Wednesday, January 31, 2007

All That Jazz

Two very different fringe shows occupied my time last week. First up, was Theatre 503 and their latest show The Atheist, a monologue by Ronan Noone about an amoral journalist. Now one of my pet hates has to be the standard caricature, still trotted out with some regularity, of the journalist as evil incarnate, completely void of principles and willing to sell their own kids for a story. It’s the laziest kind of writing. But though he’s undeniably one of humanity’s more ‘flawed’ products, Augustine Early, the (anti-)hero of The Atheist has enough going on as a character to raise him above this level. Noone has a winningly filthy imagination and understands how to sculpt a character from a few minimal details. The play itself is the tallest of tales, all sex scandals and blackmail, plus a particularly novel, bedroom-related use of a bungee cord. As Early, Ben Porter does a decent job, though on the night I saw him, he tripped over his words a fair few times in the second half, just managing to pull things back from the edge. It’s a verbose role to be fair though, a challenge for any actor.

Later in the week The Stage sent me over to the Arcola to see Jack Shepherd’s jazz club-centric play Chasing The Moment. This was an ensemble piece about a jazz quartet struggling against changing musical tastes. The actors all played their instruments and the interval was used to stage a brief (and pretty decent) set. It meandered a bit in its desire to let every character say their piece, to have their solo as it were, but the performances kept things moving, particularly Clifford Samuel as a young drummer who worries about not having the approval of his strict West Indian father.

After all that, theatre had to take a backseat on the weekend; I had a couple of friends, the Gin Soaked Boy, L&D, the usual lot, over to dinner, with me on kitchen duty since Lisa was elsewhere. Given how limited my culinary range is (and that I consumed almost an entire bottle of Sauvignon Blanc purely in the prep stages last time I offered to cook for anyone), I was pretty nervous. And though I kept things simple – you can’t go wrong with pasta (well I probably could, but I was hoping I wouldn’t) – I still fretted a bit that everything would somehow conspire to go tits up. I was especially worried about how I would navigate the whole vegeterian/kosher/nut allergy hurdle that feeding the five of us presented me with. In the end it was a reasonable success though, or at least I thought so – food got eaten, drink got drunk, nobody went into anaphylaxis – and I enjoyed playing host. Must repeat in the near future.

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