grondfic: (DeathHorse)
Desperately sad to hear this news today. He was one of the greats in a great generation of actors.

I checked right back to my early youth, when I saw him onstage at Stratford in 2 plays in the same season - as Lysander in A Midsummer Night's Dream and as Cassio in Othello. He was impossibly handsome then.

So - just take a look at who else appeared in those two plays (not everyone was, or became, illustrious in later years; but rather a lot were, or did .. it's even worth checking all those 'unnamed parts' at the end of 'Othello'!):

A Midsummer Night's Dream
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grondfic: (DeathHorse)
My record on AO3 is modest, to say the least. I read with awe various memes with collected hits of millions, and how Kudos relates to hits, and whether comments come into it ....

Well, my stuff is mainly in obscure fandoms (or even no-existing-fandoms), and I spread my net far too wide, hopping hither and yon and only touching on the big stuff (LOTR, Harry Potter) in passing.

So my stats have never been worth the brag ... until NOW. Because NOW, even as I type, my most popular work - Ajax Renown'd (fandom: Georgette Heyer) is trembling on the brink with 999 hits!

Please somebody - go over there and access it, and tip me over into the heady joys of One Grand! (It's only taken since 2010 to get there)
grondfic: (DeathHorse)
War Horse (National)
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Uncle Vanya (Hampstead Theatre)

Before beginning the review proper, I'd like to recommend to anyone visiting Swiss Cottage, a visit to Fiddie's Italian Kitchen on Finchley Road. It's dead basic (one loo fits all, for example); and there's no artsy nonsense about the crockery or plating-up; BUT the food is brilliant and the prices so reasonable as to be dirt-cheap.

Now, on with the show -
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The Original Death Rabbit (Jermyn Street Theatre)
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grondfic: (FuchsParadise)
I know, I know! I'm late; and it's not a live commentary, just a live resume of a recording. Still, here we go.

This year's Conductor is Gustav Thielemann.

Schönfeld March, op. 422 (Carl Michael Ziehrer)
We immediately start spotting ladies in the orchestra: one flautist, three violinists, one cellist, one harper, one bassoonist. Better than some years; but still a bit feeble.

This is a very 'marchy' march.

Transactionen (Transactions). Walzer, op.184 (Josef Strauss)
Scenes of the Volksgarten whilst this plays. Maybe a bit like Monet's Japanese-style garden. It's near the Hofburg and, photographed in a bright summer, looks idyllic.

Josef's waltz is dreamier and more subdued than some of Johann Sohn's. It's for lovers not waltz-hall denizens.

Marks 100 years of Austro-Japanese friendship (hence - Transactions)

Elfenreigen (Dance of the Elves) (Josef Hellmesberger, Jr.)
Musically these elves are clearly small and dance on mushrooms; although in the second movement, we may have progressed to Oberon and Titania loved-up, post-reconciliation.

Nope - these were not SERIOUS elves!

Express. Polka schnell, op. 311 (Johann Strauss Jr.)
This is a cheer-up-Vienna! polka to console the citizens after defeat in the Austro-Prussian War. They'd have finished up so breathless that they wouldn't have had the energy to repine!

Nordseebilder (North Sea Pictures). Walzer, op. 390 (Johann Strauss Jr.)
Inspired by Strauss's summer holidays on the North Sea island of Föhr. Very light, as befits a holiday-snap; but where is the hidden menace of the North Sea?

Ahh - there's a bit of a build-up to a storm, which appears to blow-over quite quickly!

Mit Extrapost (Special Delivery). Polka schnell, op. 259 (Eduard Strauss)
Polka celebrating the fast-post service that covered the Austro-Hungarian Empire (you can see their distinctive yellow buildings all over Austria and into places like Bratislava).

Interval, during which we get a visual tour of the Staatsoper.
There's a rehearsal of Die Fledermaus in progress.

Now we're looking in on a string-section rehearsing Mozart's Don Giovanni overture.....

... and a Donizetti chorus.

Now some ballet - Hurrah! They're doing a waltz from Raymonda, which we saw the Trocks doing, back in September - somewhat differently!

Now a bit of Pappagano/Pappagana from The Magic Flute.

Der Rosenkavalier plays whilst we visit the makeup and wig room. And the costumiers.

Back to Part 2 of the Concert now.

Ouvertüre zur Operette "Der Zigeunerbaron (The Gypsy Baron)" (Johann Strauss Jr.)
Petroc Trelawney introduces this piece by reminding us that 100 years ago in 1918/19, the Austro-Hungarian Empire was breaking-up in the wake of WW1. (I'm not sure why, because this operetta was composed in 1885! - mainly for the Hungarian overtones in the music, I think)

Die Tänzerin (The Dancer). Polka française, op. 227 (Josef Strauss)
Jolly but more like a march.

Künstlerleben (An Artist’s Life). Walzer, op. 316 (Johann Strauss Jr.)
The ballet school will dance to this one. Yays!

We see them first on the roof of their School in Vienna, then inside the Opera House. Oh dear, polka-dots! Not a good look in a tutu. The pale grey stripe and harlequin-diamond are OK, but the pastels always win out in my book. (The boys are dead boring in dark trousers and white turtle-necks)

Die Bajadere (The Bayadere). Polka schnell, op. 351 (Johann Strauss Jr.)
This is so 'schnell' that you couldn't ballet to it, surely!

Opern-Soiree (Opera Soirée). Polka française, op. 162 (Eduard Strauss)
Eduard's stuff is always very smooth - his polka is less wild than Johann's previous one.

Eva-Walzer (Eva Waltz). Nach Motiven aus "Ritter Pásmán" (Johann Strauss Jr.)
From a failed serious-opera by Johann, hastily repurposed as concert pieces. Blimey - I just read a resume of the opera's plotline and it is booooring! No one dies, and has to sing an aria with their last breath; no one goes mad on their wedding night; no one bargains the brother's life for the sister's virginity (and then has him executed anyway). Oh well.

Csárdás aus „Ritter Pásmán“, op. 441 (Johann Strauss Jr.)
Ballet at Schloss Grafenegg! Hurrah!

Costumes are a bit wacky (crude primary colours), but the castle courtyard is worth the view. The inside is in grand-reconstruction style. The grounds are sundrenched, but look like just a lawn.

Egyptischer Marsch (Egyptian March), op. 335 (Johann Strauss Jr.)
The name of this was changed to 'The Circassian March' - either way, it's a very Viennese Egypt/Circassia! It's one of those where the orchestra stops playing and lalala's in the middle.

Entr'acte Valse (Josef Hellmesberger, Jr.)
Written to cover a scenery-change-pause in a dramatic work. It's slight, delightful and would possibly send the audience to sleep.

Lob der Frauen (In Praise of Women). Polka mazur, op. 315 (Johann Strauss Jr.)
Petroc refers (quite unironically, I think) to the recent controversy about the lack of women in the orchestra for this piece. The femme-count is still very low IMHO; only 11 this year, says Petroc, though we only counted 7.

Besides - there appears to me to be a heavy overtone of God bless them around this piece's title.

Sphärenklänge (Music of the Spheres). Walzer, op. 235 (Josef Strauss)
I love this piece; and I just LOVE the title - what a beautiful, onomatopoeic word!

We have a snow-arama showing as this pieces comes to an end (for no discernible reason)

Nice quiet ending, featuring their wondrous lady harper.

Im Strumschritt Polka Schnell Op.348 (Johann Strauss Jr.)
They do get a bit samey, after a full programme, I have to say; even though this is Strauss' version of the Can-can

An der schönen blauen Donau, Op. 314 (Johann Strauss Jr.)
Here we go - the beginning of the end, accompanied by a Danube panorama starting at -
Schloss Greinberg; then Basilika Maria Taferl; Schloss Artstetten; Ruine Weitenegg; Schloss Leiben; Schloss Schönbühel; Bergruine Aggstein; Ruine Hinterhaus; Durnstein; Burg Greifenstein.

Radetsky Marsch (Johann Strauss Sr.)
Here we are at the end again. We get a quick glimpse of President van der Bellen.

And, guys, I very much fear that this BBC broadcast might be falling victim to Brexit-uncertainty. Petroc tried to reassure us that 'there would be plenty of music from around the world, this year on Radio 3. The silence about this concert's future on tv was rather deafening.

I hope that wasn't the last one we get here; because it was not really one of their best. Plus we need to see if there are more women in the orchestra in future years.
grondfic: (DeathHorse)
The Wild Duck (Almeida)
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Summer and Smoke (Duke of York's)
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The Merry Wives of Windsor (Barbican)
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Antony and Cleopatra (National)
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grondfic: (DeathHorse)
I am well behind with reviews of our complete autumn's theatre visits. So, in a hurried attempt to clear the decks before we begin our 2019 viewing tomorrow(!) and Thursday(!!), here's Part 1 of Plays Wot We Seen in Autumn 2018:

The Height of the Storm (Wyndhams)
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Allelujah (livestreamed from The Bridge)
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A Very Very Very Dark Matter (The Bridge)

Possibly the worst play I've ever seen.
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Measure for Measure (Donmar)
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Doctor Doolittle: the Musical (Churchill Bromley)
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Honour (Park Theatre)
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The Madness of George III (livestreamed from Nottingham Playhouse)
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Still to come: The Wild Duck, Summer and Smoke, The Merry Wives of Windsor and Antony and Cleopatra
grondfic: (DeathHorse)
It's really a bit early for wren-hunting. Generally Wren Day occurred on the Feast of Stephen (ie. Boxing Day) when, in the Isle of Man and parts of Wales and Ireland, a wren was hunted, killed and borne in procession round the dwellings (whilst 'contributions' were solicited). Wren is generally titled King of the Birds; thus linking this ceremony (in the minds of C19 folklorists) to 'the dying King/God'.

ANYWAY, today, I'm definitively saying Not In My Back Yard; because - scandalously early - our regular marmalade-coloured visitor was lounging on the shed-roof, clearly on the stalk. S/he has been hanging round a lot recently - always near the more *ahem* well-covered parts of the garden, and always With Intent.

Today my worst fears were realised. Reaching the ivy-corner of the shed, s/he tensed, tail lashing furiously, and made a rather aborted spring; landing dexterously on the fence rather than in the perilous midst of the greenery. There was a pause, whilst Marmalade readjusted and gave a good impression of just-going-for-a-walk. Missed!

Our tiny garden-wren appeared briefly further down the fence, and then quietly disappeared.

So now I know for sure that it's the wren that Marmalade has been after. I gave hir my Best Glare through the upstairs window; and s/he haughtily deigned to quit our fence.

I love cats to bits; I really do. But Wrens are something else. From now on, Marmalade isn't welcome. S/he'll have to go back to rivalling the resident fox in raiding the dustbins round the front!
grondfic: (FuchsParadise)
..... to my friend [profile] thesmallhobbit

I hope you're having a great day.

Since you've recently been in Vienna, here's something from our Easter visit:
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These are what pass for underground stations in Vienna!
grondfic: (DeathHorse)
Eyam (Globe)
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The Importance of Being Earnest (Vaudeville, livestreamed)
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King Lear (Duke of Yorks)
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Mrs Dalloway (Arcola
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(Bram Stoker's) Dracula (Churchill Bromley)
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We also saw The Trocks at the Peacock; but since we ALSO saw Mayerling at the Royal Opera House (with the wondrous Francesca Hayward - Rah!), I'll do a comparison of the two ballet companies (keeping a strictly straight face) under separate cover.
grondfic: (FuchsParadise)
Here is Part 1 of a round-up of the rest of our theatrical adventures since mid-September.

About Leo (Jermyn Street)
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The Lehman Trilogy (National)
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Alice Oswald's Memorial (Barbican)
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Peer Gynt (Arcola)
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grondfic: (FuchsParadise)
I've stacked up rather a backlog of outstanding reviews, stretching back even to before we went on holiday in early September. Things are about to reach crisis-point, because we are 2/3 of the way through three theatre and livestream visits this week; with a further three next week; which is almost a Michael-Billington level of play-watching.

Emilia is the reason I never got on with all the other reviews. I loved it, and wanted to do it justice, but because I had so much to say, I kept putting it off and thus created a log-jam. Then - of course - I forgot everything I wanted to say under the weight of all the other stuff I was seeing. So - I'll here reconstruct using semi-bullet-points.

Emilia (Globe)
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So - here's an example of the kind of 'heresy' Emilia wrote. (For the record, her poetry and the preface To the vertuous reader made it past the Censor, and was published):

.... euell disposed men, who forgetting they were borne of women, nourished of women, ..... doe like Vipers deface the wombs therein they were bred .... Such as these, were they that dishonoured Christ his Apostles and Prophets ...
grondfic: (FuchsParadise)
.... to my dear Friend busarewski

Hope you're having a great day.

grondfic: (DeathHorse)
We've had rather a lot to do with Shakespeare's Globe during its summer season. I may try to give an overview of the whole thing once we complete our summer viewing with Eyam in early October; but in the meantime, I'll deal with the two we saw just before our holiday break.

I was originally going to do them in one posting; but I've found so much to say about Othello that I'm posting it and Emilia in separate entries, so -

Othello (The Globe)

I'm going to have to confess that my views on this piece might be unreliable. The reason for this is that, during a crucial scene, the lady sitting next to me leaned in and whispered "I think I'm going to faint!" Cue a complete shambles in our seating-section, during which my neighbour was hoisted as far as the hastily-vacated bench below us, stretched out, feet raised, water produced, volunteer-ushers in rather useless attendance etc etc. Finally she was removed ... only to be returned and hoisted back in again - just as the scene ended at the interval.

The reasons why I sound less than sympathetic are (a) The scene that our whole section missed was the one where Iago gets to grips with instilling horrible suspicions in Othello's head; and (b) the only person in the entire block who got to see the scene in its entirety was the fainter's partner, who sat stolidly staring at the stage whilst the world whorled around him. Pah!

[//rant\\ I've always said that the main problem with The Globe and its seating arrangements isn't the hard wooden benches or restricted space and views; it's the rest of the bloody audience! //rant over\\]
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grondfic: (FuchsParadise)
... so I took all the play-programmes on holiday, to do the outstanding reviews ....

Came back on Tuesday, still toting unused programmes *sigh*; and in the meantime I've been to another performance, thus lengthening the outstanding list.

So here are the first three (the runs finishing or already-finished now ... oh well ...)

The Lieutenant of Innishmore (Noel Coward Theatre)
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Exit the King (National)
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Aristocrats (Donmar Warehouse)
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grondfic: (DeathHorse)
The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (Donmar)
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Tartuffe (Theatre Royal Haymarket)
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Killer Joe (Trafalgar Studios)
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Red (Wyndham's)
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Imperium I: Conspirator II: Dictator (Gielgud)
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grondfic: (DeathHorse)
This early play by Brian Friel takes place in 1830s Donegal. It concerns Language. And Culture. And Imperialism. And Pedagogy. And, of course, Politics.

Hugh (Ciaran Hinds), is the master of a hedge-school, held in a disused barn in the isolated village of Baile Beag, Donegal. Manus his eldest son (Seamus O'Hara) is his monitor, accounts-keeper, food-provider and skivvy. The school provides a classical education to anyone who wants to turn up and pay. The pupils are therefore bi- or trilingual (depending on whether they speak Greek as well as Latin and Gaelic). What they do not speak or understand (apart from Manus, who isn't letting-on) is English.

Hugh is an habitual drinker, and his pupils are an eccentric bunch. Sarah (Michelle Fox) has such a bad speech impediment that she doesn't (as a rule) speak words at all, but uses sounds and signs to communicate. Elderly 'infant prodigy' Jimmy Jack (Dermot Crowley) lives remote and lonely in the world of Homer, mixed up with some elements of Irish mythology - he will later announce that he is to marry the goddess Athene, having fallen for her flashing eyes. Maire (Judith Roddy), for whom Manus clearly entertains a not-so-secret longing, wants to learn English so that she can leave her adjacent farm and migrate to New York.

And ominously - in the background - the Donnelly Twins are always absent - no one knows where. Mention is made of some missing army horses being found dead at the foot of a cliff ....

Somewhere in the background, the British government is setting-up non-denominational (ie. non-Catholic) National Schools; which will be compulsory, and where English will be taught and spoken.

It is also beginning a project of making an Ordnance Survey map of Ireland, the surveying of which is entrusted to the Royal Engineers. Thus, into the Gaelic world of Baile Beg, come Captain Lancey (Rufus Wright) and Lieutenant Yolland (Adetomiwa Edun), bringing with them Hugh's younger son Owen (Colin Morgan) who has been co-opted as translator. They are mapping the district, and need to Anglicise the Gaelic place-names in the parish.

Yolland is the linguistics expert, who has fallen in love with Ireland and its language (which he does not, however, understand). He also has an eye for Maire, who is providing his daily milk. She, it transpires, is by no means averse to him; though neither speaks the other's language.

The rather ironic joke that runs through Translations is that both the Irish and the English are speaking their lines in English; although they are not supposed to understand one another. Thus, the audience is made privy to the equivocalness of Owen's rendition into Gaelic of what the British soldiery is saying about the purpose of the ordnance survey, for the locals.

The mutual incomprehension turns into something glorious at the beginning of the 2nd act, when Maire and Yolland steal away from a dance. They speak across one another, not quite echoing one another's thoughts. Trains of thought overlap, but not with exactitude. Nonetheless, each cross-speech brings them closer to one another; and they finally meet as Yolland lists all the Irish place-names that he has learned from Owen.

It is a lovely scene (or 'gorgeous, gorgeous!' as the man in the row behind us kept saying); but it leads to mystery and hinted-at horror. For the lovers are seen by Sarah, who is very aware of Manus' feelings for Maire (since she's sweet on him herself after he taught her to say her own name) and runs off to find him.

Next morning, Yolland is missing, Manus is about to flee, and the army is searching for the Lieutenant with ever more savage threats. The Donnelly Twins are mentioned again; but no one's prepared to answer any questions as to their part in Yolland's disappearance.

The play closes as the axe is about to fall on the community. The army will raze Baile Beag, parish by parish, killing livestock and turning people out of their homes. Manus has fled, leaving Owen to look after their father. Hugh has been told that he will not be offered the post of Master in the new National School; his hedge-school pupils are scattering. And, in the final scene, black-clad modern storm troopers appear high above the stage, encircling it, and train their weapons on the hedge-school. It's a chilling finale.

One last note on the scenery. The school is a rectangular space literally cut in the middle of a desolate moor. That moor is exact - rock, thin soil, mosses and sparse grass - precisely as shown in a photo of moors in Donegal in the programme.

I salute here all the theatre craftspeople, some of whom created this little work of art.
grondfic: (DeathHorse)
In spite of the critics' lukewarm reception of this production, we've decided to book for it, and are going later this month.

The real reason is that we have Arthur Shelby of Peaky Blinders and Louis XIV of Versailles (alias Paul Anderson and George Blagdon) starring in it.

So, really, I'll be looking at possible plotbunnies for one gigantic crossover fic!
grondfic: (DeathHorse)
May I just record how disappointing it is to see statements like this being made. And worse - being made by a woman, about a man.
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grondfic: (FuchsParadise)
The Little Mermaid (Churchill, Bromley)
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Mood Music (Old Vic)
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My Name is Lucy Barton (The Bridge)
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Sea Wall (Old Vic)
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Monogamy (Park Theatre)
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I still haven't made it with reviews of the two most important pieces I've seen recently - Translations at the National, and Red at Wyndhams. I have more to say about both of these; and hopefully (if not completely stifled by the heat), I'll try to complete soon.

PS: One further reason why theatregoing is good for you - in this weather, most theatres (though not The Globe, obviously) are blissfully cool spaces!
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