Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Viva Lorca - and a New Home

Last Friday, after a busy and stressful week, I was due to see Yerma at the Arcola theatre, the second production in the theatre's Viva Lorca season. To be honest, I was very tempted to make my excuses and get out of it. I was so tired and just wanted to head home, but I'm so glad I didn't pull out - it was a fabulous show, vibrant and lyrical. Kathryn Hunter was compelling as the tormented and childless Yerma, scuttling about, husky and hunched - you could feel the desperation radiating from her. The flexible Arcola space had been split down the middle with the audience on either side, adding to the production's unsettling but effective atmosphere. I was particularly taken with the scene where a group of washerwomen beat their sodden clothes against the ground sending water everywhere, their ritual accompanied by onstage drumming.

For such an essentially bleak drama this was vibrant and exciting stuff. And its energy was infectious. I was on such a high by the time it reached its tragic conclusion, a feeling inhanced by the Spanish guitar music and flickering candles in the Arcola lobby. For two hours I was able to forget all the little niggling worries that had followed me about all week and get lost in the spectacle. That's why I love the theatre - that feeling - it doesn't happen often, but this production hit all the right buttons.

As for the flat, after much faffing and fussing, we have finally moved in. Tall Matt, Ann and Sarah B were all good enough to lend a hand and the place is slowly starting to feel like home, though the walls are still rather bare - we need art! Lisa however won't be joing me until her course at the Institute of Education begins - it feels a bit odd having the place to myself.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Not Long Now...

Just returned from a little celebration at what is, as of today, our new flat. We sat in the empty living room, knocked back some well deserved bubbly and plotted how we would arrange the furniture when we finally moved our stuff in. I'm so excited about the move, it's going to make such a difference to my life, being so centrally located - I can't wait!

No theatre this week, not had the time, nor is there much opening in London at the moment - but I did manage to catch the outdoor screening of Howl's Moving Castle at Somerset House. The weather was kind to us, thankfully, letting us spread a blanket on the ground and partake of some M&S nibbles and our smuggled-in gin without being rained on. And Miyazke's beautiful animation really benefited from being seen on such a big screen - I think I enjoyed the film even more this time then when I watched the DVD. Definitely going to have to repeat this experience next summer.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Rock 'n' Roll

So, Rock'n'Roll...

It took a while to digest this one, to work out exactly how I felt about it and how it made me feel - which is a good thing surely.

It's actually very hard to describe what it's about - because while it encompasses so much, it never really settles on any one theme, it hops from one idea to another. For those it don't know, R'n'R concerns Jan (played subtly and quite superbly by Rufus Sewell) a Czech student with a passion for rock music whose life gets overtaken by the politics of his country. This enables Stoppard to touch on numerous themes, communism, the power of music, academia, identity, and so on.

I can see why some people react against Stoppard, the play is very cerebral, at times seemingly rather proud of just how clever it is, and in the first half in particular there was little to engage with emotionally. Sorcha Cusack's tearful breakdown is meant to be the big moment of revelation in this part of the play, but it was just so jarring and inorganic, I couldn't buy it. In fact I found her performance difficult to get to grips with throughout.

Things warmed up considerably in the second half however and when the middle-aged Jan (having remained stoic and passive throughout everything, despite being imprisoned under the communist regime and having his record collection destroyed by the police) finally cracks, I did find find myself welling up. It was a well judged moment - and it made me think about the fact that my grandfather too spent time in prison under similar circumstances under Tito, something I've long known but if I'm honest never given much thought before now. The play needed that emotional hook or it wouldn't have worked for me (and I would have liked to know a lot more about Syd Barratt and the Czech band The Plastic People Of The Universe, just hearing the songs wasn't really enough - at times it just felt like a trawl through Stoppard's record collection).

It's a play that will stay with me certainly, though I didn't adore it with same passion as Lisa, who was seeing it again after already catching it at the Royal Court earlier this year.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Cocktails & Capoeira

Fate conspired to prevent me from seeing A Right Royal Farce, which I was supposed to see last week, and as it turns out I am entirely grateful to fate, though I must admit part of me was curious, in a rather grubby voyeuristic, way to discover how terrible it actually was.

I did get to the theatre on Friday though, when I took my mum to see Brasil Brasileiro at Sadler's Wells. We had a lovely day - we wandered up into town in the afternoon, saw the World's Most Beautiful Pair Of Boots in a shop in Covent Garden (ridiculously expensive, no way I can even think about having them) before floating over to Islington on a cushion of watermelon martinis. The show was fantastic - vibrant, energetic and colourful. I was especially taken with the display of capoeira and the noisy, percussive finale. It could have done with dropping a couple of the songs, but other than that it was a great night. So much fun.

Saturday was given over to an OMH gathering, now something of a bi-annual tradition, down by the riverside in Hammersmith. It was lovely to see everyone, though Lisa and I slunk off for a bite at Browns at a very civilised point in the proceedings. It's Rock'N'Roll tonight - my chance to see if it lives up to all the critical praise.