Monday, 20 January 2020

An Inspector Calls, The Lowry (Salford)

Well my 2020 theatre season has commenced with a splendid big bang! The English novelist and playwright J B Priestly, wrote what is probably regarded as his most well-known drama, An Inspector Calls, in 1945. Surprisingly, the play was first performed in that year in Moscow; the first performance in English took place in London the following year. It stood to reason that a cinematic version would follow and in 1954 Alastair Sim took on the role of the titular inspector. It is a contender for one of my favourite films of all time and whilst other film versions have been made, the original version remains the best in my humble opinion.


In 1992, Stephen Daldry decided that his directorial debut at The National Theatre, London, would be this old warhorse of a text. Was this to be a stroke of genius or professional suicide? Most productions of An Inspector Calls, which is set in 1912, would take place in a reconstructed, historically accurate Edwardian drawing room, complete with period furniture and heavy on the crystal decanters etc. Those productions subconsciously take you back to a past era, but the issues back then are still affecting modern audiences; probably more so now with the advent of technology and the inability to “get away from it all,” so how do you keep the feel of the original play, but make it relevant for a modern audience?

Instead of keeping with tradition, Daldry changed the setting to 1945, when the play was written. He had such a fresh, imaginative approach to the staging of An Inspector Calls, that the traditional boring drawing room drama seems to have died out. I’m thrilled that I can now say that I’ve experienced his visionary production, including Ian MacNeil’s house on stilts, first-hand. 

Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Given the Boot

As people wave a fond farewell to 2019, I for one will be celebrating its departure with great gusto. I thought 2018 was a trying year; my father-in-law lost his valiant battle with cancer and supposed close and trusted friends needed to be disposed of. It transpired that 2019 had much of the same in store. My beloved cat Gerrard and a close friend both passed from Leukaemia; there was another “friend” who I had to let go of and with the demands of watching someone close battle with dementia, my resilience waned and I reached the stage towards the end of August where the time and demands of writing the blog became untenable.

I became fed up of all the toxicity surrounding me, I knew from previous blog posts throughout last year and this one it was starting to eat away at me and the best way to deal with such things is to go to the source of the problem…cut whatever is making you unhappy and angry off, and concentrate on moving forwards with things that bring joy to the soul. Instead of reading the nonsense on Twitter and Facebook that aggravates me, I turned to spending what precious time I had, rummaging through my bookcase and settling down with a good book and a pot of tea!

Saturday, 7 December 2019

The Horror of Philosophy - Eugene Thacker


philosophy
/fɪˈlɒsəfi/
noun

1.    the study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, reality, and existence, especially when considered as an academic discipline.

2.     a theory or attitude that acts as a guiding principle for behaviour.



horror
/ˈhɒrə/
noun

1.     an intense feeling of fear, shock, or disgust.


      • a literary or film genre concerned with arousing feelings of horror.
      • intense dismay.

The world is becoming an increasingly strange place. People take things and each for granted. We live in a world where everyone is striving for what is not worth having. Since when did the horror of living in the modern world overtake the horrors of the fictional world?

Back in November 2015, I travelled to Newcastle Comic Con to see Tom Burke. A couple of weeks earlier I had stumbled across a couple of books called “Tom Burke of Ours” (to this day Tom has still read more of those two books than I have.) At the beginning of the book is a letter written by the character Tom Burke…I thought it’d be fun to get Tom to sign that page as though he had written the letter. Strange request I know, but a kind of ice breaker into conversation, because for those of you who haven’t been to a Comic Con, it’s not really a conducive atmosphere to try to chat to someone. When I’m with friends we’re sitting having a drink chilling and chatting, or we’re out walking, and walking and talking go hand in hand. What doesn’t feel right is standing in front of a table, whilst the person you’re talking to is sat behind it. It’s reminiscent of being back in the headmaster’s office, and we all know when we are in there it’s generally best being quiet and trying to look humble! So, whilst I admire Tom’s work as an actor, I always feel incredibly insincere just saying “hello I love you and your work.” It’s not me. I'd prefer to leave a chat feeling like I've learnt something interesting or at least exchanged something of value, otherwise what’s the point?