Play: Big and Small

July 20, 2013 at 7:03 pm | Posted in General, London, Theatre, UK | 1 Comment
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Last year at the Barbican, Cate Blanchett performed in the Sydney Theatre Company’s “Big and Small“.

Much of the time spent is with the audience and a solo Blanchett, occasionally other actors break up the monologues. The story follows Lotte (Blanchett) as she seeks out true relationships with those around her.

Personally I didn’t find the character of Lotte as redeeming as perhaps I should, nor was the overall play something that would be work in less skilled hands. However Cate Blanchett’s skill and presence on stage is so strong that you easily get caught up in the experience and it was a joy to watch her be Lotte and perform. I have to wonder if it had it been another actress I don’t think Big and Small would have been as successful.

Definitely worth seeing or trying to watch Blanchett in her next performance.

Opera: The Minotaur

July 20, 2013 at 6:52 pm | Posted in Opera | 1 Comment
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Last year I went and saw my first opera and earlier this year I watched my second, The Minotaur, again at the Royal Opera House. You would have thought that given that experience I wouldn’t be that keen to watch another but it was a year later and the Minotaur was a modern piece. I’d been told that it would be more energetic.

The Minotaur follows the famous Greek myth of the hero descending into the labyrinth to slay the beast. I once again didn’t have my glasses so squinted to read the text, luckily knowing the story helped immeasurably. It also meant I could focus more on the stage rather than looking up to the surtitles.

This modern opera had a more powerful score so while not much happens in most of the scenes the vocals and orchestra meant that I was largely engaged.

I’m still not sure that my short attention span can handle the opera but I’m willing to try again…might have to be an annual thing though.

 

Movie round up

July 20, 2013 at 6:28 pm | Posted in Movies | 1 Comment
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A few movies from the last few months:

Iron Man 3

Serviceable action movie that gives you the usual robot on villain action, with Stark’s egotistical quips. Nice to see Gwyneth Paltrow being more than just a damsel in distress as well. Decent end to the trilogy. Assuming it’s going to end after three.

Star Trek Into Darkness

It’s not deep and meaningful, it doesn’t make me question the Star Trek universe (or my own). It is a solid action movie though that provides all the requisite flash. I’m perfectly fine with a lack of substance (although one particularly gratuitous shot of an actress was pretty unnecessary).

Oblivion

The world building in this sci-fi movie is immersive but based on trailers going in, the impression I had was that this was going to be an action movie. There certainly are large action sequences but the bulk of the movie is more quiet and contemplative. As a result, while I enjoyed it my expectations were skewed so can’t say it was a great movie. Worth a watch though with that caveat.

Pacific Rim

If you’ve seen the trailer then be assured this movie pretty much does what it says on the tin. Plenty of giant robots versus monsters smashing each other and a whole lot of collateral up. The human dialogue is not that engaging but that’s not really the point for this sort of film. An excellent summer blockbuster that the big screen does justice to.

Play: In Basildon

July 20, 2013 at 3:56 pm | Posted in General, London, Theatre | 1 Comment
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Over a year ago I watched the play, In Basildon, at the cosy in the round style Royal Court Theatre. Having some Essex heritage it seemed like an appropriate piece of theatre to go and see. Having a few drinks beforehand/throughout did help to pass the time. Was it dramatic? Pretty much yes. Did it feel like it was playing to condescending stereotypes? A little bit yes but not massively. The play is basically the story of a family coming together as the patriarch lies dying. The standard family issues dramas then unfold, it’s done reasonably well and rather depressingly no one is that pure so I found I couldn’t root for anyone in particular. Perhaps not having a cheery ending was my biggest bugbear? I guess that day I needed more Disney than drama. Overall it was decent but not a must see.

Play: The 39 Steps

July 20, 2013 at 2:25 pm | Posted in General, London, Out and About, UK | 1 Comment
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A play with four actors and many, many parts is the conceit of The 39 Steps, while the plot is one of a guy, a girl, as murderer and espionage. The novelty of the four actors quickly transitioning between roles (both human and prop) seems like it might get a little dull that doesn’t happen. The main plot continues to drive the story forward while allowing the comedy to flow through. It’s a charming a fun production that is definitely entertaining and worth a watch.

Musical: Legally Blonde

July 20, 2013 at 2:23 pm | Posted in General, UK | 1 Comment
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If you’re a successful movie you’re bound to be made into a musical. Legally Blonde is no exception. Did they do a good job? Definitely. It’s a fun musical that has an almost never ending slew of upbeat peppy songs to keep the momentum going. I’ve even downloaded a couple afterwards. At the end of the day it’s the story of a plucky sorority girl who tries to prove herself as a lawyer (as fabulously as possible) and if you enjoyed the movie then you’ll like the musical. Similarly if you can’t stand the film then the musical probably isn’t for you. Although the energetic dance routine may help.

Game: Skyrim

July 20, 2013 at 2:10 pm | Posted in Gaming | 1 Comment
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Skyrim, one of the biggest games for years had been out for a while now. I put many, many hours into it and my character mastered many exciting skills and led all the most important institutions. The ending did feel pretty anti-climactic but otherwise it was an immersive experience. The more interesting question though is, I enjoyed the game but why didn’t I extend the experience with additional DLC when it came out? From all reports they are very good. Possibly the gap between the game and expansion was just long enough for me to move on with another game (although that didn’t stop me with mass effect). Another thought is that by the end the bugs in the game had soured the experience just enough. Don’t get me wrong any game that has hundreds of hours of gameplay is bound to have glitches but post ending these stuck in my head. I guess clearing most things and then doing the ending wasn’t a great timeline. Maybe it was a combination of the two, or potentially I was just poor when the first one came out! Would definitely recommend plating the game though.

Play: Sex with a Stranger

July 20, 2013 at 2:07 pm | Posted in Theatre | 1 Comment
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Are you a fan of Being Human (UK)? Then you may have been at Trafalgar Studios last year to see Russell Tovey perform in Sex with a Stranger. It’s not that tawdry really, it basically tells the sorry of two people and their one night stand but jumping around in little scenelets around the lives of the two characters to show how this ended up happening. Was it any good? It was fine but nothing to rave about. As a small performance space I wasn’t expecting anything massive and for me the close space with the actors was novel. It was for one of the other patrons too, whose audible gap when Tovey took off his shirt was heard across the theatre. It says something when that inadvertent audience participation is more memorable a year later than the play. Might have something to do with an extended sequence of someone ironing a shirt.

Musical: Matilda

July 20, 2013 at 2:02 pm | Posted in General, London, UK | 1 Comment
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About a year ago I went and saw the smash hit musical Matilda. Was it worth the money and did it live up to the hype? Short answer yes. The energy of the performances, both the young cast and the male lead in heavy Trunchbull attire deserve praise. The set design is well crafted making excellent use of space while bringing us into Matilda’s world of learning and childhood. Even if you haven’t read the book or seen the movie you’ll quickly get to grips with the story. Definitely try and see it.

Opera: La Boheme

July 20, 2013 at 1:51 pm | Posted in General, UK | 2 Comments
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For my first opera I went and saw La Boheme at the beautiful Royal Opera House. Apparently it’s one of the most well known ones and is quite popular. Yes I have no knowledge of opera.

We were up in some of the cheaper seats and I should have worn my glasses as things were a little hazy, especially the surtitles.

The main thing that I learnt about opera is that not a lot happens and when it does it takes quite some time via the songs. Thematically a drawn out love story/ tragedy doesn’t work for me in a movie or a book so it was unlikely to work in opera either. The sets and performances felt epic I just don’t think it was the show for me. Would still suggest it if you like that genre and want to try opera.

We also did a backstage tour beforehand and that was great. Hearing the story of the house and seeing behind the stage and in the orchestra pit really have you a sense of the scale of the productions and work undertaken at the Royal Opera House.

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