Friday, August 5, 2016

The Scottish Play with extra atmosphere

The wind has been strengthening all day, noticeable on the motorway drive, and more so as we picnic on the stately 'picnic slope' at  Tolethorpe Hall before the play.

We follow the sun, minor heliotropes, shifting our chairs, balancing our plates. We are not of those who dine on weighted down but flapping tablecloths.

"This evening's performance will begin in five minutes."

We take our seats and watch the branches dancing , and hear the leaves whooshing or soughing.  Better than a painted backcloth and a worthy background for the initial meeting of the weird sisters, and the general mood of the play.

Another thoroughly enjoyable production by the Stamford Shakespeare Company, with particularly strong performances in the roles of Macbeth and Lady Macbeth.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Far from the Madding Crowd

Watched on the plane.
Lovely scenery, and gorgeous shots. I even noticed the very positive interaction with animals since I listened to a radio programme about Hardy and animals.
Of course my faves were Bathsheba and Gabriel Oakes. And I guess the attitudes were very much of the nineteenth century, when the book was written, and Bathsheba, in spite of being such a strong character, makes a big mistake when she seeks a man who can tame her.
My one niggle was that Sargeant Troy could have been more appealing before showing his darker side.
Yes, yes, he was on the rebound, thinking he'd been dumped by his fomer fiancée, Fanny Robin, but still, but still . . .
Though, of course, Bathsheba could have been pretty overwhelmed by the kiss if she had absolutely no experience.
And in the end it's comforting to see a film based on a Hardy novel which doesn't end in bleak tragedy like Tess of the D'Urebvilles, and Jude the Obscure.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

The Barber of Seville at Leeds

A nightmare journey with long delays, but we arrived with time to settle in to the hotel, then make our way into the Grand Arcade for a vegeburger at Roots and Shoots, where most other diners seemed to be heading for the opera too.

The show was magnificent, well-staged, acted and sung with verve and thoroughly entertaining - a pantomime with Rossini's music. The female lead, Rosina was played by a replacement, but you'd never have known. 

And on top of everything the hotel room was quiet and comfortable. 

Next morning we paid a brief visit to Dan and family, and then headed south along a rather quieter A1 than yesterday.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Henry V at Tolethorpe

Preparing to picnic
Excellent evening out and very enjoyable performance - I'd forgotten how much comedy there is in this play, as well as the more serious matters of state and war. 


Sunday, June 28, 2015

Music at Gretton Church

Chris Hills (piano and organ) and Frances Hynes (flute and Chinese flute)

A varied programme reflecting the theme of the flower festival, "All around the World". The music was played in a light bright church, full of the scent of flowers.


Friday, June 27, 2014

The Remains of the Day - film, then book

We watched the film with Anthony Hopkins in the role of Stevens, the butler to Lord Darlington during the post World War I period, and later to his American successor.

A fascinating performance as Stevens rationalises his life in service to a man who becomes an apologist for Hitler's regime for the best of motives - promoting peace and understanding among nations. Alongside this runs the story of the unresolved relationship between Stevens and the housekeeper  Miss Kenton.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Playboy of the Western World by JM Synge

I thought this was excellently performed by Stamford's Shoestring Theatre company.  I was quite able to suspend disbelief and be carried along by the story of Christy Mahon and his fearsome murderous deeds.  I particularly enjoyed the Widow Quin character, though all were well-played. The scenery of the shebeen, with a view of the Mayo coast beyond was perfect too.

Interesting too to read about the play's reception when it was first performed in 1907.  It seems political correctness is by no means a modern invention.  Nationalists claimed it wasn't political enough, and others saw the use of the word "shift" as a reference to Kitty O'Shea's adultery with nationalist leader Charles Parnell, and as an insult to the women of Ireland. And the premise of the play - that a village would idolise a man who claimed to have killed his father - was taken as a terrible insult to Irish peasant life.

All in all though - very entertaining and full of humour.  And I hadn't realised that "playboy" meant "trickster.