Thursday, 31 October 2019

Orpheus in the Underworld

I am not a big opera fan, generally, but decided to give 'Orpheus in the Underworld' a go - partly as it is directed by Emma Rice, whose work in the theatre I have enjoyed, party because it was described as being both light and satirical, plus it is of course the source of the CanCan music, so got to be worth a try!

And it was ...interesting, but a bit patchy, I thought . It started with the death of a baby, triggering Orpheus and Eurydice's separation, which did start things off on a rather depressing note, and it took a while for the lighter side of the opera to kick in.

But it  was  entertaining once it did - the chorus, wearing tutus made of balloons, and dancing with a greater or lesser degree of enthusiasm, were a particular high point!

And Willard White, as a world-weary, lecherous Jupiter, was  wonderful to hear. 

Mary Bevan was a strong, angry Eurydice, full of rage in the 'Can Can' song.

Curtain Call (Photos explicitly encouraged by the theatre)

Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Bristol Old Vic - Members Open Day

I currently have membership at Bristol Old Vic theatre, and they recently held a members open day, which involved several short presentations, and the chance to watch a little of a technical rehearsal.

It was interesting - the presentations included one by one of the producers, talking a little about her role, and the Old Vic's role as a regional theatre, which often collaborates with other theatres .

The second was a short play writing workshop, which was very interesting (and applied pretty well to other kids of writing, I think)

After a break for lunch we were then allowed into the auditorium to watch part of a technical rehearsal - The timing wasn't ideal, as we went in at a fairly slow point in the rehearsal, but nevertheless, I found it really interesting, not least to see, the afternoon before the play opened, what was still being worked out! 

Tom Morris, the director, popped up to say hello and explain briefly what was happening.

I wasn't able to stay for the final session, which was about youth engagement.

This was the first open day the theatre has held, and there were a few things which I think they may be able to improve for next time, but I enjoyed it, and was glad I went. And had some interesting conversations with other attendees, too.

Saturday, 12 October 2019

The David Parr House - Cambridge

Back in about March, I hard about the David Parr House, in Cambridge, and in September, I visited. I had to wait so long because access is very limited, due to the house's size, so it is necessary to pre-book - it looks as though you can currently book slots in July and August 2020.

David Parr was an artisan who was born in 1854,and in 1871 he became an apprentice with a firm, F.R.Leach, which carried out decorative work, for various churches, colleges and homes in Cambridge and beyond, including carrying out work as subcontractors for William Morris and others. 

In 1886,  David Parr bought a small, terraced house, at 186 Gwydir Street, near Cambridge Station, and moved in there  with his wife and eldest child.

Over the next 40 years, Parr decorated the house using the same skills and styles he employed in his work. The walls are hand painted,  using 'pouncing' (marking out the pattern using charcoal, through pricked holes in tracing paper) but no stencils or wall paper!

In two of the rooms, there are also beautifully hand-lettered quotes - from Shakespeare and from hymns (Parr was a devout Christian)

As well as the walls (and ceiling) Parr also worked on the doors - the doorknobs and finger-plates were probably either samples or left over from properties he worked on, as they are all different (often on the same door), and used paint techniques to make the woodwork look like better quality woodwork .

He was also pretty forward thinking, and installed a magnificent indoor toilet!

David Parr and his wife raised their children in the house, then, following Parr's death in 1927, his widow remained living there, with their granddaughter Elsie, who was 12 at the time.

Elsie remained living in the house for the rest of her life. She married and she and her husband brought their children up in the house, preserving her grandfather's decor. There were some changes -  the house suffers from damp, and Elsie and her husband had to paint over part of the drawing room wall (It has now been restored),after it became damaged by damp,  and the upper part of the hall walls  were painted white as the original decor made it very dark.

The house is also furnished with Elsie's furniture . She died in 2013, at the age of 98. It was then that the house was bought, and a trust set up to restore it. It's beautiful,  fascinating, and I think perhaps unique, both for an artisan to have decorated his own home in this kind of style and for it to have survived.

(They don't allow you to take photographs inside, sadly, but the Guardian has a gallery here, it's well worth taking a look)

If you are interested in going, You can book on the house's website.

Thursday, 10 October 2019

Jesus Christ, Superstar and other events

It's a very late post, but in August, some friends and I went to see Jesus Christ Superstar at the Barbican - because sometimes one just wants to relive one's youth and the fun of seeing a musical!

And it was fun - Jesus and Judas were both excellent, and Pilate was a lot of fun as well.   I am not sure that glitter in place of blood, in the '49 strokes' scene would have bee my choice, but it was oddly effective! 

The same day, some of us went to Mere for dinner, and had a wonderful meal, preceded by some very pretty, and tasty, cocktails.

Glorious Lemon Verbena dessert
Then in September, I met up with a couple of friends, to go to  see ZoĆ« Keating at  King's Place in London . It's the 3rd time I have seen her live, and it was just as good as the last two times.I strongly recommend her work to any one of my friends who don't already know her work.

Then, at the end of the month, I went to Chichester, in order to see John Simm and Dervla Kirwan, as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth. Before the show, I went to look around the Cathedral , which is small, as cathedrals go, but rather nice. 

Then the show itself.

There is a glass stage, over the 'blasted heath', and the witches enter from beneath it. There is also a glass backdrop.

I really enjoyed Simm's performance, particularly in the second half of the play,  as Macbeth starts to unravel.  However, the play did move slowly at times, and I did feel that the sound and stage design did, at times, overwhelm the play at times 

I'm really glad I got to see John Simm (especially as I missed his Hamlet)

It's on until 28th October