I’m young, scrappy and hungry

I saw Hamilton in San Francisco!

I’m not a fan of hip hop or rap. Can’t stand listening to it. And I don’t know a lot about early USA history.

But I loved the musical.

Oh the dancing!

Oh the singing!

It is amazing.

I want to see it again in Australia, to see if we can do it as good as the Americans.

Oh dear! I’ve joined the cult!

Bought two t-shirts to prove it. I will walk around emblazoned with my new religion.

Escape to the city

On Saturday, I went to French lessons. Our pause cafe (the break in the middle of the lesson) was two divine cakes.

I then went straight into the city. I love walking under the Harbour Bridge. It never gets old, looking at all the metal and rivets.

Join me on the rest of my walk to the theatre.

Down some steps between two rows of terraces.

Down three flights of stairs and follow the road you see to be level with the harbour.

And there’s the water, sparkling through the gaps between the wharves.

I met some friends for lunch. I started with a cocktail. The cocktail was divine – so I had another. The food less so. The restaurant is close to one of the theatres we go to but has changed hands or managers. We won’t be eating there again. The vibe, the food, the service just not the same.

Then it was off to the theatre.

I was really looking forward to seeing Hugo Weaving in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. He is amazing. And he was in this play too, as were all the other actors, especially Zahra Newman. But I just didn’t enjoy the play. It was soooo melodramatic, so over-wrought. All that screaming and long monologues and pacing the stage pointlessly. I’m not sure if the fault lies in Tennessee Williams or the director. Still glad I saw it.

Then it was time to retrace our steps back to the train station. The evening autumn light is so golden. Stay golden, Ponyboy.

Back up the steps between the terraces.

On the train home, I saw the trial of the new driverless train coming to Sydney. Exciting and amazing but it does mean fewer and fewer jobs for working class.

I finished the day with a workout at the gym.

Definitely a city day.

Sweary Schiller

My knowledge of German literature is close to nothing. But I’m pretty sure Schiller didn’t use cock, fuck and cunt in his works, didn’t litter them through his plays.

I went to see Sydney Theatre Company’s version of Mary Stuart. I hadn’t done any reading before I saw it, didn’t even know it was an adaptation of Friedrich Schiller’s play – not that would have meant much to me.

The staging, the acting, and the balance between the two queens, all were great.

The playing of Elizabeth reminded me of Blackadder’s ditzy, spoiled, self-centred, nasty, small-minded Elizabeth. Not sure if Schiller’s Elizabeth is thus and Blackadder was inspired by Schiller or if STC’s Elizabeth was inspired by Blackadder.

What didn’t gel, what struck me as discordant, was the repeated swearing among more formal language structures. Now, I’m not anti-swearing. I swear frequently and with zest. Here the swearing was inapposite, inapt and ill-judged. It was as if someone had popped frequent obscene words in Shakespeare to make it modern, hip and full of passion.

When I read this was an adaption of Schiller, the discordant nature made sense. I am sure Schiller was able to capture emotion, passion, pain without swearing.

It just doesn’t work.

I get the desire to take a feminist angle, to overlay modern sensibilities, but the swearing didn’t fit.

Structurally, I think the play could be edited a bit more. And not just take out most of the swearing. Ninety minutes in and I was like, “Get on with it already. Chop her head off.”

Now I want to see a different adaption of Schiller’s work, in English.

PS: as we walked in, Mr S wondered aloud, whether the dog that was famed to have come out when Mary Stuart was beheaded would appear on stage. The dog was in several scenes. Such a cute and happy dog. Her tail was wagging as she was walked off.

Got a position on offensive language in live theatre?

(Adding to say, just watched Tim Minchin on YouTube and he sung a song with swear words. It fits. I laughed at the song. Not at the use of the swear word. They, on their own, don’t make me laugh. I don’t find bunging in a swear word funny. But I don cringe, if it fits.)

A few plays and movies

As well as a concert and an opera, in February, March and the start of April I saw a couple of plays and movies. The latter at the cinema, not just on tele. (I know. I lead an exciting life.)

I subscribe to the Sydney Theatre Company and see about six plays a year. I’ve seen two thus far. 

Play 1: The Testament of Mary based on the novel by Colm Toibin. I loved the book; one of my keepers which I reviewed earlier. The play was equally moving. It was impressive that the actor sustained the energy for basically what was a monologue.  Mary’s voice and her equivocating on the supernatural nature of Jesus is just as strong in the play. Before the play we had lunch at the Dance Cafe. Great venue – in the middle of one of the long wharves. And the food’s quite good too. 

Play 2: Another deeply moving play, The Bleeding Tree. With only three actors, it felt like there were more characters on stage, as the actors took on other voices. The mother and her two daughters kill the father as they suffered DV for years. The neighbours turned a blind eye to his death/murder, as many had to the DV. I normally do a matinee but for this play we went to a Saturday night performance. The city lights were awesome. We ate at a busy Italian before the play. I had the yummiest pizza with arancini balls to start. Of course I had to have a glass of prosecco. Or two. Afterwards we walked along the harbour. The city was pumping that night and everywhere was full.

Movie 1: Les Innocents. A French movie that was part of the French movie festival. I went with the young and lovely Sarah. (Such fresh and glowing skin!!!) Of course we ate and talked and had a cocktail and talked. Oo la la. (That was what the cocktail was called, apparently. Or maybe that was just for the festival!) I love unique tales that show me something I knew nothing about.  Polish nuns raped by Russian soldiers and tended by French medics at the immediate end of WWII was definitely new for me. 

Movie 2: I got free preview tickets to see Their Finest. (Love how I have scored free and discounted tics this year!!!) Bill Nighy was brilliant. Who knew he could sing? Highlight for my friend and me was hearing him sing Will Ye Go Lassie (Wild Mountain Thyme). The movie was a sweet and somewhat melodramatic love story set in WWII. My only caveats was the incidental music, which I found annoying, and something else which I have forgotten and as I only saw it a week ago, it couldn’t have been a big caveat. The country scenery was beautiful. Before this film, (you can guess the trend here) I also ate – at a Lebanese restaurant with the softest falafals I’ve ever had – and talked a lot. No drinking, though. I was driving.

On the small screen, I have watched quite a few films and series:

  • Sisters with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Funny and silly. Good to while away 90 minutes. 
  • Captain Fantastic. Father raises his children in the woods and then has to leave as the mother dies. I loved the challenge to what is normal. Worth watching. 
  • No Offence. Series 2. I love, love, love this series. Fast talking with northern English accents, it can be hard to follow. Crime with black humour, this was written by the fellow who wrote the first series of Shameless. Same take on the world. 
  • Vera. Another English crime series. Vera looks like a bag lady. I didn’t enjoy it so much after her first offsider left. 
  • Gogglebox. I love watching people watch TV. I like all the watchers. Well picked Gogglebox producers. I like how I get an overview of the shit on tele without watching all the shit. It’s like getting a dose of pop culture without suffering.  I mean who really wants to watch the stupid cooking shoes (only The Great British Bake Off is worth watching.) And any of the real housewives series is absolute shite. The reaction from the Gogglebox people makes it all funny. 
  • Distant Voices, Still Lives. Apparently this is considered a masterpiece. From England it tells of a working class family from Liverpool ruled by an abusive father. It wasn’t just the bleakness that lost me. It was so disjointed. Shhh, but I used the fast forward button. 
  • The Guard. An Irish black comedy with Brendan Gleeson. I do like black comedies and this one was brilliant. Gleeson was in the black comedy, In Bruges, that I liked too. 

I’m not going to tell you which ones of these films you should see, cause it really depends on what you like. But if you want me to pick one for you, tell me what sort of films or series you like, and I’ll tell you which one is for you. 

Anyway, you can see I’ve been busy in things beyond work. And I haven’t even written about our “out and about” adventures!!!

Long weekend. 

Happy birthday, Queen. Thanks for the day off. 

Mr S has enjoyed watching the pomp and ceremonies in London on his computer. 

I’ve been otherwise engaged. 

On Saturday I continued my STC subscription and saw Arthur Miller’s All My Sons. Brilliant production. So glad I got to see Robyn Nevin – she was ill and theperformance  cancelled when I went to see her in Suddenly Last Summer. 

John Howard’s (not our ex-Prime Minister) performance was powerful. 

Great costumes. Not sure about the American accents, though. 

The day was a sparkler. Look at the diamonds glistening on the harbour. 

Yesterday I mooched around, wrote a witty post but lost it, read the paper, watched Poirot. 

Today I am off the the Hunter valley. No it is not holidays yet. I have a conference there. Supplies for tonight are packed. Bubbles and nibbles. Strange I know, to take wine to the Hunter but we won’t have time to shop nor visit wineries. 

West end – musical or drama

I love the theatre so with three weeks in London I just had to hit the West End. I’m not a big fan of musicals which probably puts me in the minority judging by the major shows in London. 

As an aside, I have seen enough musicals to judge. I’ve seen West Side Story (a couple of times), Dirty Dancing (also a couple of times), Lion KingJersey Boys and Mary Poppins. My review of Wicked at interval was there were too many songs. And then there’s all the musical films. 

So let’s get my sadness out of the way. I didn’t get tickets to see The Ruling Class with James McAvoy. Missed out while I was debating what to see. Missed later, despite being put on a wait list of 45 minutes with two computers for the limited release on the first of the month. Yes, I know I could try the last minute ticket booth. Actually checked it out one evening. Nothing! And I can’t plan my whole break around one play. 

OK, let’s move on. 

I went to see Mousetrap. Touristy. Yes. Cliched. Yes. Dated. Yes. I read a review that said it was tired and unsophisticated. I would disagree. It is of its time. And it’s time is not now. The production is a victim as well as a product of its ongoing success. Change would ruin the tradition and perhaps kill the demand. One elderly couple were reminiscing where they say last time. 

63 years!  And some of the set is original, apparently. 

And therein lies the rub. The set is static. It lacks the symbolism, the dynamism and the originality modern theatregoers expect. 

The script is not the best. Again, Agatha Christie’s work has been rewritten, reworked, adapted for TV. So her work has been modernised for a modern audience. Think Poirot. Some series of Miss Marple. (Now’s not the time to enter into which Miss Marple was no good.) Frankly there were parts that were downright annoying. Frustrating. Stupid. 

The acting was fine. It was the script. Of course, there’s a twist. There always is. 

Despite all this I am glad I went. I love theatre and I love Christie. This was like stepping back in time. 

The only thing I would do differently: I bought expensive seats so we would have leg room. Mr S is not a fan of theatre and he hates having no room to stretch his legs. If he was cramped, he might walk out. Really there was no need to buy more expensive seats. The auditorium was empty. It was a week night in March (which may be meaningless anyway as the rest of the West End was buzzing.)

My advice: buy cheap tickets and move after they shut the doors.

The second play was The Book of Mormon. It was absolutely brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. I was a little apprehensive least the positive reviews were just spin. What if my lack of love for musicals was ignited? And I read a couple that said it didn’t live up to the hype and one that said Matilda was better.  Don’t care. It was brilliant. I laughed so much. The dancing! The singing! The humour!

Again I bought more expensive seats so Mr S could have leg room. And found out after I booked that there are actually more than one ticket supplier. Go figure how that works! So if you have time to compare all the suppliers you may get cheaper tickets. Still, it was sold out. Don’t know how many got last minute deals?!?

Definitely worth the cost. (Which was huge!) Much more than we pay in Sydney. But this is THE West End. And the quality of execution is nothing compared to Sydney performances. Even Mr S, who never sits through a musical, sat through this and thoroughly enjoyed himself. 

Worth saving and doing. 

We did the matinee, then went out for drinks and then walked to the tube. The city was absolutely buzzing. Packed with crowds clearly enjoying themselves. There was a air of expectation of summer. A coming out to enjoy the spring. (The day was sunny and warm but the night Ir was positively freezing. So the air of expectation was premature.)

What an amazing city!

Look what we spied before we hoped on the tube. 

Keeping it real

There’s something about live theatre, live performances that I love. And I love being up close. The immediacy. The realness. The connection.

I can’t get excited about movies. And rarely have a burning desire to go to the cinema – Harry spotter films excepted.

In the last month I’ve see three live shows. A feast after a year of little. Quite the member of the literati intelligentsia! Cultural elite, that’s me.

I think some of the audience in The Last Confession with David Suchet bought tickets because they confused Suchet with Poirot. Some didn’t return after intermission. You know I love Poirot! But who is so silly to think actors are the one character and will be that character in a different story? And silly enough to part with $100 for a ticket.


The play did have a crime, well a possible crime, and an investigation and a court case. Very wordy, in the manner of A Man for all Seasons, with little action. And very male. But that’s to be expected in a play about the Vatican in the 70s.

Such strong acting, though. Impressive performances all round. The only annoying bit was the set. It was as if the set designer was proving how clever he/she was with a movable feast of backgrounds. So much flipping and twisting took away from the play and the changes didn’t really make a noticeable difference. I started to get irked and wanted them to just stop already.

Oh, and I was right up the front. Row four. Have I said I’m in the in crowd?

Another week, another performance by a visiting Pom. Saw Bill Bailey. This was absolutely the best stand-up comedy routine I have seen. Ever! Talented, smart, verbally dexterous. He is amazing. I was worried as I was so tired. Friday nights are not good for me. But I laughed so much, my tiredness disappeared. As my partner in comedy said, there were so many jokes, so many stories, so much too laugh at, that you can’t remember individual lines or jokes.

Bailey sung Wrecking Ball in German. Played and sung heavy death-metal in an Australian and Devon accent. (He’s right. It just doesn’t work.) Played the instrument of geeks, the theremin. Moved with the fluidity of a boneless chicken. And regaled us with stories, replete with actions. What a range of faces he has! Such a raconteur, a Bon Vivant.


Oh, and less than four metres away was sitting Australian royalty – Brian Brown and his wife, Rachel Ward, with Andrew Denton and Jennifer Byrne. Don’t worry, I played it cool. No photos. Cause you know, I’m cool, as well as part of the literati. (Have I overplayed this yet?) And then we saw that Dr Karl K was sitting with them. Not quite Australian royalty, but loved in my family of science geeks.

Lastly, I went to a local theatre production. Community theatre group’s production of Pride and Prejudice. It was my first visit to this local theatre company and I was thoroughly impressed.

Pride and Prejudice is one of my top three favourite novels. It is a rollicking tale and I wondered how it would be condensed into an evening’s entertainment. (Who doesn’t love the BBC miniseries? Imagine that abridged!) Well the play captured the essence.

And the acting? The mostly young cast (after all the main characters are all young) were fantastic. I was entertained and could see them as the character, rather than “acting”. I will definitely be returning to this theatre.

All in all, live performances are in my definition of a gorgeous life. (Together with travel, books, gardens to sit in, and a lovely home. Bugger about work and making a change in people’s lives.)