Oh no, it happened again! I went for two months without writing a blog. My excuse is that I was very busy doing actual things. Having a lovely boyfriend is doing wonders for my social life and self-esteem, but is proving to be less good for my blogging career.
Anyway, here are some of those things below.
What is threatening to become an annual visit to the Shakespeare production by Illyria in Sefton Park did not disappoint. A fun romantic comedy about the night you take your Christmas decorations down (NOTE: fact-check this before publishing).
With a cast of five playing multiple roles, I had to pay close attention to follow the plot. However being in the shadow of the Palm House was a bonus, and the weather was kind to us. People who went to see their production of Pride and Prejudice a few weeks later were not so lucky.
THE MAGIC FLUTE
Just a week later, we were in a different park – Calderstones Park – for Opera Anywhere‘s production of The Magic Flute.
It was another open-air show, so I was slightly anxious when, on the day of the performance, it rained heavily, rained a bit more, then – in a welcome change of pace – it continued to rain. With no sign of the deluge ending, the start of the show was delayed while they moved the performance indoors. Then, just as the show started in a hastily-commandeered room in the visitor centre, the rain stopped and the sun started beaming down. TIMING.
The show itself was fun, especially with the entry of the three child-spirits, who guide Papageno. They were performed by puppets, giving the show an unexpected Avenue Q-esque twist.
ASPECTS OF LOVE
Ben’s favourite ever musical was revived in London this year, and I bought tickets for his birthday present in September. A shame, then, that the show’s run was cut short and it ended in August, forcing us to make a hasty day trip to London to catch a matinee.
It’s the story of romantic entanglements between various people in France, spanning many years from 1947 to 1964, particularly the aspiring actress Rose Vibert and her admirer, Alex Dillingham. It is one of Michael Ball’s most famous roles, as Alex in the original 1989 show. In this version he plays Alex’s uncle George. We wondered if the show would allow Ball to somehow still sing his big song Love Changes Everything, and it does – by simply reallocating the song to George instead of Alex. A bit annoying for Jamie Bogyo, who plays Alex in this version, but I guess that is showbiz.
THE PLAY THAT GOES WRONG
This was absolutely brilliant. A murder mystery play staged by an amateur dramatics company goes, as the title suggests, not correctly. Props disappear, lines are forgotten, sound cues get missed, doors fail to open, doors fail to close, and that’s just the start of it.
The laughs come as the cast try to adhere to the old showbiz adage “the show must go on”, even as the production gets more and more out of control. There are even shenanigans before the curtain rises and during the interval. Brilliantly the programme is done as if the “play within a play” is real and is full of jokes too.
It’s Noises Off on steroids, and a riot from beginning to end. We are already booked in to see Peter Pan Goes Wrong when it comes to the Liverpool Empire in a few weeks time.
We toured Buckingham Palace, which is open to us mere plebs for ten weeks each year. We got to see the state rooms and various bits of Royal regalia. Unfortunately there was no photography allowed (and they were strict, I saw an unfortunate tourist in front of us get severely told off) so
Naturally the opulence and gold-plated everything didn’t sit well with me. I was very amused, however, to see in one room an ornate fireplace built around a one-bar electric fire of the sort you’d find in a 60s council house.
It was rather disappointing to get to the gift shop at the end of the tour and find it full of the same tat that you could find in one of those dodgy London souvenir shops that are open even at 11pm for some reason. Even more disappointing – I actually did buy something and it showed up on my bank statement as “BUCK PALACE”, which sounds like an American porn star name.
Anyway, I learned that Buckingham Palace has 700 rooms, so you could convert it to some nice social housing.
I’d love to write about this show, a musical adaptation of the Daphne Du Maurier novel which has been performed in many European countries, but never in English until now. Unfortunately, a few hours before we were due to see it, we got a call from the Charing Cross Theatre to inform us that that evening’s performance had been cancelled. Oh well. We rescheduled for 4th November, so I will report back then!
In lieu of Rebecca, we went to see this film which was showing at the Picturehouse in central London. The plot centres on a married couple – Tomas (played by Franz Rogowski) and Martin (Ben Whishaw), whose relationship goes sour when Tomas has an affair with a woman.
It was a very strange film, exploring as it did the emotions that can be stirred up when a relationship breaks up (yes, this was an ideal date night film). The main problem was that it was very hard to feel any sympathy with the character of Tomas, who behaves awfully throughout the film and I was left confused as to why his unfortunate husband and new girlfriend tolerated him for even a nanosecond.
I also have to take issue with the review from The Atlantic quoted on the film’s poster, which read “Brutally Funny” – not sure what film the reviewer was watching, because it is not a comedy!
So, not the best film, although you do get to Ben Whishaw’s bum, so it’s not all bad.
A HAUNTING IN VENICE
An adaptation of one of Agatha Christie’s Poirot novels, directed by Kenneth Branagh, produced by Kenneth Branagh, starring Kenneth Branagh. I didn’t check the credits, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the electrics, carpentry and sound were done by Kenneth Branagh too. The food on set might even have been Kenneth Branagh Flakes.
An amazing cast in the non-Kenneth Branagh roles, though: Michelle Yeoh, Tina Fey and Jamie Dornan.
A ghost story about murdered orphans, a couple of gruesome deaths and a make this a suitably spooky story for Halloween (shame we watched it on September 22nd).
So, that’s some stuff I did. Some good shows, a couple of not-so-good shows. But all done with my lovely other half Ben, so automatically a great experience.
I am not posting on Twitter while Racist Zefram Cochrane is in charge, so follow me on Mastodon, Threads, or BlueSky, and probably another 14 rival social networks over the next few months before we all settle on the correct one. I’m also still on Instagram.