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October 2017

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Apr. 2nd, 2017

05MAR17 Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Palace Theatre

I wasn't expecting to enjoy this as much as I did. It is over-long -- the story could have been told in a single 3-hour play -- and there is issues with the characterisation of the 'older generation', Ginny and Draco in particular. (Ginny came across as bland and frumpish; Draco felt like one of those nicely-brought-up boys who has learnt to affect a rough accent.) But the production is splendidly inventive, with special effects to rival anything digital. I think there were a couple of scenes where projections were used -- the rest of it was sheer stagecraft and lighting.

I won't go into details about the plot: suffice to say that Albus Severus Potter is a Difficult Child, and so is his father. There's plenty of fan service and in-jokes, and subversion of canon: and though I can see why the ending disappoints some, I think it works well.

11MAR17 Twelfth Night, National Theatre

An absolutely delightful production, with a female Feste (who's marvellous: Doon Mackichan) as well as the highly-publicised 'Malvolia' (Tamsin Greig). The production's setting is Twentieth Century Modern (shades of Sixties, Seventies, Eighties: 'bring me my veil' produces sunglasses) with a jazz setting of 'O Mistress Mine' and Hamlet's 'To be or not to be' set to a torch song in a sleazy gay bar, the Elephant.

Absolute high-point was the 'cross-gartered' scene, with music (Tamsin Greig has an excellent voice) and a ... surprising costume. Greig brings something new to the role, and her parting words ('I'll be revenged on the whole pack of you') feel more sincere, and more ominous, than in any other production I've seen.

Kudos also to Tim McMullan (Sir Toby Belch, reminiscent of some persons of my acquaintance) and to the musicians, who did not have an easy job of it -- there was genuine (theatrical) weather in the final number, 'Hey ho, the wind and the rain'.

Highly recommended.

31MAR17 Beethoven, Symphonies 1 and 9 -- Dresden Philharmonic (cond Sanderling), Cadogan Hall

The First Symphony is very cheerful but not especially Beethovian, at least to start with. I was there for the Ninth, which is one of my top five in terms of classical music to see live: I wasn't disappointed. The Dresden Philharmonic were precise and vivid and the choir(s) (Cardiff Ardwyn Singers and Cardiff Polyphonic Choir) clear and well-balanced. Thomas Faulkner (bass) was the best of the four soloists, who were behind the orchestra and in front of the choir rather than in front of the conductor -- this may have made the tenor and mezzo harder to hear. But oh, that finale! Thoughts of the dear lost EU (of which this is the anthem) made me weepy: it's such an uplifting piece, but it felt a little like a glimpse of something lost. I wonder how Brexit will affect tours by European orchestras?

But: Beethoven's Ninth. Good for the brain and the heart.
2017/28: All the Birds in the Sky -- Charlie Jane Anders
...she felt like her whole history was taking on a whole new focus, the landscape of her past rearranging so that the stuff with Laurence became major geographical features and some other, lonelier, events shrank proportionately. Historical revisionism was like a sugar rush, flooding her head.

Patricia Delfine discovers that she's a witch at the age of six: however, she loses her magical abilities when her parents lock her in her bedroom, and spends the rest of her childhood trying hard to get birds to talk to her again. She's the target of the school bullies -- as is Laurence (never Larry), a protogeek who creates a 2-second time machine and truants from school to watch a rocket launch.slightly spoilery )

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