she's there now. Even if way too late for her to enjoy the bombastic media outrage. It sounds like a production to treasure.
The Lyceum's Crucible was a peculiar show. It looked stunning. The lights were lovely. Costumes lavish. Set delicately carefully beautiful. It was, as a collective, pretty as a box of twee continental biscuits. 
But the accents. Oh my life. A peculiar cultural smorgasbord. Various portions of America. Ireland. Unidentifiable places and I don't have any sort of ear for accents. I spent the first act in horrified wonder. 
It was a pity because the acting is mostly good. I thought Abigail, Lizzy Proctor and John were miscast. But where (in my humble opinion) they got the casting right, it was spot on. The passel of teenage trouble makers, Abigail aside, did the most chilling version of the (imaginary?) bird swooping down from the rafters that I've seen. 
But the accents somehow diluted all of the good stuff and rendered the overall piece the poorer.
Now having since spoken to a chap who should know, Mark Gorman, I understand that Miller himself says accents don't matter. The actors should adopt whatever accent they feel comfortable with. Good advice. It's a timeless story in many ways that doesn't need this adornment to carry it. 
So the question is why the director didn't urge this pack of mostly SCOTTISH actors to speak IN THEIR NORMAL VOICES instead of this patchwork quilt of dialects and make believe? 
Still, in many respects it was a good show. And maybe the director did try and the actors were willful. That can happen, I gather.
Then there was Paris. A brief birthday foray for a fine man. Strolling (striding actually - there was much to see and not much time) along the banks of the Seine on Sunday morning and we bumped into this. 
 Just playing for the love of it, apparently. 
That's my retirement in Paris and my un-retirement of my long neglected clarinet sorted then.

Friday, March 11, 2016

The man at the gym whose name I can't remember owns two dogs - some sort of Japanese warrior breed with reddish fur - and he shows them. (I don't know if that's the correct verb. I mean, he takes them to dog shows and they parade around and might win a prize.)

One dog has low to no potential. Billy. He was purchased as a companion for the dog with high potential, Katie. They're siblings but poor Billy wasn't blessed with the same proud gait as Katie so is doomed to life as a pet in a kennel in this man's backyard.

Katie, from the sounds of it, is a proud creature. She attends the prime dog training sessions. I bet she gets the best morsels of pig's ear snacks. She is bathed periodically and blow-dried. And she has been escorted to various dog shows by the man's niece, there to be adorned with various rosettes depending on the quantity of other creatures in her category.

This week, she was taken to Crufts. The man had high hopes. Having been worried her coat would do something or other bad in the run up to Crufts (fall out??), it instead considerately remained intact in prime puppy fluffy condition which optimised her chances reportedly in the 18 to 24 month old category. The teenagers, in effect.

She was driven down on Wednesday. Stayed at the breeder's overnight. And yesterday was show day.

I did fleetingly think about watching the Crufts coverage on TV last night, not that I would've known this creature or the niece by sight, just to see.

But instead,  I fled to the gym this morning to find out the verdict.

Third out of three.

And with the cruelty inherent in genes, she lost out to her big sister.

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

I've not enjoyed post-show-itis like that for a long time. It was possibly on a par with the crushing "nothing nice will ever happen again" post-Tempest August days. And that had me fondling crockery in the kitchen at work, in mourning for living a dream, at least for a fortnight.

Absurd to be so upset about a show. Shouldn't you grow out of such things? And I'm plenty old enough to know better. So I gobbled alternative sources of stories told last week like a cookie monster to try and fill the gap left by the absence of mine. 

Spotlight is a very deserving Oscar winner. I'm delighted that a story with a point that very much needed to be told, both then and now, was justly honoured. I'm also delighted that Peter Bradshaw has revised his initially underwhelmed opinion back in September to appreciate that the "plodding" "dramatic pace" was maybe wholly fitting for a story of this magnitude. I'm happy to see it grew on him over the winter. Happier still that it got Best Pic on Sunday night. 

I haven't seen The Revenant. It looks grim. The poster looks grim so what must the film be like??

I watched Gone Girl on DVD which was less gripping than I expected.  Suspenseful for sure but not the cinematic wonder I'd hoped.

I watched a horrifying docudrama that I should have watched a month ago. The awful tale of Breck Bednar who was groomed online and ended up murdered just for loving video games. This is another story that desperately needs to be told and retold. Hats off to his family and friends for participating in Katharine English's unflinching retelling: Murder Games. 

And I snuck in some frivol with the rather excellent nonsensical but very cathartic Deadpool. A smart and very sassy script and a great performance from Mr Ryan Reynolds. 

So I'm still missing my three times a week diet of selfies and sass. I'm missing Bea's beautiful hair. I'm missing watching my imaginary story stalking about in 3D in front of me.  But I'm busily pretending I don't mind.  

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