Monday, 16 October 2017

Play: A Day by the Sea

Today, I had lunch with Helen at Cafe Milano - might be one of the last times, before our office moves to Shoreditch. Cheap, and the food is good - I'll miss it! Anyway, we skipped starters, to leave room for dessert - she had a pizza, which came on a wooden platter with handle, and I had spaghetti carbonara: my usual here, and which I know I'll enjoy. And it all got eaten.. dessert for her was a couple of scoops of ice cream, which came in a tall glass, sundae-style - mine was the chocolate fudge cake, natch. Which I asked for cold - warming it just lets the fudge run around the plate, which entirely defeats the purpose. And my entire bill - including wine - was about the price of the main course I had for lunch, my last day in Stockholm..

Tonight, back at Southwark Playhouse with Up in the Cheap Seats - this time, it was for A Day By the Sea, and reunited me with some familiar faces. Took the bus out there - and boy, was I cold while waiting! We might have escaped the worst of storm Ophelia - and I was lucky to escape just before it hit - but it's pretty damn windy here tonight. Earlier, we got some interesting effects from the Saharan sand it blew over us:

By the time I left though, it was twilight, and soon dark. Got off the bus just up from the theatre - and had a very blustery walk down! Glad to get in, I collected my ticket, and found the others conveniently positioned just inside the door. Where we stayed until deciding we'd finally better make a move - it was allocated seating, and for once there was no queue. Nice, comfy, padded seats - just as well, for a nearly-three-hour production, including interval.

The stage takes the form of a series of misaligned picture frames, framing the set in the middle, which I guess is meant to represent a nostalgic look back. Because this takes place in the 50s. Music was blaring as we went in, and various cast members came and went as we were taking our seats - an old man dozed in a chair, a little girl played on a swing, a little boy came dashing in and just as quickly dashed out again. An old lady tended the garden.

The writer, N. C. Hunter, is apparently described as "The English Chekhov" - and the similarities to Chekhov are easy to spot. A family estate in the country.. an old generation giving way to the new, afraid that they'll change everything.. a collection of family characters, including servants and one acquaintance who fancies himself as an intellectual, but never made much of his talents and now lives off the family's generosity. The family matriarch, who overspends and lives in something of a fantasy world. Unrequited love from a number of sides. Why, we could be in The Cherry Orchard..

But no, we're in England of the 1950s. And it's a long time since I saw such clipped accents and stiff upper lips in a production. Makes a change - and an interesting one. I have to say - apart from the perfectly behaved kids, whom I found annoying - the characters were quite fascinating. The perfectly turned-out young widow, the diplomat in his stiff pinstripe suit, the anxious mother, fretting about everything and reminding me of my own. The boozy doctor (David Acton), the Scottish nanny. Hugh Sachs plays the senior at the foreign office, who just has one scene.

After a lot of exposition in the first half, the drama heats up in the second. The story has gotten quite predictable by that point - so I wouldn't go to this expecting to see action.. or plot twists.. or passion.. Instead, what we were given was a play of genteel manners - which did mask deeper feelings. I don't think it's going to take off as a type of theatre, but it did make for pleasant viewing, and did make a change from the norm. Runs till the 28th.

Afterwards, as usual, there was no general move to the bar, so we made our way home. In continuingly blustery conditions. Now, tomorrow, Meetup is proving pretty unproductive, so I think I'll go to a film. Top of the list, in terms of IMDB ratings, is Loving Vincent - a documentary about Vincent van Gogh, filmed completely as an artwork, oil paintings having replaced the film frames. Word has it you'll do better with this if you don't know much about him: which is perfect, as I know very little. Will probably give it a shot - it's at the Odeon Panton Street, and I'd normally book, for the online discount, but frankly, the ticket price there is so low that the booking fee I'd have to pay with online booking is more than the discount I'd get!

On Wednesday, I'm with TunedIn London at Sands Films again, with Jean Paul Samputu, a Rwandan singer songwriter. Advertised via the World Music Meetup.

On Thursday, Let's Do This is at another classical concert - this time, at Morley College, for a Beethoven piano recital. Cool - I love Beethoven, but don't hear him enough. 

On Friday, the Crick Crack Club is back at Rich Mix, where Ben Haggerty, one of the co-founders of the club, is retelling the story of Frankenstein. Suitably spooky in this spookiest of months.. and I can think of no better performer to set the scene!

On Saturday, Spooky London Pubs is off to a "Pre-Hallowe'en" Psychic Fair at the King and Queen pub, just down the road from me. Free entry - well, I couldn't say no to that! Can always leave if it's not interesting. That's in the afternoon - that evening, I'm off to Oslo. The play, not the city! (Despite all my Scandic jaunts of late!) Taking place in the Harold Pinter Theatre, it tells the story of the Oslo peace accords. Has rave reviews. Cheapest tickets were with Amazon Tickets.

On Sunday, I'm with Walking in London (a Funzing group) for Southwark's Saucy Secrets.. Hope I can make this one in time!

Next Monday, back with the Crick Crack Club - at Soho Theatre this time, with Nell Phoenix telling us all about Tricksterland: a favourite theme of hers!

On the 24th, the London European Club (first time in ages!) - we're off to the Barbican for a dance production by the Michael Clark Company.

On the 25th, Walking Victorian London is doing a walk called Alexander Pope's The Dunciad.

On the 26th, Up in the Cheap Seats is off to Albion, at the Almeida. Then I'm back to Ireland for the weekend again.

On the 30th, I finally get to see Apologia, at Trafalgar Studios - London Dramatic Arts was going to this a while ago, but it was far too expensive on that occasion. Well, that's what you get for having Stockard Channing and Laura Carmichael in it! Amazon Tickets again.

And finally, I'm hoping for a nicely scary Hallowe'en.. when I heard that they were doing the first-ever stage production of The Exorcist - and what's more, it's on in the Phoenix Theatre, right behind the office.. well, that was fate, wasn't it?! I jumped to get a ticket for that, as soon as they went on sale - after all, Hallowe'en has to be the most popular night!

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