Thursday, June 14, 2007

Quick round-up

I know I need to do a proper post (and also some blog housekeeping) instead of these little updates but I'm too tired to think up smart and clever things to say about the stuff I want to review. I finished the rewrite of the futuristic thingy, and then rewrote part of the beginning again to make it even better, and though I say so myself, it's bloody good now. And so it should be after 8 drafts. Upshot of an intense writing spell is that my brain is totally devoid of ideas, so it looks like I won't have anything in this year's BSSC, which is a big shame.

As for reviews, start with the easiest first: "Ocean's 13" - saw it this afternoon. It's not as good as 11 but it's better than 12, and while it's by no means a classic (too many plot holes and silly implausibilities - and if they wanted one of the team to be a black Brit why didn't they just get someone British instead of pretending Don Cheadle can do the accent?), when your brain feels like the definition of "brain-drain", on a cold and wet East Yorkshire day, its perfect. Sunshine and Mr Clooney, followed by half a bar of chocolate. I feel better already.

At the weekend, saw "Philistines" at the National, Gorky's play updated by Andrew Upton, directed by Howard Davies. It's long, and very Russian. The set is great, like "Three Sisters" a couple of years ago, making good use of the Lyttleton stage, and in parts its very funny, but there's just a bit too much shouting about the same old things. Like the short version of "Three Sisters" - "oh how I wish we were in Moscow" - "here's a train ticket" - the short version of this could be "I'm so bored here" - "bye, then". So I'm probably a philistine myself, but I would've liked it more if it had been half an hour shorter and tighter and a lot less repetition of the same arguments. It's getting good reviews so I'm probably in a minority; if you fancy it, it's worth checking to see if you can get stand-by tickets, I did and ended up with a £39.50 seat for £18.

Then in total contrast saw "Betrayal" by Harold Pinter at the Donmar, directed by Roger Michel, with Toby Stephens, Dervla Kirwan and Sam. Short sharp play, great dialogue and an almost bare set - much more my sort of thing. Having seen the play once this year (in Chicago) I knew what to expect in terms of the backwards structure, sadly this seemed to confuse the couples either side of me who whispered all through every scene shift ("does that say 1973?" "Yes" "But didn't the last one say 1975?") Rather more annoying was the man who obviously hadn't realised that the actors are supposed to pause (it's Pinter, for goodness sake!), so filled in for them, until jabbed in the leg by his girlfriend, and told to shut up. Good on you, girlfriend. When is it going to be legal to take pointy sticks to theatres to deal with morons like him?

Oops got distracted. The play is fabulous and the acting was simply leagues ahead of anything I've seen so far this year. Jerry (Toby Stephens) veers between smugness, coldness and brash confusion, and Robert (played by Sam) is as repressed as an Englishman could ever be until undone by a lunchtime glass of wine, while Dervla Kirwan's Emma is almost pushed out of the picture by their intense friendship despite being the one they both love (or loved). If this isn't up for awards at the end of the year, I'll eat ... a plate of something nasty. And if you want to go and see it, you'll have to queue for returns because it's totally sold out. But I'd go and queue, if you can.

OK, so this turned out to be not such a little update after all. I'm going to eat cheese then go to bed, in the hope that I have some decent dreams that will turn into stories. What?? It's happened before.


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