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October 2017

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02SEP17: The Limehouse Golem, Greenwich Picturehouse

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14SEP17: Outlaws to In-Laws, King's Head Theatre
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20SEP17: Kingsman: The Golden Circle, Wimbledon Odeon
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21SEP17: Giselle, English National Ballet at Sadler's Wells
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30SEP17: The Tempest, Greenwich Theatre
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04-06AUG17: Nine Worlds, Hammersmith
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09-14AUG17: Worldcon, Helsinki
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14AUG17: Recital, Suomenlinnan Kirkossa, Helsinki
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19AUG17: The Hitman's Bodyguard, Odeon, Greenwich
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20AUG17: Queer Art, Tate Britain
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25AUG17: The Iliad (Clare Goodall), The Lion and Unicorn / Camden Fringe
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28AUG17: Logan Lucky, Odeon, Greenwich
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06MAY17: Their Finest, Greenwich Picturehouse
WW2 comedy/drama/romance set in propaganda film industry.
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18MAY17: Tchaikovsky, excerpts from Swan Lake; Rachmaninoff, Piano Concerto #2; Shosyakovich, Symphony #6, Cadogan Hall. Moscow Philharmonic cond. Yuri Simonov; Freddy Klempf, piano
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19MAY17: Here She Comes, By Jove, Gallery on the Corner
A feminist take on Bacchae in the form of an epic poemRead more... )

20MAY17: Snatched, Greenwich Picturehouse
"Putting the 'fun' back into 'non-refundable'." Oh, if only ... Read more... )

23MAY17: Full Circle, Theatre N16
Clytemnestra, Queen of the Damned, is in hell: so are Phaedra, Medea and Helen. Read more... )

28MAY17: Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar's Revenge, Odeon, Greenwich

28MAY17: Iron Maiden / Shinedown, O2, Greenwich
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31MAY17: KISS, O2, Greenwich
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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.
Links point to other people's reviews ..

03FEB17: Antigone (Sophocles) -- Shaw Theatre, London
The UCL Greek play: thanks to Tony K for organising!

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A visually stunning production, simple and well-lit. Nice translation, too: 'Could some god have done this?' 'Oh, shut up.'

09FEB17: Prometheus Bound (Aeschylus) -- Greenwood Theatre, London
The KCL Greek play, performed in Ancient Greek with (somewhat delayed) surtitles.
In which Prometheus is bound, but unaccountably not gagged. Read more... )
The staging was effective, but I was never quite sure why Prometheus had been chained in a jungle (as indicated by trailing vines and overloud birdsong): and most of the performance felt like a reading rather than a play. It lacked passion: or perhaps it just lacked plot.

11FEB17: Edward II (Marlowe) -- Arts Theatre, Cambridge

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An absolutely awesome production: I hope to see at least some of these actors in the West End in a few years' time, and I expect this to be in my top 5 theatrical performances for the year.

(Oh, another review I liked.)
12JAN17: The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus - Tony Harrison (Finborough Theatre, London)
Independent review
I liked this a lot: the theatre was very small, the action immediate and the satyrs very loud. Two British archaeologists, working in Oxyrhynchus (Egypt) in the early years of the twentieth century, become entangled with the fragments of the satyr play they've discovered amongst the endless petitions against homelessness. Bernard Grenfell also finds himself unwilling host to an angry Apollo, who wants his cows back.

Small cast, fascinating shifts of metre and rhyme, some truly funny lines and some audience participation: a powerfully moving play about (among other things) cultural elitism, archaeology versus poverty, and clog-dancing.

29JAN17: Black Sabbath: The End (O2, Greenwich)
Telegraph review
Very, very loud. My companion enjoyed this more than I did, but it was bloody good rock all the same, and though I have not kept up with Sabbath I still recognised quite a few of the songs. 'Paranoid' was fab, and the lighting and stagecraft (giant black and purple balloons! Sabbath confetti! close-ups of ageing hands playing guitar!) very effective.
Am hideously behind on reviews: luckily (?) November was a very quiet month culturally.

12-NOV-16: La Boheme (Puccini, version by Robin Norton-Hale) - Cutty Sark Theatre, Greenwichreview )
15-NOV-16: Acedian Pirates, Theatre 503, Batterseareview )
Brief reviews this month, due to November. Click the links to see what other people thought, and more details about performances etc.

07-OCT-16: Don Giovanni, English National Opera
Utterly splendid production, which managed to introduce a twist! Several twists, actually, including Donna Anna being complicit in her own seduction: I'm not sure this entirely makes sense. Beautifully staged, too: a highlight was Masetto, perfectly silhouetted by stark light, tipping over one of the two figures on his wedding cake. Maybe a new translation of the libretto? I'd surely have remembered 'let my peasant eat my pheasant' ...

15-OCT-16: The Libertine, Theatre Royal
I know this play quite well, having seen it performed live at least once (maybe this performance) as well as owning the DVD of the film starring Johnny Depp. There were a couple of innovations (or possibly things I misremembered) in the Theatre Royal version: I was especially taken by the theatre scene ('play within a play', ha) near the beginning, where it became obvious why Restoration actors relied so much on exaggerated gestures and poses: their audiences made such a racket, there was little chance of anyone hearing the actors declaiming their lines.
Sadly, Dominic Cooper didn't really work as Rochester, at least not for me. He lacked not only the charisma, but the requisite air of danger: and it never felt as though he actually enjoyed the company of his friends, or felt like one of a group. In this production, Billy Downs wasn't central enough, so Rochester's friendship with and abandonment of him lacked impact.
The Theatre Royal is a beautiful building, and this play still makes me laugh: but it could have been better.

21-OCT-16: Bach - Mass in B Minor, Milton Court
'Like being wrapped in a velvet devore shawl," I wrote, '(and slowly smothered?)' The slower movements were beautiful, if ... relaxing: but oh, baroque brass and kettle-drums! The Gloria and the Sanctus Spiritus both sparked exclamation marks in my notebook. The sheer attack on the Resurrexit was like electricity going through the room. And the gradual slowing at the end of the final movement worked very well.
Milton Hall, which is part of the Guildhall School for Music and Drama, is smaller than the Barbican's main concert hall and has great acoustics: I like it, and hope to see more concerts there.

22-OCT-16: Welcome to Night Vale, London Palladium
Not nearly as many women in the audience as the last show I attended. And it didn't seem, from my sparse notes, to appeal to me as much either. Some interesting lines, but the show's accomplishment was the slow build of Cecil's ghost story. Excellent opening act Eliza Rickman: I loved her cover of Let's Dance and recognised the chords before she started to sing.

25-OCT-16: Doctor Strange, Odeon Leicester Square
Not very far up my ranked list of MCU films: it's visually spectacular, but the character arcs don't make much sense, and Cumberbatch is an oddly uninteresting Strange. (Or perhaps Strange is uninteresting? Compare and contrast to the first Iron Man film for how to introduce a new, engaging character.) Some nice lines: 'What's this?' asks Strange in a Tibetan hideaway. 'My mantra?' 'The wi-fi password.' I liked Stan Lee's cameo, reading The Doors of Perception. Tilda Swinton: awesome as ever. The best bit was the first credits scene. Also, is that a new Marvel title sequence? Does not want.
First came Nine Worlds: love the new venue (Hammersmith Novotel) and felt much less frazzled than in previous years. My Historical Headcanon (concerning Christopher Marlowe) seemed well-received and I was on a couple of interesting panels about historical fiction, fanfiction, writing, etc.

Then to Edinburgh to skew my monthly averages for various types of Culture. I like the shorter-than-usual performances (they averaged an hour): leaves plenty of time for climbing the hills of which Edinburgh is composed, and pausing for refreshment at each summit.
theatre, gigs, circus, literary stuff, opera, comedy )
Queens of Syria, Young Vic, 8th July
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Derek Moss, Open Studios -- Cambridge, 17th July
Artwork made from bog oak, driftwood, bronze, teeth, bone ... all displayed in a hot sunny garden with the sound of bees and the scent of roses. Beautiful work, though some of the descriptions were hard to unravel.
website here

Ghostbusters, Greenwich Picturehouse, 23rd July
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A pretty appalling month for new culture: I attended two half-performances, and came away dissatisfied from both.

11-JUNE-16 - Phaedra(s) (Barbican)
Spectator piece

Isabelle Huppert in the title role(s) was fabulous. Sadly, the production (in French, with surtitles) was not -- beautifully lit minimalist staging, riffing on Euripides' original play and three modern writers who've transformed it ... into three hours of vomit, fellatio, menstruation, rape, and a lot of ranting. Our seats were upgraded but that did not make up for anything. I left at the interval, apparently missing the good bit at the end (but also some more violence, rape and murder).

23-JUNE-16 - Part / Beethoven (RFH, conductor Dohnányi)
review by someone who stayed the whole way through

Part's Fratres is a piece which I usually find very relaxing and meditative: Beethoven's fourth Piano Concerto (pianist Martin Helmchen) is generally a delight. However, I did not enjoy this concert, due to body-odour problem of man next to me (he also fidgeted a lot). Left at interval for trainpocalypse: it took me 2 hours to get home, so I'm glad I abandoned ship, though sorry to've missed Beethoven's Pastoral.

Cultural April

May. 4th, 2016 09:44 pm
tamaranth: me, in the sun (Default)
03-APR-16: Brahms, Beethoven, Elgar (Nikolai Lugansky - piano; Yuri Temirkanov - conductor) - RFH

Beethoven's Coriolan overture seemed a little slow, a little hesitant. Brahms Piano Concerto #1 was utterly glorious (as ever). I hear something new every time I hear a live performance. This time around I noted that this is piano as percussion: something you hit. And the piano had evolved massively since Beethoven's day ... also a scale in 3rd movement that may have been borrowed by Holst. From where we were sitting I couldn't see Lugansky's hands (was surprised how much I missed that) and occasionally the piano was drowned out by brass. But yes, glorious, and jubilant.

Second half was Elgar Enigma variations. Still not a fan, though I can see they are fun and clever. I wondered if the mystery 'hidden melody' might be 'Lilliburlero': if so, nobody else has ever noticed, so it seems unlikely.

11-APR-16: Harry, by Caitlin McEwan -- N16 Theatre, the Bedford, Balham

A play about being a fan (in this instance a fan of Harry Styles from One Direction) and the intense friendships that fandom can foster. Harry focusses on Caitlin and Sophie, who meet at university and share an obsession with Mr Styles. But Sophie moves on ...

It didn't seem to me to be a play about fandom -- there was no sense of a wider fannish community, no mention of Tumblr or fanfic or meetups, just the two of them stalking Harry Styles via Twitter. It's more about obsession and evolving / failing friendship than it is about the fannish experience. But is that just because I don't recognise my own experience?

Excellent acting from Poor Michelle, in the persons of Cailin McEwan and Sophie McQuillan: sharp and funny and well-observed.

14-APR-16: 'The Italian Job' (Italian Baroque music) -- La Serenissima, Cadogan Hall

Quite a few pieces here that I wasn't familiar with, enlivened by brief introductions from Adrian Chandler. I learnt that Albinoni's famous Adagio is likely a 20th-century forgery, and observed that the proportions of a Baroque orchestra's string section are different to those of a modern syphony orchestra's. Especially liked Torelli's Sinfonia for Practically Everything [free translation] which confirmed my suspicion that Baroque brass is what really grabs my attention. Though Vivaldi's Concerta alla Rustica was also fab.

23-APR-16: Doctor Faustus (Marlowe, with modern interruptions from Colin Teevan), Duke of York's

I'm not sure I would have had the nerve to call this Doctor Faustus -- Marlowe's glorious text frames a comparatively trite and facile centre section, in which Faustus becomes a rock star or possibly a stage magician. There are some clever bits, and some interesting alterations (Wagner and Mephistopheles both female, as was Valdes; Faustus' book a Mac; pre-show soundtrack of songs about hell and the devil): but there is also gratuitous nudity, murder, rape and coprophagia.

Kit Harington was surprisingly good in the title role: Jenna Russell was outstanding as Mephistopheles (complete with a rendition of 'Bat out of Hell'). But I can't say that it was, on average, an enjoyable performance. As one of my companions pithed, "Less than the sum of its parts."

28-APR-16: Captain America: Civil War
no spoilers )
03-FEB - Nightwatchers, Tower of London.
Immersive theatre/experience: we put on headphones, switched on the provided mobile phones, and followed directions around the Tower of London and through a history of espionage, terrorism and dissent. I ended up doing this twice with different friends! An excellent opportunity to soak up the Tower's atmosphere after dark; no interaction with strangers required; some interesting, though occasionally heavy-handed, parallels between C16 Catholics and C21 Islamists.

08-FEB - Dixit Dominus (Handel) -- The Sixteen, Cadogan Hall
Thrilling music beautifully performed. I'm still tending Haydn-wards but this was lovely.

10-FEB - Deadpool, Leicester Square
Fun, hyperviolent, fourth-wall-destroying, surprisingly feminist (or, rather, less mysogynist than a lot of superhero movies). It absolutely does tie into the MCU: look at where the climactic battle takes place ...

13-FEB - St Matthew Passion (J S Bach) St Albans Cathedral
A dramatised performance in the round, with James Gilchrist as the Evangelist: I was initially a little dubious, but the minimalist staging and glorious sound worked very well together. Side note: not sure why St Albans feels so far away. But it does.

20-FEB - Common Property -- Jerwood Space, London
Art about copyright, reuse, mashups and fanworks. Could have done with more explanatory info in the gallery itself, rather than in the official programme. Some interesting ideas and some impenetrable executions. Thought-provoking.

27-FEB - Historical Fictions Research Network Conference, ARU, Cambridge
The first HFRN conference (to which I probably shouldn't have gone, given werk overload and February fatigue). Some really interesting items-- highlights for me included papers on Naomi Mitchison, Doctor Who, creative anachronism in genre painting; Debbie Challis on working with the ENO on Akhenaten; Greer Gilman interviewed by Nick Lowe.
02-JAN - Eugene Onegin (Tchaikovsky), Royal Opera House -- a Christmas present from [ profile] ladymoonray. Like any good production, this made me notice aspects of the opera that I hadn't spotted before: the melodramatic music of Onegin's first appearance (a visitor is such an event!); the Offenbach vibe of the Frenchman's song; Tatiana's friends talking about Samuel Richardson. And this production is gorgeous: shades of blue-grey-aqua for everyone except Tatiana, who's in crimson and white. Having a younger version of Onegin, dancing, didn't work for me, but I can see how it illuminated the story.

07-JAN - As You Like It (Shakespeare), National Theatre -- a friend had a spare ticket. I loved the transformation of techie office space into forest: truly arresting. The sheep were fun, too, and Rosalind (Rosalie Craig) was excellent.

14-JAN - Celts: Art and Identity, British Museum. Celtic art is a broad category, extending from decorations on shields and swords to Mackintosh and 'Ossian'. I was taken by The Druids: Bringing in the Mistletoe (George Henry, 1890) until I got closer and realised that the Druids had Native American features. Also, could really have done without the dreamy tinkly New Age music playing throughout.

28-JAN - Sibelius/Martinsson/Sibelius: Philharmonia cond. Rouvali, Royal Festival Hall Rouvali clearly loves Sibelius -- he was a joy to watch, and brought so much energy (and sharp exhalations of breath) to 'Night Ride and Sunrise' and the Second Symphony. Exuberant! Kudos to the Philharmonia -- as usual -- but especially for the perfect union of bass pizzicato at the beginning of the second movement of Second Symphony. ... There was also a Trumpet Concerto, which I did not care for though it was very well executed. More of an argument between orchestra and instrument than a conversation ...

30-JAN - Libertines, O2 -- a.k.a. 'my friend's cousin's band'. Attended with 2 teenagers, who were excellent company. I find I like earlier Libertines best, and have little patience for the celebrity-hungry afterpartiers. Bass was waaaaaay too high on Sleaford Mods (support); Libertines good, energetic and engaged; crowd-watching fun.
Gosh, I used to blog daily. How...?

Beethoven - Symphony #9 -- Warsaw Philharmonic, Cadogan Hall, 20-May-15
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'Alternative Worlds' - Elizabeth Knox and Janine Matthewson -- Kings College London, 31-May-15

"Fiction is the great god of the world of feeling ... the lies that we tell to tell the truth truer."

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Waiting for Godot, Barbican Theatre, 9-Jun-15
Mostly booked this because of the two leads: Richard Roxburgh as Estragon, Hugo Weaving as Vladimir. [Why yes, it is in my calendar as 'Waiting for Elrond and Dracula'.] Read more... )

Jurassic World, Odeon Greenwich, 12-Jun-15

No, this is not a feminist movie in the slightest. A strong, intelligent female is shunned and isolated, and when she escapes from her situation she is hunted down like an animalRead more... )

Oresteia, Almeida Theatre, 15-Jun-15

"Forewarned is forearmed, not forestalled."

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Beethoven - Fidelio Overture / Piano Concerto #3 / Symphony #5, Dresden Philharmonic (conductor: Sanderling) & Freddy Kempf, Cadogan Hall, 18-Jun-15

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Beethoven - Prometheus Overture / Piano Concerto #5, Dresden Philharmonic (conductor: Sanderling) & Freddy Kempf, Cadogan Hall, 22-Jun-15

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To Kill a Mockingbird, Barbican Theatre, 11-Jul-15

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Ant-Man, Cineworld West India Quay, 17-Jul-15

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Gosh, this paid-employment lark (plus an ev0l commute) doesn't leave me much time to be Me ... but job is good and so will money be. And being back in London (kinda sorta) is Fab.

Electra [Old Vic, 28-Oct-14]Read more... )

Beethoven Coriolan overture, Liszt Piano Concerto #2, Berlioz Symphonie Fantastique [conductor Tugan Sokhiev, piano Khatia Buniatishvili: Royal Festival Hall, 30-Oct-14]Read more... )

Necropolis [Waterloo Station, 31-Oct-14]Read more... )

Interstellar [Curzon Victoria, 07-Nov-14]Read more... )
"Fear is like a library book: put it in a place you can find it when you need it, but don't carry it with you." Read more... )
Thirty-six years ago, I bought my very first pre-recorded cassette, in the Southend branch of Woolworths: it was the original cast recording of Evita.

Last night I saw it live.I liked! )