Posts

Featured post

The Deep Blue Sea - National Theatre - and National Opens New Season

From the National Gallery it was straight over the bridge to southbank and the National Theatre to see Rattigan's 'The Deep Blue Sea', . The lead is played by the inimitable Helen McCrory, whom I saw in Medea, which, like this play, was also directed by Carrie Cracknell.

The play is set in a flat in Ladbroke Grove in the 1950s. Hester Collyer, an artist, lives with Freddie Page, ex-RAF and now an unemployed test pilot. But she remains married to Judge Collyer, which becomes apparent when Hester's flat has to be broken into when she turns the gas on and attempts to kill herself. And so the story of Freddie and Hester unravels, all whilst her husband the Judge makes clear he wants his wife back. I enjoyed the performances, which were polished and emotive - McCrory clearly ringing herself of the torture the character is in, not helped by the fact that her work is clearly not selling, and Freddie is on the golf course trying to network himself into a desperately needed new…

My Name is Lucy Barton - Elizabeth Strout

A few years ago I read The Burgess Boys, by Elizabeth Strout. It revealed the long held tensions of the siblings of the title as well as those of their sister, whose teenage son had been found to have committed a hate crime in their small town. It was a timeless yet timely tail well written. But with her latest, more novella than novel, Strout has excelled in conveying powerfully a mother daughter relationship. My Name is Lucy Barton is written sparely and more powerfully for that. Lucy Barton is a young mother in New York, trying to recover in hospital from an operation, making do only with infrequent visits from her husband and their two young daughters. And then her Mum appears and stays with her daughter, in a chair at the foot of her bed, for five days. Lucy's mother seems a folksy type, who manages to exist for the five days only on cat naps taken whilst seated. Lucy and her Mum connect through the sharing of small town chatter that both hides and reveals their shared histor…

Days Without End and Mosul's Avengers

So fed up am I of buying books that I don't finish, that I decided I would go to the local library for a copy of Sebastian Barry's latest novel, Days Without End, which has just been awarded the Costa Prize. Unfortunately, I could only borrow it on the proviso that it was return by 1 February. I returned it the day after, without having finished it. I was about three quarters through, and will now have to go out and buy it for the final quarter. I loved Barry's The Secret Scripture, and on every publication of a new work, his star rises. Days Without End follows two boys, one descended from native Americans, and the other having arrived on one of the notorious coffin ships from famine struck Sligo. The tale is brave, funny, touching, but most of all Barry has achieved the perfect pitch. It is quite remarkable.

Another remarkable work comes in the form of reportage in the New Yorker (February 6, 2017) The Avengers of Mosul, by Luke Mogelson 'A Reporter at Large'.

Mo…

King Lear at The Old Vic

Husby and I went to the Old Vic for the relatively short run of Glenda Jackson as King Lear. Her return to the stage came after a twenty-five year absence; twenty-three of which were spent as an MP in my old neck of the woods in north-west London. And my god, was it a return. Her performance was well received in most UK and US press. She is eighty for crying out loud. And yet her voice is strong and even though we were seated towards the back of the stalls, heard her clearly - although the same couldn't be said of all. Rhys Ifans was perfectly cast as the Fool, the only permitted truth-teller. The husby found himself seated next to a jolly, round, middle-aged man who it turned out was a Rabbi visiting his old home country for a few days before returning to Jerusalem. He called the visit to see Lear as a 'little treat'. Indeed. Next week we are off to see Peter Pan at the National (Husby's daughter and grandson!) and then a few days later, he and I are seeing Amadeus, …

Good Canary

Forgot to mention that we went to see Good Canary at Kingston's Rose Theatre last week. Star role played by the brilliantly intense Freya Mavor, who plays a speed addict. It's directed by John Malkovich - his UK's theatre directorial debut. Will try and post more about it later.

Glenda Jackson is King Lear

Yup, and I have tickets. We popped in to get them yesterday having attended a course nearby. How could any theatre-goer miss the chance to see Glenda Jackson's first theatre performance in over twenty-five years? And as King Lear? She shares the Old Vic stage with Jane Horrocks, Rhys Ifans, and Celia Imrie. Currently on the same stage is Lisa Dwan's No's Knife - more Beckett; she is to Beckett what fellow Irish actor Fiona Shaw is to T.S. Lawrence. I still haven't seen Fiona Shaw perform, which is terrible considering... I'm sure I've posted on here before referring to her mag-nif-i-cent performance of The Wasteland, the ipad app! Her tone, delivery, mannerisms... are all just perfect.

So, a lot to look forward to on the theatre front.

Music is on my mind at the moment - a lot.

Maybe it's trying to topple reading off its former pedestal. Skepta won the Mercury Prize 2016, which was a surprise. I had thought that Michael Kiwanuka would be a shoe-in, but he&#…

Booker Shortlist announced

It's been a while... I know. Dog walking on the Downs, a bit of theatre, a bit of baking, a bit of writing etcetera etcetera. I also managed to read two complete books in the past month, which I was so pleased about. I had not read a whole book for about a year. The first was A Lie About My Father by Scottish poet/writer, John Burnside; a very well written memoir about father and son, but like all memoirs, some unreliability I felt. Poignant and tragic in equal measure. Then my husband returned from Cyprus (too hot for me this time of year, I can barely cope with England!) with Sebastian Faulks's Birdsong. He loved it. And then I read it and also loved it. I had originally picked it up several years ago but didn't get beyond Amiens, where the first section is set, but was really glad I did this time around. Another incredibly well written book in the style of a good Victorian! I felt a bit unsure about bits of Elizabeth, in the later section, but I have never learnt so muc…