Tuesday, 30 April 2013

The Breadwinner

Nah, didn't happen. Typical London, takes forever to get anywhere. I got to the Tube platform - if there had been a Tube imminent, I'd've made it, but the next Richmond Tube wasn't due for 10 mins. Forget it, that would never have got me there in time.

And they charged me £1.50 for the privilege of tapping in and tapping out again a couple of minutes later at the same station. Huh. Well, on the bright side, would've cost me more to actually go to Richmond! and I do get to eat those ├ęclairs..

Better luck with the Barbican tomorrow, eh?

Curtain's Up (pub grub)

Went to the Curtain's Up for dinner last night. It's a decent pub, with a theatre upstairs (which, funnily enough, I haven't been to yet) and a decent menu.

Well, we had steak, and while I was well fed, I have to say I wasn't mad about it. Might have had something to do with the fact that it was chargrilled, and I'm not mad about that. Also, however, it was a bit tasteless - and I've had enough steaks to know that that doesn't have to be the case. Also, it was a bit inconvenient to have the meal served on a wooden trencher, covered with what looked like greaseproof paper, which I ended up cutting through - of course - and which threatened to be part of my dinner.

The chips were lovely, though. Service was good, a pleasant atmosphere, and nice to be walking distance from home. I have eaten better there before - won't be having the steak again.

Anyway. Off to The Breadwinner, by Somerset Maugham, in the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond tonight. It's a pleasant day so far, should be a nice day to head out of town a bit.

Fraulein Julie, in the Barbican, tomorrow night. Now, this is interesting. It's the German (and in German, with surtitles) version of Mies Julie, still playing in the Riverside Studios, Hammersmith. As the review in Time Out said, it's interesting that the two best shows in London this week are both versions of the same play.

I certainly agree in respect of Mies Julie.. which makes Fraulein Julie worth a look. Takes a completely different tack, apparently. We shall see. Both shows selling heavily. I also do love going to the Barbican - terrific venue, multi-function, comfortable, plenty of eating options as well. It just takes so long to get to from here. Never mind..

Friday, 26 April 2013

Mayerling (ballet)

Of course, as usual, was almost late for this. Well, London takes so long to get around.. anyhoo, praise be, there are lifts to the amphiteatre, and I made my seat 10 seconds before lights went down. Phew..

It's been a while since I was at the Royal Opera House.

Seat was right under the roof (higher than this photo), but a direct view to the stage. Legroom a slight problem (always is in the amphitheatre), but not severely cramped. Had a most cantakerous person at the end of our row, who argued with both the guy sitting in front of her, and a woman sitting in the row behind. Some people are never happy. To most people's relief, she left early.

Right, to the business of the evening. I'd never seen "Mayerling" before, and I was absolutely blown away. I'm getting the dvd (available on the opera house website, but cheaper on http://www.amazon.co.uk). I don't know a lot about ballet, but I know what I like. I like classical and I like contemporary; this is interesting, something in between. More like classical ballet, so you get the traditional forms - but more natural than traditional classical ballet. I've never seen ballet so fluid and passionate. And a very technically difficult piece - see the opera house website for a video with the lead dancer describing how he needed weight training to prepare. Gorgeous costumes too.

O yes, recommended. A beautiful thing to watch. Runs until 15 June, book early for best availability.

And now I take a break for a few days - back to Ireland. I'm due to have dinner in the Curtain's Up on Monday, and have booked for "The Breadwinner" by Somerset Maugham, running in the Orange Tree Theatre in Richmond, on Tuesday. I was there once before - also for a Somerset Maugham piece. They must have a thing for him. Anyway, a short walk from the station, as I recall. This runs until the 18th May - early booking recommended, it's selling out fast.

Thursday, 25 April 2013

Film: Rosemary's Baby

Well, the evening did not start well. Tripadvisor review to appear shortly. Basically, the ATM wasn't working, the tiny lobby was chaotic and it took me so long to get my ticket that I missed the start of the film, despite having arrived in time for the ads. Boo. Do not use the ATM! Anyway, I cheered up when I got to the cinema - it was the downstairs one this time, with luxurious reclining leather seats, and there were quite a few free seats, so easy to find a place in the dark.

It's taken me years to get to see this film, and now my curiosity is satisfied. To those of us conditioned by modern horror, it ain't scary in the least. Some scenes are risible, and much seems dated. I finally stopped looking for scares, and paid more attention to the cinematography, the way the shots were set up.. that's still interesting.

Interesting points based on when the film was shot - the costumes, the fact that she drank happily through her pregnancy, the way her husband spoke to her (wouldn't put up with that nowadays!). Wonder how that was perceived at the time.

Anyhoo. "Mayerling" ballet tonight at the Royal Opera House (which, funnily enough, is the home of the Royal Ballet). Cool, I was just remarking that I hadn't been to a dance performance in an age.. I'm up in the gods for the sake of a cheap ticket, but have been there before and it's fine, as long as you don't have extreme vertigo. Plenty of handrails. Just have to arrive in time to make my way all the way to the roof.. ;-)

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Film: The Gatekeepers

A documentary, featuring the first ever interviews with the leaders of Shin Bet, the Israeli intelligence agency.

Saw this tonight in the Curzon Mayfair. Don't really bother with Curzons in general, they're too expensive, but this was the only cinema showing this.

Well, well worth a look - it's good to challenge your beliefs from time to time. You start off being shocked by their apparent disregard for morality ("morality? against terrorism?"), then you see what they're up against. What surprised me was I hadn't really realised that they have as much trouble with Jewish settler extremists as with Hamas.

I'm put in mind of a joke quoted in "Nineveh", which I saw on Sunday:

"The king of Africa goes to God and says, 'When will we have peace?' God replies, 'Not in your lifetime.'
The lord of India goes to God and says, 'When will we have peace?' God replies, 'Not in your lifetime.'
The chief of the Middle East goes to God and says, 'When will we have peace?' God replies, 'Not in my lifetime!'"

I'm just so glad I don't live in the "Promised Land".

Anyhoo. On to "Rosemary's Baby" tomorrow. Goodee. :-)

Monday, 22 April 2013

The Book of Mormon

O wow. Wow, firstly, that I got a ticket to this at two days' notice. Wow, secondly, to the first act. And WOWOWOWOWOW all the way through the second!

Whee, this is fantastic!! Well, if you like South Park. Same writers, y'know.

I would happily go see this again, if not for the punitive price. But, has to be said, I had a terrific seat, pretty much dead centre, just close enough to see everything and far enough back to take in all the detail. And there is a lot happening on stage.

During the second act, noticed three clean-cut men in suits in the row in front of me, all coincidentally wearing glasses. I did wonder.. anyway, they apparently enjoyed it. :-)

As did the packed theatre! We cheered the whole way through as though we were at a rock concert; there was a standing ovation at the end, which I've hardly ever seen in London.

This show is amazing! Worth the three-figure sum I forked out for my ticket. That's saying something.. and the wine is decent value, for the West End.

Go see. All the hype is true!

(sigh*) Must go to bed now. In other news, v happy to have booked to see "Rosemary's Baby" on Wednesday in the Prince Charles cinema, just off Leicester Square. I like this cinema - bills itself as the cheapest cinema in the West End, and they may be right. I am also chuffed to be getting to see this film, finally. Last time it was in London was in the BFI, and it was impossible to get tickets. Funny, huh?

Sunday, 21 April 2013


So, saw "Nineveh" today at the Riverside Studios, Hammersmith.

Firstly, always excited to go to this place. A short walk from Hammersmith Tube, it's got three theatre spaces, a cinema, and a restaurant. This was only my second time, but they do seem to go for edgy, experimental stuff.

The play itself concerns three soldiers, seemingly trapped in the belly of a whale or such, reminiscing about their wartime atrocities. They're put to shame when a young African boy arrives with tales of being a child soldier.

'Tis good, but not as shocking as you might expect. Apart from one bit, which I won't describe. Maybe I'm just immune after years of exposure in films and on tv. Anyway, I might've expected more.

Was going to eat in the bar-restaurant there, but I could only see one other person eating - most were drinking - and no menus or table service. I did see the menu on the way out, but it struck me that it would probably be some trouble to get served, and I skipped it and am now listening to the oven count down the time behind me. Nyeh, you get tired of eating out anyhow.

While we're on the subject of Riverside, let me STRONGLY recommend another play currently running there, until 19 May. "Mies Julie", which I saw some weeks ago, must be the best thing I have seen in London so far. That's saying something, folks. If Nineveh lacks intensity and shock value, Mies Julie more than makes up for it. GO SEE, if you haven't already.

So long - dinner nearly ready. "Book of Mormon" tomorrow..

Saturday, 20 April 2013

The Arrest of Ai Weiwei

As I listen to my neighbours' Caribbean party - or so it sounds. ;-)

Took myself all the way up to Hampstead today for "The Arrest of Ai Weiwei" in Hampstead Theatre. First time there, although I nearly did go there once before. Tube: Swiss Cottage. V posh Tube station - brass effect on the escalators, for goodness' sake! Exit 2 gets you right outside the theatre. There's another thing - surprising to find an out-of-town Tube station with so many exits - although, to be fair, that is a big road outside it.

Nice-looking theatre, comfy seats, decent legroom. Small farmers' market outside is nice, although I didn't buy anything. Friendly staff.

The play itself: now, this is what I like. Nicely politically provocative. Very minimalist set, surprising amount of people milling about. When we were taking our seats, there was a whole crowd of people onstage, apparently chatting, a couple of them taking photos. Guessed they must be part of the show - yes, they were. Some helped to dismantle the set when needs be. When not needed, they just sat round the edges. Interesting.

I really liked this. I liked the fact that a lot of it involved the Chinese guards poking fun at Weiwei's art, which might echo the feelings of many of us not involved in the world of contemporary art, installations, and such. I liked the scene changes. I liked the casting. I liked the people milling about in parts, intended to represent the media / world interest. I liked the final scene, where Weiwei, to paraphrase, said those who do not seek change "are just flatulent slaves".


Tomorrow: "Nineveh" in the Riverside.
Monday...... Yes, believe it or not, I scored a ticket to The Book of Mormon! Watch this space..

Friday, 19 April 2013


Ok ok! Finally decided to cave into pressure and write a blog about my adventures in London's nightlife. So here goes.

Tonight was "Narrative" at the Royal Court Theatre, Sloane Square. Always handy to get to, right beside the Tube. They have a few stages - this one, unfortunately, was right at the top. :-) 4th floor. Lovely.

Look for the play on the website and you'll get the message "Form is dead". I guess that's appropriate. This is a keenly observed study of how humans communicate with each other, and best suited to those who like their plays weird.

Which I do. As you may discover, if you keep reading.

I don't like more than a certain level of weirdness, so I won't be going to the absolutely off-the-wall events, sorry.

Well, I can recommend "Narrative" - but I'm not quite sure to whom.. if you want to see it, hurry; tickets are limited, it's a small venue. Shows until 4 May.