Friday, April 25, 2008

It Is Better To Give Than To Receive?

The path to happiness, so they say.

So, is it better to give than to receive? Well apparently "not if you're a bottom," according to the young-ish queen behind us in the restaurant queue last night, replying quick as a flash to his equally femme-looking pal.

I had to laugh.

Best friend K commissioned a painting for me for my birthday last year. It's ready and he collected it from the artist yesterday. The rather fine-looking Krzysztof Cieślak.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

From My Inbox

Ciao [MadeInScotland] I saw y at the airport today. I was not brave enough to call you. I have tried to look for y but y were gone. Even now while i am waiting for boarding I wish y could turn up from the corner.
My heart jumped i confess. And my mind flew for a while. i imagined we could not take our flight wherever y were going and go somewhere else! You will not believe it but I had just bought bedward scissorhands just few minutes ago...
have a nice flight!


I found that email on my return from Warsaw.

It's from the Italian doctor.

Life. Funny isn't it. Those few days, it was like waiting for a bus. You wait forever then a few come along at once...

On the Monday night (5 Feb) I asked a hottie that I knew on a date for the Friday. Only it wasn't, because in-between, I met Xfe and figured he might be the one.

So, by the time that Friday came around I'd already arranged a date with Xfe for the following night.

Moi, je ne regrette rien.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Heavy Demand


Something's up.

Suddenly my hit count has spiked.

I wonder why?

Monday, April 21, 2008

Go Ape

Things literally went ape on my way to work this morning (via Paris...

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it started here).

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Thanks to Unilever.

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You can read why here.

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So, I'm well and truly back in London. But I forgot how beautiful the Galleries Lafayette are,

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as also their staff.

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I’d Ood Anything


Thunderbird 3 is go!

Not as frightening, nor as revelatory, as I was expecting.



There are themes from The Green Death re-worked, don’t you think? With more to come next week.



Still, at least we know the song will end soon.



Just who is "the other Doctor"?

Until next week then. With more environmental concerns.



Just why do the bees keep disappearing?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Postcard From Paris

Mon C arrived back from la Réunion early this morning, a little tired but safe and sound. He's just in the shower.

We are staying with our friends Christophe § Christine. Their apartment looks out onto the Place de la République, so it's incredibly central.

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One is snoozing, the other is watching a DVD.

I am staying over in Paris tonight. I leave tomorrow morning in time for work, with Xfe following in the afternoon, after he's been to his office here.

Xfe isn't working again for another 5 weeks, when he's off to Tel Aviv on a 2 week assignment.

I'm joining him there at the end of his first week for 16 nights.

Friday, April 18, 2008

John Peel's Festive 50 - 1983

1. New Order - Blue Monday
2. Smiths - This Charming Man
3. New Order - Age Of Consent
4. This Mortal Coil - Song To The Siren
5. Cocteau Twins - Musette and Drums
6. Smiths - Reel Around The Fountain
7. Billy Bragg - A New England
8. The Fall - Eat Y’self Fitter
9. Smiths - Hand In Glove
10. Naturalites and the Mystics - Picture On The Wall
11. Red Guitars - Good Technology
12. P.I.L - This Is Not A Lovesong
13. X-Mal Deutchland - Incubus Succubus
14. Cocteau Twins - Sugar Hiccup
15. Cure - Lovecats
16. Cocteau Twins - From the Flagstones
17. Echo and the Bunnymen - Never Stop
18. New Order - Your Silent Face
19. Sisters of Mercy - Temple of Love
20. Siouxie and the Banshees - Dear Prudence
21. The Fall - The Man Whose Head Expanded
22. Echo and the Bunnymen - The Cutter
23. The Assembly - Never Never
24. The Imposter - Pills and Soap
25. New Order - Leave Me Alone
26. 10000 Maniacs - My Mother The War
27. Sisters of Mercy - Alice
28. Cocteau Twins - Peppermint Pig
29. Aztec Camera - Oblivious
30. Redskins - Lean on Me
31. Chameleons - Second Skin
32. X-Mal Deutchland - Qual
33. Smiths - Handsome Devil
34. Tools You Can Trust - Working and Shopping
35. The Fall - Kicker Conspiracy
36. Luddites - Doppleganger
37. Sophie and Peter Johnson - Television
38. Cocteau Twins - Hithertoo
39. S.P.K - Metal Dance
40. The Fall - Wings
41. U2 - New Years Day
42. Danse Society - Somewhere
43. Birthday Party - Deep in the Woods
44. Caberet Voltaire - Fascination
45. New Order - The Village
46. Birthday Party - Sonny’s Burning
47. Strawberry Switchblade - Trees and Flowers
48. Elvis Costello - Shipbuilding
49. Cure - The Walk
50. Tom Robinson - War Baby

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Dust

Cold, Fed-up

I am *so* fed-up with this cold weather. When is it going to get warm?

It was cold over Easter. The week after (or maybe it was the week before) I have a vague recollection that it got warmer. Just for a few days. Then it got cold again.

And it's been cold ever since. This morning I woke up and my front room was 4.5C. Bitter.

Xfe is not going to be pleased. He hates the cold. It's been around 28C in La Reunion.

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my love, my life
Yup, it's not quite time for his blanket to be put away.

Paris 1968

On Saturday morning I'm hopping on the Eurostar to Paris for the weekend.

Xfe (seen above, proving it was just as cold before he left) returns from La Reunion on Sunday morning. He's been working there for Chanel.

Although he gets back to London on Monday, I thought I'd meet him there. That way I'll be able to see the Mélo’Men from Paris in their Concert des Villes Lumières with Lyon's à Voix et à Vapeur.

I'm not sure what their repetoire for the concert is. But I know quite a few of the Paris men, including their musical director who directed me in a festival I took part in, in Paris 2005.

I also have a friend who sings in the Lyon choir.

On Saturday afternoon I thought I'd give Agnes Porier a second chance and let her take me on a walking tour marking the anniversary of the 1968 student protests in Paris.

Mike's Blog

If you haven't already, czech[it]OUT here. He writes a lot of sense.

Coming Up

Five more from Mark Ravenhill's Shoot / Get Treasure / Repeat tomorrow evening taking place, rather fortunately, mid-way between the office and home.

It's theatre's very own "taster menu", but unlike Gordon Ramsay's it's not at all pricey.



Our tickets for the National shows were even less at £5 each.

While it's on (and it there are a few still running over the weekend) I can't recommend seeing it highly enough.

On May 3 we're off to see Laurie Anderson performing Homeland at the Barbican.

You might be too young to remember it, but this is probably what she is most famous for:



On 9 May it's our anniversary. I'm taking Xfe for a late lunch at the OXO Tower Restaurant, then in the evening we're off to see Yasmina Reza's God Of Carnage at the Geilgud. It stars Ralph Fiennes, Tamsin Greig, Ken Stott and the fabulous Janet McTeer, whom I last saw (twice - it was so good I had to go back the very next week) in Schiller's Mary Stuart.

That also had the equally excellent Harriet Walter, last seen in Intolerance, one of the Ravenhill cycle.

On 12 May it's off to the Royal Albert Hall to see Chess-in concert. Chess used to be referred to as the ABBA musical (it was written by Benny and Bjorn), but then Mamma Mia came along.

It's actually quite an intelligent piece about politics, the cold war and manipulation.

Although its two main protagonists were not intended to represent any specific individuals, the characters' personalities are loosely based on those of Victor Korchnoi and Bobby Fischer.

Quite an interesting cast; Josh Groban, Idina Menzel, Adam Pascal, David Bedella, Kerry Ellis and Marti Pellow (in the bum role).

The following Saturday it's the Menier Chocolate Factory's turn to entertain us with The Common Pursuit.

The Menier offers great value. Book a meal deal and you get your ticket and a two-course meal in their very decent restaurant for £27.50. Not bad when you consider that a full price ticket for the theatre on it's own is £22.50. I've not had a bad meal there yet.

If you book for performances between 9-25 May on-line using the offer code COM, you'll get your Meal Deal tickets (2 courses pre-theatre plus ticket) for only £22.50. Just don't say I told you!

On 22 May were off to the New Wimbledon Theatre to see Aspects of Love again. Well, I couldn't resist it. After all, it is my favourite, and I so want Xfe to see it with me.

Cuming Up

I had lunch with a university friend today. We are good friends, and over the years have become intimate, sharing each others' truths, hurt and joy.

Although he is a dear friend, today's gripe really pushed the boat out.

He considers that his failure to find true romance - on gaydar - comes down to the size of his appendage.

I'm rather puzzled by this attribution.

Even though we have never had sex together, I know my friend physically. We've shared rooms in hotels, and the shower after swimming and the gym.

He continues. He fears that people are only interested in one thing, and that thing only. They don't want to get to know the good or the bad things about the person, and they always want to skip dinner.

Then he explained. After some hesitation he put up some full frontal pics on his gaydar profile, changed the "large" to "extra large" and, just to put it beyond doubt, specified his measurements.

He asked if I would have a look at his updated profile and let him know whether I thought it was "too much".



Obviously the punters don't think so.

Still, I've told him that the solution is simple. If he adds "City" or "Professional" as his occupation (instead of leaving it blank) that should solve the problem.

Or saying he's a bottom instead of a top.

That and uploading a picture of himself erect, instead of the unflattering flaccid one that you see here.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Up Pompeii

Just how fantastic was Doctor Who 4.2?

OK, Catherine Tate can be a little Frankie Howerd. She's not at all bad though, and in those last ten or so minutes she is bloody fantastic.

The Fires of Pompeii was a great story, with plenty to add to the Doctor Who mythology. The scene between the two soothsayers Evelina and (the other one) had me going..and the penultimate TARDIS scene had me out of my seat in front of the TV.

Donna Noble - welcome on board.
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This we already know.

But just what does Donna have on her back?

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Look familiar? Donna and spiders?

Let's not forget, she was looking out for the Doctor.

It's gonna' end in tears!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

***WARNING***
Unless you are a true fan of musical theatre, you might want to give this a miss.
After all, I don't want you to think that I have no life...That's simply not true-I'm just as interested in Doctor Who.

Updated at 23.35 with more pictures for the benefit of W

"Non-Replica" Phantom of the Opera, Warsaw

I went off to Poland this weekend to see (with best friend K who lives there) Warsaw's recently opened production of The Phantom of the Opera, or Upiór w operze as it's known locally.


The Phantom's main costume. Carlotta behind, with character wig.

I'd been telling people that I wouldn't miss out not understanding the Polish because, having seen it some 23 times before, in different places, all productions are pretty much identical from start to finish - same costumes, set etc (save for slight differences to accommodate any limitations of the theatre).

Famous last words.

From the start of the overture I noticed that the orchestrations were slightly different. There was a prominent electric guitar coming through. There was one other point where I noticed a big difference (though I have forgotten where), Otherwise it was the usual.

I'm not in the business, but I do notice variations in orchestrations over the years/productions/performances, so I imagine that the MD or arranger has some leeway from production to production.

Costume

The main difference was costume. There was a lot more colour. Andre & Firmin had different starting costumes, and in Masquerade much better more pagan (and different) fancy dress costumes and masks, instead of the skeletal thing I've only ever seen before.


Firmin & Andre main costumes.

In fact in Masquerade all the costumes were different. They were all monochrome, but different shades of black and white, some with silver, and some a very pale gold. Much more effective. And there were no stunt dummies "masquerading" on the stairs. The Meg Giry and other dancers as the papier mache music box-come-to-life didn't happen. The Phantom's costume was different. No skull and jaw, and he stayed on the top part of the stairs throughout (probably because there was no trap-door for him to drop through on the stage, so it had to be done on the stairs). He had a long, I mean long, flowing cloak.

The choreography was different, and the men do a kind of sophisticated voguing (I don't know how else to describe it) which worked very well.

His score wasn't in a book, it was a large rolled up scroll (oh, and it was the first time that I've seen it being dropped when thrown by the Phantom).

Mme Giry was in a deep purple velvet dress rather than the usual black one.


Mme Giry and Meg in the costumes they wear throughout (other than at the Masquerade ball).

Christine's Think of Me dress was bright white. In Notes/Prima Donna, Carlotta wore an amazing crimson/purple/violet dress. The whole staging of that scene was different. Towards the end of the song she is dressed by her dressers (in the same way as Christine usually is in Think of Me) on stage, into her costume for the page boy/croaking scene, and is on a platform that rises up from the stage to elevate her while her dress expands in length and volume (not as high as Elphaba in Wicked, but you get the idea).


Carlotta main dress (i.e. not as the characters from the opera she portrays). She also has various others, including coats and even a fabulous muff.

Set Design

Many sets were different, and I'm sure that it was not by way of compromise to accommodate the theatre, because in many ways they were an improvement.

Hannibal's elephant never turned around to reveal it's hollow interior with stagehands inside.

Christine's dressing room was full stage, rather than being on a truck with part of the stage covered by a curtain. The door was in the centre, so that on entering and exiting the characters came in from upstage. It was filled with flowers, and there was no ballet practice going on else-where.

The mirror effect was slightly different. It wasn't a panel that slid up or sideways, it appeared to be some kind of reflective fabric that became transparent when backlit, with a slit for Christine to disappear through.

As with the opening scene (theatre transformation) the descent to the Phantom's lair was mainly done with projection, a la Woman in White. We still had the chandelier rise from stage, just as we had the stunt Phantom's and Christine's descend stairs behind the projection on the descent. But it worked really well.

The Phantom's lair was different. Very gothic, with a much grander and more imposing organ. Real burning candles - we saw the wax splatter to the floor - in the candelabra on the organ (I'm sure health and safety wouldn't allow here).

The two most impressive differences were Notes/Prima Donna and the reprise in second Act, and "Don Juan Triumphant-the Opera" towards the end of the show.

No black backdrop/curtain for the former. Instead we had a colourful office with a door to an outside space and windows looming out to it. With pillars and bookcases it was so very much better than the usual black fabric coloured set that I've always seen before.


These red dresses are from the DonJuan Opera scene.


and these red male ones


and here again.

But as for the Phantom's opera (Don Juan Triumphant). Wow. Completely different. All the costumes are red and black. The lighting is red, and the set comprises triangular mirror pillars that move in to make it claustrophobic, erotic and moody. Think a sexier Hand Me the Wine and the Dice from Aspects.


Here you see Christine in her Don Juan costume.

The staging is so different. It is much sexier, with the chorus even looking as if they were descending into something of an orgy. It's dark and red. No hood and cloak. Instead the Phantom wears a leather mask that covers his head and extends down over both eyes and over his nose. Completely different.

Staging

The other main change in action was that there is a swordfight between Raoul and the Phantom just after Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again, something borrowed from the film version. The Phantom is still on top of Christine's fathers tomb. He throws a fireball and in the flash appears over the other side of the stage with two swords (yup the first I'm guessing was another stunt Phantom). They fight for about 3 minutes.

One difference where an effect was lost was in Notes (I think it's the reprise in the second act). Usually as the Phantom's instructions are being read the characters move around as puppets, as if being manipulated or part of a game. In this production they remained static. I missed that.

So, I'm wondering if we're going to see any of this rolled out across the brand either by way of updating slightly, or as a "taster" perhaps for the sequel to come?

As with most "blockbuster" musicals, it is extremely unusual to see a non-replica production of the original, so I was interested to find out a little more as to why this wasn't the usual version. This is from an interview with the director in the Warsaw Voice:

This will be your own creative rendition of the musical rather than the ready-made stage version that is usually sold by the composer's management agency. Why do you think Lloyd Webber decided to make an exception for the Roma and let you direct your own version of the musical?
I think this is mainly thanks to the huge success of our version of Cats, another musical by Lloyd Webber that was staged for the first time at the Roma in 2004. This probably explains why we received permission for a non-replica production of The Phantom of the Opera. What's more, we are now a partner of The Really Useful Group (RUG) and Cameron Macintosh, companies that represent Lord Lloyd-Webber's interests. This is extremely pleasant proof of their respect and trust in our theater, and knowing that we can design our own version of The Phantom of the Opera is very exciting. To cut short any speculation: we are not turning everything upside down. We are transferring the interiors of the magnificent Garnier Opera in Paris on a 1:1 scale to the Roma's stage and auditorium. We want to recreate the musical's 19th-century atmosphere extremely accurately. This applies to the costumes, makeup, hairstyles, wigs and all kinds of staging techniques. All this will be filtered through 21st-century theater technology and prepared on a grand scale. Among other tasks, we are working on a huge, 200-kilogram chandelier. We have also expanded the orchestra, which will number over 30 musicians.

How exactly will the Polish version of The Phantom of the Opera differ from the original show that has been staged unchanged for years?
I don't want to reveal too many details because many theatergoers probably already know the show; after all, some 80 million people have seen it in so many cities around the world. But I can say, for example, that the show relies on new original costumes designed by Magda Tesławska. We also plan to use some innovative stage design, choreography and technical elements that are sure to surprise and astonish the audience, even those who already know the musical.

Does that mean Lloyd Webber's agency has given you a great deal of leeway in producing the show?
Stage designer Paweł Dobrzycki and I visited RUG on Tower Street in London to present our idea for the show. During a meeting that lasted many hours, we discussed the production scene after scene, and talked about all the actors approved for the production and the entire promotion business, and so on. We had to have their consent to everything. At the present stage, we don't have to consult them on every detail, but we do need to have their approval for any major changes.


Update: Additional photos from Souvenir Brochure.


(I've stitched some of these together using Photoshop Elements. I'm not very good at using it. I don't work in creatives).


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The Phantom's lair-picture taken from upstage, looking downstage.

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Composite of how the audience see the organ, though it does push back into the wall.

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Coming up for the "click-track" moment, just before Christine's high note.

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Start of Act 2-Andre & Firmin in new costumes.

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Carlotta & Piangi during Masquerade. Note the monochrome & metalic theme.

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The music stand on the organ.

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Christine and Raoul, Masquerade.

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Masquerade - no "stunt" guests.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

A Stranger Calls...

Fcuk me! I had a frightening experience last night. Fcuk me.

Xfe is away for 10 days. He's working in La Reunion, where we went on the second part of our honeymoon.

When Xfe is home, we sleep with the window open and the blind up. When he is away, the window is locked and the blind closed. I'm easily scared.

Our block of apartments is behind a security gate. There are only 3 apartments behind the gate, and 3 on the other side through a separate security gate.

Unless the gate has been left open (very unusual-there are only 3 of us that use it, and we are all security conscious), only we can open it.

At about 11.30pm last night I was in bed asleep - after a late night out (well, by my standards).

I had fallen asleep listening to the radio. I was awoken by knocking on the glass panel on my front door. My actual front door. Up the spiral staircase that is through the security gate and leads only to my door.

At first I thought it might just have been the radio. But then there was another sharp knock.

I was dreading looking out of the bedroom door. I'd see the glass panel in my door, and no doubt whoever was at the door. No doubt they would be looking into my flat.

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As you will have seen if you clicked on the link about me being easily spooked, I am terrified of catching a face staring back at me through the panel.

In an instant I thought that it might be a neighbour - our neighbour downstairs moved to Singapore in February. His parents were in his flat last week, and they mentioned that a tenant was moving in this last weekend. I didn't see them/him/her move in, but I did hear them. So possibly it was them - more than one.

Another knock. Just as I was about to get up, I heard voices. Then footsteps down my stairs. Then the door downstairs closing.

The person at my door was there for the new neighbour. Phew, but I was spooked.

Probably, just being newly moved in, they told their visitor to come up the stairs and to the door...whereas there are in fact 2 sets of stairs, the first up to my stairs (and the lane leading onto the door downstairs). The second set being the staircase to my door.

So at least I now that it's a bloke or two (remembering the handsome one from when I was leaving) downstairs. And it was another bloke visiting.

It must surely be that even more gay-ers have moved in. Such a ghetto!

Pompeii's Megatron

Well, I'm *wide* awake now after my experience.

Looking sweet and a half.

Is it the sound of the Cybermen marching? Or the "spark of life"?

Or just the Fires of Pompeii?

Doctor Who gets tough - can Donna cope?



Oh, and the last time the Dr had a ging-er companion. Turlough, that's the bloke. Working for the dark side. The baddies*.

I mean he was evil. Donna? Is that you?

Doctor Who. Series 4. Catherine Tate. Episode 2. Fires of Pompeii. Saturday 6.45pm BBC 1/

Enjoy - I'm away seeing Phantom of the Opera in Warsaw. Back Sunday.

*Who is your Master?

p.s. Partners In Crime... what was that bus to Strathclyde that Donna took? Kind of like saying it was a bus to Grampian, or to Northumbria? Would you take the bus to Northumbria, or to Sunderland or Newcastle? Hmm. Strange, but I dont think it's a clue.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

More Than Meets The Eye

Home late. Cos I've been dancin' - jus' like 'dis. But now I'm in bed just about to catch some zzzz's.

We have new neighbours downstairs. On my way in I think I caught one of them leaving (they were out beyond the gate as my cab was drawing up). Very hot....

... and the letting was done through OUTLÊT!

PS - Repeat

Shoot/Get Treasure/Repeat

Fantastic, I will be seeing some more parts of Mark Ravenhill's epic umbrella production.

I've got tickets for Tuesday night's double bill at the Royal Court, Fear and Misery and War and Peace.

War and Peace has Torchwood's Burn Gorman in it.

Because I'm not going to Paris until the Saturday it means that I can also see Paines Plough Instalment A (comprising Women of Troy, Love (But I Won't Do That) and Paradise Lost, and Instalment B (comprising War of the Worlds and Twilight of the Gods).

The Panes Plough parts are happening at Village Underground in Shoreditch. On my way home - and an exciting venue.

Jan Abigail Hamilton


Local rag the Evening Express is reporting on reality TV hopes for sex-swap squaddie Jan Hamilton whom, apparently, is poised to appear in Big Brother 9 this summer.

You can read about it here.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Eurovision 2008

Mon C & I won't be going to Eurovision this year.

However in Helsinki, at last year's contest, we had enough fun to last a good many years. Just go to the Eurovision label to find the various posts.

Like Eirikur Hauksson (seen here reading this blog), a number of contestants represent their country on more than one occasion.

Wrapped around our Eurovision 2007 visit is Russia's Dima Bilan, who came second to Lordi in Athens in 2006.


(Here is Dima, loosely wrapped in a robe).

He's back again this year with the song Believe, which he co-wrote.



I suspect a lot of people will put their belief in him this year!

Instructions For Modern Living

On Saturday night we were at the Barbican to the see Duncan Sarkies and Nic McGowan's Instructions for Modern Living, a combination of music, strange stories and video imagery.

Described as "a tragi-comic montage exploring what goes on behind closed doors in the city at night" the "darkly humorous" multimedia piece "eavesdrops on the tensions surrounding lonely characters finding it hard to sleep."

Reflective monologues, including a radio DJ revealing his problems to the silent airwaves and a fast-food franchisee who is sleeping with his employee of the month, are played out against a "hypnotic visual wallpaper of nocturnal surveillance footage creating an entrancing and eerie tone for this captivating production".

I'm not sure if I quite saw it that way.

Certainly there were moments of hypnotic quality, when I felt myself drifting somewhere (at times off to sleep, maybe).

Sounding not quite like ambient French musical duo Air (but not too dissimilar) the mood was sometimes ethereal. But the distraction of Duncan Sarkies discarding his script page by page, and rather noisily, before unclipping the next one then dropping the parerclip on the floor as well, was as distracting as toothache.

Piece of advice: bind the papers, it is really distracting.

I quite enjoyed the mood, though it was far from the "epiphany" that Sarkies recounts.

His discussions (playing two characters) are less successful than his monologues, but only because electronic disguise aside, they're pretty much the same person.

The funniest moment for me came on our way home. Xfe said the only bit he couldn't understand was the CB radio chat. I told him that would have been the conversation between the anxiety-struck astronaut and the Houston mission-controller.

In fairness to mon C, though, it was someone with a New Zealand accent impersonating an American accent, through thick electronic static.

That and the artist forgot that the real thing would have a slight time lag, person-to-person!

If I sound negative, I don't mean to. I did enjoy the piece, slightly more than the Independent's reviewer seemed to.

But as I said, bind your script Duncan.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Shoot / Get Treasure / Repeat - Yes, Epic

We saw four of Mark Ravenhill's "epic cycle of short plays" at the National on Saturday morning.

Unfortunately the National were a little disorganised as to ticket collection, and there was a great deal of patron confusion over which queue/and where to collect pre-paid tickets for the various plays. However I had a word, and someone got on the case...

There was something rather pleasant about going to the theatre at 10am to see some challenging work, but I am so glad that we did.

Ravenhill's cycle is written for the iPod generation. Promising mega and micro, super-size and sushi, his epic narrative is delivered over 16 bite-size pieces to hold the attention.

With the iPod soundtrack to our lives often on shuffle, so too can you "shuffle" the plays. In so doing the narrative is slightly different for each of us. They all work independently, but the theme that arcs through them also provides more obvious clues to links.

Not only the recurrent theme of "gifting" freedom and democracy (to those who have yet to enjoy the liberation that shopping for pastries and having coffee from Starbucks brings), but also children reportedly seeing headless soldiers, angels with broken wings and a little Jewish analyst.

I don't follow politics enough to analyze the decisions, but my own sense is that the Iraq decision was probably taken for all the wrong reasons. Wrapped up in the right ones to sell it.

Not only was the subject matter challenging, but so too was seeing it at 10am, when you are not expecting to be challenged.

It was fitting that the first of the four that we saw was Intolerance (a middle-class wife and mother suffers a repeated pain in her stomach), with the excellent Harriet Walter having breakfast.

Then it was Crime and Punishment (a soldier interrogates a native woman in an occupied zone).

At 11am we moved to the larger Lyttleton Theatre at the National to see The Mikado (Peter, who has cancer, expresses his anger to his partner) and Odyssey (a group of soldiers prepare to go home after invading a foreign country).

I was left wanting more. I felt anger, sadness and horror. All before lunch.

Excellent stuff. Unfortunately I'm off to Warsaw next weekend and Paris the weekend after, so I'll not have the chance to see the others, which are:

Women of Troy
An American from the Midwest on TV: "Why bomb us? We're the good guys."

Women in Love

Dan is receiving treatment fo cancer. Anna is loving, but maybe a bit too controlling.

Fear and Misery
An anxious couple plan their future while listening to the baby alarm.

War and Peace

Alex, a seven-year old child, is visited in his bedroom by a headless soldier.

Yesterday an Incident Occurred

Yesterday an unprovoked attack took place in the shopping centre. Why has no-one come forward as a witness. Justice must be done if rights are to be matched with responsibilities.

Love (But I Won't Do That)
A soldier is embedded in a middle-class household in an occupied country. He is pushing for sex.

War of the Worlds

A chorus expresses grief for a city that has been bombed.

Armageddon
Emma, a born-again Christian living in America's Bible Belt, arranges to meet a younger man.

The Mother
Haley is visited by two soldiers who are going to break the news of her son's death in battle.

Twilight of the Gods

Susan, whose country has been invaded, is being questioned by Jane.

Paradise Lost
Liz decides to explore the screams coming from the flat below and discovers Ruth.

Birth of a Nation

A group of actors come to work with the local people after a foreign power has withdrawn.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Quelle Surprise - Great To Be Back

Wow! Was that not a surprise and a half?



Well kept RTD, there was *not* a leak. Rose Tyler, series 4. Doctor Who - episode 1.

Donna may have been looking for the Doctor, but Rose returned to find him.



Marvellous. Season 4 Doctor Who Partners In Crime welcomes Rose Tyler, Billie Piper.

Evita Peron, the voice of Peronistra:

London Tonight

london light
taken on my camera phone, on the way to the Barbican, after tapas. Yum.

Featherstone Street, EC1Y. Looks 28 Days Later or 28 Weeks Later, don't you think? ('Cos everyone was home watching Dr Who series season 4 four Partners in Crime - the fat just walks away).

But it is by where I live, so don't wish it dis. OK?

Doctor Who Series 4 - Catherine Tate

I think that Catherine Tate is going to bring a breath of fresh air to Dr Who. The new series starts tonight.

Reading around fandom, there's a perceived view that she's a bad piece of casting (to put it generously).

The following is a selection taken from the comments to an article in Thursday's MediaGuardian website by Stephen Brook previewing some of the effects for the first episode of the new series of Doctor Who. The article looks at how the Adipose were created for the episode, including images:

It doesn't matter how amazing this series is, because - and I say this with a heavy heart - I won't be watching, because I just cannot bear to watch Catherine Tate for more than one second. I really really really hope the mindbogglingly awful decision to cast her - classic BBC - will come back and bite them on the arse.
oniongravy

I also agree about Catherine Tate. every time she opens her big mouth I just think of one of her awful characters. Are the BBC trying to go for a new demographic. What next a hoodie wearing lager drinking Doctor ??
RaDiOJaNEy

Must concur regarding the awful Catherine Tate too.
g7uk2

To be fair, there are a few comments suggesting that she might not be all bad and to wait and see.

Catherine Tate is best known for her comedy sketch programme The Catherine Tate Show. Two of its well-known characters are both "mouthy" - teenager Lauren Cooper and Joannie "Nan" Taylor, the cockney grandmother.

As Donna Noble in the 2006 Christmas special, The Runaway Bride, she was a little shouty - but then, in the context of the plot (having found herself suddenly transported from the altar in the middle of her wedding ceremony onto the TARDIS) - wouldn't you expect her to be?

People forget, or are simply not aware, that she has an acting pedigree including a year spent with the Royal Shakespeare Company.

An actor will perform the part written for them, and will do as directed. No doubt there is a little input by the actor into their character. As Donna Noble, Tate will be the sum of the writers, the director and her personality to the extent it is allowed to come through.

As to the dynamic between Tate and Tennant, that is something that I'm looking forward to. Hurrah! Donna is not going to be "in love" with the Doctor, unlike Rose and Martha, and age wise she Tate is much closer to Tennant than any other assistant has been.

More grown-up than Rose and Martha, she can be the Doctor's equal in a way that Rose and Martha were not. Contemporary and equal, she will not fall in love. So roll on the companion.

Here's to enjoying some good old fashioned, non-romantic, Doctor and assistant.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Hello Bamboo

Thanks to aussieBum for brightening up my day, sending me this pic.

We have a long day tomorrow, with some five plays to take in.

We're off to the National for 10am to take in a couple of the Mark Ravenhill Shoot/Get Treasure/Repeat cycle:

The Mikado/The Odyssey followed by Intolerance/Crime and Punishment.

Then in the evening it's off to the Barbican to see Instructions for Modern Living.

And in between, Doctor Who season 4, Partners in Crime with La Tate, who I think is going to be a fabulous companion.

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