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Showing posts from 2019

Given the Boot

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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. Ins

The Horror of Philosophy - Eugene Thacker

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p hilosophy /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

My Head is Disconnected - David Lynch Exhibition @ Home Theatre - Manchester

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29 th August 2019, Home Theatre, Manchester, held a preview screening of Tom Burke’s latest film The Souvenir, followed by a Q&A session with Tom and director Joanna Hogg. Whilst I’d already seen a preview in July, I thought the Q&A would herald some interesting insights into the film, so I decided to go along and watch the film again. Whilst waiting for the film/Q&A, I noticed that there was a David Lynch art exhibition being held. Unfortunately there wasn’t enough time for me to visit the exhibit that night and to be honest, I knew nothing about David Lynch, other than his name was synonymous with a TV programme I loved back in the 90’s when I was about 16/17. Here was an opportunity to get inside the mind of the visionary TV & film director, and as I was about to find out, artist. The exhibit featured approximately 88 of his works dating from the 1960s to some of his current pieces. At the Q&A, I flicked through some postcards and thought the works m

Pavilion by Emily White, Theatr Clwyd

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Woo hoo, it’s Friday night and I’m down at the Pavilion. The drinks are flowing and “Omen” by The Prodigy is pounding out of the speakers at full blast…my feet and body moving to the beat of the music. As the disco lights flash, the pace slows down and Big Nell steps out from all the dancers gyrating on the dance floor to introduce us to the locals. “The girls are out: no coat, no tights and not much of anything else either.” Oh, don’t worry, I’ve not completely lost the plot, I know my clubbing days are well and truly over thank goodness! No, I’m sat on the front row watching the second night performance of Emily White’s brand-new play. Set in the crumbling old hall of a once grand theatre in an old Victorian Welsh spa town, Pavilion tells the story of the locals who are gathering together for one last night at the Pavilion before it finally closes down.   “Dance.Drink.Fight.Snog” Oh I’m definitely feel like I am back in the early 90s! Tunes playing so loud you think

Notes on a Nervous Planet by Matt Haig

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I’ve been watching this book doing the rounds on Twitter and reading comments about what a wonderful guide it is to assist you with living in the modern world. Do I need a guide to tell me how to live in the modern world? I already know the world has gone to the dogs, and as a cat person that makes me unhappy. This book is not going to change that for me though, nor tell me anything I don’t already know…is it? If I pop into Tesco, I invariably end up going to the book bit first! I saw a book that had received rave reviews (and a friend had said it was good) that I wanted to buy. I noted it was part of a “buy two for a fiver” offer and obviously that’s a bargain not to be missed, so I decided to add Notes on a Nervous Planet to my basket as well so I could see what all the media fuss was about. I had no intention of doing a book “review”, but things have been a bit crappy at home recently (family issue, starting a new job and having to make the awful decision to put Gerrard

The Souvenir (Film by Joanna Hogg)

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There is a cinema within walking distance of my house. I can’t remember the last time I went there. I’m not really a cinephile, I'm happy watching the classics on TV or DVD. The Souvenir by Joanna Hogg is not a mainstream film, but obviously I wanted to see it because Tom Burke was the male lead in it. The film isn’t released in the UK until 30 th  August 2019, although my local Curzon cinema was showing it 20 th  July, at 11am. I say my local Curzon cinema…it’s 40+ miles away, but what is 40 miles to see a film when I’m prepared to go to the other end of the country to see Tom in a play?! My friend and I met at the cinema, got a cookie and a cuppa (served on a china plate) and went forth into this intimate cinema screening, where there were small side tables by the seats…and reclining chairs! I’m so easily pleased. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the film, I knew the subject matter was likely to be harrowing, but at least I would be in comfort when my eyes started to lea

Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams (Victoria and Albert Museum - London)

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I love fashion in the creative sense of the word. I love the history of fashion. I enjoy looking at timeless pieces and seeing the creativity and attention to detail. I also enjoy making my own clothing…things unique to me. There is a beauty and wonderment to carefully constructed garments that does not exist in the overly mass-produced tat that we find on the high street. That’s probably why you may find me at a fashion exhibition, but you’re not likely to entice me out of the house for a spot of retail therapy. The V&A is currently exhibiting over 200 Haute Couture garments under the title Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams. Tickets for the exhibition have been hard to come by, and it is so popular that the V&A has extended the run until 1 st September 2019 and has already sold out (this from its original closing date in July!) You cannot begin to imagine how impatiently I have been counting the days to see this celebratory exhibit of Dior’s couture collection. The

I've ended up going AWOL yet again!!

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I know it's been a wee while since I posted anything (again!) but after my recent mammoth theatre session I realised I didn't actually have any new plays booked until August. I know...it's appalling behaviour, but seeing as I am currently not working (and I'm avoiding the other half asking me if I've actually bothered to look for a job to pay for all my trips...although depressingly it seems something is on the horizon) I'll be watching a couple of NT Lives instead of running down to London and this includes Andrew Scott in Noel Coward's Present Laughter which I'm really looking forward to. Gerrard the grouch  As I have a bit of spare time, I figured it was time to knuckle down and finish the Introduction to Photography Course I started about two years ago. I passed with 99.44%...which means I now know which way up to hold the camera. I've now moved onto a portrait photography course which has already stalled at the introduction stage. Whilst

The Duck Variations & The Bay at Nice, Theatr Clwyd

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@Theatr Clwyd It was America versus Russia in this double bill of one act plays from Suitcase Theatre, but not the usual East meet West showcase that David Hare created! The Duck Variations by David Mamet (Glengarry Glen Ross, American Buffalo) might sound on paper to be rather dull. Two old men, sat on a park bench, converse about the world, using ducks as an analogy for everything that’s going on around them. George is opinionated, and prone to believing everything he reads in the newspapers, so he is often prone to disseminating misinformation to the more poetical Emil. Where George talks, Emil listens, although when Emil does speak it is with the wonderment that often only still exists in small children. This is typical early Mamet territory, contemplative characters, speaking in short snatches in the naturalistic way people do. The conversation meandering off course and back again, bits are repeated, bits overlap, there are bits where you think “what are t

Strangers on a Train Set - The Lowry, Salford

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I don’t think I was the little girl my mother had longed for. Ideas of wearing pretty dresses and playing with dolls were thrown out of the window very early on. I would proudly push my pram down the road with her, but it didn’t contain a doll; that had been defaced and beheaded long ago…no, my pram was full of cuddly toy animals. If I wasn’t playing with them, I would be playing with my train set. Yes, a train set, a clockwork locomotive designed to keep me away from my older brothers’ electric train set. My train was really boring….it just went around in a little circle. Now my brothers’, well they had a huge trestle table with a hole in the middle, and lots of tracks with points and signals…countryside painted on the walls surrounding it, endless amounts of Modroc used to create hills and valleys, freight trains, steam trains that puffed little clouds of vapour, diesel trains…it was great fun, even when I was shouted at to keep my little sticky fingers at bay!! Neither of my

Stones in his Pockets – by Marie Jones (Theatr Clwyd)

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In a small rural town in County Kerry, Ireland, a Hollywood film crew descends and monopolises the town. The locals are thrilled, they might only be earning £40 a day as a film extra, but this place has now become the land of opportunity, dreams of becoming a famous actor could now become a reality. The play centres around two characters, Charlie Conlon and Jake Quinn. Charlie had been running a small business renting our movies, but then a blockbuster chain moved in, with more choice and more copies of films. After going bankrupt, Charlie grabbed his tent and started wandering around Ireland and now here he is, an extra on an American film, with the opportunity of submitting a film script to someone big in Hollywood. Jake has recently returned to Ireland following some time in New York and he is mesmerised by the star of the movie, Caroline Giovanni. Caroline swans in, the glamourous girl from Hollywood, and despite proclaiming that she wants to perfect the Irish account a

Rosmersholm - Duke of York's Theatre, London (Henrik Ibsen)

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Edvard Munch – Love and Angst Well it's been a very busy few days, but let’s face it, you don’t really care about days 1-3 of my little jaunt to London, you’re here to find out about Tom’s new play aren’t you?! Theatre programme for Ibsen's Rosmersholm, 1893 by Edouard Vuillard Well, first of all, there's a small, but interesting diversion, as Monday started with a trip to the British Museum to see the work of another Norwegian, the artist Edvard Munch. When I cruised around Norway a few years ago, his most famous painting The Scream seemed to be everywhere. It has become a universal symbol for anxiety, and this collection of prints in a collection entitled “Love and Angst” showed Munch’s exploration of his personal experiences of death and suffering throughout his life. It seemed the perfect introduction to get into the mindset of the evening’s play, which was to be a Norwegian writer’s exploration of human suffering. Munch found his native homeland

All My Sons – Arthur Miller (The Old Vic, London)

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If you’ve read The Crucible blog, you’ll know I was really excited to see All My Sons. As I’ve said previously, I’m not very familiar with Arthur Miller’s work, so in preparation I made the mistake of watching a previous version of the play (available online) starring David Suchet and Zoe Wanamaker. It was fabulous! Based upon a true story that Miller’s mother-in-law had seen in an Ohio newspaper, Miller wrote All My Sons in a vain bid to write a commercially successful play. All My Sons appears to be heavily influenced by Henrik Ibsen’s The Wild Duck, a play whereby a family has various skeletons in the closet which have to come out! In Miller’s story, two American business men conspired with army inspection officers to approve defective aircraft engines built for military use. Money talks in this play… Joe Keller (Bill Pullman) has been exonerated of knowingly shipping damaged cylinder heads to the American air force, which have contributed to the deaths of 21 pilots du

The Crucible – Arthur Miller (The Yard Theatre, London)

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I am not going to pretend that I know much about Arthur Miller. I know he was an American playwright, once married to Marilyn Monroe and he wrote The Crucible, a drama based on the Salem witch trials that took place in the Massachusetts Bay Colony during 1692/93. (I know about that because we read it at school and took a school trip to the theatre in Manchester, or maybe Liverpool, to watch it!) But apart from that, I don’t own any Arthur Miller books, so I was happy to go with my friend’s recommendations and have a “Miller” day in London. First stop, The Yard Theatre in Hackney Wick. Now I have been to this quirky little theatre before to watch Three Sisters After Chekhov which was amazing, but I knew it was a small fringe theatre and so I didn’t raise my hopes up too much on this production, I was saving myself for the evening’s blockbuster! You’re a witch.                                 No I’m not. You’re a witch.                                 No I’m not. You’re a

All About Eve - Noel Coward Theatre, London

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“Nothing is forever in the theatre. Love or hate, success or failure…whatever it is, it flares up and burns hot and then it is gone.” It’s true that people are often more interested in what goes on behind the scenes in the movies and the theatre, than what they see on screen or stage. Actors are a strange breed if you’re not living in their world…when you speak to them at the stage door are you really speaking to them, or are you speaking to another version of them? When they hug you and say, “it’s wonderful to see you again” do they really mean it, or internally is every fibre of their being screaming “oh dear God no, no, not you again!!!!” There are those of us who think they must be fed up of us if they were honest, that they are just being polite, it’s just part of their job when they leave the stage door to smile and pose for pictures. Then there are those who genuinely believe the actor is as thrilled and excited to see them after the show, as they are to see the actor.

Orpheus Descending – Tennessee Williams - Theatr Clwyd

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The Greek God Apollo gave his son Orpheus a lyre; which he played to such perfection that nothing could resist the music he played. He fell in love with Eurydice, a woman of exquisite beauty. They married and for many years they were supremely happy. One day Eurydice was wandering in the forest when a shepherd called Aristaeus saw her and became beguiled by her beauty. He chased her, she tripped, was bitten by a snake and died. Orpheus took to lamenting his grief by playing his lyre until Apollo told his son to travel to Hades and visit his wife. Orpheus took to the stygian world and upon finding Hades played his lyre and poured out his grief to him. Hades was moved by the sound and told Orpheus he could have his wife back. She was to walk behind him and he was not to turn to look at her until they had both exited the underworld, or she would have to return to Hades. Orpheus was nearly at the exit when he thought he had been duped by the Gods, so he turned, saw Eurydice, and the

Kiss Me Quickstep - Theatr Clwyd

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I love Strictly Come Dancing. I’m not one of those mega fans who can recite who appeared in each series, nor can I tell you who won each year, but as a piece of easy watching entertainment as the winter nights draw in, it ticks many boxes for me. Fabulous costumes, dancing, great music (although some memorable tunes have been reduced to screeched pastiches by the in-house singers) and a host of people (many of whom I have never heard of) trying to learn a new skill.  When I was at school, I made costumes for the dance troop in my spare time. I think my teacher hoped I’d have a career in fashion or costume design, but sadly my school didn’t offer A-Level Textiles, plus my confidence in my artistic abilities plummeted during my 6 th form at school. There were people out there far more talented than me and I had no-one telling me to believe in myself or pointing me in the right direction, so sewing became a pastime for pleasure.  When I saw a play called Kiss Me Quickstep at

Ian McKellen on Stage - Theatr Clwyd (18/03/2019)

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Sir Ian McKellen...with an 'E'...is a legend of stage and screen. I thought I was blessed to be able to see him in London (on my birthday!) playing the titular role of King Lear, but that wouldn't compare to seeing him treading the boards of my local theatre in Mold. It's Sir Ian's 80th birthday year and he's celebrating in style, visiting 80 theatres up and down the country which have a particular meaning to him. As soon as I received the email that he was coming to Theatr Clwyd I told my hairdresser to get a move on so I could rush home and book a couple of tickets. By the time I got home I'd missed the front row seats, but I managed to purchase two seats on row BB, and the way the seats were arranged, technically you were kind of on the front row view-wise!! Later that evening I told my other half I was seeing Sir Ian and that my friend Nikki would be joining me. Now everyone on here has probably gathered that my OH isn’t a theatre goer, but

Wise Children, by Emma Rice @ Storyhouse, Chester

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“We gonna rock down to Electric Avenue  And then we'll take it higher … Oh we gonna rock down to Electric Avenue” Or were we? As the tune rocked out and the audience jigged along in their seats, all the lights went out! As this was an Emma Rice production, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this was a part of the show. But several seconds later and a few quips from the actors, the audience realised that this was an ironic blip to what had been a highly charged and entertaining evening. “Oh and we were just getting to the good bit!” quipped Gareth Snook – aka Dora Chance. A few minutes later, someone had obviously shoved 50p in the meter and the lights came back on…actors hurriedly rushed back to their places to carry on as though nothing had happened…and then the runaway caravan developed a mind of its own and nearly pushed poor Lady Atalanta who was sat in her wheelchair off the stage! I don’t know why I was giggling…I was in the front row and nearly had the cast sitti