Monday, April 30, 2007


I've been tagged by Lianne to post my five goals; this is an interesting one - life long or right now? writing or life in general? How about a bit of a mix?

1. Meet people in Cannes who might be interested in the feature scripts
Yep, Lianne, you were right, Cannes features in the list, but it is pretty much at the top of my mind at the moment. I've got "Dating Games", the completed romcom, and "Romcom with ghost" which is as yet unfinished and untitled but I've already pitched it to an actor and a producer who have both said "ooh that sounds interesting" - and to have a few conversations that ended in "send me the script" would be rather fine.

2. Make a living from being a writer
Isn't this what all we scribosphere folk want? Kind of goes without saying that this means I have to finish the spooky romcom, and get the play tidied up so it's fit for Verity Bargate, and keep on writing other stuff.

3. Find someone who might fall in love with me
I am so bored with being single. It would be nice to have someone fall for me and me fall for them in return. And I think I'm pretty good girlfriend material, actually - smart, funny, well read, good bod for my age, not hideously unattractive, not addicted to shopping, bloody good cook, interested in all sorts of things like theatre, cinema, architecture, as well as the standard walks in the countryside GSOH stuff. So, nice guys, where are you?

4. Get my house and garden finished and lovely
The list of jobs never stops growing even though I keep ticking them off - stripped antique pine doors are now in place, but need waxing; attics need clearing now the roof has been done; bark chips need spreading now the weeds have been dealt with; filing, why is there never an end to filing? Same for dusting, laundry, and cutting the grass. I would love to have the feeling that for once, I'm on top of everything.

5. Have some more ideas
I've got three big ideas at the moment, at various stages of development, and I'm having one of those "what if I never have another good idea" moments. I think I have to take a leaf from Lianne's book - stop being so worried and fearful, and just get on with it.

OK, that was a bit random. I'll probably come back and edit it later. Am I supposed to tag people now? I think I'm too late. If you haven't been tagged yet and you're reading this, consider yourself tagged.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


And the main news is - I'll be going to Cannes this year, all being well. "Echoes" is in the Short Film Corner, and I've got my accreditation. Flights booked, place to stay sorted, business cards and postcards ordered - all systems are go.

Who else is going? If there are enough of us, do people fancy having some kind of blogger gathering? Maybe we could get together at one of the UK Pavilion happy hours, or, if people join, at the American Pavilion. I'm happy to try to co-ordinate something, if anyone fancies it - just let me know.

I'm also doing a "Cannes for Virgins" session with Rob Speranza of South Yorkshire Filmmakers Network on Wednesday 2nd May around 7:o0pm at Sheffield Independent Film - not claiming to be an expert, just sharing experiences on a kind of "things I wish I'd known last year" basis, and hopefully meeting up with other Yorkshire-based people who will be heading out to Cannes next month.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Plays, or play?

Reviews or Mahjong .... reviews or mahjong ....

OK, couple of quick reviews.

To the Almeida in Islington last Friday, a lovely little space although their description of which seats are "restricted view" seems based on a fair amount of wishful thinking. Essentially, if you're any further back than about row F, and anywhere other than dead centre, there's probably going to be a pillar in your way at some point. We (me and Liz) saw "Dying for It", a new play by Moira Buffini, inspired by Erdman’s originally banned satirical comedy, directed by Anna Mackmin, who took over from Kathy Burke who was due to direct. I've enjoyed Anna Mackmin's work before in Sheffield (Cloud Nine, The Crucible) as well as Kathy Burke's (Blue/Orange) so was looking forward to this - and was not disappointed.

It was madly comic in the subversive way that only Russian theatre can be. Semyon, unemployed, living in the hallway of his block of flats, watches his wife Masha slave away and decides to take his own life. Word gets out and Semyon finds himself inundated with visitors begging him to die on their behalf, every one of whom values him more dead than they do while he's alive. Eventually he's in a position of no escape - but ... I won't say any more at the risk of planting spoilers.

Who would've thought a potential suicide could be funny? Not me, not now, especially here - but it was, and in a way quite cathartic too. Tom Brooke as Semyon stood out in an excellent cast - even the way he stood expressed anguish, and along with Liz White as Masha, he had the audience laughing before the lights had even gone up on the stage. Well worth the trip to Islington - go and see it.

And in complete contrast, this was followed by Nick Hytner's modern dress setting of George Etheridge's "Man of Mode" at the National, with Tom Hardy as Dorimant, and a fabulous, flamboyantly ridiculous Rory Kinnear as Sir Fopling Flutter. Rory Kinnear is one of those actors, like Simon Trinder, who can make you laugh just by standing still - he just has some kind of comic genius implanted in his DNA, and although Tom Hardy, Nancy Carroll et al hurl themselves at the play with the sort of gay abandon that restoration comedy demands, he romps away with every scene he's in. Dorimant was apparently based on the Earl of Rochester, the character played by Johnny Depp in the film version of "The Libertine" - it's clear to see how rich, feckless upper class wasters never really go away and yet still hold some fascination. Thoroughly enjoyable evening, enhanced by the fact that the set itself was entertaining, employing a double revolve to switch from Dorimant's apartment to Mrs Loveit's shop to Townley's Bar. Something to watch even when there were no actors on stage!

Back to the National this weekend for a bit of a mad trip - "Rose Tattoo" and "Landscape With Weapon" - I'm really looking forward to both, and hope my anticipation doesn't prove to be a shot in the foot.

And I think there's time for a quick Turtle mahjong before bed.

Baaaaad laptop

My new laptop comes with Mahjong ready installed - with SIX different tile formations. I'll be back in about three weeks.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Lovely, lovely laptop

I have a computer of my own once more! Hoorah, phew, etc. It's a lovely shiny Toshiba, with no crumbs or dust in the keyboard, no smudges on the screen, and no bumps or scratches anywhere else. No-one is allowed within a yard of it when carrying food or drink. Shouldn't take too long to get my email address book and favourites list back together; all I've got to do then is get new folders organised for documents and photos.

Not much news - went to see "The Cherry Orchard" in Sheffield last week. Loved the set - steps from below stage level up to the house, stage front, then the house itself constructed of flimsy slatted see-through walls, giving a great sense of impermanence. Joanna Lumley and Tom Mannion were excellent, but the play itself seemed rather slow. Maybe that's the nature of Chekhov - Liz told me a story about the man himself describing the play as "Act 1, the cherry orchard is going to be sold, Act 2, the cherry orchard is being sold, Act 3, the cherry orchard has been sold". Most "action", i.e. the selling of the cherry orchard and the breaking up of the estate, happens elsewhere while the characters talk about it. The talking is, of course, quite wonderful, this is Chekhov after all, but I longed for someone to DO something. At least in "The Seagull" Konstantin puts a play on and shoots himself instead of just talking about it.

Jonathan Miller, who directed it (returning to direct on the British stage for the first time in ten years) was sitting a few rows behind us - turning out to be a good year for seeing grand old men of the theatre in Sheffield. Mind you, there may not be many more chances. I'm not sure if that will be my last visit to the main house before it closes, or not.

To London tomorrow for the weekend - 2 NPA workshops, a London Book Fair masterclass, some theatre, and meeting up with friends. Culture and mates, what more could a girl want?

Friday, April 06, 2007

Happy Easter!

A computer, hoorah! Am back online with a machine of my own at long last. Actually, this is a borrowed laptop, as the one that will be mine hasn’t arrived at Richard-the-computer-bloke’s place due to the confusion of Easter. But in due course (Tuesday, with luck) I’ll have my own machine, up and running, and will no longer feel as though I have lost a limb. The lack of my own computer over the last month has made me realize just how dependent one can become on constant email/internet/old document access, but in some ways it has been quite nice – writing with pens in notebooks is so much more transportable and tactile, and there is something tyrannical about the constant contact of broadband email which is good to escape. Happily I’d got most of my important documents copied onto a datastick, and photos on a CD (phew) but lesson #1 for the future is BACK UP! All the time. And copy your email address book to somewhere in addition to your main computer.

So, to business. Am currently watching “Emma” on ITV, 1996 version written by the master of these things, Andrew Davies, directed by Diarmuid Lawrence and starring an astonishingly young-looking Kate Beckinsale as Emma, Mark Strong as Mr Knightley, and huge numbers of those “where have I seen them before?” British character actors who populate these things. It’s spendidly well done, as was last Sunday’s new “Persuasion”, where despite my earlier misgivings I was won over by Rupert Penry-Jones’ Captain Wentworth. I had thought Ciaran Hinds the definitive Captain W in the 1995 BBC version – I still prefer him, and Amanda Root as Anne and Sam West as young Mr Elliot (Tobias Menzies simply didn’t give off enough of an air of naughtiness) but despite not being as good as the 1995 version, “Persuasion” was the best of the recent ITV Austen series. And “Emma” is classic British costume drama at its best, even though my favourite Mr Knightley is Jeremy Northam in the 1996 film.

All this points up just how bad “Becoming Jane” was. Ann Hathaway does sterling work with her English accent, and James McAvoy is as watchable as ever, but the whole film really annoyed me. I’m not a Janeite, but I can imagine anyone who is would be gnashing their teeth all the way through. I suspect the film-makers wanted the audience to see scenes and think “oh, so that’s the real life event where Jane got her inspiration for that bit of Pride and Prejudice” whereas I spent half the film thinking “that bit comes from the BBC Pride and Prejudice … and that bit ... and that bit too.” They even had James McAvoy getting damp and sweaty, though not jumping in a pond. Presumably they stopped themselves before they became so completely derivative.

Significant theatrical catching up to be done: had a splendid Stratford weekend, “Coriolanus” in the RST in the afternoon, followed by the final performance of “As You Like It” in the Swan. For my last visit to the main theatre before it closes, I was up in the nosebleed seats but they weren’t too bad, although some of the action involved the cast coming on stage from the auditorium which was difficult to see. The production itself was fab – beautifully designed and lit, with powerful acting from William Houston as Coriolanus, a wonderfully wily Menenius by Timothy West complimented by Janet Suzman’s powerfully manipulative Volumnia. I’m only sorry I’m reviewing it after it’s finished because that means you can’t go and see it. Similarly AYLI in the Swan – interesting to see it on a much smaller stage than the Crucible, which made it very intense. I found myself in tears as Adam died, an unusual occurrence as I cry at theatre much less than in the cinema, no idea why that might be. A fabulous production, I’m glad I got to see it again.

Have also seen “The Reporter” at the National – written by Nicholas Wright, directed by Richard Eyre and starring Ben Chaplin as James Mossman, famous BBC reporter of the 1960s. Loved the stage design and the acting was top class, but much as it pains me to admit it, I have similar feelings to Michael Billington and I have to wonder why this play, now? Or does it matter, whether the play has modern day relevance? Maybe it does and I missed it. It's good, and worth seeing, but I'm not sure what it tells us about our life now.

Seems a lifetime ago, but Amanda and I saw “The Vortex” at Manchester Royal Exchange (a fantastic space), starring Will Young in his first stage role. He had the voice and the mannerisms but at the crucial emotional climax was strangely still, his lines perfect but his body unmoving. The play was very enjoyable and great fun, and sometimes that's just what you need.

And finally, this week Clo and I saw Fin Kennedy's "How to Disappear Completely and Never Be Found" in the Studio at Sheffield, directed by Ellie Jones with a breath-taking performance from William Ash in the lead role. He's barely off stage in nearly three hours, while the rest of the cast of 4 take on around 27 roles between them. Virtuoso writing and acting - you have until Saturday 14th to see it. Go.

And now I have an awful lot of blog-mates to catch up with. We're off to see The Cherry Orchard in Sheffield tomorrow, and I'm in London next weekend. Anyone fancy a pint?