Tuesday, May 30, 2017

From Justine to Ty, following their first meeting.  
I'm on high magpie alert now for anything that helps us get this show on the road. I spotted this at the weekend and thought it would be just about perfect for Ruby. I'm sure our budget would run to Dior, right, DG? 

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

More homework, courtesy of, well, Vivienne Westwood, but B S second.

Monday, May 22, 2017

Last minute? Me?

Daft, isn't it, as in some respects, I'm so far ahead of myself (for now) that I've been fussing around making the show programme over the past few weeks. And yet it's Monday and I start rehearsals on Wednesday and I'm - admittedly somewhat belatedly as I've already written the script - doing some research into the characters.

Better late than never, right? 

Anyway, in case I needed an excuse to read the likes of this, a Fringe show could hardly be a better one. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

I missed the first 45 minutes of the National Theatre's live relay of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? last night. Cineworld blamed a technical fault but as the screen didn't leap into life for about 20 minutes after the advertised start time, we fear they just forgot to turn the projector on.

The remaining portion was worth the wait. I didn't like the set - lumbering and claustrophobic (though I'm sure this was intentional) and apparently, according to a strange sudden monologue in the second, brief interval, reminiscent of a boxing ring (it was approximately square), it did little to conjure up the dilapidated jumble of slightly impoverished academia that I feel should be their house. 

I also didn't like George. He seemed permanently on the brink of tears which is, I suppose, a legitimate interpretation of the role. But not mine. Richard Godden wins that showdown.
Caroline Hood stole Honey almost from the (45 minutes in) get go. Imogen Poots was very good but lacked the terrifying brittle-ness that Caroline gave her. 

The jury's out on the Nick. They were both pretty good.

But Imelda was the star. My reason for traipsing along to see this looooong play when it must only be one year since I last saw it. And although I love the words and the script and the evil, I'm not sure much else would have lured me back but a marvellous Martha.
My only objection was she was a little neat and petite. I feel Martha should be fleshier. Mel is / was a slim little thing too but somehow burst out of her dress far more lasciviously and efficiently than Imelda managed. But you can't do anything about that. She roared and purred and gyrated and bawled and was quite quite wonderful in her eulogy to their decaying relationship. 

As ever, Michael B says it better than I do. But on short, I'm glad I put myself out for the two hours and twenty of it that reached us. I dearly wish I'd seen it live. That would have been some experience.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Matthew Bourne's The Red Shoes is like the most incredible chocolate box. Ribbons, tissue paper, foil-wrapped, multiple layers of exquisite morsels. But you get to the final tray, buried in the heart of the box, and it's EMPTY.

Though this won't be the view of most as it got a standing ovation. Heavens, I gave it a standing ovation as I love leaping up and clapping and I don't think we Brits do it enough.

I only sketchily know the story. A girl gets some nice red shoes. She dances like an angel when she wears them. But then she dreadfully discovers that she can't get them off. Isn't there a thing in the original  version of the story (is it a Brothers Grimm story?) (it's not, I learn) where she ends up cutting her feet plus shoes off but her newly stumped legs just keep on dancing? Or is that just my grim mind?

Mr Bourne took the magical shoes and relocated them in a dance company (clever!) with a domineering ballet master (good, she needs someone to dance with) and some sort of love interest (someone else to dance with). There's a princess type who gets all the lead roles (good cameo) but she hurts her foot so the domineering one plucks the angel dancer from obscurity and makes her his star. She probably doesn't need the shoes but she uses them anyway. And they cause bother. 

Maybe only my grim mind found this story, clever and tinged with darkness though it was, a little dull. But I can't really work out why. I know how Cinderella Swan Lake Carmen (Car Man) Dorian Gray Edward Scissor Hands will end but I didn't find them dull. Maybe the story is difficult. "Take off the shoes!" you want to cry, "and everything will be alright."

As a study of addiction (and I can hear BS scoffing at this as it's a fairy story, no? It's not a grim story of life as we know it), it has more merit. The will she won't she resort to the shoes moment is really nicely done at the start of act two. She unpacks them from their secret box, full of wistful yearning. She knows it's wrong wrong wrong but doesn't that make it all the more attractive?
Anyway, story aside, the production is completely lush. From the moment the second girl slithers round the curtain in this golden dress (above) that probably cost more to make than my whole Fringe show will. It's a sumptuous looking thing. The set is glorious. Ingenious. Versatile. The costumes are extensive. Elegant. Wonderful. The dancing is lovely. The choreography imaginative. And irrespective of whether or not I like the story, I admire the man no less for concocting the whole thing. (I'm sure he'll be relieved.) The smartness of making a ballet about a dancer is impossible to argue with. 

Ultimately, I just didn't like it. But the leaping audience did and that is what matters.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Charlie Sonata.

An excellent title to my mind though I'm not sure why. Perhaps only it sounds a bit musical and because I yearn for more syllables in my name. 

It's the latest Lyceum show anyhow. Written by Douglas Maxwell of whom I have high hopes. And it turned out to be directed by Matthew Lenton who seems to be guaranteed to make a beautiful if not always wholly intelligible show. It's a promising package.
The play tells the tale of Chick's best mate's 16 year old daughter who's been (spoiler alert!) knocked down by a car. Though you find this out right away so I'm not ruining much of the suspense. Chick is in his early forties (oh my goodness, like me. Like Douglas himself who is (horrors! one year older than me and has so many more plays to his name!) and doesn't have much to show for his time on God's green earth (jury's out) and tries to offer himself up to the haughty and dismissive doctor as a donor. Except she doesn't need much of anything, it seems, beyond whatever makes us leap up in the morning and drag/skip through another day.

Cue all sorts of flashbacks interspersed with delightfully chaotic slices of now to explain why Chick isn't wholly in love with his life.

For someone in their early forties, the soundtrack to the show is nothing but a delight as the audio version of Chick's university years is also mine. A mishmash of the songs that provided the soundtrack for Parklife at the Park End Club every Monday during my supposedly studious days. Just wait for Wonderwall - it's truly stunning.

The acting is nothing short of excellent. Sandy Grierson (just look at that CV) is outstanding. As MM said, it's extremely difficult to act drunk even briefly, let alone for two continual hours. And it would have been so very easy to make Chick's dishevelled life look shameful, incomplete, inadequate. But Mr Grierson gives him such dishevelled grace that it's hard not to like Chick, addictions, anti-social behaviour and all. The rest of the cast are pretty much pitch perfect too. 

And the production is beautiful. It's almost like an exercise in trying to assemble the biggest collection of surreal things on stage, at one time, that they can. Brightly coloured plastic balls, tutus, a clinically white hospital bed and a vibrantly red phone box. But they pull it off with panache - to the point where you don't even notice that none of these things would usually exist in proximity. The lighting - ah, so it's Kai Fischer who also always seems to do an excellent job - is pointed and imaginative and striking.

Production wise, it's a perfect package.

But what does it mean?

I've been thinking about it all week. Helped a little by speculation from critics that it's vaguely autobiographical and supported by a snatch of a conversation between someone and one of the actors afterwards in the bar. And I conclude that it's a bit of a 'life is sh*t but occasionally spectacular' story and a bit of a eulogy for lost youth and a bit of a 'there but for the grace of god go I' story. Sonata's a clue, isn't it? "A type of musical composition, usually for a solo instrument, typically consists of two or four movements, each in a related key with a unique musical character." The leaps about in time in the script were certainly that. 

The Lyceum's byline is "what do you have to do to hold on?" so maybe that's its point. What do you have to do - and at what point, is it no longer worth holding on? Charlie Sonata gives us an answer. So I conclude that I like the play. For all that's worth. Douglas Maxwell, I salute your mind again.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Sadler's Wells lured me in. A Sadler's Wells Project, it says. What self-respecting dance fan could resist that promise of calibre, conveniently transported to an Edinburgh stage?

And have I proved susceptible before and subsequently vowed not to be susceptible again? I fear perhaps I have.

Anyway, Breakin' Convention (the missing g is very important for street cred) arrived at the Festival Theatre on Friday. And moderately impressed our old cynical eyes. (Between us, my party - I shall not tell you how many we were - were at least one hundred years older than the average audience member.)

There were some completely stunning acts who alone more or less justified the ticket price. The Soweto Skeleton Movers (almost indecently mobile). The Tentacle Tribe from Montreal (well meaning but a bit too try hard for me). Just Dance from South Korea (just exactly what you'd hope to see - astonishing).

But these guys were interspersed with local acts for entirely sensible commercial reasons. The Tentacle Tribe may have a dedicated following in Edinburgh but judging from the audience's reaction, Mini Jackers sold a good deal more tickets. And in lots of ways, were more fun to watch than the professionals as it meant more and the audience loved them more.

Then there was Shelltoe Mel who is apparently one of the founding mothers of hiphop. Perhaps the art-infused (live painter on stage alongside her) routine that she presented didn't quite do her justice. This one is a bit more lively. Certainly, this audience felt perplexed.