The Rover

By Aphra Behn
At RSC, Stratford-Upon-Avon


Since venturing off to take in this supreme piece of theatre fun, I’ve shout-talked my happiness at a handful of friends about its joyous impact upon me and the crazy fact that I’d never come across this spectacularly talented restoration period lady playwright before.

Thankfully those kind friends weren’t shocked and wishing to disengage from my company indefinitely, rather chuffed that I’ve finally become acquainted with such a hugely gifted, all-rounder.  For apparently, she wasn’t just a dramatist, but a poet, novelist, SPY, political propagandist and the first English woman to earn her living by the pen – how great is that…and how useful that one’s programme was able to fill me in further.


The text of The Rover serves up meaty fistfuls of roll on the floor hysterical bawdiness, which is presented to you by a superior cast. The energy’s infectious and the action so lively I struggled to stay in my seat. Thankfully I didn’t have to for the whole play, for there was an interval where I dashed off to the Shop to purchase a copy of the text for Team Family winter evening fun and then at the end of all the terrific shenanigans, I ejected from my seat to stand and applaud and smile and try and catch the eye of the rogue Willmore and the feisty Hellena.


The RSC does theatre. It does costumes. It does music. It does dance. It does lusty excitable action. And it does a spectacular night out.

If you see just one play this year – see this.

The Two Noble Kinsmen

By John Fletcher & William Shakespeare
At The RSC


Finally I’ve got my act together and I’m about to fill you in a sizable treat which is showing at Stratford-Upon-Avon presently and will be until February 2017. So easily enough time to book tickets, flights and gift yourself with 2hrs 35mins of ‘gee I made a great decision’.

A great decision based on an extraordinary cast, fabulous direction and an interesting exploration into friendship, desire, attraction and arranged unions.

Oh and a massive thumbs up for the staging and props – for the action is lively to say the least, so when Arcite and Palamon get a little heated up, you receive a huge serving of energy, involvement and anxiety. Anxiety?…Indeed…for they are accomplished swordsmen and the way they speed up the iron fencing, there are moments you despair that they might fall on an entranced audience member or perhaps really hurt themselves. But yes…this concern of ‘will they, won’t they’, just adds to the excitement and your experience.

Did I use the word entranced? I meant to keep that to describe the effect Frances McNamee (who plays Emilia) had on me, so thanks to, I’ll throw in a couple of adjectives (or they could be verbs) to characterise her and her performance. Bewitching, mesmerizing and simply stunning (oh there was adverb). The moment she hits the stage, you don’t see anyone else.  You also feel for her, for the choices she has to make and the choices she can’t.

And other goods news – this is the beginning of the Winter season, so chances are you can catch most members of this remarkable cast in other productions showing in The Swan. So I’d say best approach here, buy tickets to both The Seven Acts of Mercy and The Rover as well.

Revolt. She Said. Revolt Again.

By Alice Birch


After experiencing some new writing at the Royal Court I was definitely itching for more, so you can imagine my relief on discovering that the RSC as part of their Making Mischief Festival during the summer, were putting some of their own on. So, dashed off I, typed in the MasterCard details, obtained three very affordable tickets and begged my days to move faster.

Why beg? Well, when you see a comment that states ‘This play is not well behaved’, you know…well I know… ‘that’s what I’m talking about’. And you start to…well I…get really excited and expectant and geed up for the big day.

And yes by golly it came, and Team Family not bashful in the slightest, took those empty front row seats, with legs a swinging, grinned until lights out and then proceeded to howl with laughter throughout the first two scenes of the play.

And when I mean howl, I mean loud, mixed with tears and side holding, for truly ruly Scene One is genius and was executed by some very fine performers, and then Scene Two, is comic and hilarious and again delivered with such talent that you’re left with little else but be blown away by the writing and performance.

I can’t tell you how many scenes/sketches there are in this one hour performance, but I can say it doesn’t just stop at funny, for each mini-play has its own angle to explore. These all pretty much focus on the role women in the 21st century – how they speak, feel, are victimised and can take control, so it’s fascinating, thought-provoking, daring and bold.  It’s also not fluffy, and at times quite disturbing (but good disturbing) and powerful.

And with super credit to the playwright – for the language can shock and wound and excite all in equal measure and all at the same time.

Also the staging is stark, effective and adds to the action. Oh and the cast – three super fabulously women (Emmanuella Cole, Emma Fielding & Beth Park) and an equally super fabulous man (Robert Boulter).

Thankfully, it’s still on, not on at the Other Place in Stratford where I caught it, or Edinburgh where it’s just been but at Shoreditch Town Hall until 17 September.

Munch Kupka Kokoschka…

Museum Kampa, Praha

Museum Kampa exhibition

Encouraged entirely by the fabulous poster above, one’s husband and I made sure we squeezed this gallery visit in just prior to our lunchtime departure from Prague. But reader beware. Squeezing in all the culture that Prague has to offer in 48hr isn’t possible. I tried and I failed. Thankfully, this Super Power of learning, enlightenment, history and phenomenal architecture isn’t closed for business, so I’m aiming to return. Soon.

Back to the Munch Kupka Kokschka…As mentioned last post, our train tripping adventure was really an education. Yes I’d heard of Edvard Munch, but by golly, not the hugely talented (and slightly racy works) of Mr Kupka. Not only do his paintings suggest to the viewer that he had a thing for the ladies, his gift at producing them on canvas is something to behold (if you aren’t nervous…and you like nudity…and brushstrokes).

Kupka 1

It also appears from the pictures we had to hand, that the ladies liked him – with an amusing warning prior to entry suggesting that this exhibit was for the over 18s. At last, there’s a reason why I should be delighted to be an adult.

Kupka 2

It’s a small collection of artworks (paintings, sculptures, bronzes), produced between 1890 – 1921, so the style of a majority of the paintings, (says she who has no art education) is expressionist I guess, as they appear influenced by Fauvism, Impressionism, Art Nouveau and much more (sorry, I did say my knowledge was limited – but this by no means reduced my enjoyment.)

And on the point of enjoyment. This exhibition really ticked all my husband’s boxes. It was like he’d found a new best friend as we spent the rest of the afternoon talking about Mr Kupka, creating potential backstories about his life and relationships.

Kupta 3

Furthermore, in testament to him (not my husband, Kupka), every single bookshop or museum store we passed for the next two weeks was all about discovering and purchasing the perfect coffee table publication of his works.  And we did find one, but at 140 Euros, our magnificent plans were scuppered…for the time being.

It’s on until 11 September 2016 – so you need to change your weekend plans.

90 Jahre 90 Fotos – F C Gundlach

At the Contemporary Fine Arts Galerie
Mitte, Berlin

F C Gundlach 1

I shan’t go on for too long as I’m sure these images speak for themselves, but maybe I’ll provide you with a little context.

As part of Team Family (minus one)’s mini train tripping earlier this summer, we managed to take Everyday’s a School Day to the next level.  Heading to galleries and museums most days I can honestly report is the best thing you can do.  Not only do you discover new artists, works, ways of thinking but also provide yourself with a great catalogue of memories – and postcards.

You don’t have to necessarily like the work, it’s just grouse that you get to experience it and decide.

F C Gundlach 2

So on the final leg of our journey, we were in my second favourite city and my husband picked this particular gallery. We headed off and were immediately bowled over. Not only is the building itself one of the coolest I’ve ever encountered, but it was a commercial gallery – so entry was free and you buy the things you like…if only…

Herr F C Gundlach is incredible.  I’m sure some of you have already heard about him and admire his work, but for Team Family (minus one), our knowledge of him and his remarkable ability hadn’t been realised, until we hit Floor 2.

F C Gundlach 3

The exhibition itself is a collection of ninety of his favourite photographs, taken during the last sixty years (approx.), in celebration of his 90th Birthday.

Each photo screams – ‘Divine’, ‘Wow, the composition’, ‘Oh that looks just like the glorious Mrs Duncan’ and cheers you and impresses you and compels you out of your own world…you kind of get caught up in the image and whisked off to that point in time and place.

F C Gundlach 4

Here’s their website to excite you further

It’s on until 10 September 2016

Jane Eyre

by Charlotte Bronte

Jane Eyre

Within fifteen minutes of completion I’m here with good intentions.

Cast your minds back momentarily to that time I came at you raving about attending Short Stories Aloud…Anyway, as luck would have it, the most senior member of Team Family deduced that there was really something quite important missing from my bookshelf and returned home a couple of days after this fabulous event with a very thoughtful gift – Jane Eyre. 

Having never read it and appreciating that there’s no time like the present, I’ve spent the last two months dipping in and out of it and working tremendously hard during the last 30 pages not to weep bulging tears of happiness.

What an amazing heroine. So assured and perceptive and intelligent and kind.  We need to have one on every street.  She faced adversity and instead of being crippled by it, conquered it.

I can’t recollect ever reading another tale from this period quite like it. She’s thoroughly independent and knows her mind.  The more you read, the more you are struck by her tenacity. I hear Beyonce singing when I think of her.

I also love that marriage and relationships are on her terms, not those prescribed by a potential mate and I love how she can be honest about the decisions she makes.

Perhaps what I love most though, is her intellect. What I’d do to have a third of her wit and talent in conversation. Actually, what I’d do to have spent even just one afternoon with Charlotte Bronte, for how could she produce such a brilliant novel without investing a lot of her own experience and self into it.

And one more thing – I’ve just scanned through the Chronology at the front of my copy and note that in 1836, Bronte wrote to Robert Southey with a collection of her poetry, his response ‘Literature cannot be the business of a woman’s life; and it ought not to be’. Outrageous and wrong!


Leopold Museum

Museumsplatz 1, Wien


Satisfaction comes in a variety of ways.

One such, heading off to view a little Klimt and then discovering Koloman Moser and Egon Schiele.  Sorry I should correct myself, obviously I didn’t discover or scout them but I did spend a terrific morning, thirty seven days back, seeing them for my first time in a gallery scarcely populated, in the heart of the Vienna.

So what caught my thoughts.

  • Gaining the opportunity to see more of Klimt’s work you get the sense that this guy was modern and although I left the gallery shop without a copy of the ‘Kiss’ on a coffee cup, I’m so pleased he was around and having an impact in a time when the establishment were a little uptight.
  • Koloman Moser – why wasn’t I told about him in school and recommended to him earlier? His skill and style is diverse and his brushstrokes worth seeing in the raw.

Koloman Moser

  • And Egon Schiele – a born artist and thankfully for humankind he pursued his very rich talent. The work he was producing by eighteen years of age is astonishing. A little pained putting it conservatively, but you can’t deny his exceptional gift. You also get the sense that Lucien Freud was perhaps a disciple.

Egon Schiele 1

Also of super value for those non German speakers out there – each painting comes with a great explanation in German and English so…you don’t just view and learn but read and learn. How good is that?

I’ve just checked on the museum’s website and thankfully you won’t need to rush off now and view the pieces, as it looks like they are in the permanent collection, however if you do find yourself travelling around Europe, or currently standing on the street in the Austrian capital – head here. By far the best thing and first thing you should venture to explore when you arrive in Wien.