Monday, September 25, 2006

Voyage to the West End

Another West End transfer on Thursday, this time the Donmar's production of John Mortimer's A Voyage Round My Father. The play is an entertaining and affectionate study of Mortimer's own father, a successful barrister, blinded in middle age. Derek Jacobi plays the main role and it's as superb a performnace as you expect: charismatic, powerful, yet not without vulnerability. Yet the play is a very soft-centred affair, which imparts no real insight into what made the man tick. He remains something of a 'character,' a collection of quirky habits, not really a man you ever understand.

Jeins and I were sitting next to Mortimer himself throughout the play and various people kept coming over to pay their respects. As did Dominic Rowan, during the curtain call. It made the production that much more moving, the awareness that this wasn't just a series of comic scenes but a very personal piece written by the man sitting besides us. I just wish what was happening on stage could have supplied that extra emotional kick on its own.

The following night I had the Gin Soaked Boy over for dinner - there was meant to be more people but it all fell apart at the last minute - and got hopelessly tipsy, subjecting the man, I suspect, to a lot of finger-jabbing and general ranting. Ah well, while I would rather I had not got quite so specatcularly inebriated, the bits of the evening I remember were great fun! Cooking is so much more enjoyable when done with someone else.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

The 39 Steps

After a week with comparatively little on (bar a visit to the Spitz to see the idosyncratic howlings of Bat For Lashes), Lisa and I went to see the Tricycle's production of The 39 Steps last night at the Criterion in the West End.

It was a sweet, slight confection - John Buchan's classic thriller tackled by just four people who play all the roles (they even occasionally play bits of the scenery.)The production contained some lovely touches, including the obligatory - and rather ingenious - Hitchcock cameo, but it was essentially a one trick show and the idea of a small cast multi-tasking in such a way is hardly a new one. Still it kept me entertained and laughing for much of its length, which given this has been a particularly stressful week, is hardly something I'm going to complain too much about.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Orange Tree Misses the Mark

In Richmond on Friday for The Madras House at the Orange Tree. Having seen The Voysey Inheritance by Harley Granville Barker at the National earlier in the year, I was eager to see another work by this rather radical playwright, but unfortunately Sam Walter's production left me feeling...educated, but not particularly entertained. Granville Barker's take on the position of women in early 20th century society is fascinating in places but at three stately hours the play felt interminable at times and I was checking my watch a great deal in the last act. A shame as the cast were excellent and the play was robust enough, I believe to stand a less reverential handling. Still a trip to the Orange Tree is alays enjoyable, it's such a great theatre, friendly, willing to stage unexpected and difficult work, and unique among London's fringe venues with its in-the-round set-up. However attending non-press performances, especially matinees, it's easy to feel like the youngest person in the room, bar the actors, by several decades. It needs to work on attracting a more rounded crowd.

On Saturday, the Gin Soaked Boy and Matt-in-need-of-a-nickname came over to the flat for Mexican food and Margaritas. We ended up talking into the early hours of the morning and went through a large amount of wine in addition to those margaritas. A great night, but I sloped off back to Sunbury the next morning with my second hangover in as many weeks.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

More Lorca - and an Impromptu Party

Back at the Arcola last night for the concluding production in the Viva Lorca festival. A very different prospect from the vibrant take on Yerma that I saw there recently, When Five Years Pass is a surreal tragedy influenced heavily by Dali. This kind of surrealist approach, full of dancing clowns and dead cats, at times feels incredibly dated and alienating and yet I was often drawn along by it. The core of the story, about a man who waits five years to marry his young fiancee only to be rejected, had a genuine emotional impact, helped by some good performances. Yet the piece was difficult to connect with, more of interest as a depiction of a certain cultural movement of the time, then as a drama. As difficult as it is to get to, I like the Arcola a lot, it's a theatre with ambition and a great artistic resource for its local community.

Though we didn't plan it as such, Saturday turned into something of an unofficial housewarming. One of those evenings when the consumption of some apple schnapps the colour of Fairy Liquid suddenly seemed like a really great idea. Lisa and I were both feeling a tad fragile the following morning, though S&C's generously donated double-chocolate cookies (home-baked, no less) went some way to taking the edge off.