Well, you know, first the weather forecast said it'd snow, then it said it wouldn't. It was perfectly fine and snow-free when I left the house this morning. And then at lunchtime..
Well, of course, that was supposed to be the warmest part of the day - so needless to say, what didn't melt immediately - didn't melt at all. By the time I left, much of the pavement was an icy mess. I went very carefully to the bus stop, missing one in the process, and enduring a frigid wait for the next. Never mind, I was in good time anyway - and delighted to see, when I got to the West End, that the incessant footfall there had cleared away pretty much all the ice and snow.
Got to the Coliseum about 10 minutes before showtime. No indication whatsoever where the box office was - I got in a queue, had my bag checked, and asked. She waved vaguely to my left, and said that if I had a confirmation email with the seat number on it, that'd do just as well. Yeah - maybe not from a second-hand vendor! Took me about five minutes to find the discreet box office - happily, I squeezed in to a gap in the queue, so wasn't queueing for long at all. Now with five minutes to go, I said sod it to the energetic option of the stairs - the Coliseum is a very tall building, and I was in the top level! I pressed the button for the lift. It's a small one, but only one couple already in it, headed for the Dress Circle (two levels below me). And a lift operator, whom I asked for the Balcony - I explained to her that, had I been earlier, I'd have taken the stairs, and she agreed that very definitely I'd done the right thing! Turns out there are 93 steps.. yep, sounds about right. I seem to recall a Tube station with a warning on its emergency stairs that there are 93 steps, only to be used in an emergency..
Happily, I emerged on Balcony level and found my seat - carefully chosen on the basis of me being able to get to it! The Coliseum is notorious, in my experience, for lack of handrails and for very long drops from step to step - I've seen people stumble on them before. Anyway, I'd chosen a seat that was accessible from the side (which has a handrail), and from the side I entered and took my seat, all relaxed and prepared for an enjoyable evening. As I say, it's ages since I've been here, and gosh, it's gorgeous:
I've been threatened with a cold the last while, and was rather worried that a cough would disturb the evening. Well, I uttered a slight one or two - and a sniffle - but despite the look from the person beside me, I was quite ok. The seat to my other side was free, which was handy for leaving my stuff on.
I watched the start with anticipation - it's so long since I've been to the opera! Gorgeous score, I must say. We started with a fellow in glasses and a suit - Gandhi, I guess - who sang away while reading a book. After a while, I realised there were captions on the back wall of the stage - in English! Ah here now, I was never told this - so basically, they eschewed the surtitles, which are designed for the purpose, in favour of projected captions (not describing the script verbatim, but giving the gist). Problem was - in the Balcony, we couldn't see them!! What a terrible production decision. We only ever got the bottom line or two.
So, because I saw the name Krishna, and some mention of an epic battle, I concluded that we started with a battle involving Krishna. (Some very clever things were done with newspapers, I must say.) And I guessed that this was linked, symbolically, to Gandhi's decision to reject the Western world in favour of India. Then Tolstoy came into it. (?!) Turns out they were penpals - well, I never. Not that I found that out until I got home. The action moved to Tolstoy's farm..? Turns out (again, just looked it up now) that Gandhi implemented his theories on a "farm" that one of his associates called a "Tolstoy farm". Well, gee.
So then, they took a vow.. of what, I don't know, because all I saw on the captions was "The Vow". And a set of coathangers descended from the ceiling, so they could hang their outer garments on them. (Some went back empty - does that mean that not everybody on stage was committed?) That's as much as happened up to the (first?) interval.
Oh, and it happened very, very slowly. Really, you could go to sleep for five minutes during this and not miss a single thing. Indeed, they'd still be singing the same song. They even walked very, very slowly around the stage. Jeez, a fellow (Lord knows who) was climbing a set of three steps at one point - and the suspense as we wondered whether he'd ever get to the top! Dunno why he was doing it - he probably forgot on the way up, himself. Me, at the interval I figured I'd better leave before I started to get annoyed. I did feel energetic enough to walk all the way back down.
Anyway, it was good to get home early, on such a bitter night. On the way to the stop, I passed a soup kitchen with an enormous queue - literally livesavers, on a night like this. Me, I shivered until my bus came - got off just around the corner from home, and oh dear, I wasn't in the West End any more! So I made my way very gingerly along the pavement to get back in, where I picked up my Yaktrax before heading to Tesco. Wouldn't be without them, they're invaluable. Think I may have to bring them everywhere with me for the rest of the week!
On Thursday, back with Up in the Cheap Seats - and Meetup - at the Bridge Theatre, for what I hear is a stunning performance of Julius Caesar. You get the choice of being part of the crowd - I'm not. Modern setting.
On Friday, Helen's in town, so we're headed for lunch, somewhere TBD. In the evening, back with North London Friends, at Hampstead Theatre, for Acceptance.
On Saturday, Up in the Cheap Seats, and Beginning, at the Ambassadors Theatre. For once, not an official ticket for this - got better value with What's on Stage!
On Sunday, I found another Southwark tour - excellent! The "Family Friendly Liberty of the Clink" tour is run by Walking in London.. therefore Funzing.. and Londonist is involved somewhere too. Hard to keep track of everyone involved in walks. The standard code (crazy_fun) is still giving 10% off on Funzing's website. Hope the weather's warmed up by then..
On Monday, London European Club is headed to Monologue Slam, an actors' showcase at the Theatre Royal, Stratford East.
Next Tuesday, Up in the Cheap Seats is at Sadler's Wells for a performance by Ballet British Colombia.
On the 7th, Let's Do This is off to a jazz evening at Two Temple Place. Beautiful venue - should be a lovely evening.
On the 8th, Walking Victorian London is running a walk around Il Quartiere - Tales from Italian Clerkenwell. Excellent - I've had my eye on that for a while. Then I'm back to Ireland for the weekend again.
And on the 12th, London Dramatic Arts is at Caroline, or Change, at Hampstead Theatre. As usual, too expensive for me, and I got my own ticket, at about half the price. She's only going with one unnamed guest - maybe she won't go at all!