In the last eight days, I’ve been at the Barbican centre for three of them. I don’t mind – I like the Barbican – but it does make for an interesting feeling of deja vu.
Last week, I spent two days there attending the Lead Developer conference (again) – it’s been running for five years now, and I’ve been to four of them.
Then last night, I was back there to see “Conversations with Nick Cave” – a different type of concert, with Cave performing songs solo with just a piano, interspersed with lots of questions from members of the audience.
I’ll aim to write more about both things (and a couple of other things that have been keeping me busy and/or a dirty stop-out) but right now I’m absolutely knackered. So those bits of writing will come later. Probably.
It’s become a bit of a tradition for me to make my birthday into a bit of a foodie thing, since starting off the whole “Eating on my own” thing with the Michelin-starred restaurants a couple of years back.
This year I’d taken the week off and booked a week in Northumberland, which made it even more fun.
So this year my actual birthday meal (well, the day after, but it counted) was at L’Enclume. One heck of a drive across-country – two and a half hours each way – but still better than the five hours each way it would be from home.
Then during the week was an evening at House of Tides – which I love, and rarely miss taking the opportunity to go to when I’m in the North-East.
And finally, while I was in Manchester I visited a very new place, Mana, because it sounded interesting. (And it was!)
So it’s been a foodie week, and very enjoyable. But I might need to walk a lot over the coming week or so to make up for it…
Every year I say “I’ll do less next year“. “I need the downtime“, I say. “I can’t keep on living like this” (or, others say to me “You can’t keep on living like this”) Every damn year.
And then every year stuff starts happening from October where I go “Oooh, I’ll book that“. And suddenly I discover/realise that I’ve already got at least one thing booked in per month through to this time next year.
Plays, shows, activities, exhibitions, travel. It’s all in there already.
And all told, I have to say I was really impressed with the play as a whole. The staging is really clever, making use of tables as an initial example of a rock-face, and it’s also a hugely physical production, with a large suspended structure being used to tell most of the story of the mountain climb.
There are a couple of odd bits (two musical numbers in particular seem pretty stramge) and I personally found the last five minutes to be a bit of a let-down, but all told it’s a very very good production, and worth going to see if you get a chance.
(This, it turns out, isn’t unusual – the knowledge of McDonagh’s works seems to be pretty polarising. I haven’t yet met anyone who could blather about both sides of his work – people know either the films or the plays, but rarely both, and are surprised to learn of the other side)
Back in January, it was announced that there would be a new McDonagh play premiering at the Bridge Theatre in London, and on spec I thought I’d book tickets and give it a go. (Still knowing nothing about his plays) The play was called “A Very Very Very Dark Matter” (always a good omen) and the description for it was…
In a townhouse in Copenhagen works Hans Christian Andersen, a teller of exquisite and fantastic children’s tales beloved by millions. But the true source of his stories dwells in his attic upstairs, her existence a dark secret kept from the outside world.
As it turned out, I managed to get tickets for the second performance – previews rather than “proper” performances, but still, second ever one. Which is pretty good, by anyone’s standards.
On Saturday, that’s where I was. And it’s a strange old production for sure. I’m fully aware that I have other friends going to see it still, and I’m not tosspotty enough to spoiler it at all (which makes this a bit harder to write) but it’s a weird, dark, sweary and scabrous affair.
Jim Broadbent plays Hans Christian Andersen as a fairly unpleasant human being – utterly self-centred, but also a quite spectacular idiot – who is taking advantage of the source of his stories. He also goes to visit Charles Darwin Dickens (a regularly repeated joke through the play) who is played by Phil Daniels as an exceptionally sweary (and very funny) Cockney – and who may also be housing a similar source for his stories.
Along the way there’s violence, creepy attics and puppets (and arachnophobes should be aware that one of them is a big spider), time travel, writers, lots of swearies, and general weirdness. In short, it’s a Martin McDonagh script.
All told, I did enjoy the play – although I did feel that it could’ve been better, and made more of the subject matter it had – but I don’t honestly know that I’d want to see it again…