Monday, June 29, 2009

Butterley trains: a visit to the Midland Railway Centre Sunday 28 June 2009

Neil's post on our trip to Butterley on Sunday nicely captures a flavour of the day.

We've been planning to head out to the place for quite some time: we had liked the idea of attending Indie Tracks in 2008, but it just isn't practical to attend a wedding in the West Midlands one day and hike back across the mids to a music festival for the Sunday (I'm too tired these days!)

Still, we'd already booked ourselves for a day at the music festival this year, so we thought we best check out the location.

What a delight! Staffed by enthusiastic people doing everything from manning the shop and buffet tills to sprucing up engine parts that could look irretrievably lost, from stoking up the coal-powered miniature railway (I felt like I was in Wallace and Gromit!) to pruning the verges, everyone gets stuck in. The gricers may be out in number when the big trains are preparing to move between stations, but there is something undeniably attractive about the heavy engineering of pre-WWII trains that is sorrily lacking in modern machinery. The compartments call to mind Agatha Christie mysteries and the sight of steam must thrill even the hardest heart (even if this was an English Electric Weekend, the Duchess of Sutherland was still on show to pump out some good old-fashioned smoke into a brilliant blue summer sky).

We also rode the narrow-gauge Golden Valley Light Railway (the 60SD364 "Campbells" Simplex).

Delightful! Some photographs to follow.

In Praise of Upshares Downshares with Nils Blythe on Radio 4's PM

I'm rather fond of Radio 4's PM programme with Eddie Mair, but I have a special love of the money slot around 5.30pm (when I'm now quite likely to have reached the car to head home). Nils Blythe and Mair put out a call some time ago for a more catchy name for the slot than 'the markets', and in response the option they went for was the delightfully punning 'Upshares Downshares' (in honour of the late lamented Upstairs Downstairs series of the 1970s).

It was probably inevitable, but once the seeds were set, people were no longer satisfied with just a brief snippet of the programme's original theme music (there are MP3s of the various music from the show at the show site). So now, each week, we are treated to a variant on the original with this week's adopting a 'I do like to be beside the seaside' pier-organ version.

It's incredibly silly in many ways, but the inventiveness of the radio audience is somehow charming and I do feel as if I have missed something if I fail to catch this bit of the PM broadcast.

Weekend interlude - I think there was a festival going on somewhere?

We may not have been able to attend, but we caught a few bits of Glasto on the telly, including staying up late for Bruce Springsteen's gloriously uplifting performance.

Some may have been disappointed he didn't include Born in the USA (a song that I now feel is probably better interpreted by Ballboy), but the misappropriation of the song by politicians always disturbs me and I wasn't too sad to not hear it.

Besides: I got The River followed by Born to Run. And frankly that did for me from the first haunting harmonica sounds of the first track to the uplifting vrroooom of the latter.

Worth staying up late to watch.

There were bands and artistes I wish had gotten greater attention, but it was gratifying to see footage of Regina Spektor on the main stage on the Friday afternoon strutting her fingers across the piano keys and charming the audience despite the rain. Adorable.

Book review: Karen Maitland - The Owl Killers (plus Lowdham Book Festival event)

Last year at Lowdham I foolishly foreswore myself from purchasing Karen Maitland's intriguing looking novel Company of Liars: a novel of the plague - I had already spent my book allowance and was carrying more books than I could justify adding towards so I let it go. But the book haunted me with its exquisite cover and its intriguing premise and its even more intriguing opening line:
"So that's settled then, we bury her alive in the iron bridle. That'll keep her tongue still."
By autumn I was itching to obtain it but the details had escaped me and it was only thanks to judicious searching of the Lowdham book festival website that Neil untangled the details sufficient to order me the book. I loved Company of Liars and I have since recommended it widely - not just here but In Real Life. I was therefore keen to not mess up a second time and catch her talk at Lowdham this year about her new book, The Owl Killers.

But there was a minor panic: the hardback had sold out and the paperback wasn't due until the autumn. A sign, with no presence of any books beneath it, declared this on the main festival book display table. NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!

Thankfully, Lowdham's own independent book shop has staff that are made of sterner stuff, unprepared to admit defeat. They kept on at publishers Penguin until it was probably easier for them to capitulate. Trade paperbacks were provided, as big and fat and juicy as the hardback that CoL had been with a comparable whopping great 560 pages of delightful reading on offer. I was much relieved to see them for sale at her speaking event in the Lowdham Primitive Methodist Hall.

With that relief, we could get onto the business of hearing Maitland discuss her new work. Like her previous text, it remains in the middle ages but whereas CoL had a single narrator, The Owl Killers has multiple narrators and - to my mind - works all the better for that because the narrative thrust is so different. Maitland patiently led her audience through the development of the novel: CoL's narrator has originally been intended as merely the opening and closing commentator for The Owl Killers. Indeed, there is a brief trace remaining in the epilogue of TOK of our/a camelot and it is fascinating to think that that wonderful character from CoL could ever have been contained to the outskirts of another text. But TOK is very much its own work, if still full of the same detail for history and story-telling.

I confess I knew relatively little of the history of beguinages, in Europe or in England. But Maitland spoke with gentle authority of the fascinating history she had discovered in the outlands of historical writings - and I certainly will be on the lookout for further texts on their fragmented history and presence in England. Centred on a collective of women who have moved to the outskirts of the village of Ulewic, the narrative combines religious history - both within and outside the Catholic church, the lives of women, rural poverty, and manorial power with tales of ancient beliefs and fraught attitudes towards sexuality. It is a heady mix and one that kept me turning the pages frantically through the weekend (I started it yesterday - Sunday - and had to force myself to pause with a 1/5th still to complete before concluding it this evening after work).

Heartily recommended. It may be a different style of narrative structure to the single viewpoint narration of CoL but The Owl Killers is a worthy successor to its skillful story-telling.

Book Review: Maureen Carter 'Blood Money'

Since first acquiring her works back in 2007, I've been galloping through Maureen Carter's Bev Morriss novels with furious delight.

(see links for reviews of Working Girls with an aside to the second novel Dead Old, plus the review for Baby Love, Hard Time and Bad Press.)

This year I was delighted to find another Bev Morriss book available. Where once Morriss was merely brittle and acerbic, she's now frequently out of control, spiting herself more than anyone who tries to reach her. She's finding it increasingly impossible to retrieve her humour, a sense of self or her once-famed intuitive insight into human behaviour. I don't think it's a surprise to find she has no Frankie to offer ballast and she's scarcely connected to her once vital family. The isolation has seen her cut off from those she cares about, though even she longs for something, some connection, some reinvigoration of the desire - even love and affection - she once felt. She can see all the signs of destruction but she just can't quite manage to stop her acid tongue and semi-functional lifestyle forcing people away from her either. Indeed, it is this carelessness that creates a sub-plot to the novel whose threat looms into the final pages once the main narrative has passed.

As with her previous works, Carter's spare prose captures locations, temperaments, character and manners with elegant ease. Though it's a trait of her narratives to find that nothing is quite as it seems in terms of victims, Carter always manages to keep an extra twist up her sleeve until late in the day. She cunningly lets you in on things that the characters do not yet know but always holds sufficient information back to throw you a late curve-ball.

In the earliest books, the appropriation of some of Carter's own passions and wit for Morriss were fairly clear cut - and certainly the long-term passion for Mr J Depp remains. But it is telling that he, like most of the other anchors of Morriss's life, is mentioned only in passing in Blood Money. The divergence has been taking place for a long time, but as a long-term reader you hope that the dark places to which Morriss descends, those places of violence and destruction that seem to pull in those around her, reflect only Carter's talent for insightful writing and that a brighter light shines on her own experience of Birmingham life (thankfully I'm pretty damn sure it does!).

Overall a thrilling read. Started it on returning from Lowdham and it was neatly devoured before the day was out. As ever, recommended reading.

Lowdham Book Festival 2009 - a general review

For the fourth year in a row, Neil and I have headed out to the ancestral village (well, my ancestral village) for the Lowdham book festival - celebrating its tenth anniversary.

(see links for Lowdham 2006, 2007 and 2008)

This year we ran into friends of Neil's (Nick, Wendy, Freddie plus inherited dog Ben) and were briefly able to touch base with new-ish Nottingham arrivals Kris and Dan. It may be a small village, but come festival time it's easy to lose track of people. There is the church (cruelly cut away from the village), some typical old village buildings (some I recognise from photographs from my great grandmother's time), the lovely walk from the cricket field to the village hall along the 'river' (hard to believe the tiny stream that we saw on Saturday had drowned the cricket field and left the village requiring piles of sandbags in 2007), the sweet little independent bookshop PLUS all the festival events and stalls, and a cricket match to boot.

Anyway, I had two key things I wanted to accomplish at the festival this year: one was to do my usual catch up with Creme de la Crime for my annual fix of crime fiction (and yay - a new Maureen Carter book!) and the other was to hear Karen Maitland speaking about her new novel The Owl Killers.

You can guess that a couple of bags jammed full of books followed me and Neil home can't you...?!

The following is just my list (Neil bought up another 11 items, including a rather gorgeous 1889 leather bound volume on Cricket by Steel and Lyttleton)
  • These are the times: a life of Thomas Paine - screenplay by Trevor Griffiths (due to be staged at the Globe later this summer)
  • Candlestick Press - Ten Poems About Love (an anniversary gift for two friends who will celebrate their 1st wedding anniversary soon)
  • Six Creme de la Crime books
  • Maureen Carter - Blood Money 
  • Roz Southey - Secret Lament 
  • Criminal Tendencies - Great Stories from Great Crime Writers (a Creme de la Crime collection raising money in aid of breast cancer helplines)
  • These purchases got me some bargain bonuses from the back catalogue: David Harrison (Sins of the Fathers); Gordon Ferris (Truth Dare Kill); and Penny Deacon (A Kind of Puritan)
  • Karen Maitland - The Owl Killers (there was a moment of panic when I thought I may not be able to buy this!)
  • John Russell - Shakespeare's Country (a very nice Batsford Press 2nd edition with a beautiful cover)
Creme de la Crime were as ever delighted to see me and I was happy to do my bit advising passers-by of the delights of their products (that passing older lady may not like crime fiction, but she'd be crazy to pass over the works of Roz Southey if she likes historical fiction).

In addition to the Karen Maitland event (of which more separately with a review of the book), we also popped along to hear Matthew Beresford talk about vampires in connection with his book From Demons to Dracula.  This was really a quite indulgent item to take in, since I suspect I've read most of the sources he cited and discussed.  Still, it acted as a nice reassurance to ascertain my own knowledge and I may well get the book and check out the website further with my completist hat on (I felt I had to call time on purchases once we hit his session anyway!)

All in all, as ever, Lowdham was thoroughly enjoyable and whatever form it takes in future we hope to stay in touch with its activities.

Busy weekend - posts to follow

Well, as we now hit heatwave and muggy days and nights I feel compelled to provide you with some blog updates:

  • Lowdham Book Festival 2009 review
  • Books reviews of item purchased at Lowdham
  • A trip to Butterley and the Midland Railway Centre (plus preview for Indietracks)
  • In praise of 'Upshares' (the money slot with Nils Blythe)

There could be more if I can manage to breathe in this heat!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

My very own Black Country Boy

Oh dear. This post by Neil is tooo funny - that video is hilarious. Reminds me of Winders for Black Country Folk.

I just hope that its okay to describe it as 'funny'.

Will Kaufman at The Big Session

I've been raving about Will Kaufman for several years now. Will's actually an academic at University of Central Lancashire but has a very talented sideline/associate project promoting and talking about the folk music of Woody Guthrie. He's been corralled into performing at several BAAS conferences - sometimes planned, sometimes more impromptu - and he's always incredibly entertaining.

Anyway, imagine my surprise and delight when Cloud texts me yesterday to say he's been watching Will perform at The Big Session festival in Leicester!

So if you get chance to catch him performing, take the chance as he's very good and indeed.

The Lost Weekend June 2009

"How did it end up like this?"

Sorry, for some reason I seem to be channeling a bit of The Killers (personally I blame kicking off the weekend with the full length Doctor Who Confidential for Blink, which David Tennant put together and which has a running use of The Killer's 'Read My Mind').

Anyway, on which note, it's probably a good idea to put the list down of what we watched this weekend. As usual it was interspersed with stupid amounts of carbs (pizza, rice, cobs, crisps), chocolate puddings (these for me and these for HL) and McGuigan wine.

  • Doctor Who Confidential for Blink (full length with all the old DW clips - bless you Sass!)
  • End of 'A Good Year'
  • Scene from Learners
  • Selected bits of episodes 1 and 2 of Blackpool
  • Extracts from Essential Poems
  • Opening section of Anna Karenina
  • Selected scenes from Harry Potter 4 (like you have to ask which)
  • Sections of Angels and Insects (shut up Christine)
  • Final section of Lawless Heart
  • Cake sequence from The Strange Case of Sherlock Holmes and Arthur Conan Doyle
  • 3:10 to Yuma
  • If Only
  • Cutter's Odyssey - extra from s3 Primeval DVD set
  • Most of LA Confidential
  • Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead
  • Selected scenes from This Year's Love
  • Selected scenes from Orphans
  • Einstein and Eddington
  • Ep 2 of Takin' Over the Asylum
  • Final episode of Blackpool
  • Selected scenes from Gladiator
  • First 40 mins of Frances Tuesday
  • Finale of S2 Primeval
  • David Tennant's episode of Who Do You Think You Are?
  • All three episodes of Casanova

Whilst this may seem like an excessive amount of square-eyed behavior for a weekend, you have to remember that we really only effectively get this one chance in a year to be this silly - and be in possession of a DVD player (see here for last year's listing). Sure we get the occasional run-away for a theatre visit or suchlike, but that's really about the opportunity for private conversation and some social activity. The ability to watch, drool and comment without consequence really only comes in this once a year blast so it's a proper treat for us both. Fabulous fun! Thanks H!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Dougie Henshall on Robert Burns

If you heard a squeal, it was me, responding to the delectable sight and sound of Dougie Henshall talking about and reading Robert Burns. (Full list of celebrity selections here)

* thud *

Thanks to the BBC for the Poetry season and also to Dianne for the link.

UPDATE: apologies for (a) the rather rubbish cutting off that the BBC embedding does to this video [you can tell it isn't showing the full screen by the bottom right corner] and (b) for the lack of access to this clip outside the UK. Seriously BBC, is it THAT crucial to restrict these items? I kinda get restricting trailers for shows you will sell abroad/broadcast elsewhere later, but this is accompanying material at best... *sigh* and it is SOOOO good...

Monday, June 15, 2009

Live Music Review: Jarvis Cocker at Rock City Nottingham Sunday 14 June 2009

He may be sporting the look of a bearded geography teacher and be in the middle of having a mid-life crisis, but hot damn, the boy still has it.

Yes, it was the return of the best bad dancer in the country, strutting his stuff on a hot summer's evening in Rock City. El Jarvo was back with his band -- with Steve Mackey (former Pulp colleague) getting an especially warm cheer from the audience.

Turning the old (and frankly rather nasty) adage on his side, he sure sweats a lot for a skinny lad, but then Jarvis has never done stage performing as a half measure. From first entrance, he immediately throws himself into the usual shape-throwing, audience tormenting lurches. He hands little gifts to the audience (chocolates? I'd know for certain if I had been at the front)* and wiggles, kicks and struts inelegantly across the stage.

I failed to keep track of the set-list, but seeing the latest album live certainly brings out its best qualities. I had thought that Jarvis, his previous album release, was the far superior collection -- it probably still is, but not by the country mile that I had initially feared when I first started hearing tracks from 'Further Complications'. Sure, there's a bitter edge to the latest album, and plenty of throwback musical references to 1970s pop-rock: but he remains as sharply witty and bitingly self- (or is it character-?) deprecating as ever. And the one-liners and caustic observations still stream through.

He teases the audience, gets stroppy about the lights at the front of the stage shining in his eyes ("its like fucking traffic lights in my eyes! I can't see the audience") and rambles as only he can. A delightful 90 minutes: "if I could I would refrigerate it".

So, in all, he might claim to be 'no eligible bachelor', but the Jarvis retains that gawky, angular sexuality and is as captivating as ever a guy with whom to spend time. Worth waiting for.

* Sadly, since the lovely Neil tolerated to come with me I watched the gig from a position atop the two step stairwell which at least enabled me to see over the heads of the pit in front of the stage. As even Neil acknowledged, If I'd have gone on my own I'd have been in town since 2pm, hung out at Rock City, probably taken my chances on the band heading to the Trip for a drink, and taken up a centre right front of stage position as soon as the doors opened. Oh yes.

Cross-posted to Music is our Hot, Hot Sex

Friday, June 12, 2009

Little things that please

  • The thought of seeing Jarvis live this weekend (Sunday)
  • Having a student buy me a piece of shortbread at lunch
  • Having a lunchbreak (and having it outdoors - Fridays are usually my 'no-window, airless-office' day)
  • Seeing the new front page for the David Tennant website
  • Counting down the days till the long annual girls' weekend of DVD watching (from next Thursday)
  • Wearing out the Broken Records' album (especially opening track 'Nearly Home')
  • Getting the nod for this week's captionable picture over at Sitting Tennant for the second week in a row!
  • Spending time with my lovely man away from work (and hopefully in the sunshine)

Spammed to within an inch of my life - apologies to any 'legitimate' anonymous commentators

So, you wander to Rullsenberg and fancy adding a comment. But you would rather use the 'anonymous' facilty.

That's fine. But don't expect a response in the comments because I am currently fending off endless numbers of spam anon comments (see almost any post for examples).



Plus, been busy at work. Soz for lack of posts etc. meh. I suck at blogging sometimes....

Sunday, June 07, 2009

The future for Nottinghamshire and the tram

After 28 years of Labour in power in Nottinghamshire, the Tories have gained hold, with the final votes coming in from Hucknall to give them victory.

To say this is profoundly depressing - albeit under current circumstances utterly unsurprising - would be a mild interpretation events.

Since 1973, the Tories have only controlled Nottinghamshire for one 4 year period: 1977-1981, that great period of the tumultuous end days of the Callaghan government into the we-can-make-unemployment-figures-even-worse early days of Thatcher. That, despite everything, Labour held onto the council after that point til now says a great deal.

First amongst the likely casualties as the Tories take power and slash costs - should they stick to their manifesto - will be the demise of the Nottingham tram extension.

I know these projects divide opinion, but I really cannot see how holding up this project - or drastically changing it after numerous consultations - is a feasible and reasonable action (with all the expense and waste that will create with it having gone so far already). The Tories argue that the costs so far are precisely the reason they want to call a halt to the expansion, but in a period of declining employment the loss/delay of any major civil engineering project like this is surely short-sighted at the very least.

They particularly claim that the routes are not right, but Nottingham is cornered by a number a limited factors affecting tram expansion that sooner or later have to be tackled and which aren't resolved by mere road amendments and more 4-wheel transport (either cars or buses). The impossible-to-widen A52 as it runs along Wollaton Park and the university is one; the residential and shopping areas of Beeston along the other side of the University an inevitable other.

I'm also desperately concerned about the effect of the Tories slash and burn cost-cutting on local government jobs: and not just because I have people I care about who work for the council. There has been quite enough 'efficiency savings' in the region so far. Can services - and people's jobs - cope with more? I don't think so.

Whatever council leader Kathy Cutts may say, this election was chiefly about political disenchantment with politics in general and the Labour Party as the party of Government at a national level being seen as, well, rubbish frankly. Good individuals at a local level have consequently lost out. It will be interesting to see how the next significant set of local elections turns out in the likely event (oh help us all) that the Cameronites take power after the next General Election. Last time, after their brief flurry of power, the Tories were returned to local exile for 28 years...

Two theatre reviews: 'An Inspector Calls' - Tuesday 2 June, 2009, Nottingham Theatre Royal; 'Julius Caesar' - Saturday 6 June 2009, RSC Stratford

Busy cultural week this week with TWO theatre visits for Cloud and I.

First up, 'An Inspector Calls' by JB Priestley, currently on tour in the Stephen Daldry production (due in London in the autumn of 2009 at - interestingly, given my last post - the Novello Theatre).

We saw this at Nottingham's lovely Theatre Royal, about as typical a manifestation of a theatre as you can get with its balconies, boxes, chandelier and the lush Victorian decoration. Our last experience there was the vibrant African inflected RSC Tempest (with Sir Anthony Sher), but it demonstrates the skillful diversity of Nottingham's longest established theatre that Priestley's tale of the monied middle classes confronted by how other lives interact and are affected by their actions seems marvellously apt here.

The production, for those who haven't seen it in the 17 years since it first hit the National Theatre in 1992, is incredibly expressionistic, with a set (and set-piece 'action' sequence) that reinforces the audience's way of relating and interpreting the action. I confess that although I had vague memories of the Bernard Hepton version on TV many years ago, I had little memory of the narrative and kept it that way (so I won't be 'spoiling' it here folks). Suffice to say that the production reinforces the play's politics with some neat touches and we found its continued relevance on that level engaging.

However. It was a shame that the audience were, to put it mildly, a tad disruptive. Being a study text meant several came in ready to take notes (loudly), whilst others happily yaddered and ate through much of the performance (which quite reasonably has no interval). *sigh* We were then treated to lots of noisy complaints at the end of the show about the noise which I could equally have done without. A slightly less than perfect experience overall then, which was a shame because we did enjoy the play.

Two personal notes: thanks to H for organisation of our visit AND to the set/prop crew, whose work between performances is considerable. Kudos to you all.

Second play: 'Julius Caesar' by that bloke shaking his spear.

We went to it not having read any reviews (most of which seem at best divided if not dismissive), but that seems a real shame. I'm pretty sure I've seen the play live more than once, though only the Compass Theatre production of JC at Nottingham's Theatre Royal many years ago with Tim Piggott-Smith as Brutus seems to have stayed with me.

In contrast, the RSC's current production makes much of its very alternative staging. Director Lucy Bailey opens with Romulus and Remus, bloodied, dirty and feral, fighting it out on the reddened ground. Projection shows the famous Capitoline Wolf sculpture above them and the rest of the production makes considerable use of the projections to add a sense of population and context to the scenes - whether a cheering multitude, advancing armies, or the horrific vision of burning strung up corpses (though they're probably only readable as such from seeing one hapless figure dragged across the stage to their doom). There is a definite sense of violence to the staging, though (thankfully) it doesn't make you gag - shuddering being what I felt in response to its horror (I don't really want theatre to make me ill, no matter how much it may need violence on occasion).

In terms of acting, Sam Troughton as Brutus is by turns cautious, baffled, and beguiled as he tries to deal with the leadership thrust upon him by the traitors to Caesar's power. Despite being the titular character, our relationship to Caesar suffers from his being removed from the action so early but nevertheless Greg Hicks makes for a remarkably self-absorbed Caesar, and I mean that as a compliment to his portrayal. Still, it is on Mark Anthony that much of the play rests - especially in the second half. Played as a gruff soldier, Darrell D’Silva has a tough job to do to keep all the momentum of the play, though I think he just succeeds.

Interestingly, some of the key performances come from the slightly more marginal characters: Brian Doherty as the manipulative Decius Brutus is positively gleeful as he reinterprets Calphurnia's prophetic dream to lead Caesar to to his doom at the hands of the traitors; and John Mackay and Oliver Ryan as Cassius and Casca respectively are especially venal in their shift towards and handling of power with and over Brutus.

But what made this production especially appealing was simply its circumstance: watching this play about political power-plays as the ruins of the current New Labour party turns on itself amidst a general atmosphere of distrust by the mob of politics gave me a mighty tingle. Relevance in Shakespeare? It's an old line, but remains true.

Again, worth seeing - despite the monsoon we drove through to get to Stratford!

A Tale of Two Hamlets (where only one counts, apparently)

Did anyone else catch Radio 4's Saturday Review last night (Saturday 6 June 2009)? They reviewed the current Jude Law production of Hamlet, on at the Donmar West End - very favourably as it happens (fair play to them: though I must lay my cards on the table and acknowledge I pretty much don't get Jude Law's appeal*).

Inevitably, given the debate about 'celebrity casting' they mentioned David Tennant's recent take on the role. (I'm personally of the opinion you have to take each Hamlet on their own terms, more or less. Case in point: the brilliance - and difference - of Ed Bennett as Hamlet last winter).

But what's this the Saturday Review team say? [I think this is correct from listening back to the iPlayer]
"... if only David Tennant hadn't done his brief series of appearances as Hamlet at the start of the year then everyone would be able to see what a brilliant Hamlet he [Jude Law] is..."
WHAT?!!! WHAT????!!!!

I'm sorry but I rather lost the plot at that point and spent much of the remainder of the review shouting at the radio - because at no point was it obvious that the criteria by which they were reviewing Law's Hamlet was that of performing in London. Front Row -- Saturday Review's weekday sibling -- had quite happily reviewed the RSC Stratford production of Hamlet AND then the London run (with Bennett having taken over from Press Night onwards until that fateful Saturday when that lucky bitch my best friend H attended). So why did this review make it seem as if Tennant had simply failed to bother actually doing Hamlet? He did Hamlet in Stratford for FIVE FREAKIN' MONTHS!!!! Doing performances pretty much every day and THEN adding in his adorable turn as Berowne on top for the last 6/7 weeks of the Stratford run!

Gah. Must learn to not get so agitated.

Don't get me wrong, I'm perfectly happy to accept reviews make comparisons between performances, but they surely have to acknowledge some level of context and for me this came dangerously close to a mean-spirited distortion of theatre history. I get the point (grumble grumble nonetheless) that the Olivier Awards are about London stage performances and that by virtue of his absence after the preview performances until the final week of the run, Tennant could not be considered for that award's glory. But reviewing is another matter entirely: all they had to do to make their comments last night legitimate (if remaining narrow-minded) was to add in the phrase "in London" (so it would remarked on Tennant's "brief series of of appearances as Hamlet in London at the start of the year..." and I would have been mollified.


Rant over.

* I could cope with Gattaca - good film, Ethan Hawke for the 'pretty' appealing to me; and I thought Law gamely sent up his own shallowness in I Heart Huckabees. Otherwise: mostly meh.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

And where will they congregate next? The demise of Outpost Gallifrey and the Doctor Who Forum

Thanks to the need to use a fixed site email address to sign up to the Forum, I never engaged with OG in all its technicolour pedantry but I got a lot of pleasure out of some of the gossip (sometimes accurate when it came to the Moff) that it spawned and the humour and wry laughs it provoked. Additionally, in times past, I was rather fond of its various show history/content sections - canon, timelines, reviews etc.

But now that's all about to end: Shaun Lyons needs to move on (a moral in that perhaps?) and those who have fought over every nuance of old and new incarnations of Doctor Who and its worlds will now have to find new pastures. I'll be interested in watching whether what comes next gathers the same insanity dedication to the cause.