Archive for September, 2007

Mini-review – “In My Rooms” and “Uprising” – Hofesh Shechter at Sadler’s Wells

September 28, 2007

(This review copied from my former blog.)

Tonight after work Shadowdaddy and I looked for an outfit (for me) at the New Look near work for a party I’m probably going to tomorrow. Then it was off to see Hofesh Shechter at Sadlers’ Wells, where we were joined by Wechsler. Shechter still has an amazing vocabulary of male movement – I’ve really never seen a dance piece where the way the guys interacted with each other so accurately reflected how guys really act. It was also exciting and gorgeous and full of unexpected moments. The second piece, “In My Rooms,” was difficult for me to understand and seemed a bit long. Was it about alienation or the attempt to make order from chaos, or the problems in the Palestine, or something else altogether? I saw the movement and I couldn’t impose much order on it. Both of the guys thought it was great.

We had enough to talk about that we all wound up at the Charles Lamb (awesome pub), me and W working on a liter bottle of Breton cider, Shadowdaddy on some Honeydew Ale. We were all pretty worn out from the week, but it was a good night.

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Review – Moonwalking in Chinatown – Soho Theatre

September 26, 2007

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The show was fun if unevenly acted and struggling a bit (in my mind) with having a “message” to deliver. The audience was divided into four different groups, each getting slightly different pieces of the intertwining storylines; we were “red,” which meant we got the girl with the “gwai lou” (foreign devil was my read) boyfriend and the exciting mugging/drug deal scene – but I think I might have preferred the “little girl looking for her lost toy” thread or the “young hip Chinese teens” group. (It’s sold out but returns may be available just before the show; call and ask if you want to go.)

Of course, it was chilly outside and not really a good night for sitting quietly in a patio for some outdoor theater, especially when it started to rain, but that’s how it goes sometimes. I put my gym shirt on under my sweater and was nice and lent me his coat. Afterwards we went out for some uninspired Chinese food (the girl from Sichuan province and her date from Taiwan both recommended some other restaurants to us with better food), and now we’re at home, sitting in front of a fire and thawing out. You read me right, a fire: the gas inspectors came by today and showed how to light this apparently non-decorative bit of living room tat. Just you watch our gas bills skyrocket. And, of course, we’ll never want to move now.

(This review is for a performance we saw on September 26th, 2007.)

Review – Wheeldon’s “Morphoses” (2007) – Sadler’s Wells

September 22, 2007

Last night was the Wheeldon Company’s Metamorphoses program at Sadlers’ Wells, and a better night for ballet aficionados could hardly be imagined. Well, okay, it wasn’t all perfect, but the highs were the sort that have kept us going to see this stuff for years, rolling the dice and hoping to get lucky. (And with music by Part and Bryars and Prokofiev, even the down time was great.) The two best pieces in this program of mostly short bits were the first and the last, both by Wheeldon. “Morphoses” had four dancers doing a variety of athletic, innovative partnering to music of Ligeti. I felt like I could never anticipate what they would do next.

The last piece was practically two pasted together; first a pas de six, then a m/f duet. For this, the woman came back on stage with her feet bare and her hair down. To me, it felt like she was naked – utterly vulnerable. The man was barefoot and bare chested. Their dancing was so intimate I felt like I was intruding to watch them. Every lift was perfect and strong; I felt like the dancers were revealing their true selves to each other while they danced, and we were the fortunate eavesdroppers on a very private moment. It was a fantastic end to the program and left me thrilled about the entire evening and looking forward to seeing them again.

(This review is for a performance that took place September 21st, 2007.)

Review – All About My Mother – The Old Vic

September 19, 2007

We were treated to this play as a hosting present from Janna tonight. She was excited about seeing Diana Rigby; I was very interested in seeing how a movie that had made me cry about six times translated to the stage. We had a bottle of wine between the three of us at Thai Silk (now around the corner under the railway arches) before the show; it seemed to slow us down and flatten us out. But maybe it wasn’t us. I felt – disconnected from the story all night. The scenes from other, great playwrights were uninspired when they should have been brilliant and sharp; how could Tennessee Williams NOT be great, unless you just didn’t care? The actress who played the junkie girlfriend seemed not to just be playing a bad actress but being one, and Dame Rigby – I swear she worked harder at posing than she did at actually getting across her character. I mean, she’s not freaking Gloria Swanson; she just can’t prowl around being herself and be that intrinsically interesting.

I just don’t get it. Was it the lack of closeups? I just felt like I was watching scenes, one after another, and none of the actors made me care about the story. So while it wasn’t the worst thing I’ve seen on stage, well, my time is precious and so should yours be, and thus I must once again pimp Venus as a Boy as THAT old, mangy man had me eating out of his hand, utterly convinced that he WAS a 22 year old male prostitute in Soho in the early 90s. The blond tranny prostitute around whom Manuela’s search rotated? I could not believe so many people ruining their lives for him no matter how much I stretched my imagination. (Mark Gattis was good, but he wasn’t supposed to be the most fun element of the show, I think.)

Anyway. Good company tonight and I’m glad we got to see it, but I am looking forward to seeing Mark Wheeldon tomorrow at Sadler’s Wells. As usual, there are discounted tickets available at the TKTS booth and we would be happy to see you there.

(This review is for a performance that took place on September 19th, 2007.)

Review – Alvin Ailey – Sadler’s Wells 2007

September 8, 2007

Islington on a Saturday at the end of summer -what a great place to be! We started at the Charles Lamb pub (awesome, and with Breton cider). We visited with a friend and chatted right up until we needed to head out to dinner.

This is where things went downhill. Having had problems with the debit card at the bar (over £10 only), I thought that we might also have problems at the pizza place, since we were trying to keep it cheap and just share a pie (I think we way overspent last week and I’m trying to rein it in). While J was waiting for the pizza, I walked up the street looking for an ATM – and walked, and walked, and walked. I finally turned around and went back. The pizza was done, the bill was ready, and their minimum was £15. The waiter did helpfully point me to the Tesco across from the park (I hadn’t seen it) for my cash-getting needs. So I went there … and discovered I actually didn’t have my freaking bank card with me. Suffice it to say that after J made his run to the bank and we got the pizza to the park, it was stone fucking cold and not very good and I was in a bad, bad, bad mood. Damn this fucking overpriced city. I was going to have a pleasant cheap dinner at Masala Zone but just really didn’t want to spend $40 again for food, and instead I got shitty food and my evening was royally screwed up. All I wanted to do is sell my tickets to Alvin Ailey and call it quits for the day.

We went anyway, and, well, I got caught up in the show enough to have a good time. It was a really good program, including a work that had had its world premiere just a few days earlier. This piece, “The Groove to Nobody’s Business” by Camille Brown, had some interesting movement – people waiting at a bus stop, people riding the subway – and a lot of very sharply drawn characters, but for some reason it felt rather a lot like a museum piece, in the same way Martha Graham’s stuff did. I was shocked to find out it was brand new! Much more entrancing was “The Road of The Phoebe Snow,” which, even though it was fifty years old, managed to utterly pull me into its story. Rarely do dances actually having me thinking about what is going on in the “characters’ ” heads, because normally dances don’t really have “characters” and “acting,” especially really modern stuff.

The audience was delightfully very racially mixed (a real oddity at most dance performances I go to), though per J it was actually only 30% non-Caucasian. I also was suprised to run into a coworker, “Vesh” or something, who’d I’d just met at the leaving drinks thing I’d gone to on Friday. Why in the world didn’t I ever find anyone who wanted to socialize with me while I was there? It’s all a bit late now. It was a very lonely job. Two more days …

(This review is for a performance that took place on September 8th, 2007.)

Review – The Bacchae (with Alan Cumming!) – Lyric Hammersmith

September 6, 2007

Work, work, work. After a day like today, it’s really hard to get cheered up for a show. But, hey, it was Alan Cumming in the Bacchae, at the Lyric Hammersmith (just up the street from my job) – so there was some sort of light at the end of the long tunnel.

The production values were really good, Alan Cumming was convincing as a sexy, arrogant, gold-lame-kilt wearing god, and the themes of “we must control the women’s sexuality” and “there are times when you need to move beyond society’s limits” resonated with me. But … the songs the women sang did didn’t make sense (they didn’t add enough to make it worth the effort, even if their voices were good), and the entire, painful, endless 20 or so minutes after “the mom” appeared with her son’s head just … sapped my will to live. Okay, really, it wasn’t that painful, but when you start doing your budget in your head and you’re at a live show, something’s going wrong. I like Greek exposition (“I went offstage and saw this thing we can’t possibly show due to our limited budget!”), but I just … well, Grampa just stumbled through his lines without a bit of love, and the fact of the matter is

ONCE THE DUDE IS DEAD THE STORY IS OVER.

Thank you for letting me get that off my chest. That said, it’s not even 2 hours long (no intermission), so if you rock on Alan Cumming and you’re clear that you’re going to see a Greek tragedy, and you’re still interested, well, by all means, go. Otherwise, please go see Venus as a Boy just right away because I was NOT doing my budget in my head while I was watching that show at all.

(This review is for a performance that took place on September 6th, 2007.)

Review – Venus as a Boy – Soho Theatre

September 5, 2007

“Self- knowledge is knowledge of the divine … that the self and the divine could be identical.”

It was like “Breakfast on Pluto,” but, you know, if the movie had been interesting.

Tonight I went and saw a play called Venus as a Boy.

Doubtlessly some of you have read the book. I had not. I saw the ad on the Soho Theater’s website, which said “An explosive and haunting story about the miraculous power of sex,” and me, well, I’m interested in sex-positive theater. Inside it’s further described thus: “With just one touch or kiss, he can reveal a glimpse of heaven in all its resplendent glory. Some call him Cupid. Or Venus as a Boy.”

Another quote (from the play) goes, “My reward is the understanding that, for those I’ve touched, knowledge of me is knowledge of the divine.”

And, well, I really liked this play. At first I thought it was a fairy tale about a person who gives people visions of heaven, then, well, it was a bit of a nightmare, and then it could have been a very stupidly “In search of Twoo Wuv” tale, but instead it was kind of, to me, about … how sex can really bring out the higher side of people, how, rather than being something to be rejected as sinful, it is a way of getting closer to the divine. And the lead character, well, maybe he was “just a whore,” but I really bought him as a sort of Christ figure, helping people who had no joy to have a brief time when they thought that they might at least find joy in the afterlife as they’d glimpsed a tiny bit of delight on earth.

I also thought that the character was a positive portrayal of a bisexual, and the complications in people’s sexuality and sexual identity and how labels never really get it right or have much to say about who the person really is who’s wearing that tag. Yeah, sure, it was tragic, but sometimes life goes wrong, and really happy stories can be so boring, don’t you agree?

Afterwards I turned to and said, “Well, for a total crap shoot, that was a winner, don’t you think?” And he agreed. It’s especially amazing because it was a one man show (with guitarist, actually the author of the book), and I usually HATE them because a lot of people can’t hold the stage for an hour, but this guy did. Go, Tam Dean Burn. And go you, oh my flisters. THe show is only 10 quid through the end of this week and runs through September 22nd; you won’t want to say you missed it. I mean, we even liked the lighting, and the costuming made me think I should dress like Greed for Halloween (see icon above). How much more can I say?

To make my night perfect, I came home and discovered the Hotel Chocolat people had inadvertently sent me two free introductory boxes. God, life is good.

(This review is for a performance seen the night of September 5th, 2007.)