nineveh_uk (nineveh_uk) wrote,

A day in Birmingham

I had a bit of a holiday on Saturday and took myself to Birmingham. By dint of finding myself breakfasted, dressed, and with things in the right handbag by 9:40am I headed off for the train in time to fit in several things before the day's main event of a matinee at the theatre.

First stop was the Hall of Memory on Centenary Square, which I might have been inside once bfore, but couldn't and can't remember, whereas I remember walking past it when closed in the evenings or on Sunday on multiple occasions. Next on the civic pride tour was the new central library, which is every bit as impressive as reported*, and a fantastic and usable space. There were other tourists like me, but it was being very well-used. I also walked past the old library, which was in the process of being knocked down and as wrecking machines will, providing much entertainment to random passers-by. It was a good library, but an awful building on all other fronts.

Thence to the Birmingham City Museum and Art Gallery and for an exhibition on minor pre-Raphaelite, E.R. Hughes. Hughes is definitely a minor figure, but it was a well put-together exhibition and passed a pleasant hour. He was a considerably better draughtsman than some of the major pre-Raphaelites**, and there were some very fine portraits of children, highly individual and sensitive, but unsentimental, but though teenage me actually bought a postcard of Hughes' Midsummer Eve, adult me is unconvinced.

Finally to the main event, New Adventures' Sleeping Beauty at the Hippodrome. I saw this on television a couple of years ago at Christmas when lying on the sofa recuperating from norovirus, so my memory was that it was very good, but a bit vague as to detail. Having failed to get myself to it in London, I picked up a return ticket and headed off for a terrific view from the centre of row 5 of the dress circle, a reminder that a good ticket is really worth it. Subtitled "A Gothic Romance", it is fair to say that the cleverness of the production lies in the conceit, and the choreography is less exciting than Bourne's Swan Lake, at least to this amateur viewer.*** But the conceit of Edwardianish palace to the modern day, happy young love with the gardener's boy, vengeful fairy, and unexpected good(?) vampires is very clever, and the whole thing is a wonderfully entertaining couple of hours. Bourne is an excellent storyteller. The sole downside is that it has a recorded score, nothing unusual in ballet, I know, but I prefer the real thing. I like to hang over the railing at the interval and count the double basses.

*And the government's slashing funding so the council has had to cut services every bit as shameful as reported.

**Rossetti really, really wasn't a good man with a pencil.

***Nor does it have Adam Cooper as the black swan, the man for whom, as Deborah Bull put it in introducing the televised version, the word phwoar was invented.

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Tags: art, ballet, birmingham, real life
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