nineveh_uk (nineveh_uk) wrote,

What I did at the weekend

• Not quite as much general ‘stuff’ as I anticipated, as a result of arranging late on Friday night to meet up in London on Saturday with a friend on a flying visa-rearranging visit from Moscow. So all the virtuous things I was going to get done around the house are largely not done.

• A vast pile of ironing. Ironing is highly compatible with...

• ...spending both Saturday and Sunday morning watching the opening cross-country ski world cup races.

• Treated myself to a metal shepherd’s crook bird-feeder pole that I can hang peanut etc from, so that I watch the birds from the kitchen window rather than squinting down the garden to the feeder hanging from the garage guttering.

• Finally saw The Pitman Painters, Lee Hall’s play about the artists of the Ashington Group. The play was originally produced in Newcastle, transferred to the National Theatre, has since toured, and is now on a (second?) West End run. The friend I was with, who is from the north-east, approved of the accents (courtesy, perhaps, of the initial Newcastle production), and found some of the character types highly convincing. The WEA organiser was apparently strikingly reminiscent of minor league football club committee chairmen. I enjoyed the play; it’s very ‘educational’ in form, but fortunately it has an interesting subject, it was well-acted by the ensemble cast, and it is genuinely funny. The ending is a bit weak, falling prey to the temptation to make obvious the theme that we have in fact grasped perfectly well from the preceding two-and-a-half hours, but that’s a minor complaint. However (there must be a however) the play unfortunately also falls prey to a fault common to many works of the northern-industrial-social-realism-comedy-drama fashionable in the cinema in the late nineties in its depiction of women. That is, the lack of women. There are two in the play: the minor character of a young woman who arrives to pose as a life model, to the men’s shock, who is an art student and also works in a teashop. She ends the play just in the teashop. The more significant female role is that of P&O heiress Mrs Sutherland, an art collector who takes an interest in the group. Rich, female, sexually active, country-house-owning patron of the arts, she is depicted as an outsider, and even sometimes something of a (well-meaning) enemy, to the Group in the way that southern, educated, obviously-coded-homosexual art teacher Robert Lyons is not (you can fill in the adjective for the miners yourselves), and anyone who’s seen Billy Elliot will recognise a trend. The fundamental absence of women from community life in The Pitman Painters in particular is ironic, because a look at the Ashington Group website shows that a good number of the paintings depicted women in ordinary scenes. The play can be quite conservative in other ways, too – again, something not entirely unfamiliar from the NISRCD films. But it was an enjoyable evening, even if I won’t be running and leaping to Hall’s next work.
Tags: real life, theatre
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