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Category: Recommendations (page 2 of 4)

Who’s Afraid?

Saturday night at Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf.  For anyone who does not know the play or the film version with Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, it’s basically watching a married couple through nearly three early hours of the morning, fuelled by a lot of alcohol, playing out their marriage as a set of ball-breaking games of verbal boxing, all witnessed by a newly married couple Nick and Honey. The “games” include Humiliate The Hosts, Hump The Hostess and Get The Guests.  The power play continually shifts and if the blood was visible their living room (the play’s setting) would be drenched.

The play can be taken literally or metaphorically: the couple are called George and Martha and they live in New Carthage.  George is a Professor of History and Martha’s “Daddy” (one of two major unseen characters) is the university’s president.  Nick is a biologist and Honey throws up a lot.

The battles rage four-ways.  It’s a deliberately exhausting play to watch and it’s brilliance lies in the fact that you do keep watching.  The cast in James McDonald’s production excel. Imelda Staunton’s acting range never ceases to astonish me.  She howls toward the end and I felt it physically in my stomach. Conleth Hill’s physicality, as Susannah Clapp points out in her Observer newspaper review,  blurs the line between shambling with exhaustion and prowling like a predator.  Luke Treadaway and (a scarily funny) Imogen Poots match them perfectly as foils and equals in the combat.  There is such sustained intensity that I almost fear for the actors’ well-being if they don’t go on to decompress with care at the end of the performance.

It holds in common with the other classic 20th century American plays (Miller, O’Neill and Williams) two things: liquor and illusion.  And in the light of our “post-truth” (now in the dictionary) era, it made me realise that “post-truth” is nothing new.  A raging war between truth and illusion has always been at the heart of the American Dream.  Social media has simply produced a different shining light on them.  And a President survives and succeeds by letting illusion win out.  His American Dream has been achieved.

Is there a breaking point in the play for George or Martha, or both?  Interestingly I am still not sure.  The end of the play implies that illusion is finally shattered.  But if it has been, are they staring at the sun or into an abyss?  It was if I had barely breathed throughout the play, and as the lights finally lowered I was still not ready to take in air.


Victoria Wood

I’m watching Our Friend Victoria on TV.  I still can’t quite believe she’s dead. For me, truly one of the funniest people (alongside Laurel and Hardy,  Les Dawson and Jacques).



Forms In Space….

which has made me think of Pigs In Space but never mind.


Just back from seeing this installation in Tate Britain by Cerith Wyn Evans. 2km of neon lighting.  Getting  the thing up must have been a bit of a headache.  Even while I was there some of the neon failed.  It looks a right mess but as you walk under it, it simplifies out and repeated patterns catch the eye.  Rather calming after a while.

There’s an Evening Standard interview with him if you want to know more.


No school this week and as I’ve never seen Hamlet before (the shame) I thought I’d try for a day ticket for the sold out run at the Almeida with Andrew Scott (Moriarty in the BBC’s Sherlock).  I rang the Box Office on Monday morning to see if there was a queue and yes people had been queueing some days since 4.30am. But in for a penny in for a pound,

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The Loney

The Loney Book Cover The Loney
Andrew Michael Hurley
John Murray
April 2016

This book is so difficult to write about that I am handing it over to other people.  Both Julie Myerson and Sarah Perry say in their Guardian reviews everything I want to.

Sarah Perry review

Julie Myerson review

Hedda Gabler

“My intention in giving it this name was to indicate that Hedda as a personality is to be regarded rather as her father’s daughter than as her husband’s wife.”                      Henrik Ibsen

A play first performed in 1891, written by 62 year old man, who here writes that the female protagonist has a personality, and that her personality is defined by men (father and husband).  Ivan Van Hove’s stark production at the National Theatre shows how utterly credible Hedda is, and what an extraordinary play it remains.

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The greatest enemy of communication is the illusion of it.

William H. Whyte

(I have just discovered this man whose work is very important to my lighting design philosophy.  See this lovely film on small urban spaces)


Been gearing myself up all week with the excitement of A Streetcat Named Bob opening last Friday…only to find it was at none of my four nearest cinemas.

But in a cinema mood and decided to go and see Nocturnal Animals because I’ll go and see anything with Amy Adams in it (Junebug, anyone?) and it’s had very mixed reviews (“misogynist” to “masterpiece”).  I liked A Single Man but didn’t get that excited over it, so went in fairly open-minded.


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Settled down last night to one of my horror DVD’s, many of which have been gathering dust since last year.  As noted before, I do enjoy hunkering down for a horror film evening supplemented by central heating, closed curtains, low lighting, hot drink and, last night, a cat with diarrhoea.

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And so to my beloved Foundling Museum for a evening of folk music.  Indeed the first folk gig I have ever been to.   I wore my special folk jumper and drank a bottle of St Peter’s beer.  The players were The Rheingans Sisters.  One played the violin, the other violin, the viola and the banjo.  They both sang.

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