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I had lunch at the Good Pub Guide's 2011 pub of the year, the Tempest Arms, yesterday, and [personal profile] sigmonster didn't. Heeheehee.

(Actually, it was disappointing- it was perfectly OK, but I must have been into half-a-dozen just as nice that haven't won anything (and I'm not even a pub person), and surely a Pub! Of! The! Year! shouldn't just have bitter, stout and IPA on the hand-pulls? Surely you shouldn't order a medium plain steak and get a well done pepper steak? Ah well, it got us out of the snow, anyway.)

Also saw Love's Labours Lost yesterday, with a nice early-thirties, Noel Coward-ish setting. It's one of the very talky ones, where the aristocrats have some big fat chunks of clever wordplay to put across and the rustics have malapropisms, but most of the cast managed to make them interesting (the male lead, Berowne, was probably the best) and they'd put in enough physical comedy that it was a fun evening.
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So: [ profile] sigmonster was here for the weekend and we did quite enough DIY for my liking, thank you very much. My ridiculously cheap giant swivelly chair works again, which is spiffing.
Also I have been to see Yeomen of the Guard and frankly I reckon there must have been Victorian girls writing fixit fic when it first came out (there are two heroines- one of them gets a dashing soldier and the other one (spoiler!) is blackmailed into marrying a torturer; WS Gilbert at his charming best there. No terribly memorable tunes, either.)

Dick & Dom: tinhattery )
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I have to accept that I'm not going to do a proper post, really... I've recently been to see Pirates of Penzance (fun, very small cast- one sister, one cousin, one aunt (aunt doubled by Dick Deadeye(!))- good staging mostly created from ropes by the cast at the beginning, good principals, choruses not brilliantly enunciated), Jeremy Hardy (very good) and Chris Addison (very good). Hardy and Addison made an interesting comparison, seeing both on a large empty stage at the Playhouse; both do a nice mix of political and personal stuff, Addison with more daftness included, but the styles are utterly different. Hardy pretty much stood behind the mike, occasionally moving one hand slightly or smiling wryly, while Addison ran around like a mad thing, waving his hands, sinking to his knees in dispair, demonstrating how he tore a ligament chasing a Sainsbury's delivery, or impersonating chickens.

Addison will have a DVD out for Xmas... 2011. Pout.
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So now that Neil Gaiman's posted it, this is so five minutes ago, but anyway: Proud Of The BBC, which I saw Mitch Benn do live a couple of weeks ago (and he was delighted to get through it correctly as he'd only just written it and it's a massive tongue-twister). Out as a single on Nov 1st.

Also! I went to some training in London last friday and grabbed the opportunity to see [personal profile] sigmonster, and we ate sushi and soft-shell crab and went to the circus. Traces is on at the Peacock Theatre until the 30th, and if any of my London-based f'list can get to it, they totally should; it was stunning. There's a review from last year's run- I think they left out a couple of the bits complained of there, and I have to say I was captivated from beginning to end. It starts off as a hybrid of dance and tumbling and moves to being a bit more traditional circus-acrobatic by the end, and is full, as well as gobsmacking physical stunts, of little silly touches like a Busby Berkely routine on skateboards. If another 7 Doigts de la Main production comes to the UK I may well make a trip specially to see them.

Then I stayed at [personal profile] sigmonster's flat and with massive restraint only borrowed one book, and next day walked by the river and had lunch with F, and it was all nice.
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Went to see some English Japanese drummers from Scotland on Friday; they were touring with a Japanese Egyptian dancer, and it was an excellent evening.

(All right, it was taiko drummers who had apprenticed in Japan and created a troupe in Scotland; the dancer is American-Japanese specialising in Middle Eastern forms.)

I've seen taiko once before, and this was as good, I think, hypnotic and exciting. I liked the modernised improvisatory pieces a bit less than the traditional ones, but it was all engaging.
One dance in particular was memorable- the dancer had a demon mask on the back of her head. Very eerie effect.

Also, the first few autumn raspberries have appeared. Delicious.
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Finally managed to see Spamalot- Marcus Brigstocke as the King, Todd Carty as Patsy. Suspect I would have gone mad over it as a teenager in the acute Python phase, but as it is I had a a whole lot of fun. It was over-amplified so I put earplugs in, which always gives a disconnected feeling, and then the mics were cutting out a bit in the first act, but Brigstocke managed to get an IC gag about it, which was nice. I liked all the bits shoehorned in from different places (I swear there were a couple of bars of "Rhubarb Tart" in the overture). "Song That Goes Like This" and "All Alone" reminded me of Mitch Benn's song West End Musical- convergent evolution! And the patter-song was good.

Also took the chance to try a new burrito place, which was adequate, so that's useful to know.
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If The 39 Steps or Adolf Hitler: My Part In His Downfall come on tour to your town, I think you should see them.
Read more... )
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Went to see The Caucasian Chalk Circle last week; a new translation, but it still kept bringing back memories of when I was in it. It was excellent. Well staged, about 12 actor/singers, with intelligent doubling- one guy played all the would-be rapists and one all the bureaucrats and so on- and a large chorus. One of the people I went with had seen a lot of Brecht and was slightly baffled that it has a happy ending, also, this group did the music quite melodically and didn't do much in the way of audience-startling like flashing the script up on projectors; she felt it was a bit un-Brechtian to have a nice evening out. It's more difficult these days, of course- just the back-and-forth switching of frame story, acting, narrating etc was shocking in the 30s but is pretty routine today. But it's an interesting one. Given that the author was all about forcing the audience to see a play as a fictional construct and not sink in to the experience, and the polemic was the most important thing, to what extent should you still be trying to do that 70 years later? (Bloody hell. 70 years. How come it still feels modern??)

Also there was a MancAfpMeet on Saturday, which was a lot of fun. We seemed to spend quite a bit of time talking about slash for how few women were thre, but there you go. (I was in a food stupor for most of it as I'd eaten practically my own bodyweight in congee for lunch- you know the sort of Mr Creosote/3pm on Christmas Day feeling? But it was amusing listening.)
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Went to a memorable outdoor Midsummer Night's Dream last night: memorable partly for the direction and staging, which set it in the sixties (all the songs set to classic tunes- worked very well, actually; bits of Puck's final speech go to Daydream Believer beautifully) and had lots of fairies hanging from tree branches, and partly from how much it rained in the second act. (The audience were mostly under a tree or bundled up in waterproofs, but the actors just got wet. Thisbe looked particularly bedraggled.)
It was fun, anyway, and the actors were great- I'll definitely try to catch Theatre of the Dales again.
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Saw the His Dark Materials production that was sold out at the National a few years ago (well, the touring version, which has less staging FX, apparently); pleased to have finally seen it, well acted, the daemons worked spectacularly well (the polar bears even better), compressing three books into two plays makes the first half very full of characters and plot, (even with Mary Malone and Lee Scoresby's subplots left out) but the second half had more air, the ending felt more satisfying than in the books but a bit confusing, and I've talked about it so much with the people I saw it with that I'm sort of out of opinions. We all enjoyed it, though. (And I may reread to get some of the setting and atmosphere that you can't convey with just a stage and a few props.)
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Finally got to see Little Shop Of Horrors (the stage version)- it was massive fun, from the Thriller-esque opening to the final alien invasion. Sylvester McCoy was in it! Which was a nice surprise, and meant a New York Jewish character with a distinct Scots twang :-)
It's slightly spoiled me for watching the filmed version, of course, as this one is ruder, wittier and has a more morally correct ending.
Have finally cracked and ordered Beauty And The Beast because Menken and Ashman did the songs. (They also did Little Mermaid, but I'm not so mad about the storyline in that one.) So soon I will be able to revel again in the sheer ridiculousness of the transformation scene at the end, where the Beast gets the looks of quite an ugly Greek statue.

Also saw E., which is always nice, we chatted about a lot of stuff- her band has a new album out and her first PhD students are through; what it is to be multi-talented... and while wandering around the town, kept on bumping in to bits of a Spanish festival thing, notably a whole lot of bell-jangling dancers (the priest and the minotaur who popped in to Boots were quite amusing.)
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If The Convict's Opera tour comes to a theatre near you- go, it's excellent. It's the Beggar's Opera, as performed by a bunch of convicts on a transport ship to Australia, and with some modern songs interspersed with the original ones, and it's done brilliantly- I can't think of another play or opera recently that I've come out of wishing it had been longer. The conceit and the staging of it worked really well, and the cast were terrific.

(One reviewer said this didn't measure up to Our Country's Good which apparently did a very similar thing in 1988, so if you were a regular playgoer 20 years ago this may disappoint you, I guess.)

In other news, lots of Dutch lottery spam today. Huh.
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Skin Deep (Operetta with book by Armando Iannucci): forgettable- as in, coming out of the theatre, I didn't have any hummable tunes in my head. Composer fail.
Plot, loopy to insane (the bit where two women come out of surgery and have had each other's faces put on? I had a programme and still found it massively confusing); characters, variously unpleasant, gormless or both (except the undercover journalist for Glamour TV, of all unlikely people); second act, entirely pointless. (Srsly, I think the whole of it could have been put across in a ten-minute Act One Scene Two.) I quite liked the ending- the actual end, I mean, not the daft bit with all the youth-seekers having an epiphany. Overall, 2.5/5.
It was being filmed for BBC 3, so at some point everyone will have the chance to massively disagree with me.
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I decided to not stress myself by paying attention last night, so I went out, and just got the news on the radio this morning; and have been reading people's reactions on LJ, and it's given me the sniffles. Congratulations, Americans!

Noises Off was an excellent distraction yesterday )
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Sarah Brennan's being to-the-point and hilarious with it again- a post about not liking female characters.
("Yes, Sarah, you might say, but that was all in the olden days. We've wised up now, and I just tend to like male characters better, okay? Well, let's leave alone the fact that the world is not quite as wised up as I'd like it to be, because I tend to get obnoxious about that, and once a friend told me that she wasn't a feminist and I stole her credit card and wouldn't give it back because without feminism she wouldn't have had her own bank account, and I realise that was unacceptable behaviour.

"But let's talk a bit more about why.

"There's a reaction to the helpless heroine, the Heroine who is Made of Awesome, who is better than guys at everything, smarter, stronger, and often in a way that just builds on the traits of guy characters. And I at least don't tend to like that heroine any more than Little Miss Twit.")

Also, I went to see Bellini's I Capeletti E I Montecchi last night, and it was excellent (Opera North production, v. good singing, also interesting staging); the opera's based on Italian sources more than on Shakespeare, so there are some interesting differences, and also there isn't Mercutio or the Nurse- it just cuts straight to the tragic bits. Romeo's always played by a woman, and in this production, that led to the interesting problem of Romeo and Giulietta having no chemistry at all (until the death scene, for some reason), whereas Romeo and Teobaldo sizzled. They have a duel-cum-duet scene when they find that Giulietta has (supposedly) died and they're competing for who's most upset, and really if they'd had a recitative going "but actually, you know, we could run away and be warlords together," it would have been amazing. (And Giulietta could have married the doctor, who was sweet, and, you know, happy ending, not the point of a tragic opera.)
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It started raining hard on my way home yesterday as well, but the sun was still out as well, so I looked for the rainbow... and there were oodles of them. A double rainbow in the sky (and the lower one had an inverted bow as well) and more in the spray thrown up by cars. Amazing. And the angle of the sun was just right for the raindrops in the air to reflect back light, so it looked like the sky was full of golden specks. I stood under a bus shelter grinning like a loon. (Then the sun went in and I dashed home.)

Went to see Then There Were None at the Grand- we all made noises on the way out like "Well, you don't expect a Christie to be cutting edge" and "It was fun, anyway" and "Nice set" and "Could you remember who did it?". The theatre does ginger and honey icecream, yum.

There's supposed to be a work barbequeue this afternoon. It's looking a bit soggy for that, to me.
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Saw Ruddigore last night.
Read more... )
E.'s met a bloke, which is very nice for her.
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I have umpteen things that badly need doing; as an alternative to hiding under the bedclothes, some LJ procrastination seems positively dynamic.

I had some restricted view seats for the Comedy of Errors at the Globe yesterday. What I could mostly see was the roof of the stage, and lots of actors' hairdos. (I suspect that made the identical twins seems more identical than if I'd been at ground level!) Still, it was OK if you craned, the Globe's always an experience, and the play was funnier than I expected- some of the 400-year-old jokes still work, and there was also slapstick. (Plus, audience participation! there's a scene where one of the Dromios is saying what countries are like various bits of a woman's body- yes, it is rude- and someone asked "Spain?" with perfect timing. Antilochus giggled and asked Dromio "Spain?", and got an answer, too.) Altogether enjoyable.

The lurgy

Mar. 29th, 2006 11:03 am
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I've got the cold from heck. Blast my nose. (That's a wish, not an imprecation.) And I forgot to take my hay-fever pill this morning, so all the trees having sex are just making it even more of a snot-fest around here. Why could this not have waited till next week??? Next Friday I don't have to have my ears and brain in full working order to go to the Most Fun Theatrical Experience Of The Year (Apart From The Other Ones).

OK, mard over. No, wait, there's more. Why do people not deliver stuff quickly? I thought this DVD was bound to arrive on Monday. Still not here. Oooh. Stomp stomp stomp. Scumbags.

Went to the Producers musical last night. Reece Shearsmith was good as Leo- a better dancer than I'd expected, and nicely twitchy. I think he was losing his voice by the end of the night, though (fellow-feeling here!). I don't know whether it was a good or bad idea to keep the more New York specific jokes- it wasn't watered down for us, but then there were lines that were clearly meant to be laugh points, if you knew who the New York theatre critics were or whatever. A good evening out, anyway. Lots of energy. Having seen the film, I was interested to see that it was actually slightly shocking to see the Springtime For Hitler bits on stage, when it hadn't been when seen at home. I wondered what the German couple next to me were making of it, a bit (not enough to overcome yer classic British reserve and ask them or anything, of course.)


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