Sunday, 31 August 2014

Blood, Shakespeare and Friends and Family

This week started well, with a visit from my sister and brother-in-law on Monday (which was a Bank Holiday, and therefore rainy). Since we've all been busy, I've not seen them for a while, and this was the first time they've been to the new house. 

So we celebrated with prosecco, and by getting C to help put up some curtains and replace the thing to hold the shower head. (the old one was not up to the job, and I was unable to work out how to get the damn thing off the wall.) 

Then on Thursday I had more visitors - E, who I was at University with, and her husband and daughter. E is one of my theatre-going friends, so I last saw her last November, in Stratford upon Avon, but haven't had the chance to send time with her family, so that was fun!

On Saturday, I travelled up to London for the day, to see Richard III at Trafalgar Studios, starring Martin Freeman in the title role. 

My original plan involved getting to London with about 2 hours to spare, to allow time to go looking for a few of the Books about Town book benches, but unfortunately my train was delayed, and as they were predicting it would be at least an hour and a half before it moved on, I ended up getting off and taking a 45 minute bus ride, and another 40 minutes on the tube, to get to Charing Cross just in time, so other than taking a quick look at the giant blue cock in Trafalgar Square I had no time for anything other than the show itself.

Richard III is not my favourite play -  but decided to see this production as I was interested to see Martin Freeman in the role, and as I  have been to other productions at Trafalgar Studios,and directed by Jamie Lloyd, which I've enjoyed. And I did enjoy it.

The play is set in the 1979 'Winter of Discontent', with the the implication of a Royalist/Military coup having taken place just before the play opens - the stage is set up like a civil service office, with desks, phones, reel-to-reel tape recorders and sickly house plants. I have to admit, I didn't feel that this worked awfully well. It's too complex, and it doesn't really sit well with the severed heads .

Richard's initial speech was given partly as a 'public' address, given to the rest of the nobility, via mike, and partly as a soliloquy, with the mike off, and the others all frozen - it worked quite well, but the same convention wasn't followed for other asides and soliloquies, which seemed odd. 

Freeman is good as Richard - there have been mixed reviews, but I felt he has created a truly scary Richard - as the play progresses, he comes across as an increasingly unpredictable and paranoid dictator, with his black humour leaving other characters unsure as to whether he is joking or not - Freeman is quite subtle - I liked it (one of my dislikes about the Kevin Spacey production was that everything was rather melodramatic and over the top)

I was a little worried about the welfare of the poor goldfish, in whose tank the Duke of Clarence was drowned (and into whose tank his throat was cut, too) I am not sure how goldfish feel about fake blood in their water, but having a person thrashing about in your tank can't be good. 

All in all, I enjoyed the production, but having seen 2 versions of Richard III with modern settings, I would rather like to see a production set in its own period.

And for the record, I didn't experience any inappropriate applause (there have been a couple of reviews suggestion that 'Sherlock' fans unused to live theatre were attending and cheering / clapping at inappropriate points)

Me? I'd like to see Freeman in other live productions, and I think he benefited from a really strong supporting cast.

Monday, 25 August 2014

Ice Bucket

So, a great many people have been taking the ALS / MND Ice Bucket challenge, to raise awareness and funds for research into Motor Neurone Disease (ALS) 

As I'm in the UK, I donated via the MND Association. In the USA you can donate to the ALS Association.

And here are 4 of my favourite films...

Amanda Palmer

Neil Gaiman

Tom Hiddleston

Benedict Cumberbatch

Sunday, 17 August 2014


It's been a fairly quiet couple of weeks, but with some nice things happening. Last weekend I was at my parents, and got to catch up and spend time not only with them, but also with my brother and his partner, and with extended family, including one of my cousins and her children, which was lovely.I don't see them often enough.

On the Saturday. We went down to the harbour to watch the annual raft race, which involves lots of rafts, of many different shapes, sizes and appearances and with a variety of approaches to the relative importance of seaworthiness and looking good. 

The Thunderbirds raft seemed to be most successful in combining the two, and was the ultimate winner.

The Hawaii raft was impressive, but lacked speed. (and was much lower in the water by the end of the race). And the lego men started to sink almost immediately (I don't have a good photo of them, but their costumes were excellent.) 

It wasn't only the rafters who got wet, as it started to rain early on and we all got rather damp, but nevertheless,  think everyone enjoyed themselves. 

The rest of the weekend was quieter, and apart from spending 45 minutes stationary on the motorway on my drive home, I had a very pleasant weekend. (the motorway jam was due to an accident which meant the road was completely closed for a time, which was frustrating, but of course I would far rather be delayed by an accident than *in* one, so I tried to be patient.  

This weekend has been quiet - Saturday morning mostly involved running errands, and a little light baking, and the afternoon was spent admiring a rather nice baby, belonging to an old friend of mine. She is just 5 weeks old, and is a very nice baby. Lots of hair, no teeth, tiny little fingers and toes..  I admit I felt a little broody.
( Although she was very good and hardly cried at all while I was there)

Sunday was quieter, and involved stuff like mowing the lawn, laundry, pruning the lime tree and vacuuming. And cooking.

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Catch up - Monty Python, Sandi Toksvig and Bad Jews

I've mostly been working over the last week or so, which is not terribly interesting for blogging purposes.

However, there have been some entertaining bits and pieces I haven't had time to write about.

I went over to Wells to the cinema to see the live broadcast of the Monty Python show, from the O2 Arena, which was lots of fun - predictable, of course, as any 'greatest hits' show was bound to be, but generally most entertaining. (I did get rather a lot of amusement from watching the family sitting in front of me - I don't think the parents were expecting the Penis Song or the giant candy-striped penis shaped confetti cannons!) And I loved the appearances of Professors Brian Cox and Stephen Hawking, and the sight of the Pythons, now all old, rich men themselves, performing the 'Four Yorkshiremen' sketch.

Then last week, Sandi Toksvig was in Bath promoting her recent book, 'Peas and Queues', and was speaking at an event organised by Topping & Co. - the evening was a lovely mix of personal anecdotes, and comments about manners, and finished up with a short Q and A session. As it was  a very warm night, and I was tired, and there were a lot of people, I didn't stay to get a book signed (or just to say hello - I loved that she specifically said that people were welcome to come just to say hi, and that no one had to buy the book, as it is available in libraries too!)

then on Friday I headed back into Bath to go to the Theatre Royal's Ustinov Studio to see Joshua Harmon's 'Bad Jews'. I booked it as I noticed that one of the actors involved was Ilan Goodman, who played 'Mr Marks', the shy Jewish haberdasher in the production of  'Intimate Apparel' I saw in June. 

This play is very different - a darkly comic tale about who should have a family heirloom, and why.. Special mention goes to Joe Coen, as Jonah, who has I think, the fewest lines, and whose character is b far the least dramatic, but whose anxious (and vain) attempts to avoid conflict are essential to the play.

It's playing until 30th August, and is well worth seeing if you are, or can be, in Bath.