A mixed bag evening, mostly good stuff in the mix, with three short plays all with a “yoof” theme, at the Cottesloe.
We weren’t going to miss this one. Roy Williams we liked a lot when we first came across him at the Royal Court a few years before. Ditto Dennis Kelly, whose work we’d very much enjoyed at the Hampstead. Lin Coghlan was new to us.
We weren’t overly familiar with Paul Miller’s name as director then, although we had seen his work before and now (writing in 2016) know his work well at the Orange Tree.
Apparently this production emerged from the National Theatre’s Connections programme, getting young people involved in performing, although this production was picked up by and delivered by professionals, albeit some of them very young professionals.
This one didn’t really work for us, despite the good reviews it mostly received.
It was one of those plays/productions that we thought we ought to have really liked, but didn’t much. We like Chekhov. We like Tracy-Ann Oberman (formerly of NewsRevue in our world, Eastenders in most other people’s). It was a superb-looking cast. Lindsay Posner is a terrific director.
The idea of transferring the Three Sisters to the large home of a relatively wealthy Jewish family in austere post-war Liverpool seemed to be up our street. But Hope Street is not our street; not three hours of it anyhow:
We don’t go to the cinema all that much. On the rare occasions we do go, it tends to be on an impulse. So most of our visits to the cinema prior to my live blogging (i.e. prior to December 2015) will be lost in the mists of time.
However, my diary for this day reads:
John and Mandy? Savages
I was a little perturbed by this entry at first. Surely I wasn’t cross with John and Mandy for postponing our get together for a few weeks, especially as it had been put in the diary with a question mark. In any case, I would never describe our friends as savages.
Then I remembered seeing a film named The Savages and discovered that the film had indeed come out around that time. Mystery solved.
I remember that we both really liked the idea of it – I was just getting used to the idea of having a dependent parent at the time, some 6 months after my father’s death. I suspect that Newsnight Review put us on to it (we do miss that arts programme) and we both would have liked the thought of Laura Linney and Philip Seymour Hoffman heading up the cast.
We weren’t disappointed. It was both very amusing and touching. A bit long for the slightness of the story, but an enjoyable couple of hours nonetheless.
No idea which cinema we went to – probably the Vue Acton or whatever it was called back then – still the nearest/quickest to get to at the weekend, even since the move from Janie’s maisonette to the house. Might have stayed at mine and seen this one at The Gate – that’s the other thing we often did back then.
If you haven’t seen it, well worth looking out for when it comes around on the box or through whatever Prime/Netflix type service you use if you are a movie-fiend.
We went on a Friday evening, so we got to enjoy an after-show party as well as the show.
Naturally we lost each other in the first part of the show; the cast and ushers deliberately separate you to add to the sense of discombobulation and to make you wander around in a less-than linear way.
I managed to find my way to the bar a fair bit quicker than Janie did and ran into Richard Russell (who I used to see regularly at Lambton Place back then) and his entourage. Janie eventually joined us; she had met Richard before, not all that long before in fact, at the Cafe Anglais. She wondered afterwards if “that man is everywhere”; turned out soon enough that he was!
Then a bit more wandering around; I wanted to make sure I’d seen all the action from the earlier part of the show. Then the ushers started to steward us into the more climatic scenes and then to the finale and party, where we ran into Richard and Co. again. They stuck around longer than we did. The live band were very good; I remember them playing Swing Swing Swing with great verve.
Unusually, we took Phillie to the theatre with us on this occasion. It must have been a long prearranged thing; I think Tony was doing one of his long business trips in the far east, so we had Phillie to stay for the weekend and it was planned far enough in advance for us to book a good Cottesloe production for us all to see.
This was a very good play/production. Funny, thought-provoking and very well acted. Great cast; not least Stanley Townsend, Olivia Williams and Dominic Rowan. Thea Sharrock, who had impressed us so much directing at the Gate, was starting to get higher profile gigs; this being an early example of one of those.
Phillie, bless her, unaccustomed as she was to the theatre, was a bit “west-end theatre-ish” at first, talking as if she was in her living room watching TV, until Janie gave her “the look” a couple of times. I think Phillie enjoyed that theatre trip very much.
It was a bit of a social whirl early that week, with two work-related evenings Monday and Tuesday, then an interesting concert Wednesday.
Monday 6 February PEFC Evening at the House of Lord’s
This was a dinner organised by the Programme For the Endorsement of Forestry Certification Schemes (PEFC) about the world’s forest resources. In truth, I don’t remember all that much about the evening. We (Z/Yen and an expert panel) were doing a governance review with PEFC at the time. This event coincided neatly with a day in London with the governance review panel, most of whom attended the dinner in the evening.
I have a vague feeling that Zac Goldsmith might have been the guest speaker for this one, or perhaps I am getting confused with a different evening at the Palace of Westminster. Anyway, my e-mail trail suggests that the evening was a great success.
Tuesday 7 February Monique Gore Evening at the Kiwi Kitchen
This was a fun informal works outing organised by Monique ahead of a relatively long holiday in her native New Zealand. We went to the Kiwi Kitchen on the North End Road – sadly now closed. It was a fun place and I recall the food being pretty good too. The only on-line Trip Advisor review that I can find (most have been closed down along with the restaurant) says:
“Perfect food, wonderful value for money”
Reviewed 17 April 2009
Following a trip to New Zealand in January, we were missing the flavours of NZ and since we were in London decided to try out this restaurant. What an absolute gem!!
The food is cooked to perfection and the portion sizes are more than adequate – if you decide to go I would suggest taking a very large appetite!…
My abiding memory was that we had a large contingent of the Z/Yen crowd, not least the UNISON team. Coincidentally, the restaurant had a Kiwi Sauvignon Blanc named Unison on the wine list, which I decided we simply had to choose to mark the occasion. It was pretty good wine too.
I wonder whether Monique took any pictures that evening – she often did – if so, I’ll subsequently up one or two of them if she is good enough to provide them.
Wednesday 8 February – Homayoun Shajarian & Dastan Ensemble at Cadogan Hall
Janie and I were keen to try this Persian classical music, so we made an unusual decision to see a concert on a Wednesday evening (Janie treats patients at home on Wednesdays, so is a reluctant traveller into central London for the evening on a Wednesday).
This concert was worth the trip, not least to see/hear unusual instruments such a the barbat and tar (lute-type instruments), kamancheh (a spiky fiddle), tanbak, dayereh, daf, dammam & kuzeh (percussion instruments).
The Dastan Ensemble – click here for website – are a leading ensemble in their field. A fair chunk of London’s Iranian community turned out for this concert, plus a sizeable minority of interested folk like ourselves. Not all of the audience was reverent in the way a European audience would be for classical music; for example quite a few people moved around or made noise during pieces. Similarly, the ensemble had little sense of London concert timing etiquette, performing several encores and thus keeping us at the hall till well after 10:00 if I recall correctly.
We won’t be rushing to see Persian classical again in a hurry; it didn’t float our boat to the same extent as Indian classical (for example) does. But we were both glad to have tried it, even in the middle of a busy week.
This was a really good play/production. It was only on at the Royal Court for a short while – so we felt we’d got ourselves hot tickets for this one. Unusually for a David Hare, this one had started in New York 15 months before.