allochthonous: (then you can tell if it's summer)
It is so disgustingly hot. The warm water dripping from air-conditioning vents makes it feel like even the buildings are sweating and everything is flat and heavy and there is squashed fruit underfoot everywhere which normally I find charming but now is just yuck. In protest I have holed up in my flat with three books of Russian grammar and a bottle of wine in an attempt to crack Russian dates. No luck so far, but a lot of Sebastian Stan (I have finally worked out what tumblr is for).

I was briefly in London the other week, which meant (almost) All The Theatre.

Julius Caesar, The Globe )

The Crucible, The Old Vic ).

Titus Andronicus, The Globe )

I had a ticket for Antony & Cleopatra the day before I left, but sadly had to go emergency shopping instead (stupid Sunday opening hours). My annoyance at missing Eve Best and Clive Wood is mitigated by the fact that the Globe now DVDs everything, and they usually do it quite well too.

The forecast is for 37 C tomorrow. I am so ready for autumn right now.
allochthonous: (Default)
Full of glee because I achieved my Azerbaijan visa (no mean feat) and my Georgian work permit today, so I am all set to get back home next week. Vienna is nice and all and has good cake and drinkable coffee, but I am missing khachapuri.

For reasons of misplaced cultural enthusiasm I ended up this evening at a performance of Hamlet at the Burgtheater which I think is effectively the Austrian equivalent of the National. What I did not realise was that this was entirely uncut, although the 5.30 start time should perhaps have tipped me off; we didn't get out until 11. Bum-numbing qualities aside,  it was actually pretty good (well, Hamlet and Gertrude and weirdly, Rosencratz, were excellent; everyone else sort of so-so and they did some weird thing where a different actor played Ophelia when she was mad which I thought was just odd) with a  young Hamlet which makes him so much less tiresome (he still is fairly tiresome, but I find it way more forgivable when played by a 20-something as opposed to a pushing-40, which seems standard in the UK these days), and a slightly bizarre set like the interior of a sad 1980s conference centre, but five and a half hours of Hamlet is generally far more Hamlet than anyone needs.

But the final scene was entirely worth the preceding five hours as after all that Serious Acting everyone let rip: I've never seen such stupendously histrionic death agonies. The duel was great, which it isn't always, but was totally overshadowed by Gertrude rolling around on the floor behind them while Hamlet wasn't going to let deadly poison prevent him from emitting earsplitting shrieks between every line. Meanwhile Claudius sort of stood around forgetting to act until it was time to die and then he collapsed tenderly into Osric's arms, and then young Fortinbras came in and giggled like a psycopath and beat up Horatio. It was superb.
allochthonous: (Default)
I've started so many posts the last few weeks and been distracted. Lovely time in London over Christmas (although I'm not sure we had a single dry day) but back in Georgia now, which is a great relief because I can curl up on the sofa with a bag of walnuts and a massive hunk of sulguni cheese and a cup of coffee and not have to move because someone needs to watch The Holiday or whatever. To ease myself in, have some links.

An absolute must-read  photoessay from [livejournal.com profile] zyalt on the street battles in Kiev (getting a lot of traffic so you may need to reload); couple that with Ten Things the West Needs to Know About the Situation in Kiev. The protests may have originally kicked off about the backtracking of the government on signing an Association Agreement with the EU, but the violence is now very much in response to the massive clampdown on civil liberties from the government.

This video from the Donmar Warehouse of the cast preparing for a performance of Coriolanus. If you are anywhere near a theatre showing the NT Live screening of this production on Jan 30th (later dates in the US), beg, borrow or steal a ticket (or, you know, ring up and book one like a normal person). One of best bits of theatre I've seen for a long time, and one day I will actually finish writing up my review of it.

The new Sam Wanamaker Playhouse next  to the Globe looks so beautiful. It's a reproduction of a Jacobean theatre, complete with lighting via candle  (candelabra descending from the ceiling! It sounds delightful, but how do they ensure people don't get wax dripped on them? Or maybe that's an essential part of the Jacobean experience). It's tiny, and I wonder if it is going to prompt a Donmar-style scramble for tickets every season, which is something those of us who are less orgnanised really don't need.

The list of things for which I need to return to London this summer grows ever longer: Simon Russell Beale's King Lear, Wolf Hall and Bring up the Bodies at the RSC (I am curled up on my sofa with a cup of coffee rereading BUtB for the umpteenth time and doodling little hearts around Mantel's writing, I love these books so much), and the British Museum's Viking exhibition. I do love a good viking, and I even more love the glee with which the press are making Ikea jokes about the BM being sent an entire flat-pack longship from Denmark.

Tbilisi is not looking so hot at the moment. So here are some old paintings I found of Tbilisi looking exciting and romantic and far more dramatic than it actually is (it is pretty dramatic, though).
allochthonous: (Default)
I have had a fairly hectic couple of weeks - a nastily timed bout of flu means that I am about two hundred quid out after missing two flights to the Netherlands, and then I was at one of those conferences last week which has stuff basically scheduled from 7am to 9pm, and you find yourself having extended meetings until 1 in the morning while the restaurant staff are just begging you to leave. But now I am back in Tbilisi, which is lovely and autumnal, and I had the odd realisation that for the first time my flat feels more like home to me than my parents' house. Better late than never, I suppose.

Surprisingly, I went to the theatre a bit in London!

Edward II )

Much Ado About Nothing )

What are you reading now?

Nearly done with The Moonstone, which was free on the kindle, and long so good for plane trips. It is apparently one of the first detective stories in English, and very similar in tone to the Sherlock Holmes books (though obviously much longer). Good fun, give or take the very of-its-time attitude towards those wacky Hindoos (sic).

What have you just finished reading?

Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, which I got from a recommendation by someone on my reading list. One of the best YA fantasies I've read for quite some time: dragons, excellent worldbuilding, ace female characters, and a love interest that doesn't overwhelm the whole plot. Although I agree with the original rec post, which said that it would have felt slightly more realistically if Seraphina herself had been aged up a bit. She pinged me far more as late teens/early twenties than sixteen.

What will you read next?

It's nearly Republic of Thieves time! I loved The Lies of Locke Lamora and Red Seas Under Red Skies (now containing actual women!) and can't wait to see what Lynch does with this.

Hamlet, RSC

May. 5th, 2013 12:09 pm
allochthonous: (then you can tell if it's summer)
London in three consecutive sunny days shocker! Honestly, this is the loveliest spring I can remember in London for years. If only it holds out for the bank holiday. I am sitting in the garden painting my nails and trying not to get cat hair stuck to them, which is tricky, since Oscar has decided the bowl of yoghurt and raspberries I am eating must be the most delicious thing ever and refuses to be rebuffed. I have a friend's wedding this afternoon, at which there should be many people I have not seen in months and lots of booze, which is always a good combination.

The other day I headed up to Stratford (upon-Avon, not the one with the Westfield and the Olympic park) with my mother to see the new RSC Hamlet. I hadn't been for years (in fact, possibly not since Historiesfest '08) and I wanted to check out the new theatre; plus, I am a Jonathan Slinger fangirl and will watch him in anything, even Hamlet. The theatre was lovely and felt agreeably like the Courtyard, of which I have so many fond memories, and the atrium was decorated with old props and costumes, including an excellent bear which I was sorry to find out hadn't actually been in A Winter's Tale.

Hamlet ) 

Right, time to get outdoors for a bit, then just time to catch up on last night's Doctor Who before the wedding.
allochthonous: (Default)
Good things: it is a beautiful day, I have tickets for David Tennant in Richard II (DO WANT), Jude Law in Henry V (...not sure if want? I am taking a friend to see it as she is desparate to see a H5 in the theatre and this is the first one up, but Law annoys me as an actor, although I haven't actually seen him on stage, so he might be fine. Still, should be interesting) in December, and, oh yes, I get a day in ISTANBUL en route to Ethiopia in ten days' time. I have never been to Turkey before, so I am massively excited (it does put paid to my long-standing dream to see Istanbul for the first time from the sea, but I suppose I can make my peace with that). I am also trying to entice my family over to Rome for a long weekend in May. Sometimes having no direct flights home is a bonus.

What are you reading now?

Firebrand, by Ankaret Wells - swashbuckling steampunky goodness. Airships? Of course there's airships. I am crossing my fingers for sky pirates.

What have you just finished reading?

Thicker than Water, the fourth Felix Castor novel. I liked this series quite a bit at the beginning, but I am slightly over Fix's manpain and the way he acts like a total ass to anyone who tries to help him. Seriously, you're fighting some unspecified Big Bad of Supreme Evilness, you take all the help you can get (Buffy would have had a few sharp words for him). I will probably read number five just to see how the arc resolves, but eh. It's possible to write a good supernatural mystery with less angst, you know.

What will you read next?

I keep saying Wolf Hall, but now I actually have it on my kindle, so there's no excuse. I have a lot of flights and hanging around in airports over the next two weeks so maybe it will stick.
allochthonous: (gin o'clock)
I am not totally convinced about this Barclays Front Row business at the Donmar Warehouse. They release a bunch of ten quid tickets for their curret production every Monday morning, but the damned things sell out in a couple of minutes. Previously I haven't been able to get any for Julius Caesar; today I got a couple in my basket, then the site jammed and they didn't go through. I know the previous system of day tickets discriminated against people with actual jobs which might look askance at their employees taking the morning off to hang around in Covent Garden, but it was quite sociable and you could go on coffee runs to Monmouth. They still do standing tickets, so I think I'll just get one of them. Fortunately this production of JC seems to be fairly heavily edited.

Celebrated Twelfth Night (or possibly Thirteenth Night, depending if you see Christmas Night (which may or may not be Christmas Eve) as First Night or 0th Night. Tricky.) with a readthrough of Twelfth Night with [personal profile] kerrypolka and [livejournal.com profile] hoshuteki  and various other lovely people and a superb dog. I drew the spotlight part of the Second Officer, whose crowning moment in which he arrests Antonio (allowing him to break off for a monologeue or two en route) is surely a highlight of Elizabethan drama; also, Sebastien who has not a brain in his pretty little head and is marvellously unfazed by strange women dragging him in off the street and marrying him, and also unable to recognise his twin sister in drag and Maria, who is all about the Witty Banter with Sir Toby & co., but this is a little obtuse when you do not have an annotated edtion, which we did not. Ah, Shakespearean comedies. Still, fantastic night sadly brought to an early close by the vagaries of Sunday public transport (one day, Berlin). I am liking the date-appropriate readthroughs. Julius Caesar on the Ides of March? Henry V upon St Crispin's day? The possibilities are endless.

I am trying to obtain Caucasus books but there does not appear to be a whole lot of travel literature around, and what there is is out of print. Gap in the market? I THINK SO.
allochthonous: (Default)
Jeremy Irons will play Henry IV, with Simon Russell Beale as Falstaff, and Tom Hiddleston as Prince Hal (Irons looks even more grim and Henry IV-y than usual in the picture accompanying that article) in the BBC Henry IVs next summer. This plus a Ben Wishaw, Rory Kinnear and Patrick Stewart-full Richard II, and Hiddleston going on to star in Henry V adds up to one giant IS IT 2012 YET. Note to self: arrange matters so I am back in the UK when these are broadcast.
allochthonous: (Default)
Yesterday my parents announced that they had obtained tickets for Ruddigore at the pub theatre down the road, and it was going to be a Family Outing, so we'd better get our comic operetta faces on stat. Ruddigore is remarkably silly even by Gilbert and Sullivan's high, high standards (there's professional bridesmaids and evil baronets and ghosts who suddenly come back to life for no apparent reason, IDEK) but you don't really go to this kind of thing for the plot, and the cast of nine played about three parts each and played all their own instruments too, which I thought was impressive, and it was thoroughly entertaining. Actually, having also recently seen Iolanthe (fairies marrying MPs) and HMS Pinafore (sailors and, erm, more sailors) with [livejournal.com profile] kerrypolka and [livejournal.com profile] hoshuteki, I am reminded how much of a guilty pleasure G&S are of mine, and just how hilarious when done right (i.e. tongue firmly in cheek, camp turned up to eleven). Much rhyming of "duty" and "beauty", an improbably large chorus of maidens, a bit with lots of union jacks and a resolution scene where it turns out that everyone is related, engaged and that it all goes to show that the House of Lords is incompetent. Quality.
allochthonous: (Default)
The trailer for the RSC production of Macbeth, starring Jonathan Slinger (much beloved of those who've seen him in - well, anything, but especially the histories) is here. Try and ignore the wildly OTT strings and the woe-Macduff's-dead-children-are-dead visuals, and let Slinger give you chills: "Methought I heard a voice cry 'Sleep no more..."

I cannot wait for this production.

95 theses

Jan. 19th, 2011 02:17 pm
allochthonous: (we make the golden journey)
I was reading a thread at io9 wherein commenters were bemoaning the fact that the BBC no longer produces good, original drama. A lone, dissenting voice offered something called "Luther" as an example of quality new programming. Full of excitement, I rushed to google to find out where I could obtain by fair means or foul what must surely be a thrilling miniseries chronicling the life of Martin Luther and his struggles with the church - only to subside in disappointment to discover it was yet another gritty detective drama. Am I the only person who thinks Luther's life would make a brilliant drama? I always think Reformation Europe must have been one of the most fascinating times to have been alive, especially at the beginning when anything seemed possible and the whole continent seemed to burst with new ideas and philosophies and people were setting up communes and inquisitions and proclaiming the end times right left and centre, before everyone got massacred by the armies of the great powers (England actually had a relatively tame Reformation, all things considered. Central Europe had a much more exciting (and brutal) time). Well, it's not too long until 2017, so I suppose we might get some 500th anniversary excitement then.

I am full of satisfaction because I logged onto the NT website at exactly the right minute to pounce on cheap returns for their Twelfth Night tomorrow, which has had amazing reviews and is otherwise completely sold out for the whole run. Unexpected theatre tickets are the best kind.
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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