Wednesday, 30 December 2015

The Season of Goodwill

The house is feeling surprisingly quiet and empty this afternoon, as my Christmas guests have departed, and so after a week, it's back to being just me and the cats!

But it has been lovely! 

My parents arrived on Wednesday, after I finished work, and so were here to help me put the tree and other decorations up on Christmas Eve.

We had a very civilised, relaxed day on Christmas Day itself, with lots of nice gifts (including several books I wanted! Which was delightful!

Then a couple of days after Christmas we went to see my younger sister and her partner, and our brother and his girlfriend, and one of my aunts, and my uncle,and one of their sons, all also came, so we enjoyed a pub lunch (albeit with somewhat hit-and-miss service) and lots of catching up.And some more gifts. 

Then yesterday, my sister and brother-in-law, her in-laws and step-daughter (and dog) all came over for lunch, so all in all, I got to see my entire immediate family over the holidays.

I have a couple more days off work, and am going to London to the theatre at the weekend, before heading back to work on Monday.

I am planning, therefore, to be extremely lazy for the next day or two, in the hope of being well-rested before returning to work.

I'm lucky that, at least so far, we have escaped the worst of the storms and floods. It's been very wet and windy, and my back fence has collapsed,which is annoying, but the house remains warm and dry. (The fence was already in a bad way, but I was hoping it would last another few months until I could get it replaced at the same time as the other work I want to have done in the garden.) However, a fallen fence is nothing compared with what people in York and other parts of the country have been suffering!

Sunday, 20 December 2015

In Which there is a lot of theatre!

At the end of November I had a further trip to London, to see the RSC Henry V at the Barbican, and the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company All on her own' / Harliquinade double-bill at the Garrick theatre.

Both were very good. 

The Henry V is part of the 'Great Cycle of Kings', directed by Gregory Doran, - Richard II, Henry IV parts I and II, and Henry V.

I saw Richard II (with David Tennant) in Stratford, in November 2013,and then saw Henry IV Pt. I as a live broadcast, and Henry IV Pt. II at Bath, last November, so when I saw that the RSC was reuniting the same cast and performing the pays at the Barbican in London I decided that I would go and fill in the gap, and see the last of the 4. 

Alex Hassell as Henry V - Photo (c) RSC
I enjoyed it a lot. It's pretty much uncut, and Hassell was a convincingly tough and aggressive Henry, and while I am not a fan of Shakespeare's 'comic' Scots / Welsh / Irish Captains, their scenes were done well.

I also found it interesting to be back at the Barbican and to see the contrast between the huge and ornate 'Hamlet' set, and the sparse Henry V one!

I then had the pleasure of meeting up with a friend for a meal and catch up, before heading to the Garrick theatre to see the first of the plays in Kenneth Branagh's company's run (I have ticket for a couple of the others, for next year)

It was a Terence Rattigan double bill - 'All on her Own', a monologue, performed by ZoĆ« Wanamaker, as a widow returning home after a party, a  little the worse for wear, and starting a conversation with her late husband. Poignant and superbly performed. 

The second half of the double bill was 'Harlquinade', which is utterly hilarious. I never realised what a talent for comedy Branagh had! 

The play is set during a dress rehearsal of 'Romeo and Juliet' in 1946, and features Branagh as Arthur Gosport, an ageing actor-manager who, with his wife is touring the provinces as part of a government scheme to bring culture to the masses.

Both he and his wife, (Miranda Raison) are both utterly absorbed in the play, oblivious to their stage manager's attempts to tell them he will to be continuing the tour, and  the implications of the arrival of young Mrs Palmer and her baby... not to mention issues of bigamy, and farcical misunderstandings.

Hadley Fraser has a slight slight as the First Halberdier, and the whole thing is laugh-out-loud funny. There's something highly entertaining about watching very good actors pretending to be not-so-good actors.

It was a lot of fun.

And then on Sunday, before I went home, I got to meet up with a relative I haven't seen for ages which was great.