allochthonous: (london)
When I was away I had a vaguely drunken conversation with a Parisian expat about how living abroad makes you appreciate your home town more, and about how when we go home we stand on bridges and love our cities. And that is exactly what I do when I come back to London, I come out of Embankment and cross the Hungerford Bridge and look at St Paul’s and the Eye and the Gherkin and the Shard (which has certainly come on a bit since I last saw it) and Tower Bridge in the distance and think that there are not many places so beautiful. I estimate it will be at least a couple of months before the usual irritations start welling up and I shall want to be elsewhere again. But for the moment, wandering around my town which I love with a pretentious coffee in my hand (a cortado from Notes tastes just like burnt caramel, it really is outrageously good), I am perfectly content and know I will always come back here.

I am also going to the theatre a lot too (by which I mean the Globe, because £5 tickets are a wonderful thing).

Henry V, BBC (contains a lot of ranting) )

Henry V, The Globe )

Richard III, The Globe )

So that’s my life at the moment: theatre and London and seeing people who I haven’t seen for months (if you are in London and I haven't seen you then I should! Let's go to the pub!) and also jobhunting (that is a lie. I am not jobhunting at all). I have no idea what's going to happen next (in which respect I haven't advanced much since graduating four years ago, which is not an encouraging thought), but no doubt something will turn up. In the meantime, London is awesome. That is all.

allochthonous: (Default)
So that was a bit good. As [livejournal.com profile] angevin2 predicted, part 2 was lots better than part 1, mostly because the overall mood of the play is much more sombre, so SRB's take on Falstaff in particular fit the tone very well. Also, the play ends on such an emotional gutpunch, that anything is forgivable so long as the last scenes between Hal and his father and Falstaff come good, which they did here, and how.

All things considered, this is not a very uplifting play )

I am very curious as to how much of the plot is clear to people who don't know the plays at all. The political thread running through the tetralogy has so far been almost completely lost, which makes me think that the motivations of a lot of the antagonists must seem a bit opaque (people rebelling just for the hell of it? Why not?), and is Henry's guilt about Richard coming through at all? Hmmm, it'll be interesting to see whether they keep the line about reinterring Richard's body in Henry's pre-Agincourt prayer in Henry V next week. Which I won't actually get to see until the end of the month, but at least when I do I'll be back in London. Once more unto the breach.
allochthonous: (Default)
I have to go buy a compass, but it's too hot and I don't wanna. Instead I am ambling from cafe to cafe drinking iced coffee and rewatching Henry IV part 1. Things could be worse.

In before Part 2 (just)! )

Anyway, overall judgement reserved until I've seen part 2, but so far, so good. Also, I still don't have a Shakespeare icon, how is this possible?
allochthonous: (Default)
I am having issues with the weather at the moment. Belgrade, this is not OK.

THIS IS NOT OK

This was a particualrly nasty shock coming straight after a week in Amsterdam, which required a blissful number of layers and the frequent use of an umbrella. In response to this unprepossessing weather, I am resolutely working from home this week (home air-conditioning unit >>>>> office air-conditioning unit) which has the added benefit of my colleagues not having to put up with a constant muttered refrain on the subject of the weather in Foreign Parts in general and the Balkans in particular. Two weeks to go before I can escape off up a mountain somewhere.

In the meantime, it's histories time! I've been looking forward to the BBC adaptations of the second tetralogy for ages, and last weekend was Richard II.

Dodgy religious imagery ahoy! )

So yes, good stuff (I wouldn't have had nearly as much fun watching them without plenty to complain about), and I am very much looking forward to the Henry IVs (the buzz at the moment is that they are the best of the four). Bring on Falstaff as a Jesus-St Ursula hybrid (only joking, Richard Eyre, please don't).

PS on a still-Shakespeare-but-not-histories note, somebody tell me why we haven't had Chiwetel Ejiofor's Hamlet yet? I was wondering this earlier today and I googled and found him doing the Hecuba monologue from Hamlet on youtube and ow, I need the rest. Preferably at the Donmar Warehouse, so you can get close enough to see him properly. Somebody want to get Josie Rourke on that stat?

ETA Important point related to medieval headgear: anyone know how historically accurate the scarf/turban/giant sock combo everyone was wearing on their heads is? They really distracted me for a good proportion of the indoor scenes.
allochthonous: (Default)
I woke up this morning with the worst hangover I've had in years, and worst I've ever had that didn't involve vodka and/or tequila. This is atrributable to my boss's habit of proclaiming Thursday as going-out-night, and merrily ordering round after round of cheap wine (actually, she doesn't even need to do that anymore. The barman sees us coming and cracks out several bottles immediately.) So today was wholly unproductive except in the lying-in-bed-feeling-miserable sense (I am so lucky I can technically work from home; my housemate, who was ina similar state, had to be at a conference at 9 am this morning), and I really needed it to be productive, so now I get to spend all evening angsting about the work I've failed to do while simultaneously feeling rubbish. Never drinking again, etc.

In happier news, the BBC has started releasing more information about their "Hollow Crown" series of films of the Shakespeare histories, now showing in July, as far as I can tell. This is a clip from the Thea Sharrock-directed Henry V - it's Henry and Montjoy, "We are but warriors for the working day...".


Obviously it's difficult to say much about the final product from a nintey-second clip, but it's interesting to see what's there so far. Outrrrrageous French accents are in (well, maybe not so outrageous since as far as I can tell they have recruited actual French actors) and King Henry has a very fidgety horse. I love "We are but warriors...", almost more than the St Crispin's day speech: it's a wonderful bit of defiance and desparation (and bad jokes - unaccountably they seem to have cut "There's not a piece of feather in our host/Good argument, I hope, we will not fly"), and as such I generally prefer it to be a bit less low-key than it's played here. It's also a bit weird that his entire army seems to have vanished in the ten or so lines between St Crispin's day and this scene, but maybe they're just all hanging out off camea. Oh well, pointless to speculate too much at this stage, and I like Hiddleston a good deal as an actor (his off-the-cuff Harfleur speech the other day wasn't bad either) so I'm pretty excited for this.

Annoyingly, I can't find a youtube version of the clip from Richard II (Patrick Stewart doing "This royal throne of kings...", accessible here if you're in the UK), presumably because it doesn't contain Tom Hiddleston, who seems to have acquired via his stints in Thor and The Avengers an alarmingly devoted legion of fangirls (the comments on the video above are instructive). I'm sure it will turn up sooner or later, and in the meantime I am crossing my fingers for a glimpse of Simon Russel Beale as Falstaff. What with Jamie Parker's Henry at the Globe too, this is going to be a gooooood histories summer.
allochthonous: (Default)
Man, LJ hates me this evening, I've tried to post this about four times. Clearly LJ is not a fan of the second tetralogy. 

Anyway. Although I knew very little about the play apart from a few YouTube clips of the BBC Jacobi version and the odd historical novel, Richard II was probably the one I was most interested to see this weekend. Julia and Cherie talked it up like mad to me beforehand (never mind the acting, the shoes were apparently something special) and, of course, there were certain members of my flist who might've been the tiniest bit keen on this play. 


Alright, that? Was terrific. Compared to the other plays it was light on the action (I realised at the end it was the only one without a battle or six), but it never dragged at all, and having set things up so perfectly, it leaves you with a dreadful sense of inevitability about the ensuing events over the next century. 

Briefer (somewhat) notes for the H4s, as I'd just be repeating myself for a lot of it. But overall, these two were vastly better than when I first saw them six months ago - way, way more polished. J and C were seeing them for the third time and confirmed that there'd been a big improvement every time. 

allochthonous: (Default)
We had what must have been a professional snorer in our room Thursday night, so I awoke Friday feeling slightly zombified myself. Plays at 10.30 pm, 3 pm and 7.30 pm were a slightly scary prospect on two hours sleep, but fortified with a triple espresso, I managed not to embarrass myself by nodding off.

 
 
Oh, these were fun. I realise that I haven't been especially critical, largely because I don't know the text very well at all, so my review has sort of degenerated into a list of "bits that were cool". A lot of the stuff I've said is probably really obvious to anyone who knows the plays well, but it was a great treat seeing them for the first time so superbly done.

Richard III I know slightly better - I've never seen it in the theatre, but I have seen the McKellen film a couple of times, and I think I must have seen the Olivier version as well. Still, by this point the lack of sleep was catching up with me slightly so I wasn't especially on the ball for this one and I have far fewer notes.

allochthonous: (Hal is hot)
When I was in primary school, every year a local theatre company would come in and do a Shakespeare workshop with us, and we would learn about a play and do some acting, and then go and see a (much abridged) production of it. We did Julius Caesar, Macbeth and, for some reason, A Winter's Tale, despite the fact that it confused us more than all the rest put together. Then, one year, we did Henry V. I remember very little about the workshop (except that the guy in my class who got to be Henry had been Macbeth the previous year, which we all considered to be the height of unfairness), and less still about the production, although I must have taken a certain amount in. About a week later my friend's mother, in a desperate attempt to distract us from using her little brother to fish for frogspawn in the pond, put on a video of Branagh's 1989 film of that play. I was transfixed. I was nine or ten and I didn't understand a lot of the words, but I remember that they sounded right, far better than the paraphrased meanings we'd been given in the workshop, and that the scene at the end of the battle with Doyle's incredible "Non Nobis" made me cry. I borrowed the video and watched it again and again, demanded a proper video of it for Christmas, and continued to watch it religiously. There was blood! There were men with swords! There was poetry! How could this possibly be boring? My mother took me to a proper production - I don't think it was even a very good one, but it was enthralling nonetheless. Since, for some reason, our local theatre didn't keep a permanent production of Henry V to feed my obsession, I tentatively began to branch out a little and discovered that some of this guy's other plays were pretty okay too. But Henry V was the play that got me hooked on Shakespeare, and exposure at an impressionable age has rendered me clinically incapable of missing a production of this play if I can possibly help it. So  yeah. I was just a little bit keen to see this one.

I was a little iffy about the RSC productions of the two parts of Henry IV I saw over the summer and not entirely sure what Geoffrey Streatfeild as Hal would do with Henry V, but, childhood crushes are powerful things, so I made the epic trek to Stratford-upon-Avon this morning (I don't quite understand how this bloody town can be equally impossible to get to from anywhere in the country, but they mange it. I bet if you started from Stratford itself, it would still take you three hours and you'd have to change trains twice).


In summary: YES. Much better than the Henry IVs, although they need to leave the aerial acrobatics alone for a while and cut back on the music. This ensemble really is magic; I would love to see an understudy performance of one of these productions, just to see how much changes. Since Mum fortunately sees Shakespeare as Improving, she's offered to get me tickets for Christmas for all eight plays when they do them back-to-back in March (while technically I suppose I could wait til they come to London, I think it would be more fun to see them in Stratford with all the other crazy people who think 24 solid hours of the Histories is the greatest thing ever).

Aaaand it's two thirty in the morning and I need to sleep.
allochthonous: (exceeding weary)
To make up for my somewhat sucky summer so far, a couple of friends and I headed up to Stratford-upon-Avon this weekend to see the RSC production of the two parts of Henry IV. I'd been pretty psyched to see these plays for a while and none of us had ever been to Stratford before, so we were all well up for some good, healthy culture. Stratford itself was pretty horrendous, which I had been warned about. Full of fake half-timbered buildings (while I suspect there might be an original or two knocking around, it's a little difficult to tell) and Ye Olde McDonalds and so desparately kitsch and Bard-themed that I imagine that living there would make one loathe Shakespeare with every atom of your being. It's also a major pain in the arse to get to by public transport, both from London and, I imagine, other major centres. I would love it if the RSC got a permanent base in London again but in fairness, most of its stuff does transfer to somewhere there (eventually). Despite the weather (foul, but at least not actively flooding for a change), we had a good wander and spent a happy half-hour before the plays in the library of reviews at the Swan Theatre, digging out all of the ones we'd seen. I was mildly disconcerted to realise that I'd seen every Henry V they've done in the past ten years - Kenneth Branagh has a certain amount to to answer for.


Right, that's enough of that. I am thinking of buggering off to somewhere remote for a week or so (Outer Hebrides sounds good) to go pretend that this summer actually didn't happen. The weather cannot possibly be worse there than it is here.

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