Sunday, 30 March 2014


I have not booked for many of the Bath Theatre Royal's current season, but one I did book was 'Pygmalion'
Alistair McGowan as Henry Higgins
 (photo Manuel Harlan)
I don't think I have ever seen the play before, although of course I've seen 'My Fair Lady' many times.

The evening didn't start well, as there was a road closure which meant I was late getting to the theatre, but once I was in, it was very entertaining.

This production starred Alistair McGowan as Henry Higgins, Rula Lenska as his mother, and Rachel Barry as Eliza.

It was a very good production - Rachel Barry did an excellent job of showing not only Eliza's determination and strength, but also her vulnerability.

Jamie Foreman and Rachel Barry
I felt that McGowan's Professor Higgins was a little overdone - the character is obviously supposed to be gauche and irritating, but I think a little more restraint would have improved the production.

Despite this, the production is over all excellent - witty and entertaining, but not obscuring the underlying points which Bernard Shaw was making about class and inequality, and Eliza's determination to better herself and to become independent. It's a little sad that, in the play's centenary year, the issues of inequality still resonate..

Jamie Foreman made an excellent Albert Doolittle, self-proclaimed member of the Undeserving  Poor, and later victim or unwanted wealth!

I hadn't appreciated how much of the dialogue of 'My Fair Lady' was taken directly from the original play, which gives it a feeling of familiarity, but (in this production at least) you don't miss the songs.

Special mention should also go to Rula Lenska, as Higgins' clear sighted and long-suffering mother.

The production is touring until June. If you're in the right place, it is well worth seeing.

Friday, 28 March 2014

Birthday Party

OOoops. Friday again, and I haven't got around to blogging about last weekend, yet!

It was fun. Both of my sisters have birthdays in March, and E had a party which all of us (siblings) were invited to, together with a bunch of her friends - we all went out for a very long pub lunch, including some splendid puddings (the accurately named 'giant eclair', and the less accurate 'ultimate chocolate tower', among them)

And then we went back to E's house for the rest of the day, an had an evening which included Wii dancing, and Jack Daniels Pizza. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Sunday was then a quiet day, spending time with extended family and eating lots of home cooked food. 

Did I mention it was fun? and really nice to catch up with all of my siblings at once - it doesn't often happen.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

In which there is a wedding!

I spent this weekend enjoying the company of friends and family, in beautiful surroundings.

My oldest and best friend got married on Saturday, to a lovely bloke. I've know J for over 20 years, and her shiny new husband for nearly 10, and couldn't be happier that they they have now married.

I travelled up to Derbyshire on Friday - it was a lovely day, bright sunshine, getting nicer and nicer as I went north!

After arriving, and settling into my luxurious hotel room (in this beautiful hotel, originally built in 1652, and which has been an inn for at least 200 years), I met up with my friends, and J's parents, all of whom were staying in the hotel on the Friday night, and we spent the afternoon catching up, running errands, and all had dinner together.

On Saturday, I had some spare time while those in the wedding party were doing hair and nails and the like, so went for a walk around the village - it was not quite such a beautiful day as Friday, but the landscape is absolutely stunning (Chatsworth and Haddon Hall are both just up the road..)

And then of course the main event. I met up with other friends  at the wedding venue, (another very nice hotel).

Everything went smoothly - there was a ceremony, and photographs, and laughter, and food, and dancing, and laughter, and more food, and time with friends, and a very happy married couple.

It was a lot of fun.

On Sunday (Another gloriously sunny day) I drove to Manchester to see my Brother and his girlfriend, and catch up with them (and eat out at a superb tea room!) all of which was delightful.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Jennifer Saunders at the Bath Lit. Fest.

One of the things  enjoy about living here is the proximity to Bath, and the chance to enjoy the Bath festival of Literature every March, and the Bath Festival of Children's Literature every September.

This years BathLitFest started on Friday, and Saturday morning saw me heading into the city to see Jennifer Saunders, talking about her autobiography, 'Bonkers'.

As might be expected of a comedian, she was a very funny and entertaining speaker. She talked about her background, growing up as an air-force child, moving around the country, and of her childhood ambitions to become a three-day eventer.

She dismissed the suggestion that she and Dawn French didn't initially get on, commenting that they simply didn't know one another to start with, when they first met at college.

She spoke a good deal about her habit of procrastinating, describing the increasingly implausible excuses she and Ruby Wax sent to Goldie Hawn when they were supposed to be writing a film script for her - Saunders described how she was, eventually, flown to New York to finish the script, and planned to write on the lane, except, as she explains, one of the effects of having been in Absolutely Fabulous is that flight attendants all assume that she wants to be drunk on champagne all the time, and appear with glasses of champagne on every flight (and of course, she commented, they're right..!), so she arrived with the script still unwritten..

She claimed to have been effectively locked into Hawn's apartment to finish writing, and then to have been taken to see The Lion King afterwards "like a good child".

In response to questions from the audience, Saunders confirmed that she would like to do some panel shows "They have to have women on them now, it's the law!" and that she was less scared as she got older "Once you're past the menopause, you don't care. You just see them all as little boys" And that she will be hosting 'Have I Got News for You'. I shall look forward to that!

She also confirmed that she'd like to be involved in writing another musical, except for the music parts, which are tricky, that there is to be ab Fab movie, and that she feels lucky to have worked with so many friends, and to have become friends with so many people she's worked with.

It was a highly entertaining hour, (and at the end, Jennifer's whippet, Olive, came on stage with her while she signed copies of her book)

I'm not in a position to attend any other Bath Lit Fest events this year, but if I could only see one, I'm glad it was this one! 

Saturday, 1 March 2014

War Horse

I've been hearing about the play, War Horse, for years (I think it has been on stage for 6 or 7 years, now), but have never got around to seeing it. 

I still haven't seen it on stage, but on Thursday evening, I was able to see it at my local cinema as part of the 'NT Live' programme.

I love the NT Live broadcasts.

I love going to the theatre, and I'm lucky that I manage to see a fair few shows, both locally and in London, but the broadcasts make it possible to see shows I wouldn't otherwise see, (or to see shows I enjoyed, again ) and of course it gives so many people the chance to see things they wouldn't otherwise be able to (and generally for much less than the cost of theatre tickets, particularly once you factor in travel!) 

I enjoyed the show. The initial scenes are set in Devon, and I did find it slightly distracting that the actors accents ranged from actual Devon, to 'generic yokel', with a smattering of Irish, but fortunately it didn't throw me completely out of the story.

The puppets, which are made by the Handspring Puppet Company of Cape Town, are astonishing - the puppeteers are always visible, and the horses (and other puppets) are very obviously puppets, but at the same time they are completely convincing as horses - even while you can see the puppeteer moving the cogs and rods to make their ears move, or their flanks heave.

The plot isn't a complex one, but it manages to be gripping, and I admit that I may have been a little teary when Albert and Joey are finally reunited!

Well worth seeing if you have the opportunity!