Theatrical doings and Fizz

The Easter holidays are upon us. Thank the lord.

It was a short term, that last one, but it was one in which we seemed to fit in the exact same number of things as we do in any other, reasonable length term, and we are all exhausted. We are washed up on the beach of academia, with sand in our bum cracks and a mild sense of confusion being all we have to show for it.

Last week was particularly ‘at the coal face’, hence the break down in blogging come Friday, when I found myself scrubbing the kitchen floor at half past eight at night, doing a fine impression of the White Rabbit from Alice in Wonderland.

So here are some things:

Last week I got to see Maxine Peake in Hamlet as part of the NTLive season. It was filmed at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester, which is a fantastic theatre. It’s in the round, in the middle of the old stock exchange building, and is entirely made of glass. It is a wonderful venue to see live theatre in, less of a wonderful venue to film live theatre in. Camera angles were a bit tight, due to the fact that if they pull too far back you are surrounded by a sea of audience and reflective glass surfaces. It gave the whole thing a rather claustrophobic feel, which, to be fair, is OK with a play like Hamlet, but did break down at times, particularly during the scenes with the ghost.

Maxine Peake however, was a terrific Hamlet. I collect Hamlets, so I know of what I speak. She was very different to the last few I’ve seen, the tightly wound but very controlled John Simm, who exuded an edge of menace, the laconic and witty David Tennant and the quietly anarchic Rory Kinnear. Peake was angry and shaken up. She played it so that you could see her balanced eternally on a knife edge of real madness and a desperate clinging to sanity that was under pressure the whole time as she tried to outwit the forces against her. She was loud and distressed and terrified of what was happening to her and her country. She was really a tour de force. If they encore it, you should definitely try to see it.

I was also lucky enough to see Mark Strong in the NTLive View from a Bridge by Arthur Miller. It totally blew me away. The cast were tight and the whole piece seemed almost choreographed they were so in sync with each other. The play was done straight through with no interval so that the tension could build and build until by the end of it everyone was just a mass of nerves.  Strong was superb as the lead, simply mesmerising, and the finale, which I won’t spoil for you, was a real kick in the guts. It was visceral, raw theatre at its absolute best.

In real life, Tilly had her interview for the college she wants to go to. It seemed to go very well and she is relieved it’s over. We should get a letter by the end of the month. I’m pretty confident, going on what she told me, and her predicted grades, that she will get an offer. Here’s hoping.

The children seem to have minimal homework this holidays, apart from poor Tilly, obviously, who is right into GCSE’s when she gets back to school, and is up to her eyes in exam revision. There isn’t much I can do to help her with it, except keep in a good supply of biscuits and offer the occasional comforting pat. Oscar has to draw a picture of his favourite meal, which is entirely achievable (pointless, but achievable). We have not done it yet, but this is mainly because he keeps changing his mind about what his favourite meal is, rather than through any lack of ability. Tallulah has ‘some’ homework. She is playing her cards close to her chest, which I am fine with, unless she wants me to help her with quadratic equations, when I am not.

We have a sparklingly clean house thanks to the fact that my friend Claire came to stay for the weekend and we thought it would not be the done thing to subject her to crunchy floors and the EU laundry mountain, hence me scrubbing things on Friday night. It is still sparklingly clean in parts, since her departure, due to the fact that Jason broke one of my champagne flutes yesterday and it shattered into a thousand pieces all over the kitchen floor, which necessitated cleaning on a forensic scale. Why is it that no matter how many bits of glass you sweep up, there is always some you miss? Which then means you have to mop up blood.


Before Jason broke the champagne flute, Claire and I celebrated finally getting to see each other after several abortive attempts, by drinking a bottle of Veuve Cliquot, which seems entirely fitting. We then moved onto the raspberry Stoli and spent the evening listening to 90’s Indie music and reminiscing about the bad old days. Happy times, and even happier that I woke up with a clear head on Sunday. Clearly what is needed to ward off hangovers are decent fizz and ear drum bursting levels of guitar based pop music.

Other things may have happened. They surely did. They will have to wait, however, as the children and I are going on a hot date with granny and uncle Robber, who have found a dessert cafe not far from their house, and need help testing it out. It’s a hard life.

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