The Life of Galileo – the RSC

By Bertolt Brecht. Translated by Mark Ravenhill
9 February 2013

Standing to applaud – I grinned madly – for this production ticks the boxes.

And it’s not just a couple of things that make it work, it’s the complete package.

  • It’s the decision to utilise vertical light signs in the staging – thank you Mr Fisher
  • It’s Matthew Aubrey wonderful welsh voice
  • It’s Ian McDiarmid’s Galileo Galilei  (he’s so faultless)
  • It’s the script
  • It’s the examination of power, politics and advancement
  • It’s the thinking it fosters
  • It’s the musicians
  • It’s also the fact that I sat in similar seats a couple weeks earlier and watched a fair few of these same actors in The Orphan of Zhao – be let down by a too simple in language script, so I was doubly pleased to find them shine through triumphantly this time
  • It’s Roxana Silbert super direction
  • It’s the titles given to some of the roles, like Very Thin Monk, Very Old Cardinal
  • It’s the perfect purple plastic evangelical bracelet (a pure treasure), which I purchased for £2.00, at Shop during the interval
  • It’s the conversation it stimulated for our car ride home
  • In fact the impact of this production was so intensely pleasurable – forty hours later – at the precise moment the box office opened for sales for the Winter Season 2013/2014, I was online and ready for ticket purchasing action.

Try get tickets, it runs until 30 March 2013

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Ubu Roi

Alfred Jarry      Produced by Cheek by Jowl
@ The Oxford Playhouse – 8 February 2013

Goaded on by the reassurance that this was a ‘must see’ and desirous to take my first experimental steps in seeking out artistic entertainment in a language which is not my own, I purchased a medium sized plastic cup of French Sauvignon Blanc; found our seats; opened the chocolates and located the subtitles equipment.  Yeh! Let the play begin. And it did…

Admittedly, I was a little misplaced for the first ten minutes, (perhaps as I’d just heard that the show was recommended for 16+ and my 12 yr old was looking vacant…then grinned), however past this initial stage of finding my bearings, my enjoyment levels shifted to fifth.

It was kooky, it was wacky, it was very dissimilar to anything I’ve been party to before and I’m so relieved that I was part of the audience.

The actors are skilled, really skilled and the tale telling not your usual. For it’s a mix of hand held video recorder; squeezed tomato ketchup; kitchen blender device; great stage rolling; passion – fiery passion; fine costumes which work well with the interior design; and sensational STOP-and-Go acting.

You feel the performance intensely and the execution of the drama is only enhanced by the surly teenage son; the power-hungry Pere Ubu; and the nice, then not so nice Mere Ubu.

There is humour, however dark. There is shameless desire for power, at any cost. There is ardour for Mummy and total revulsion for Daddy (I think…well that’s how I understood it at least). And there are some great, well-tailored outfits.

The play has unfortunately moved on from Oxford though – however it’s currently playing in Paris until 3 March @ Sceaux, Les Gémeaux/Scène Nationale

Heading to:
Béthune, Comédie de Béthune, France
5 – 8 March
Bordeaux, Théâtre National de Bordeaux en Aquitaine, France
26 – 29 March
Marseille, Théâtre National de Marseille La Criée, France
3 – 6 April
And thankfully returning to the UK:
London, Barbican, UK
10 – 20 April

Please go see it and also, go find out mORE about this wonderfully innovative theatre company @ http://www.cheekbyjowl.com

Twelfth Night

At the APOLLO THEATRE
26 January 2013

Bloody Loved It!

I could stop there as this pretty much sums up my epic experience. However, I feel I might be robbing you dear reader, so let’s turn our attention immediately to feeding the beast of cultural interest.

Going against my nature… I arrived to take my seat with some simple understanding of the plot and characters involved in this Shakespearean jewel.

Why this decidedly unusual approach? Well… I’ve been playing a little Duke Orsino around the homestead as my 12 year practises his Viola – which is delivered at times, uncomfortably well – in preparation for a school production going ahead in a couple of months.

So, flying the flag of ‘learn from others…that will lift your game’, we happily headed down to London to watch some top shelf actors tread the boards.

I don’t use top shelf lightly.  Actually I’m finding it really hard to discuss the features that worked, for all I keep thinking about is…Mark Rylance….Mark Rylance….Mark Rylance.

The way he glides across stage, lifting his skirts ever so slightly. His diction. His composure. His talent. I’ve never had the pleasure of seeing him on stage before and can’t wait to track him down again.

Then there is Paul Chahidi. His Maria was delivered superbly. She was fabulous, a little fleshy and convincing.

And Stephen Fry – as Malvolio. A character whom previously I had little regard for, his portrayal left me feeling for ‘poor Malvolio’, rather than experiencing an uncomfortable sensation in the tummy each time he came on set..  And with further focus on Mr Fry, (and with stars in my eyes), I was really in the same room as him, not just reading him on twitter or watching him on the telly. He was there!

Ahh and Colin Hurley, playing Sir Toby Belch and Roger Lloyd Pack’s Sir Andrew Aguecheek, what a treat. They make learning lines and staying up late 6 nights a week, look like tonnes of fun.

A one line conclusion then???
This production exemplifies why Live Theatre Rules!

Casual Vacancy

J K Rowling

It has been a month since I finished this little number and it travels with me everywhere. Not as you’d suspect in its Hardback, Paperback or Kindle edition format, rather it’s the characters that Ms Rowling kindly introduced me to.  I see them on the bus; offering up their free time to keep the voluntary sector going; laughing loudly, in packs outside Tesco; and walking the corridors of the hospital. In fact, I used to live in small rural village where the Parish Plan was vital to our community’s identity and position in the wider picture of the County Council’s future planning and development, so this story speaks to me.

Additionally, this story spoke to my husband and son…I did the communicating. For we had elected to cart it around on our recent travels. It was meant to be a book at bedtime. Instead it became our main reason for waking. I can still hear ‘Chapter, Chapter, Chapter’ being chanted every time I dared to suggest we go out and sightsee. I’d read a Chapter before teeth-brushing. I’d read a Chapter before breakfast. I’d read a Chapter after breakfast. People beside the pool heard and had a Chapter… Pretty much every transit lounge we had the pleasure of spending time in, received a Chapter.  And as with the nature of the story and characters, we all had our favourite bits. My 12 year old’s mustn’t miss bits, open my ears wider, focussed on the fabulously developed Krystal Weedon and my passions were very much concentrated on Samantha Mollison – a fine specimen of womankind.

Though note – it is not just these two personalities that make the tale so absorbing – it’s the relationships explored; it’s the unspoken; it’s the misunderstood; it’s your desire to know what Maureen will wear next;  and it’s the gravity of the role of the Parish Councillor.

J K Rowling, I thought you were pretty incredible before, now you have risen to living legend status.  I mean to be able to write so heterogeneously, giving the world Harry and then giving us terrifically essential normal life fiction, which is comedy at its blackest.  I haven’t told enough people to read it – I will.

Personally and very much including the family on this one – this read was an unanimous two thumbs up.

And it gets even better…for apparently the BBC is planning to dramatize it for the smaller screen audience, due for delivery 2014. Hoorah!!!