Archive for Theatre

King Lear at Wandlebury

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I persuaded Greg and Bryan to accompany me to a walkaround performance of King Lear at Wandlebury Country Park.

After a very showery day we were treated to a beautiful midsummer’s evening. The cast of seven made wonderful use of space and all inhabited their roles with convincing and physical madness and tragedy. They took turns to invite us to accompany them to the next setting.

The programme says:
The play will not be performed in anything like its entirety, nor will each role be played by any particular actor. Instead we’ve imagined a group of people who, perhaps as a result of some social or personal trauma, are attempting a reenactment of a tragedy the details of which they can barely remember. It is full of gaps, jumps, repetitions, amnesias and improvisations.

This was very true. Effective up to a point, but I felt there was too little narrative thread left for the audience to hang onto.

None-the-less there were some spine-tingling set pieces making perfect use of various settings in the park. Two stand out: the three women demanding the barrenness of Cordelia whilst slowly walking backwards through the gloomy ring fort ditch; and the ensemble wandering sightlessly through a glade of young birches as they narrate the blinding of Gloucester.

Narrative aside the cumulative effect was a harrowing sense of loss, madness and grief. An evening well – if strangely – spent.

in situ:

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Twisted Vision

Chris K arranged a trip to the Greenwich Theatre to see Twisted Vision, directed by and starring his friend from South Africa, Gavin Wright.

Synopsis: Leonard Watkins is successful female impersonator and actor in London. A “diva” on stage but a lonely soul in the privacy of his home. All he wants is to love someone and be loved in return. Confronted one night backstage by Russell Lawrence, a straight stage hand and struggling actor, he is fascinated by this young man. Russell decides to take advantage of Leonard, by pretending to fall in love with him, hoping Leonard’s connections will help establish his acting career. Then Russell meets Natalie Harper. a young reporter, and his journey of self discovery begins with surprising consequences…

The script and the cast were excellent, but sadly the audience was tiny – the ten of us on comp tickets and about ten others. I think a little more publicity would have helped. The only other negative was that most of the South African cast were trying and largely failing to carry London accents.

Afterwards we had a late meal at a Mexican restaurant nearby, where Gavin joined us and the sexy actor playing Russell put in a tantalisingly brief appearance. Suddenly it was time to hot-foot it to the DLR for the last train (actually we had at least three in hand) and then the Northern Line back to Chris and Matthew’s.

On Saturday, after a leisurely breakfast, the four of us (Nicky was visiting from Dublin) headed by bus and District Line towards Kensington High Street, getting as far as Earl’s Court before engineering work jinxed us. On foot we had to ask a local for directions, following her most of the way before she outran us. Our target was Whole Foods Market in part of the former Barkers department store. It’s a wonderland of wholefood and organic produce, an American fusion of health food shop, deli and top-end supermarket, with prices to match. The cheese room and meat counter stood out. It’s not all good though: five yards away from a wall display about the advantages of local food, the fruit and veg department was full of such luxuries as fresh asparagus air-freighted in from Peru. We ate upstairs and discovered (by failing to do this) that the best plan is to buy your lunch from the deli area on the ground floor and take it upstairs, as there is more choice and probably better value than from the cafeteria serveries.

In the evening I went to the George Inn in Southwark(see also Graham’s blog) for John and Andrew’s post-Civil Partnership celebration. It was lovely to catch up with them and to bump into David & Heiko, Ian & Richard and Danny & Malcolm. The buffet was yummy too. Home on a strangely-timed train from King’s Cross which sat at Letchworth for five minutes waiting for its timetabled departure. A fun weekend!

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Q

A night out in London on Wednesday, organised by Chris and Matthew. First dinner in Papageno’s, which ended up rather rushed, but good value at £12.50 for their ‘Tenor Menu’ (plus a little inflation!). Marshia and I jumped in a taxi for the short trip to…
The Noel Coward Theatre to see Avenue Q. What a great show! The combination of live actors, puppets, and on-stage puppeteers works really well. It’s a simple idea executed perfectly. I can’t get The Internet is for Porn out of my head now!

I had time for a quick drink in The Yard with everyone before dashing back to King’s Cross for the train home.

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Present Laughter

Excellent production at the Arts Theatre starring Simon Callow, who was full of energy and didn’t disapppoint. He gave the lead role a good range, and made the most of Noel Coward’s super script. The supporting cast was a little variable but with strong support from the characters of Liz and Monica.

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