Wednesday, 19 October 2016

The Grinning Man

On Thursday, I attended the first ever performance of Bristol Old Vic's newest production, 'The Grinning Man'. 

It's a musical, loosely based on Victor Hugo's novel, 'L'homme qui rit' , and is set in an alternative  17th Century Bristol, capital of a divided England, seat of an aging and despotic king, and his children of questionable character.

Our protagonist is Grympayne, an orphan, disfigured by his mutilated face, adopted as a child by travelling showman and puppeteer Ursus, (and his pet wolf.), and seeking the truth about his past. (which is, it turns out, complex and full of coincidences).

The play involves puppets (I loved the wolf, less so the two children, but happily they grow up and turn into people instead of puppets fairly early on, so that was OK!)

It very melodramatic, and at times somewhat surreal, and is very well done. It's pretty dark, with murder and mayhem to spare, but also very funny in places. I particularly enjoyed the foppish Lord David!  Being the first preview, there were inevitably a few minor glitches - one incident where the action briefly stopped and SM had to come on stage, and a couple of moments when players stumbled on their lines, but even with this minor hiccoughs it was well worth seeing.

Judging by the reaction from the audience at this first preview, I think it will be popular.

There is a sample of some of the music from the show, here, and the production runs at Bristol Old Vic until 13th November.

Sunday, 16 October 2016

A Good Day

I got officially older yesterday, which isn't always much fun.

This time, however, my birthday fell on a Saturday, which is nice, and I have friends here, which was even nicer.

They arrived on Friday evening, and we walked down to one of the pubs in the village, (which I haven't been to before). It re-opened fairly recently following a total refurbishment and under new management, and the food, and ambiance, were both good. (And I notice that they feature a 'gin of the day', although I didn't try that (at least this time).

Then on Saturday, we went into Bath, where we met with some friends of my guests, who were both lovely! It was a beautifully warm,sunny day,so we ended up having lunch at Browns, and eating outside (not something which I often get to do on my birthday!)

We had pondered visiting the Roman Baths, but having looked at the queue and the prices we decided against it, and instead visited book shops and fudge shops and cheese shops and a tea shop (well, a tea shop in a cheese shop) and generally enjoyed one another's company. (Well, I enjoyed the company, and I think the others did too).

It started to rain just as we decided it was time to go home, where we tried some of my birthday gin, and spent the evening eating and chatting and watching Baldrick going to a walk.

gifts and one of my cards,, showing that my friends and family know me all too well

So, a good day.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

No Man's Land

When you learn that Sir Ian McKellen and Sir Patrick Stewart are reuniting to appear on the stage together there is only one possible response, if you live close enough, and that is to book a ticket immediately.

So that is what I did.

And on Saturday I went up to London to see the play, 'No Man's Land' by Harold Pinter.

It's not one I've seen before. I really enjoyed it. Partly because it's Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen, who could both make reading the telephone directory fun, and partly because this is a play with many darkly comic moments.

billboard on theatre showing Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen

Patrick Stewart is 'Hirst', a wealthy and successful writer, but apparently suffering from some form of memory loss/confusion, although whether this is purely due to excessive alcohol or something more is unclear. Ian McKellen is 'Spooner', a down-at-heel and unsuccessful writer.

They have apparently met in a pub, and returned to Hirst's home to continue to drink, and talk, often at cross purposes. Later, we meet Hirst's companions / servants - Foster (Teale) and Briggs (Molony) who add an air of occasional menace.

It's an odd play, where nothing is entirely clear (how many of the mens' reminiscences are true, how many are attempts at oneupmanship or pure invention, for example) but it's gripping, and often very funny (sometimes doubly so due to the performers, for instance when Spenser comments on Hirst's hair loss).

Well worth seeing.

The live show is on until 17th December, although tickets are not cheap, but it is being shown in cinemas on 15th December - I'd see it, if I were you!

Saturday, 8 October 2016

A Farewell to Bees

As you know, I had a very nasty experience at the end of August, when I was stung by one of my bees, and ended up having an anaphylactic reaction (blog here, with more details).

As a result, I made the sensible but disappointing decision to give up, fetching though the bee-suit is.

It took a little while, as this is not the ideal time of year to sell bees, as  they are about to settle in for the winter, and it is always a bit of a gamble as to whether they will make it through the winter.

But via the local beekeeper's association I found a lady who was looking for some bees to boost a weak hive going into the winter.
New bee-owner sealing up
 the hive

So, on Friday evening she came to shut up the hive, and on Saturday morning she, and a friend, came and collected the hive and bees. 

So, I no longer own any bees.  

Which is sad, as I liked having bees, right up to the point when they nearly killed me. 

But since I can't look after them any more, I'm glad that they have found a new home, and relieved not to have to rely on others to look after them for me.

So, bye-bye bees. It was (mostly) nice to know you.

Friday, 7 October 2016

The Threepenny Opera # 2

I saw the National Theatre's production of 'The Threepenny Opera'  with friends back in June, and enjoyed it so much that I decided to book to see it again.

The run ended on Saturday and I booked for the matinee, the penultimate performance.I was again able to get one of the £15 Travelex tickets,  near the centre of the very front row.

It meant that I had a very different view from the first time, but the show was just as much fun (although not the company, obviously. The company last time was great!)

Close to the Action
It was fun to see things from a different angle - harder to see the big picture, but easier to pick out the little details.  And seeing Rory Kinnear being scary up close was a lot of fun! 

Empty Stage after the show was over

I hope that it is shown again at the cinema, as  NTLive encore. I'd like to see it some more!

It's over know, so you can't see it live, but if you get the chance to see it in the cinema, go. You'll thank me.