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More theatre – guilty pleasure

Whilst several of my neighbours worked together under small gazebos in front of someone’s house, putting together a huge number of donated Christmas presents for local care home staff and isolated residents, I scurried past to the station and took myself up to London (again) for a theatre experience.

Feeling more than a little guilty, and quite trepidatious in these days of apparently rampant new variants of the wretched virus, I travelled in an almost empty carriage and noticed the looming black clouds. Indeed, once I had begun my walk from Waterloo along the Thames to Tower Bridge, the rain started. Nostalgia fulfilled completely. This was very reminiscent of my old walk to work – few people out and about, drizzly rain, wet feet and grey skies. Miserable huh? But of course not, because I did not have to work when I got to the end of my walk.  In fact I met Mr J outside the theatre for this ‘experience’. 

It is strange to turn up at a theatre at midday and expect to see a show. Particularly in this case because there were just three other people called forward in our group for a briefing on ‘Flight’. The five of us were then taken through a door not usually accessible to the punters, down a corridor which was clearly part of a shared area with other organisations in the block and which looked like the featureless underground concrete warren of any large newish office/retail building. But for a theatre freak (me!) who loves to see how things are done and what it is actually like for the actors and production teams, this was gold. We walked past an entrance to the auditorium and I had a sneaky peak in at the set for the play I saw there just last week. I think I over-romanticise all this, but I’ve not got a lot else to do, frankly.

We were seated, one by one, in the dark at a circular installation and advised to don headphones which had just been sanitised for us. The story of two migrant children attempting to get to the UK across Europe then played out in front of us on a slowly rotating wall with small boxes, lit up in order to coincide with the story in our ears, filled with tiny models and scenery. Each viewer saw and heard the presentation at a different time – ie when the boxes passed in front of each one of us. A fascinating idea and it seemed to work perfectly. The boxes appeared at random heights and were different shapes and sizes, to avoid any repetitiousness. It perhaps turned twice or maybe three times round in the 45 minute presentation, lighting different boxes on each rotation.

I didn’t find the story particularly original – the inevitable abuse of the younger child, the well-documented dangers of people-smuggling, the frustrations and awfulness of refugee life – but it was affectingly presented and probably being alone in the dark added to this. The portrayal of the French as braying seagulls was an interesting twist – I knew as I watched it that this would appeal to Mr J in the next booth! He would have seen everything just a couple of minutes after I did – and this realisation was quite an interesting extra layer to factor into the watching.

When it was all over and we had swapped initial views, I walked back to Waterloo in the rain again – avoiding at least one mode of transport. Mr J was on his motorcycle. This split transportation seems to suit us both best.

After another fairly empty train ride I walked the last 100 metres home – again scurrying past my neighbours who were still working away at wrapping presents and writing cards in the front garden. So busy, in fact, that when I wandered past again later to go to the post-box – willingly glancing in to see if they would leap on me to help, and resigned to agreeing if so – they did not even look up. (I had already told them I would not wrap anything, given that my attempts would be worse than a child’s, but I had vaguely offered to write cards and certainly to make deliveries)

You can sense my guilt at going out and enjoying myself whilst others toil away. Sometimes it just works out like that and I am not going to beat myself up for long.

Now we have been told that the inevitable move into Tier 3 has been accelerated, I am in fact quite glad to have escaped a bit. Immeasurably sad for hospitality and theatres though – shutting down even earlier than they expected.



Cramming it all in

Managed a double bill yesterday evening.

Just a few days ago I discovered that my long-planned theatre visit was just one hour long. Almost at the same time, I realised that a gig of my son’s group VoCollective on the same evening had a late start – 9.15pm. There would just be time (according to Tfl) to travel between. Serendipitous. 

So I went from a performance of Caryl Churchill’s ‘A Number’ at the fabulous Bridge Theatre to the London Vocal League’s A Cappella series: WeAreTrackless and VoCollective performances at The Crazy Coqs (Brasserie Zédel, Piccadilly Circus).

One minute I was a contemplative audience member trying to fathom out a father’s weird truth from his lies, and understand the impact on his various ‘offspring’ – a proper cerebral exercise befitting an educated middle-aged and probably middle-class performance consumer – and the next I was whooping loudly as my son gave a struttingly camp rendition of Prince’s ‘Kiss’ on the attractive lounge stage.

Mind you, I’d had a glass of wine by then.

Wardrobes and mattresses

Yesterday was a day for domestic excitement.

In the morning we took delivery of our new mattress-in-a-box*, which my still-hunky husband hoisted onto his shoulders and carried up two flights of stairs before unwrapping it (who needs John Lewis?). There, as instructed, we left it to breathe and puff itself up.

In the meantime, I managed to score a pair of Rush tickets at less than half-price for excellent seats in the stalls at the Bridge Theatre, so we headed up to London for the evening performance of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. The production is their Christmas one, but goes on until February and was still pretty well-attended. Apart from the appearance of Father Christmas (and he is, of course, in the original CS Lewis story), the festive nature was not too heavy. The production company had really gone to town on the costumes and stage dressing, with fantastic live-action draping of white silk across the stage to depict snowy landscape. The doors of the eponymous wardrobe were huge and had a collection of actors wreathed in fur coats behind, through which the ‘children’ could push their way into Narnia. 

This play was not my usual cup of tea perhaps, but it was so well done and a hugely entertaining evening out. A great spectacle.

As usual, I raced my husband home, and as usual he won (because he’s on a motorcycle and I walk and take the train). Then we sat for a while discussing the performance before I retired to the bedroom – to find, beside my own capacious wardrobe, not Narnia, but a brand-new mattress and its discarded packaging on the floor! Which we had forgotten to deal with before going out.

Needless to say, excited to try the new mattress as soon as possible (those 100 ‘test’ days already counting down) we swung into action and carried the old mattress down one floor (took two of us this time – awkward shape) and completely remade the bed. At midnight! Could have done with Aslan’s help, to be honest…

*We bought the Emma Original foam mattress, as recommended by Which? It will be interesting to see whether I wake up less creaky than on our old one.

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