Sunday, 28 February 2010

Art and Culture (& Keira Knightley)

I spent the weekend in London - I'd arranged to go up in order to spend some time with family, go to the theatre and take in a few exhibitions, and all of those things were sucessfully accomplished!

We started with a visit to the Royal Academy, which is having an exhibition of Van Gogh's work and letters. It was fascinating, and included quite a lot of Van Gogh's earlier works, showing very clearly his developing style - lots of works which one wouldn't, as a non-expert, immediately recognise as Van Gogh's!

The letters were also interesting; he was in the habit of smattering his letters to his brother Theo with sketches of the paintings he was working on, and it was interesting to see these next to the works themselves.

We'd planned to eat at Mildred's, but it was full, so we ended up at Prix Fixe instead - baked camembert followed by breast of duck... mmmmm.

On the Saturday, after a lazy morning, we headed into the city to Tate Britain where we saw the Henry Moore & Chris Ofili exhibitions - completely different to one another, but both fascinating, although I didn't enjoy the Henry Moore as much as the exhobition of his larger sculptures, in Kew Gardens, a coupls of years ago - I think I prefer the larger pieces, and seing them outdoors rather than on a gallery adds a lot to the pieces.

After the Tate, we met up with more members of the family at the Comedy Theatre, to seea matinee performance of The Misanthrope - this is a new, modern english version of Moliere's play, written by Martin Crimp and starring:

Damian Lewis (Alceste),
Keira Knightley - Jennifer (Celemine),
Tara Fitzgerald - Marcia (Arsinoe) &
Nicholas Le Provost - Alexander (Clitandre)

The play's setting has been updated to modern London, with Alceste a sucessful (if highly cynical) playwright, and Jennifer a young, beautiful american actress. There are plenty of knowing, tongue-in-cheek references to '17th Century plays' and to current events.

Damian Lewis was marvellous and, with strong support from Dominic Rowan (John / Philinte), really carried the play. Keira Knightley was good, and of course lovely to look at, but seemed at times to be struggling a little - she had a tendency to become rather shrill in order to project her voice. I think she has the potential to become a good stage actress but is perhaps not quite there yet!
I found the (sometimes a little forced) verse structure of the play to be a little distracting at times - rhymning couplets seem not to fit terribly well with modern english, but in spite of some critisism I did enjoy the play, and was very glad we had the opportunity of seeing it.

Following the show we went into ChinaTown to eat at Imperial China - good to have the time to socialise with family!

All in all, it was a very enjoyable weekend, and even spending part of Sunday morning hanging around Waterloo station, with rain beating down on the roof was not unpleasant (my habit of travelling with a book, and acquiring coffee on arrival at the station worked out well!)
My next trip to London will be to see see Amanda Plamer & Jason Webley's show, and will, I think, be a totally different experience!