Some things I have seen this week:
Show Boat. Dad came down on Friday night and we went to the Sheffield Crucible production, which has transferred to the New London Theatre. It was utterly fantastic, and it’s a great shame that a production that has been so well-reviewed, of a piece that is not done that often, is closing in August rather than January due to lack of ticket sales. Clearly London audiences are just unadventurous… I admit that I watched the whole thing through a haze of nostalgia for the Opera North/RSC production of the late 80s/early 90s and subsequent family listening to a recording in the car, but everyone else seemed to be having a good time, too. A good solid case saw stand-out performances from Ravenal (a young American singer), Julie and Joe – the latter two understudies, it would be hard to imagine the leads being better. In short, if you’re in London and can see it, do. Here's the trailer, and here's Willard White in concert.
When Marnie Was There To describe something as ‘charming’ often seems a double-edged compliment, with an implication that it may also be rather slight. WMWT is utterly charming on every front, but it is also a serious and thoughtful film. I’d not seen a Studio Ghibli film before and I’m regretting that now, as it looked absolutely gorgeous and was completely worth seeing at the cinema. It’s based on a British children’s story that I’d never read, and which follows a fairly standard ‘lonely girl goes to stay with people in the countryside and meets a mysterious child who lives in an old house’ trajectory, but the depiction of the children’s friendship and their lives is done with a wonderful sensitivity. We saw the subtitled version, trailer here.
Eddie Izzard: Force Majeure It’s not that I’m not accustomed to attending performances in a foreign language – I like opera, after all. It’s just that they often have surtitles, and even then you don’t need to know more than the plot. Whereas this was in German, on account of the titles for the English hour of the three-hour show being sold out.
It turns out that with a little preparation to drag ye olde GCSE more to the forefront of the mind, Eddie Izzard is surprisingly easy to understand in German. For a start, he’s British, so he speaks with the “British person talking foreign” accent that I’m used to. But also the nature of his comedy works well even if you don’t get every world. The conceit of taking a concept and drawing it out to ever-absurder lengths means that as long as you can grasp the concept you can go with it. I got completely lost only at one point when I had absolutely no idea what sort of frantically-digging animal he was on about. The options my brain tried included werewolves, my neighbour guessed crabs – if only I’d stopped trying to think “what does that word sound a bit like?” and gone instead with “which animals famously dig in the way he’s doing an impression of?”, since the answer was moles.
There clearly were more sophisticated jokes and references that the native-speaker portion of the audience was getting and people like me weren’t, but overall I was quite chuffed with my ability to follow what was going on. All I have to do now is spend the weekend reminding myself of such technical details pronoun declensions, verb conjugations, and where you put the second sodding verb before my course next week...
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