I’ve been a bit lazy lately. Actually that’s a complete lie. I’ve been really busy, just too busy to get round to writing anything here.
A couple of weeks ago I went to see the Bristol Acting Academy’s production of The Government Inspector, a riotously funny, black satire by students on a part time course, who are taught by the tutors at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. A friend of mine was in it- and she did a great job- it was interesting that because clearly most of the actors on the course are women, so they played male characters, but although costumes were masculine, there was a charming yet slightly odd feeling of sexual ambiguity, which, when I’d seen the play at the National Theatre in the 1980s, starring Rik Mayall, was so very different. The energy levels of the performance were incredible, but it wasn’t a testosterone fest as Rik’s had been. There was something slightly other worldly, fantastical about it, which added to the surreal qualities of the production. However, it was the actor playing Bobchinski/Dobchinksi, who stole the show. His physical theatrical presence, his adept use of his voice and his chameleon like ability to change from one character to another, was stunning to watch. I really hope that he makes it as an actor, because he should.
My friend, Natasha Brown, who had invited me to the production, then starred in a reminiscence theatre performance- which a community group performed a week ago at the Dursley Festival, I had carried out all the research for the script and collaborated on the writing, and had my first attempt at directing/producing/being stage hand/props/ and anything else that needed doing…. We gave a second performance later in the afternoon at The Hollies residential nursing home, which was a brilliant experience for the younger members of the cast, who were feted by the old ladies, and demonstrated to me how effective this kind of work can be, as the residents joined in, entered into spontaneous discussions and conversations with the actors, and a number of them wanted to continue to reminisce afterwards.
On top of that, I saw the National Theatre’s production of the Threepenny Opera, a tour de force of production and staging, singing and musicianship as well as acting. I’d not thought about the piece for a long time, having studied it as part of my learning about 20th century opera performance while at university (even then I was slightly obsessed with opera- and sang the opening solo in a contemporary opera at the Cambridge Music Festival- my one claim to fame!) but was not disappointed- the relevance for today of performance pieces such as these continues.
And then Handle with Care– a fascinating, addictively drawn in play set in a storage container warehouse. The rummaging and unpacking of a life’s worth of sentimentally valued items, the constancy of the being pushed round the labyrinthine space, forced into small spaces, even shut up in the dark at one point, the pressure of life, of family, of relationships, of things made this a must see play.
And now it’s piano exam season. 5 this week, and then another 12 the weekend after next…..