Thursday, July 19, 2012

When one is tired of London one is tired of life, Oscar Wilde famously quipped. Even as a Londoner I'm not convinced losing the will to live is so geographically specific, but you'd certainly have to be in a bad way to feel lethargic in that city with fantastic shows like Sweeney Todd at the Adelphi and - even more mindblowing - Richard III at the Globe. Sondheim's musical, featuring Michael Ball and glorious Imelda Staunton, is beautifully lit and staged as well as movingly performed. I loved the Tim Burton movie, but hadn't appreciated how powerful a really good stage version could be.
But nothing could surpass Mark Rylance as Shakespeare's most vicious and mendacious monarch. He inhabited the role to an extraordinary degree, as though his lines were not memorised but chosen in that moment, his eyes flicking around to seize any advantage, seducing us to laughter and pity with the wit of a standup comic and the pathos of a sad clown. As Al Pacino put it, 'he speaks Shakespeare as if it was written for him the night before.’ Strong performances too from his supporters and victims ~ most were both ~ especially Roger Lloyd-Pack, a long way from Dibley's parish council meetings. This was my first experience as a 'groundling' in the pit and I was lucky to grab a footage right next to the stage, where I could have reached out to pinch the king's ankle when he stepped forward ~ which was often, as the Globe's policy is to recreate the production values of Shakespeare's day, so women are played by men, scenary is minimal, and Richard gloats direct to the audience like a pantomime villain. He's duly hissed and heckled, too. Thrilling stuff ~ can't wait to go again.

Fun footnote: Frome Festival pictures are in the local paper now, and I'm delighted with this review from journalist Suzanne Norbury:
Four witty women wordsmiths wowed the crowd with their tasty poetic treats in a comedy send up of TV's food favourite Come Dine With Me.
Crysse Morrison, Alison Clink, Rosemary Dun and Muriel Lavender transformed into incredibly glamorous but equally catty and critical dinner party guests rating each other's feast of words as they competed for the chance to walk away with the title of Frome Festival Rhymster.
Oranges, wine, Ambrosia, aggressive male chefs, botox, men in glasses and the exciting possibilities life can hold for women no longer shackled by a wedding ring were all on offer as visitors to the Garden Cafe joined the ladies around the dinner table.
Armed with score cards, wicked words and cutting jibes the poetic princesses dissected each other's offerings then rated them out of ten.
Frome's Muriel Lavender was crowed the champion thanks to her witty ditties exploring the lives behind celebrity super injunctions, the appeal of strange men and what happens can happen when cookery recipes and erotic fiction collide in the kitchen.

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