Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Play: The Exorcist

Honestly, I haven't had much luck with scary Hallowe'ens in London lately - they have tended to turn out to be a bit of a damp squib. However, this year, I was 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 its most popular night! Jenny Seagrove plays the mother of the demonically possessed teen..

On decently late, because it doesn't have an interval - so I hung on in the office until after 7:30, then nipped around the corner. Some people did dress up, bless 'em! Now, they'd been quite strict about my e-ticket - it had to be printed out, not on a phone, and that I'd done. It certainly saved me a long queue at the box office! I'd never been in here before - gosh it's ornate, lots of gilt and mirrored glass. Terrible shame I didn't get to take a picture, but honestly, I had left it a bit tight, and the place was horrendously crowded anyway - it was also press night, and I had trouble actually getting to the stalls, where I was sitting. Second row from the back.. I could have got cheaper, but I'd have been in the gods, and I at least wanted to be in the stalls for this. I had an aisle seat, which was something.

It's actually a decent view - the main problems were (a) that bloke in front of me, with the big head, who kept shifting it from side to side so I must needs do the same, and (b) the rear stalls tend to be quite noisy, with people going in and out. But the overhang hardly blocked anything, and I didn't feel disconnected from the stage. I see they have that "ordertorium" here as well, where you can order things to be delivered to your seat - what with the lack of interval, some did that - but it was too late by the time I arrived, as ushers scurried around to deliver orders before the show started.

They are determined to scare us, that was obvious right from the start - ominous ambient music is playing as you enter. When the lights eventually go down, they do so with a bang! just to set your nerves on edge. A stern voice explains that there is no interval - that once this begins, it will continue until it is over. The guidelines say 18+ - oh, and there are plenty of flashing lights throughout. Interesting thing I noticed - the exit lights kept coming on, from which I deduce that they actually turned them off for the scary bits. Cool - I do love a theatre that preserves the atmosphere! It's to the credit of the director that I didn't pay attention to the lights going off while scary stuff was happening on stage..

Peter Bowles actually plays the exorcist himself - I thought I recognised the voice! and Sir Ian McKellan voices the demon. Rather more suave than the one in the film, then. Overall, I have to give credit to the amazing special effects crew - the effects are flawless, and more than I expected. Projections of the demon, and of the younger priest's dead mother's face, lend a fantastic atmosphere. Moving shadows are used to great effect. Funnily enough, I was reading an interview last night with the director, who said - not wanting to give anything away - that the audience would get the scares they were expecting! Those who've seen the film will know exactly what that means - those who've heard something about it will guess. Let me just say this - we were all waiting for that effect, and it got its own individual round of applause!

The girl's bedroom is in darkness while other scenes are taking place - the makeup artist takes these opportunities to add to the scary makeup, live on stage, where no-one can see her - and so the possession progresses. Truly impressive to see this brought to life on stage, and worth seeing if only from a technical perspective. Only thing is.. they try too faithfully to recreate the film, I think, and it does feel rushed as they try to pack in all the storylines. Which is a bit silly, considering that the film is longer than this play. We could maybe have skipped the bits about the priest's mother, or the scenes with the exorcist on his own. Never mind, it's a fantastic effort - and the overall impression, as with the film, is of a colossal, dirty battle between absolute evil and the power of the Church. And for all that they play Tubular Bells as the audience is leaving, it was the hymns that stuck with me.. reminding me of my childhood, when I really thought that the Church was the front line against evil. Runs until March 10th, and is a must for all horror fans.

Well, they've pretty much cleaned out the fridge at work, so I came straight home - and with an iffy internet connection, was doubtful of getting anything done on the blog tonight. Seems better in my room than in the kitchen though, so on we go! Not so much on Meetup appealed for tomorrow - so I decided to go to a film. And leading the charge on my film list is Brexitannia, advertised as the first documentary on Brexit! Includes Noam Chomsky on the list of participants, looks interesting. Just a pity that the only place it's showing is in East Dulwich! Never mind, I can get a bus straight there.. in about an hour.. Includes a Q+A with the director, and I'm delighted to see that they just tell you straight out how many seats are left! I do like not having to book, and commit myself - and pay a booking fee..

On Thursday, back with Meetup for the first time in a week: and on both Thursday and Friday, I'm headed to Sadler's Wells with Up in the Cheap Seats. Thursday, it's Ellipsis Land, and Friday, it's a mixed programme from the Birmingham Royal Ballet.

On Saturday, Helen is coming to town, so doubtless we'll get up to some shenanigans! That evening, I'm off with Walking in London (hence Funzing) on a Hampstead to Highgate Haunted Pub Tour! She can't depend on the trains, so can't really commit to that - I don't blame her, they're worse than Irish ones! (which is saying something). The tour will take a while, but includes a pub crawl, so that's forgivable. "crazy_fun" is the current 10% discount code, BTW. I also see they've now switched their loyalty scheme to cover anything booked online - much more efficient, as it automatically credits you!

On Sunday, the Crick Crack Club is back, with Hugh Lupton telling the tale of Beowulf at the British Museum - sold out by now, I believe, and no wonder.

On Monday, I'm at the RSC's MMXVII season at the Barbican, seeing Coriolanus with Up in the Cheap Seats.

Next Tuesday, I'm with the London European Club (LEC), at the Royal Festival Hall for a "Night Under the Stars" - Russian Soul.

On the 8th and 9th, I'm with Up in the Cheap Seats again - the 8th for Saint George and the Dragon, at the National. Which sounds like fun. On the 9th, we're off to Everybody's Talking About Jamie, at the Apollo. Then I'm back to Ireland for the weekend.

On the 13th, the Crick Crack Club returns to Soho Theatre for an evening called Under the Eyes of Baron Samedi, courtesy of Jan Blake. Delighted to say I persuaded a couple of friends to come along! Hope they enjoy it. Also delighted that the crazy woman isn't coming - despite being a fan of Jan Blake, she couldn't make this.

On the 14th, Up in the Cheap Seats again, and we're off to The Secondary Victim, at the Park Theatre.

On the 15th, I'm finally back with The London Jazz Meetup, to see Ben l' Oncle Soul at Cadogan Hall. Really, I'd go with them much more often, but there's so much else on..!

On the 16th, I'm back at Sadler's Wells with Up in the Cheap Seats, for Hunted Maud Le Pladec / Okwui Okpokwasili.

On the 17th, I'm off to see Young Frankenstein, at the Garrick!

The weekend is Funzing, with Walking in London. On the 18th, A Secret London Tour - I've had my eye on this for a while, it sounds interesting. And on the 19th, I'm finally doing Murder Mile Walk.

On the 20th, I'm off to This Beautiful Future, at the Yard Theatre.

On the 21st, my annual pilgrimage to Cirque Berserk at Winter Wonderland! Whee..

On the 22nd, back with Funzing and Walking in London, this time with Katie of Look Up London, and her Alternative Christmas Lights Tour. Delighted to give her the business, and it should be fun!

On the 23rd, back with Up in the Cheap Seats - this time at the newly opened Bridge Theatre, for their first show, Young Marx. Delighted to make this - I had booked it for the 20th October, then the Crick Crack Club got in the way, as they often do! The theatre charged me a nominal fee to change it to this date. And then it's back to Ireland for the weekend again.

On the 27th, I'm headed to see Follies at the National - another that London Dramatic Arts (LDAM) went to a while ago, expensively. What with their ticket prices, and other things getting in the way, I really don't know when I'll be with them again..

On the 28th, back with Let's Do This! (LDT) at a place called The Fiddler's Elbow, for a Blues Club & Jam. Be good to see them again!

On the 29th, the Crick Crack Club has their long-awaited 30th birthday party at Rich Mix. Finally advertised by their Meetup group, I see, months after tickets went on sale. Helen's going to this one, and another friend. Oh, and the crazy lady - hope they protect me from her!

On the 30th, LDT is off to.. Saint George and the Dragon! Now, when this was advertised, I remembered having booked it already. Checked, and discovered that was during my week in Stockholm - so I was happy to book it again. Completely forgot, of course, that I was already booked for next week, with Up in the Cheap Seats. No refunds either. Ah well, just hope it's good, considering I've now booked it three times! Then I'm back to Ireland again.

On the 4th of December, I'm finally seeing Heisenberg: the Uncertainty Principle, at Wyndham's Theatre. Another that LDAM saw before I have, and another I rescheduled - this from the 16th October, when I was with Up in the Cheap Seats. Another nominal fee to change.

On the 5th December, my annual trip to La Soirée! "Posh new venue", as they say - they're now in the Aldwych Theatre. Cheapest tickets at Amazon tickets.

The 6th December sees our office Christmas party! Have seen a smashing dress online, at a great price - must get on to that.

I can't stay long though - have to be at Stansted at 6 in the morning of the 7th of December, for a trip to Nuremberg Christmas market with LEC! We'll also be doing some travelling in the area. Helen liked the sound of it, and my other friend who's coming to the storytelling is coming too. We'll have a ball! I just bought Lonely Planet's chapter on Bavaria, downloaded it, and have shared it with them - isn't it handy how you can buy individual chapters? Mercifully, although the crazy woman was supposed to go on this, she's pulled out.

Back late on the 10th of December, and on the 11th of December - having taken the day off work (I'll be exhausted) - I'm off to the Barbershop Chronicles. At the National.

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