Tuesday, 22 January 2008

Suds on the Beach

I met up with some old school friends at the Tate Modern this weekend. Great to see them, scary to see how little they have changed, even though I have known one of them for 40 years, and the other for over 30. What is it that makes lasting friends?

Annnnyyyywwwaayyy, had a good afternoon, walking the length of 'the crack', and reminiscing about people even though we couldn't remember their names. I still haven't got to grips with the rehang at Bankside, and miss some of favourites I used to visit - if anyone ever reads this and can tell me what the picture with the moving hairs was called, and who it was by, I will be very grateful, to the extent that I may even buy you a virtual drink.

I've also been watching some of the new season telly, and I'm hugely enjoying Moving Wallpaper, though I'm struggling a bit with the partner programme, Echo Beach, probably for all the same reasons that I don't usually watch any of the soaps. However, being the post-modern girl that I am, I'm a real sucker for the in-joke, and both parts of Moving Beach (or whatever!) are stacked with them, so I'm coming back for more so far.

I have far less excuse to love 'The Palace', but I do, with a passion. With huge suds and splashing about by those stock 'characters', by rights this should be awful, but it isn't. Engaging well acted leads, a plot that swishes you along too quickly to notice the threadbare bits, and lots of glossy corridor movement........*

* I've just realised this is West Wing syndrome, and once addicted, any old substitute will do. Well, I don't care, I'm going to make the most of it for now.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Reliability may be an issue

Well I started with all good intentions, but it has taken me two weeks to come back for another look. You, dear reader, are probably beginning to get the measure of me.... promises not a lot, and that's probably what I will deliver. Still, at least we all know where we are now.

First of all, an addition to my previous post. I somehow forgot to mention the play Alex, with Robert Bathurst, which was a surprise pleasure. Having left the cartoon strip on which it is based behind when I left the eighties, and finding his characters in Cold Feet and My Dad is Prime Minister a bit nondescript, I didn't quite know what to expect, but Robert Bathurst blew me away. It was a one man show with all other characters remaining in their cartoon form, but interacting with the human Mr Bathurst. I have seen this sort of thing done before but never so proficiently and lacking in clunkiness. The show was extremely funny, and I came away very impressed. I see Robert Bathurst has been nominated for an award for this and very well deserved it is too.

Since my last post I have also been to see The Country Wife at The Haymarket. I went mainly as a social event, but was very pleasantly surprised. Toby Stephens was a triumph, and I was impressed with the production overall, which used largely 'traditional' dress, but with touches of modernity, like a knitted shrug over a ballgown, or jeans with a flouncy shirt and ostentatious coat. Maybe it was a bit too obvious in pointing out the modern themes in this restoration comedy, but it was still very effective. The set was very complicated, and a hitch led to a 20 minute impromptu interval whilst they resolved the situation, during which time I could feel the energy draining out of the auditorium, and left me time to wonder whether they really needed such complexity. My conclusion was that given the show off tendencies of restoration theatre, the flashy set probably added to our authentic experience.

Highlights included a posse of sex starved matrons led by Patricia Hodge eating grapes from Toby Steven's crotch, and everything about David Haig's performance as the cuckold, combining desperation, inadequacy, and a huge amount of physical effort, with a sweetness which undercut the dischordant notes where violence was threatened to his young,silly and libidinous wife. I read later that this was the first production for a new company formed for the theatre, and I will look with interest at their future work. (Well, that is what I say, but bearing in mind the title of this post, who knows.....)