D4D

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Archive for the category “Day Trips”

The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui

Following on from a friend of mine seeing it, I decided to have a look and see if there were any tickets still available for “The Resistible Rise of Arturo UI” at the Donmar Warehouse on the date I was available in London with no solid plans. (Last Saturday)   As it turned out, there was – just one ticket apparently “near the back”.  That’s OK, I’m tall, so yep, ticket successfully obtained.

As usual with my theatre trips, I knew absolutely sod-all about the play. Indeed, I’d never even heard of it before the previous weekend.  That doesn’t bother me anyway, and armed with a decent review from someone whose opinion I tend to trust, I was willing to go for it.   All I knew was the name, and that it was by Bertolt Brecht.

And I’m really glad I did.  The original play is an allegory based around the rise of Hitler in Germany, but using the gangsters of 1920s/1930s America to tell the story.   It’s been updated a bit – there were lots of references to Trump and his collaborators, along with an (odd but effective) sung intro to each major scene, using modern(ish) songs.

It’s very hard to not see the parallels between Nazi Germany and Trump’s rise, so it all felt very relevant.  But still interesting in a lot of ways.

The entire of the Donmar Warehouse has been changed for this production, and it’s been made into a 20s/30s speakeasy. As you walk in, the actors are already on ‘stage’ talking, dancing and the like. It certainly made things more interesting, having Lenny Henry come round in character as the club owner, talking to – and shaking the hands of – all the guests, as well as other cast members doing the rounds.

As an aside, one thing that was great was that a lot of the audience around me were a group of visually-impaired people, coming to the theatre for a play that would also be audio-described for them by a company called TalkingSense – and as it turned out, I got talking to one of the narrators, who was sat next to me for the first half, before going to narrate the second half.  I thought it was brilliant to open up theatre in this way  (and I also liked that Arturo Ui managed to use one of the visually-impaired people as his ‘witness’ for one section)

Ah yes, the audience participation.  This was something really interesting, and not something I’d expected at all – this version of the play makes great use of the audience.  In the photo above you can see a gallery with people on it – in the second half, these become the jury for a court case, with the judge sat in the middle.  Another audience member became the railroaded ‘accused’, and by the end of the play everyone is involved, either standing in support of Ui’s bid to be the main gangster (sorry, “protector”) or sitting – in which case their votes don’t count.

Note – I’m not giving away anything major here – and the production ends tomorrow!

Lenny Henry is particularly impressive as the titular gangster, developing through the production. But he’s also well supported by a generally excellent cast – all of whom also seem to be enjoying taking part in the play. (Which isn’t always the case)

All told, it’s a very dark vision of life – yet also extremely funny.   I laughed a lot more than I would have ever expected to, in a play based on the rise of Nazi-ism.  If the run were longer, I’d probably enjoy going to see it again. It’s quite a thing.

 

London (2)

Following on from last week’s post, I was in London a lot last week.

On Thursday and Friday I was at the always-excellent Lead Developer conference, at the QEII Conference Centre, near Westminster Abbey and Houses of Parliament.  I could have chosen to stay in London overnight on the Wednesday and Thursday nights instead of travelling each day, but honestly, I couldn’t be bothered. So instead I ended up with longer days, travelling each day down to London and then walking (because I’m a lunatic) from Euston to Westminster, and back afterwards – roughly three miles each way, and yet still preferable to taking the tube.

It made for long days – particularly as I also chose to eat in London both nights, with a friend at Iberica on Thursday, which I’d not been to before (but will be go back to) and on my own on Friday at Monica Galetti’s Mere Restaurant, which I love. (And apparently I’m the person who’s been back the most since they opened in March – an achievement of which I’m simultaneously ridiculously proud, and somewhat ashamed)

And then on Saturday, having seen a recommendation from a friend, I had been lucky enough to get the last available ticket for the matinee performance of The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui, at the Donmar Warehouse. I’m going to write more about that in a separate post, which’ll be done for later this week. (Just in time for the production to finish on the 17th. Helpful, eh?)

Sunday was allegedly calmer, but still busy – and involved catching rather more sun than I perhaps should have, although not to any point of danger or ill-health.

And now, I’m back for a new week of work, which is going to require some brain-power at some point early on.  Bugger…

London

[Somewhat inspired by a friend’s post on Facebook]

I was in London on Saturday – it was a pleasant day, sunny, loads of people around, having a good time.  Note : This is NOT going to be one of those “it could’ve been me” posts – I fucking hate that shit, trying to make a drama out of one’s own life when others have been in that drama for real.

I walked over London Bridge twice, and had drinks and food in Borough Market. Again, loads of people out in the sun, sightseeing, visiting the city.

I wasn’t there when everything happened later, I was home, and had been for a while.

I have plans in London on Thursday and Friday for a conference in Westminster, then on Saturday to see a play in Soho, and the following weekend for Taste in Regent’s Park.  I have these plans, and I won’t be changing them.  I’ll go to the places I want to be, I’ll live the life I have, and want to have. I won’t let fuckwitted extremist bellends change my life.

Some of it is statistics. I know that there are, on any given day, literally millions of people in London, and only a tiny, tiny minority are bellend extremist shit-for-brains, so the risks are pretty low – but primarily it’s because it seems to me that the best, and perhaps the only response most of us can make to this kind of thing is to carry on as normal.

The odds are ridiculously low that I, or anyone I know, will ever be involved in anything similar to what happened on Saturday night. And if those odds bite me on the arse and something does happen to me or anyone I know, then I’ll deal with those events and repercussions the best I can. I still won’t let the dickheads beat me, though.

Weekend Walking

On Saturday, I went into London – primarily to see Don Juan in Soho again, as I’d booked a ticket for myself, and then my friends booked theirs for a couple of weeks earlier. If I hadn’t enjoyed it when I saw it with them, I’d have given up the ticket or whatever, but I did like it, so I was OK with seeing it twice.

This time though, I wasn’t going to be drinking beforehand. Among other things, there were some bits of the play I was hazy on, or couldn’t get to gel with the rest of it, so that was another reason to see it again.  Instead, it was a nice day, so I decided to go for a bit of a walk.

And, because I’m an idiot of world-shattering proportions, I came pretty close to breaking myself. I didn’t, but it came closer than usual to happening.

I hadn’t accounted for a couple of things – primarily, the sun and temperature. London on Saturday was bloody hot, and sunny. Me being me, I hadn’t really made any plans or preparations, I’d just got a route in mind, I’d got my boots on, and walked it. Two hours, and 7½ miles later, I was pretty knackered.

Because of the warmth, I also noticed that the plane trees along a lot of the route were chucking out something that affected the back of my throat, and made it harder to breathe – not life-threatening by any stretch, just harder work than usual – which made it all more tiring.

Having now read that Wikipedia page, I’m more sure of this – the quote

However, it has a number of problems in urban use, most notably the short, stiff hairs shed by the young leaves and the dispersing seeds; these are an irritant if breathed in, and can exacerbate breathing difficulties for people with asthma.

seems to confirm my theory somewhat.

By the time I’d got to the Albert Memorial, I was pretty much stuffed, and also thinking I’d probably been in the sun for longer than I should’ve been.  But by then, well, I was on the ‘final straight’ so I kept on going, just at a slightly slower pace.

I did OK though, and was then more sensible once I’d got to my intended destination, by opting to sit downstairs in the shade, drink lots of water, and generally take some time out. From there, it was a simple short stroll to the theatre, and once the play was done, I closed the circle of that route, and walked back up to Euston.

Once I was home, I was properly knackered, and my legs were more sore than I’d have expected as well. But happily it all recovered overnight and was fine, so I’m happy with what I did – I just could’ve been more sensible about the entire bloody thing.  I suppose that “being sensible” might actually happen one day, rather than only ever occurring to me in hindsight, but well, we’ll see.

 

Drinking and Don Juan

On Saturday, I went into London for the day. The primary objective was seeing David Tennant in Patrick Marber’s “Don Juan in Soho” at Wyndham’s Theatre. However, that wasn’t til the evening, so I had time to walk and be bad in the meantime…

So, having driven down to North London, I took the tube down to Old Street (which is the laziest I’ve been in a long time, as I usually only get to Euston then walk) and visited Blues Kitchen to try their new special.

Then a walk back towards Soho, and the newly-discovered joys of Chick’n’Sours, where I had their special of Bang-Bang Chicken strips, which is all kinds of awesome. And alongside that, a couple of cocktails – with hindsight, a bit of a bad move, but well, it was par for the course.

After that, it was time to meet the people I was going to the play with – first of all, M, and then (later) two of her friends. In between, we had another drink, and then when the other friends arrived, they decided they wanted cocktails.   I know just the place, said I, and lo, back to Chick’n’Sours, where a significant number of cocktails were consumed…

Before the play, we’d got reservations at Marcus Wareing’s new place, Tredwell’s, and so that was where we ended up next, and more drinks were had as well as decent food.  The final bill was higher than I’d expected, but I’m assuming that’s down to a) drinks, and b) possibly not taking advantage of the Prix Fixe menu.  (I’d need to go back in order to figure things out – I failed to keep the receipt, so can’t check , and honestly don’t really care all that much)  It was good though, and all four of us enjoyed it.

By the end, I was… somewhat the worse for wear, although not ridiculously or dangerously so. Besides, by the time we got to the theatre I was already sobering up.

The play itself was thoroughly enjoyable – as always, I didn’t really know what to expect, and some of it was a bit odd (small dance scenes and the like) but all told, I really liked it.  Tennant himself is obviously having a great time playing the vile and reprehensible Don Juan, and the supporting cast were all pretty damn good as well.  It’s on ’til June 10th, and I’d recommend it if possible.

However, the seats at Wyndham’s are some of the most uncomfortable known to man.  A two-and-a-bit-hour performance was more than enough time to spend with my knees wedged into the back of the seat in front of me.

And then, once everyone else was on trains back to respective stations and homes, I took some time to return to the station where I’d parked the car.  I was completely sober by the time we’d got out of the play, and the extra time/walking boosted that even further.  If I’d been in any doubt, I’d have waited at the car, or found somewhere to get some food.

Then a quick drive home, and all good.  All told, a decent way to spend a Saturday…

 

Theatrical

This week has, again, been somewhat theatrical (and with a fair dollop of travel, just for balance)

On Wednesday I finally got round to seeing the Harry Potter play, which was very good (and I’ll write some thoughts about it later on) but made it into a seriously long day. Because of the size of the story/play, it’s been made in two parts, both just over two and a half hours.  Including the break between plays, it meant I went in at 1pm (for performance starting at 2) and left just after 10pm.  Then including getting back to Euston, and the Train Of The Damned to get back to Milton Keynes, I got home at about half midnight.

Yesterday I was down in London, going to see Hamlet at the Almeida Theatre in Islington.  I’d gone down earlier in the day, which was fine, and the play itself – again, very good, although I still need to formulate my thoughts and reactions to it a bit – was pretty complete, and ran to nearly four hours, including intervals.  So again, starting at 7pm, I didn’t leave ’til 11. Driving home was easier, but still, I wasn’t back ’til gone midnight.

This evening I’m back down in London for a friend’s birthday thing (and another late return home) and then tomorrow morning I’m over in Reading supporting another friend who’s running the Reading half-marathon (again) and raising money for the Multiple Sclerosis Trust.

So yeah, busy, and there really is no sign of sanity impinging on my life at any point soon…

Varied

So, this week is somewhat varied in its activities.

Yesterday was John Wick Chapter 2.

This evening I’m off to see Neil Gaiman at the Southbank Centre, talking about his newest book, “Norse Mythology“, his latest book. (And collecting a signed copy into the bargain)

Tomorrow, I’m off for a meal at the Fat Duck with friends, and driving them all there and back.

There’s stuff lined up for the weekend too, but that little lot should keep me going for a while anyway…

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