Tuesday, 26 January 2016

That's entertainment

A while ago, The Cat's Mother and I started talking about going to see bands for no better reason that the next time they play may be their last.  It was one of the reasons we went to see Fleetwood Mac last year.  Another one of those bands were The Eagles who we saw about 15 months ago.  They were fabulous...performance perfect at the O2, albeit in a very corporate environment, with announcements that people should refrain from taking pictures or videos...lesser bands might have suggested that this was so the audience wouldn't miss the experience because their face was presses up against a mobile phone screen...but here you couldn't help but feel the heavy hands of the copyright lawyers pressing down.  Anyway, as I said it was a great concert to go to...and whilst we can pat ourselves on the back for getting to see The Eagles then, I'd have preferred it if Glenn Frey hadn't died.  I had a lively discussion just after the concert with the Rock Critic who I share an office with and who had thought the concert was rubbish because of the 'corporate feel'...I'm not sure how he feels now. 

Funnily enough he and I had a conversation about David Bowie a couple of weeks ago - he'd published some details about the new album ahead of time, not realising the information had been given 'off the record' and as a result he was in deep trouble with the record company...so all in all Mr Bowie's death was poorly timed for our Rock Critic. 

We didn't even think about David Bowie as someone to go and see (not that he was touring) because he hadn't occurred to us that he should be on our list.  I guess it was the shock that someone in what appeared to be their prime was in fact fully aware they were dying.  I was never a fan, but can certainly appreciate his incredible talents, and his position as a cultural icon.

As for Lemmy...well a great talent...The Boy and I saw him supporting the Foo Fighters in Hyde Park a few years ago.  He was most apologetic for playing anything other than Ace of Spades, and quite endearing for that.

So that's my links with deceases rock stars...we all feel a need to do that these days don't we?

We've been to plenty of entertainments over the last few weeks...you wouldn't expect anything else, would you?

Last night 'As You Like It' at the National, which is as good a performance as you'll ever see...in fact better.  The production was dazzling, the performances unimpeachable.  Best of all the words were spoken without that usual shoutiness that many actors feel the need to do when they're playing Shakepeare.

On Saturday we went to see The Hangmen.  It contains the most shocking scene I have ever witnessed in a theatre...the whole audience gasped as a man was hanged in front of them.  It is true too say that good theatre is unrivalled, and this was beyond good.  I'm hopeless with names, but it's written by the same guy that wrote In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths, and manages the same galloways (sic) humour...you catch yourself laughing when in fact you should be shocked and horrified.  Fantastic set and absolutely fabulous.

Did I mention we went to see Guys and Dolls...that old musical.  Again, an absolute treat...with real actors putting in terrific performances...and still singing brilliantly.  I pick out Jamie Parker as my favourite, although there were plenty to choose from.  A musical with substance and style.

Our biggest disappointment has been Les Liaisons Dangereuse, which had Dominic West playing what appeared to be a plummy Englishman rather a louche, conniving, venal Frenchman.  Anyway we hated it.  The Cat's Mother wanted to leave at half time...I insisted on staying, as much as anything to satisfy my curiosity.  Everyone seemed to be stumbling over their words...I guess they must have known them, so it must have been a Directorial thing...but really it was awful.

We had a thoroughly entertaining evening with Sir Anthony Sher talking about his life and work.  I had no idea he was South Africa.  I won't hold that against him...he seemed a lovely fellow, very interesting...and with a talent for drawing as well.  He was happy to chat afterwards which was nice.

Rocky Horror?  The New Year's treat in Brighton.  What can you say really?  It's a pantomime, and the production values reflected that...it was delightful fun, but rubbish at the same time.  I enjoyed it a lot more than The Cat's Mother.

I nearly forgot, we also saw a play called Harliquinade, starring and Directed by Kenneth Brannagh.  We came out slightly lost for words.  You couldn't criticise the production values, or the performances.  But.  Yes, but...the play itself should have stayed back in the 1950s when it was written and set.  Talk about of its time, it certainly was.  Poor choice on our part, but let's not deny Mr Brannagh's comic timing...he was very good indeed.

I went to a talk by Iain Sinclair who goes for very long walks and then writes books about them.  This one was about walking round the London Overground Line (best known by Londoners as the Ginger Line).  It was held at the London Transport Museum, and I expected it to be a talk attended by trainspotters alone.  I couldn't have been more wrong.  What I'd failed to take into account is that he writes quite insightfully about the social impact of the line, so it was full of people who care about society, and how political and commercial decisions impact on the general populace.  It was right up my street, even if I didn't agree with him on all points...best of all though he writes in a very careful, clever almost lyrical way, and speaks in the same way.  An unexpectedly delightful evening.