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Archive for the ‘theatre’ Category

I’m really enjoying goal number 44- which is about making sure I go to the theatre at least once every 2 months. I’ve written about the first play I saw since I started this blog- ‘The year of magical thinking’ with Vanessa Redgrave at the National Theatre.

This play was very very different. Kind of the other side of the coin- light instead of the dark of The year of magical thinking. The story of Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion is of course well known- Henry Higgins, the talented but arrogant phonetics professor works- on a whim really- to turn a flower girl with an appalling Lisson Grove accent, Eliza Doolitle, into a classy ‘lady’; this experiment is not, however, as fun & games as it first seems, as Higgins & Doolittle become entangled in a complex relationship, & things soon become out of control, far from what Higgins envisaged at the beginning.

The 1964 musical version of this play (George Cukor’s ‘My fair lady’, starring Audrey Hepburn & Rex Harrison) was a great hit at its time- and still is. If you haven’t yet seen that, please do, it’s a delight.

Peter Hall’s version is playing at London’s Old Vic at the moment, having transferred from the Bath Theatre Royal. It’s not the musical version, but the original Shaw play… which I have to say is even better & more nuanced & interesting than the musical. The play is a well made, light & airy, really funny production; it’ll surely be a lovely & fun evening out, if you choose to see it, but the darker parts will also make you think…

For those of you who live in London & are interested in catching this play, here are a couple of reviews about it:

–Benedict Nightingale’s review from the London Times

–Michael Billington’s review from the Guardian

–and Kate Bassett’s review from the Independent

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The year of magical thinking

This week we went to the theatre- this was part of goal 44, going to the theatre once every 2 months- but then when I’d booked the tickets, a while ago, no goals or lists were on my mind, I just really really wanted to see this play.

So. The ‘Year of magical thinking’, as the National Theatre website says- was ‘adapted for the stage by Joan Didion from her best-selling memoir of the same name, and chronicles the aftermath of her husband’s sudden death’. I add: it also chronicles the death of Didion’s 39-year old daughter, which occurred about a year or so after her husband’s death. And I ask: how tragically, unfathomably unlucky can one person be?

I had already read Joan Didion’s book and so I was prepared, more or less, about what I would be seeing. This was a very intense 90-minutes solo performance by the wonderful Vanessa Redgrave, which brought me to tears several times. By the end of it I felt the same way I’d felt after I’d finished the book. Drained and left with no answers. I suppose that’s the reality of terrible grief and mourning. There really are no comforting answers, there’s no neat solution or conclusion to hang onto. Loss is a very bare, spare, specific void and leads to no other thing, no lessons, it’s just that: loss. Or at least that’s the way I read the book and that’s the way I felt after seeing the play. And that’s the way I feel about loss.

Here’s a couple of recent reviews, for anyone that’s interested. (If you live in London, you could still perhaps see this play- it’s on until the end of June). So: A less than enthusiastic review by Kate Bassett for the Independent, and a much more positive one by Melissa Rose Bernardo for the Guardian. And finally, Benedict Nightingale’s take from the London Times.

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