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Messages - HtoHe

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31
Theatre / Ugly Lies the Bone - Lyttelton Theatre
« on: February 28, 2017, 08:43:24 pm »
Attracted by a very strong cast I snapped up a row D stalls seat for a preview of Lindsey Ferrentino’s new(ish) piece but ended up wishing there had been an interval in its 90+ minute duration so I could escape.*  It isn’t, in my opinion, quite as staggeringly awful as, say, Sex with Strangers but it was, I thought, fatally devoid of dramatic impact.  The play deals with important themes – such as society’s (specifically US society’s) failure to do right by the casualties of its wars and the workers of its key industries when they are no longer required – and it’s quite possible that a close reading of the text would yield interesting insights; but as a piece of drama it’s thin and shapeless. 

One of the main problems I had was a feeling that I was being shamed into identifying with the protagonist.  Jess (Kate Fleetwood) is a veteran of the Afghanistan entanglement suffering from horrendous and very visible injuries.  In real life you would, I should think, feel obliged to respect and support such a person should you encounter her; and Ferrentino avoids the worst excesses of sentimentality with which a bad writer might draw such a character.  The thing is, though, that, unlike a real person, a dramatic character has to be interesting and I’m afraid that, for me, neither Jess nor her story manage to do this.

Trying not to give too much away, I will say that the play begins with Jess’s return to her Florida home after a lengthy period of hospitalisation for massive injuries and burns..  She is badly disfigured and, while she can now move independently using a frame and/or stick, her limbs are badly damaged.  She is also in constant and severe physical pain and the play, on the surface, deals with the use of Virtual Reality displacement therapy as a palliative** measure.  For what it’s worth, I thought the special effects used to depict this were rather lame compared with, say, The Red Barn or The Nether; but it didn’t really matter as I didn’t think the subject was worthy of the time and effort spent on it.  More promising was the parallel narrative of Jess’s return to her home town and her reunion with friends and relatives.  The town itself has been crippled by the running down of the Space programme that provided well paid jobs.  Jess’s old flame Stevie (Ralf Little) has been made redundant and has settled for a severely restricted life married to a woman he doesn’t love and working in a convenience store (whose usp seems to be not stocking anything that could possibly be considered healthy!).  Her sister Kacie (Olivia Darnley) has kept her teaching job but has hooked up with the (in Jess’s view anyway) feckless Kelvin (Kris Marshall – an actor I was looking forward to seeing on stage but who was not nearly adequately used here) who is getting by on welfare and dodgy financial schemes.  To give Ferrentino her due, these characters are rather more than stereotypes and, more than once, I found myself slapping my own wrist for judging them too hastily.  But, I’m sorry, they were just not interesting enough for a 90+ minute play.  Completing the cast was Buffy Davis*** who must be the busiest character actor in the West End.

There is another genuinely dramatic twist right at the end.  Just as I was expecting Jess to explode with frustration, asking herself what kind of people she’d laid her life on the line for the narrative takes an unexpected and rather touching turn; but for me it was too little after too long a wait.

As I said, I saw a preview so things might change after the reviews come out; but the word of mouth is clearly not doing this piece many favours.  I haven’t seen such easy availability at the Lyttelton for ages.  It could be a long way to 6 June:

https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/shows/ugly-lies-the-bone



*I don’t think I could ever be as discourteous as the man two rows in front who disturbed everyone after half an hour – and who must have been very visible from the stage – by climbing over a dozen people to leave; or as ignorant as the man right in front who was consulting his phone every ten minutes until I sharply asked him to desist,

**SPOILER one of the few really dramatic moments for me was when it was made clear to Jess that palliative therapy wasn’t going anywhere; that it was entirely concerned with relief rather than recovery.

***listed in the programme just as ‘Voice’ (presumably the voice of the the therapist at the VR centre) but she clearly appears in the flesh at the end as Jess and Kacie’s mother (who is not in the character list).  I really don’t know what to make of this?  Is it a programme error?  Or are we to draw some profound conclusion regarding the relationship between Jess’s therapy and her mother?

32
Theatre / Re: Travesties - Apollo Theatre, London
« on: February 27, 2017, 03:43:57 pm »
I meant to correct my comment to take cognisance of the fact that most well-read people had both started and finished the novel - it's the bits between Stately, plump Buck Mulligan.. and ...yes I will Yes. that receive varying amounts of attention.  Anyway, you'll spot the reference to Molly's, ahem, completion (as well as the Odyssey and the Dublin street map) when you see Travesties

One preparation you might find more to your taste than I do is to read the reviews.  I actively avoid them until afterwards because there's a limit to how much of another person's viewpoint I want in my head when I'm taking in a production.  But they do afford a certain amount of background information (often because the producer feed such information to the critics beforehand) such as that the hugely appreciated duet between 'Gwendolen' and 'Cecily' is a pastiche of a specific Music Hall act. 

I don't think Travesties bears quite the same relationship to The Importance of being Earnest as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead does to Hamlet.  The latter is almost a re-working of the Shakespeare narrative from a very unusual perspective whereas Travesties just has clever allusions to the Wilde characters and plot.

33
Theatre / Re: Travesties - Apollo Theatre, London
« on: February 26, 2017, 08:55:40 pm »
I expect you are at least as clued up as me, jean.  You'd know that Lenin was whisked out of Switzerland in a sealed carriage shortly after the abdication of Nicholas II; you'll have some idea of what Dada represented and you'll know that James Joyce was nearly as much of a smart arse as Tom Stoppard.  Seriously, though, even if, like millions of well-read people, you've never actually finished Ulysses you'll know it has at its core the plot of the Odyssey and the street map of old Dublin.  The best advice I can give is to gen up on the detailed plot of The Importance of Being Earnest as I suspect some of the relationships in Travesties shadow it more closely than I noticed

Let us know what you think of it.

34
Radio / Anthony Burgess's Oedipus the King - R3 2100 today
« on: February 26, 2017, 04:57:36 pm »
Apologies for reminding R3OK members what's on R3 - but this looks extraordinarily promising.   As well as a classic story, a genius doing the adaptation and a brilliant cast it's even got Clark Rundell in charge of the music:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b08g4cly


35
Theatre / The Glass Menagerie - Duke of York's Theatre
« on: February 26, 2017, 04:49:25 pm »
In a brief discussion at the interval with the person next to me at yesterday’s matinee of this production of The Glass Menagerie she declared herself ‘disappointed’ while I used the words ‘underwhelming’ and ‘adequate’.  She then left the auditorium – and didn’t return for the second half. Clearly ‘disappointment’ was something she wasn’t going to tolerate whereas I will usually find an ‘adequate’ production of such a fine play worth the effort of staying until the end.  Furthermore, we were both probably missing some of the impact from our front row day seats.  I should think the best place to see this from is the Royal Circle.  Certainly the front stalls audience have to deal with the positioning of the cabinet containing the eponymous glassware.  This gave me a rather restricted view of some parts of the set – and of the settee in particular.  If you go for these seats I suggest the right of the auditorium (stage left, higher seat numbers) is favoured though I wouldn’t want to swear you’d have a clear view of the dinner table from there.  Perhaps more significantly, if you don’t have a seat raised above the level of the stage, the moat (best word I could think of to describe it) between the Wingfields’ apartment and the edge of the stage will be invisible.  Anyone approaching the stage is warned to avoid touching this (easier said than done judging by the number of people whose concentration slipped long enough for their hands to dip in it) as it contains dyed water that could stain their clothes.  Presumably the point of this feature is to create a reflective surface to heighten the dreamlike quality of this memory play – but if you’re not looking down on it you will, like me, not get the effect.

I should stress that I’m not complaining.  At £10 the front row day seats must be about the cheapest in the professional theatre and the box office make the drawbacks very clear before you buy.  For my purposes, anyway, even the best seat in the Royal Circle couldn’t have afforded the close up of Laura’s eyes, transfigured by the light from the glass menagerie as she sat over the cabinet gazing at the little unicorn.  Kate O’Flynn, as I remembered from Port and A Taste of Honey, is an actor whose facial expressions are as important as her delivery of the lines.  I thought she captured Laura Wingfield’s combination of insecurity and stubbornness very well. I had a slight feeling that her rather toneless delivery was hinting at an underlying condition (autism, perhaps, or whatever condition Rose Williams, the model for Laura, is now thought to have had) but even that was useful as the brief blossoming of enthusiasm, joy and (tragically) hope in her exchange with Jim was poignantly emphasised.  I’m afraid I found nothing particularly striking about Cherry Jones’s Amanda or Michael Elspeth’s Tom.  To recycle a couple of adjectives I’d have to say ‘adequate’ just about sums up my feeling about the portrayals of these two characters and, comparing them with Greta Scaachi and Tom Mothersdale in the Headlong production, ‘disappointing’ might be appropriate. 

My neighbour who left at the interval, though, missed what was, for me, the outstanding performance of this production.  I thought Brian J Smith as Jim O’Connor – or The Gentleman Caller as he is listed in the programme* - brings the production to life just as his character sparks Laura’s moribund joie de vivre.  There can be few more benevolent, attractive and decent wreakers of disaster than Jim in all drama and Smith’s performance makes him agonisingly convincing.  The set is fairly straightforward except for the aforementioned moat and the enormous, but idle, fire escape that seems to reach to the heavens (as it happens, it was only while writing this that the contrast between those two images came to mind).  Music, by the fashionable Nico Muhly, was rather mawkish in my opinion and dominated by piano rather than the violin mentioned in Tom’s introduction.  On a tangential note, Amanda’s professed admiration for the Lemonade song occasioned a few gasps in the audience!

I wouldn’t want to put anyone off seeing this.  If you don’t come to a more negative conclusion than mine I’d say an adequate production of a fine play is still worth it – especially if you haven’t seen said play for some time.  Unusually, there are several levels of day seat prices - £10, £15, £20 & £25 iirc – so, unless you’re as keen as me about catching facial expressions, you might want to see if any of them gets you a decent seat in the Royal Circle.  Runs until the end of April:

http://www.atgtickets.com/shows/the-glass-menagerie/duke-of-yorks/



*I checked my text and Jim is, indeed, not named in the cast list.  I presume this is done because Jim is named as Laura’s schoolgirl crush some time before the ‘gentleman caller’ is identified by Tom.

36
Theatre / Re: Travesties - Apollo Theatre, London
« on: February 26, 2017, 04:31:16 pm »
Pace Kate Kellaway though, he does also refer to Oscar Wilde, not so much gnomically as euphemistically when speaking to a lady, as "the ... er ... Gomorrahist".


Thanks George.  I couldn't remember whether Wilde was mentioned by name - but 'Gomorrahist' got one of the biggest laughs at the performance I saw.

37
Theatre / Re: Travesties - Apollo Theatre, London
« on: February 25, 2017, 11:06:30 pm »
Carr's reference to the character he played in The Importance of Being Earnest.  It wasn't Jack Worthing (the Ernest of the title's pun) but 'the other one'.  Carr never (as far as I remember) refers to Algernon Moncrieff by name.  Kate Kelleway - for no reason I can fathom - seems to think this is a gnomic reference to Oscar Wilde. 

https://www.theguardian.com/stage/2016/oct/09/travesties-review-tom-hollander-stoppard

 

38
Theatre / Low Level Panic - Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond on Thames
« on: February 22, 2017, 01:09:13 pm »
The Orange Tree – like the Finborough and a few others – makes a selling point of regularly offering plays that, while they are unlikely to be neglected classics, don’t deserve to be altogether neglected.  Clare McIntyre’s Low Level Panic is probably in that category – a play like, Doris Lessing’s Each His Own Wilderness or even GB Shaw’s Widowers’ Houses, that you should probably see because heaven knows when you’ll get another chance.

It’s not a very profound piece but, as well as having a few serious themes that have been done to death in the comment columns since the play’s 1988 premiere, it is pacy and amusing; and the fashionable interval-free presentation suits its 80 minute unfurling particularly well.  I say unfurling because there really isn’t much of a plot, the whole thing being more a snapshot of three young women sharing a flat – and, more specifically, a bathroom - than a narrative. 

Some of the commentary on the play does it a disservice.  Reading the programme, for example, you could easily get the impression that you were in for a dry radfem lecture on the perils of being female, negative body image and subjection to ‘the male gaze’.  In fact, while McIntyre doesn’t go as far as to provide a male character to defend his sex, the themes are examined from more than one angle.  Even if Mary (Sophie Melville) represents the authorial voice with her timidity and mistrust of both the opposite sex and her own sexuality, she is balanced by the earthier and more sanguine Jo (Katherine Pearce).  Both are revealed, mainly through soliloquy, to have underlying fears (ie to be human!) – Mary that an unpleasant experience at the hands of some rough men (on bikes) is a taste of what she has to look forward to for the rest of her life; Jo that she isn’t attractive enough for her fantasy (which appears to involve rough men driving trucks) to be realised.  The third character, Celia (Samantha Pearl), is underwritten – which rather throws the three-hander off balance in my opinion – and seems to be there almost as a visitor from the ‘normal’ world where people get on with the life that presents itself to them rather than analysing it.  The way she lines up her array of beauty products on her (usually frustrated) visits to the bathroom is the cue for much laughter.

All three performances are pretty decent and the set is quite simple consisting of standard bathroom furniture and clutter (inc. boom box with pop music that dates the action in the 1980s when the play was written).  The only unusual features are the frameworks rising above the bathroom fixtures – which presumably represent the walls but come into their own when Mary fantasises about climbing a roadside hoarding to look into the lifeless eyes of a woman in a poster advertising a King Kong sort of film.  I couldn’t help wondering how much extra insurance they had to pay to have Sophie Melville scramble up that rickety looking structure.  As usual at the Orange Tree sightlines from all parts of the house are good.

Worth seeing if you are at a loose end and within easy reach of Richmond.

https://www.orangetreetheatre.co.uk/whats-on/low-level-panic


39
Theatre / Travesties - Apollo Theatre, London
« on: February 20, 2017, 02:48:42 pm »
It was a long wait from finally despairing of getting a ticket for this at the Menier to catching up with it on its West End transfer; but it was worth it. It’s only February but this already looks like being a highlight of my 2017 theatregoing –which is something of a surprise as I’ve always been a little put off by Tom Stoppard’s insistence on displaying his erudition in just about every script he writes.  I’m rather lucky with this one as I’m reasonably familiar with most of the themes so I got a lot of the little jokes – unlike one of the Guardian critics* who clearly misunderstood one of the running gags.  Usually I’d still feel a twinge of empathy for those who know next to nothing about James Joyce or Dada or The Importance of Being Earnest; or who confuse VI Ulyanov with VI Warshawski.  But the beauty of this production (or maybe of any decent production – this is the first one I’ve seen) is that the director (Patrick Marber) has, while leaving the clever stuff in, put the piece’s broad comic bent to the fore while Tom Hollander – in a bravura performance that has been widely praised – makes the central character, Henry Carr, evoke both ridicule and empathy.  Hollander plays Carr both as an old man relating memories which, it becomes clear, are largely confabulation** and as the central character in his own confabulation in the Zuerich of 1917 where James Joyce (Peter MacDonald), Lenin (Forbes Masson), Tristan Tzara (Freddie Fox) and the real Henry Carr might conceivably have run into each other.  The real conceit is, of course, Stoppard’s and is based on the fact that Joyce and the otherwise unknown Carr really did run into each other on the occasion of a Zuerich production of The Importance of being Earnest.  In developing this conceit Stoppard has several of the principals behaving as if they were characters in Wilde’s play, the story of how the British consular staff narrowly failed to stop Lenin’s sealed train leaving for Russia, Tzara and Joyce arguing about the role of art in society (with little doubt as to whose side Stoppard is on!) and much, much more with several show stopping tableaux, a scene made entirely of limericks, a rather unexpected conjuring trick and musical numbers  - including a duet between Gwendolen (Amy Morgan) and Cecily (Clare Foster) which was a real highlight (though, if I wanted to be picky, I’d say I thought it was overlong).  Add to this a couple of fine performances in minor roles by Sarah Quist as Lenin’s ever-loyal Nadya and Tim Wallers as Carr’s duplicitous valet Bennett and you have a production that I can only recommend as highly as possible.

Attendance was healthy though, surprisingly, day seats weren’t hard to come by.  I got to the theatre at 0845 and was first in the queue.  I expect everyone who arrived by opening time (1000) will have got a £20 front row seat.  The view from there is not bad at all; indeed the middle of the second row looked a lot worse.  This is because there were rather high piles of books at the edge of the stage in the centre and, while there was a gap in the front row (B) corresponding to his obstruction, two or three seats in the second row (C) looked as though they might suffer from a slight but significant restriction.

Until 29 April

http://www.uktw.co.uk/London/Apollo-Theatre/Play/Travesties/L122852571/






*not Michael Billington, unfortunately.  It would be rather fun to catch him in an embarrassing gaffe.

**I saw this production just a few days after a rather disturbing conversation with my father, who appears to have detailed memories of seeing Jimi Hendrix ‘many times’ at the Golden Garter in Wythenshawe!  He simply can’t be convinced that it must have been somebody else he saw on all those occasions.

40
The Concert Hall / Re: Liverpool Concerts 2016 - 17
« on: February 11, 2017, 12:33:47 pm »
And if I went to the trouble of giving flowers to someone, I wouldn't be at all pleased if they passed them on to someone else.

I agree.  It seems most discourteous, though I suppose there might be some convention in operation for 'official' flowers.  Certainly if the flowers were from an ordinary punter it is rather rude to give them away so publicly.  Still, at least he didn't staple them to the walls!


I'm intending to go to this concert tonight - it says 'no tickets on the door' so I've booked, but I can't see them turning people away!  (You could always pretend to be a student and get in free.)

http://www.concert-diary.com/concert/1052049426/Manchester-Collective-Transfigured-Night

How did it go?  I pencilled that in my diary but I was in Manchester for the MMU students' matinee of David Copperfield and as, unusually, the production at the Royal Exchange was short enough for me to get away in time for the 2159 train, I stayed on for The House of Bernarda Alba

41
Theatre / The House of Bernarda Alba - Manchester Royal Exchange (Graeae)
« on: February 11, 2017, 12:22:51 pm »
Graeae has an uncompromising policy of incorporating such media as sign language, audio description and surtitles into the production as well as casting disabled actors for most (or all?) roles.  They also seem to have no problem sending themselves up – among the very few props on the almost bare stage was a table with TABLE stencilled on its surface.  I like their style and didn’t find the unusual aspects of the production – which sometimes included having a deaf actor’s lines repeated by another character – detracted from the drama.  I was certainly relieved, after the Young Vic’s Yerma, to find that this was pure Lorca* - and very well presented Lorca at that.  Kathryn Hunter is tremendous as the unbending matriarch barking out her orders and delivering her severe homilies on the way things have always been and must always stay.  There is a niggling sense that, in terms of stage presence, she is in a different league from the rest of the cast; but then, Bernarda is a woman apart, dominating her little world and, as La Poncia hints, steering clear of any society she can’t dominate; keeping her daughters in a domestic prison and even keeping her own mother in solitary confinement within that prison.  Interestingly the actor who, Hunter apart, most effectively puts her mark on the production is Alison Halstead as La Poncia – the housekeeper whose utterances often betray her as a sort of wannabe Bernarda Alba.  I should stress that the other performances are good, too; they just didn’t quite, for me, have the intensity of Hunter’s.  The Royal Exchange space was at its minimalist best – usually, at most, a few chairs and that table on a bare stage.  The music and sound effects were also quite unobtrusive - perhaps a (welcome) side effect of incorporating other elements in the production.

If last night was anything to go by the production is not getting the attendances it deserves.  The auditorium was by no means sparsely populated but there were quite a few empty seats.  That might, however, mean it's easy enough to follow my recommendation and catch this if you can. Runs until 25 Feb:

https://www.royalexchange.co.uk/whats-on-and-tickets/the-house-of-bernarda-alba


*I spotted few very serious deviations from the plot/script I know.  Occasionally you get some extra lines such as when Amelia (Philippa Cole) takes off her prosthetic leg (as a minor act of rebellion like Adela’s green dress?) or where Bernarda orders the maids to sign some lines.  The only thing that really jarred (and you’d need to know the play to spot this) was the very conspicuous absence of La Poncia’s story about giving her son money to go with a visiting prostitute.

42
Theatre / Hedda Gabler - Lyttelton Theatre
« on: February 08, 2017, 11:31:42 pm »
I avoid reading reviews before seeing a play and, despite seeing this late in the run I was pretty successful in avoiding detailed commentary, though inevitably the odd thing got by and, of course, director Ivo van Hove’s reputation went before him.  The first thing I have to say after seeing the production is that this is by no means a travesty along the lines of, say, Simon Stone’s Yerma.  Patrick Marber’s ‘version’ struck me as quite faithful – though there are probably a few minor cuts and possibly even a bit of rearrangement, but nothing radically divergent from Ibsen’s original. 

When I say the version is faithful I should stress I mean the dialogue is close to what I remember from other productions and from reading other translations.  Without buying Marber’s script (no thanks!) I have no way of knowing whether some of the stuff we see on the Lyttelton stage is a result of Marber’s interpretation of Ibsen’s directions or of van Hove’s directorial dictates.  I was disappointed, looking at van Hove’s rather bare stage, to note the absence of General Gabler’s portrait.  Perhaps this is because a highlight of the last production I saw was Sheridan Smith's Hedda standing in front of the portrait and seeming to take the place of her father.  But, as disappointments go, this was minor compared with what followed.  For some reason I had been almost expecting a pretentious, intellectualised version of this classic story; but what we got seemed, to me at least, to be characterised  by mere puerility.

Hedda Gabler is the story of an unhinged, over-privileged woman who plays a variant of Shag, Marry, Kill with the three male characters.  It’s a proposition that would, though I say it myself, make a good essay topic.  But I’d follow it with the traditional ‘discuss’ instruction and not ‘illustrate your answer by putting on a major public production’.  I’m afraid I tend to sigh when I read that directors like van Hove ‘shed light’ on classic texts.  I haven’t seen any of his other productions but with this Hedda Gabler he seems to me to have picked out a few themes that a reasonably bright 12 year old could have identified and concentrated on them at the cost of sucking the drama out of the piece and replacing it, essentially, with shouting.  Ruth Wilson manages to present Hedda as a half credible character, albeit quite barking.  Nobody else in the cast, with the possible exception of Kyle Soller as Tesman, succeeded in coming across as more than a caricature.  Rafe Spall, as Judge Brack, was a seedy rent-a-slimeball of the Alan Rickman school.  Sinead Matthews as Thea Elvsted sounded like a dime store Marilyn Monroe (no reflection on any of these actors, I must stress; I’m pretty sure they were all under orders).  Kate Duchene’s Aunt Juliana was out of PG Wodehouse via Miranda Hart.  Poor Eilat Lovborg (Chukwudi Iwuji) delivered half his lines as if they were Shakesperean blank verse (sometimes with a level of histrionics that would make Olivier seem naturalistic).  Accents were pick and mix – Soller and Matthews American, Spall, Duchene and Wilson very English and Eva Magyar as Berte Hungarian (I’m guessing – certainly thick East European) – perhaps to hint that the maid is an exploited immigrant.  And Berte in this production seems almost – for no reason I can fathom – to have some sort of telepathic rapport with her mistress; doing things like bringing on the doomed manuscript and the fatal pistol – both of which Hedda gets for herself in every other version I know.

The thing is, it’s not a profound revelation that Hedda Gabler is a bit deranged.  We don’t need to see her stapling flowers to the wall or switching from giggles to violent anger in a amateur psychologist’s representation of bipolar disorder.  The brooding menace of Judge Brack is very clear – and superbly ramped up by Ibsen.  What is gained by having him make it very explicit is not at all clear (indeed, in my view, a great deal is lost by this policy).  General Gabler’s sister is a pleasant, well-meaning if rather innocent lady and making her a sort of dumb version of Bertie Wooster's Aunt Dahlia is not illuminating.  And stopping the action every so often to spin a Joni Mitchell or Jeff Buckley record is, frankly, an atrocious disruption of any dramatic flow the production had left.

I could go on but I won’t.  I’ll just finish by saying that, Brian Friel’s ill-advised extra scene notwithstanding, Anna Mackminn’s Hedda Gabler at the Old Vic was, in my opinion, enormously better in every department.  However, that’s long gone.  If you want to see this one, it runs until 21 March.  It says sold out for most dates, but seats crop up frequently as individual performances draw near.   


https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/shows/hedda-gabler/whats-on

43
Theatre / Sex with Strangers - Hampstead Theatre
« on: February 08, 2017, 11:19:16 pm »
I don’t have much to say about this.  Most of you will know my style by now and will have your own responses to my recommendations.  This is just a quick note for the benefit of those who take them at face value.  Don’t waste your time with this play.  I left at the interval genuinely perplexed as to how this ever got as far as the professional stage.  For those who find the best policy is to do the exact opposite of what I recommend, Sex with Strangers continues until 4 March:

https://www.hampsteadtheatre.com/whats-on/2017/sex-with-strangers/




44
The Concert Hall / Re: Liverpool Concerts 2016 - 17
« on: February 02, 2017, 11:21:56 pm »
Having tried it out on the good folk of Birmingham last night Vasily Petrenko and the RLPO brought a programme of c20 Russian music back to the Philharmonic Hall this evening.  The hall was almost full and deserves to be full again for tomorrow lunchtime’s repeat (though advance sales for that don’t look good so far).  Stravinsky’s  ballet Jeu de Cartes opened the evening and very sprightly it was, too.  Then followed the later of Rachmaninov’s rarely played Piano Concertos, No 4, with Daniil Trifonov at the keyboard.  It was a very assured performance for a young pianist – though having one of the finest interpreters of Russian repertoire on the podium won’t have hindered him any.  After the interval there was Prokofiev’s 5th Symphony which was given a rip roaring, almost flawless, performance.  It was, therefore, not a ‘game of two halves’ as both halves were very fine; but it was a concert of two encores.  On his fourth return to the auditorium Trifonov gave us, unless the hall staff misinformed me, Medtner’s Fairy Tale op 26 no 3; and I was just putting on my coat (assuming that, as pianist Ian Buckle had left the stage, it was all over) when I saw Petrenko getting back on the podium.  We got something from Romeo and Juliet.  I suppose I could skim through my recording to tell you exactly what it was, but I’m ready for bed and I want to post this in case anyone is wavering about going tomorrow lunchtime.  I can tell you it wasn’t Dance of the Knights but I don’t really know the other bits by name!

Catch it if you can.

45
News and Current Affairs / John Hurt (1940-2017)
« on: January 28, 2017, 10:03:38 pm »
I was saddened to hear of the death of John Hurt this morning.  I had really been looking forward to seeing his Billy Rice last year and was disappointed to hear he had to pull out on doctor’s instructions.  I had rather hoped that the rest might have been the opportunity to recover as I read his pancreatic cancer was in respite.  Sadly, it was not to be.  Although I never saw him on stage and have managed to miss the things for which he is most famous – Alien, Dr Who, Harry Potter – it’s a tribute to his versatility that he still leaves a wealth of memories: The Naked Civil Servant, I, Claudius, The Elephant Man, Scandal, Nineteen Eighty-Four, White Mischief – to name just the ones that spring to mind.

RIP

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