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Theatre

The Drowned Man (No spoilers)

The Drowned Man, at the National Theatre until Feb 23rd
The Drowned Man, at the National Theatre until Feb 23rd

Today, I went to see Punchdrunk’s current production, The Drowned Man.

The Drowned Man is not really a play. It’s a building in which a play is being performed. Two, really. Possibly more. You, as the audience, have free reign to wander the floors of the building, which represent both the maze of rooms that is the Temple Studios and the surrounding town and countryside, and over the course of your time there the characters are going though the motions of the two main stories. Both the stories are murders, one of a husband who murders her wife over an affair, one of a wife who does the same to her husband, and these stories loop around three times while you’re in the building. On top of those main stories every single character is active almost all of the time, so while you can follow any one of the “Main” characters, it’s equally rewarding – and sometimes more so – to pick another character, and just follow them. Maybe for the entire story – where does that man go after he’s had that conversation? – or just following someone who looks interesting. Or don’t follow anyone at all, just wander around opening doors, investigating rooms, reading the letters on the desks, or the scripts in the piles, or stand in one place and see what happens here…

All my friends who have gone have said how amazing they found it, so my expectations were slightly over the top when I went in. I was kind of expecting it to have been overhyped in that way things get when everyone loves them, and there are issues. Going to a peak performance means that for every main event there are a lot of audience members watching, and the ability to walk in close to the actors instead of standing in a wide circle so that everyone can see is corrupted by the way getting in closer gets you a better view, so I’d like to go when it’s slightly quieter, I think. However, the thrill of following the characters around, as they go though the effects of their actions, as they never break character, as they interact with each other. It’s glorious, and involving. Nowhere in theatre have I felt the same kind of thrill as when a character beckoned toward me and dragged me though a previously locked door on my own for a one-on-one experience. Sometimes in LARP, when it’s really at the peak, but never have I felt so personally involved in theatre.

Another gripe: Premium ticket holders are more likely to get that kind of attention. But the balance: The sets are fantastic. Almost every door can be opened, if not always by you, and every one has detail and precision. From books and scripts, to the aforementioned letters and memos. The design flickers an uneasy and unbalancing edge between the realistic and the representative, but always at a very high fidelity. Even the surreal representations of things are expressed down to examinable detail.

I saw perhaps as much as a third of the production in the three hours. In the pub with friends afterwards, I discovered the existence of rooms and characters I hadn’t even seen, though they wander around as much as everyone else. There’s so much I’d like to explore, so much on the furthest edges of the main storylines I’d like to find out more about…

It runs until Feb 23rd, so I’m going to have to plot my next visit quite soon…

If you have the ability to walk around a building for three hours in a plastic mask, if you have the mental positioning to be surprised and grabbed by the hand occasionally (they will drop and pick someone else if you resist), and if you can survive in places where the air is a bit smokey at times, and you can get to London before the 23rd February, I highly recommend using those abilities to go see Punchdrunk’s The Drowned Man. Tickets from the National Theatre.

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Imported From Epistula Movies Theatre

Squee

Because I’m a strange person:

Branagh’s As You Like It

It’s got Kevin Kline and Alfred Molina as Jaques and Touchstone. Alfred Molina is playing my role in AYLI! It’s got Adrian Lester and Brian Blessed in it! Brian Blessed as Duke Frederick! Doing Shakespeare! And it’s a proper film and everything of As You Like It!

(Yeah. Other people can squee over Pirates or Hobbitses. To your own fandom be true)

(No, this does not mean I will ever write shakespearian slash. Though I’m sure it exists).

(Hmm. Touchstone/Jaques).

(Did you know that before the Aquarionics Diary Bit was called “Dayze at a time” it was called “Ducdame”?)

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AFP Imported From Epistula media music Personal social Theatre

Weekending

This weekend I inhaled more weed than I intended to, had my arse grabbed, drank lots of beer, watched an entire football match, bought a hat, nearly had my mobile ran over by a taxi, saw every Radio 4 Comedy Panel Game Evar live, and went to a Blockheads concert featuring Phil Jupitus and Geoffrey Perkins.

It’s 10 past 1 on Monday Morning, and I intend to see how far into this I get before I fall over.

So, lets start with the Strawberry Fair. The Strawberry Fair is, basically, what happens when you take your average village fete, blow it up until it is a City Fete and host it in Cambridge. It appears to be the hippy summer migration point of the universe, and there was not one but two massive stalls advertising “Herbal Highs” and “Legal Speed”, both with massive inflatable blue pills above them. I left home without my hat or my personal mobile (I also have a work mobile. The personal one was uncharged, so I plugged it in and diverted all calls to it it to the work one. You will be quizzed on it later), got to Cambridge, wandered around to see if I could find anybody, failed, and wandered around the Fair instead. At three, I went to meet larpers under the big blue pills (having sorted out which set of pills it was) and we hung around in the hot sun for a while, before half of us went home, and the half involving me wandered around the fair a bit more. By this point the streaming hot sun was giving me a headache, so I bought a hat. My Larp character is called Panama, so I bought a Panama style hat. It is a good hat.

It is slightly complicated to contact people when you answer your work phone with your real name which the people you contact don’t generally know you as, especially when they phone a number that diverts to the current number and are therefore phoned back on a number they don’t recognise. We met people, then we promptly lost them again. Then I went home.

On the way home I had my arse grabbed by a strange woman who proceeded to attempt to look innocent of such an act. This is a rare event in my life, so I am documenting it here. In fact, it hasn’t happened since university.

This is an observation. Not a complaint, really, but… it was odd.

Went home, remembered I was going to London Sunday and attempted to organise an instameet.

Sleep.

Wake, headache, laundry, shower, clothes, station, fight with ticket machine, buy tickets, wish Oyster would get this far, Train, London, Rearranged Kings Cross again, Tube, Tube, Chinatown, De Hems.

De Hems is a dutch themed bar. It sells very nice beer in the traditional glasses, and me and Random drank lots of it. Nobody else turned up.

Now, De Hems is a dutch bar. The World Cup not having started yet, it did not even occur to me to check to see if there was going to be a match on in there today. There was, it was against Australia. The entire bar was bright orange, the staff had orange dungarees on. It was very odd. Anyway, being sat next to the TV, and having had beer (which, I found, helps) I ended up watching the entire thing.

One team or the other won, I forget which. Doesn’t really matter.

Got fairly drunk, owe Random much beer, then rapidly sobered up by mainlining Coca Cola (Careful not to use the common abbreviation there, fact fans) when I realised I was going to have to go to the theatre very soon.

Got to Victoria Palace Theatre in time, thanks to Random knowing the secret secrets of London Above, and I met my mum for a trip to the theatre.

The thing we were seeing was a tribute to Linda Smith, one of Radio 4’s panel pool of comedians who tend to appear on the various panel games. She died earlier this year, and this was a charity concert in her honour.

It started by being hosted by Jo Brand, not one of my favourite people of all time, and with Sandi Russell a jazz/scat singer and her group. The Jazz trio were excellent, I was less a fan of the singer.

Despite a few sound problems involving a dodgy mike, the rest of the evening was excellent, with the whole crews of “The News Quiz”, “Just A Minute” and “I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue” on hand to do a few rounds of their shows. It was like a “Best of Radio 4” theatre show, which is either your idea of hell or a wonderful evening, depending on who you are.

(Phil Jupitus made a joke which won’t make the broadcast, so I shall record it here for eternity: On Paul Macartney’s relationship problems: “You shouldn’t fuck a pirate”)

Also around doing standup bits were Hattie Hayridge, Barry Cryer, Mark Steel and Mark Thomas (Who talked about wandering around an arms fair as an anti-war campaigner. It was really complicated, he asked for a ticket and they sent him one, which apparently was the last thing they were expecting him to do. He is far funnier than the few TV bits of his I’ve seen would lead me to believe).

There was an interval, in which I had a gin and tonic. I blame Sian, who is a bad influance on my spirit drinking.

But the music was the best bit. Apart from Humphrey Lyttleton and his Quintet being wonderful, and Steve Gribbin doing a few political songs the best bit was the very last act.

One of my favourite bands of all time is Ian Dury and The Blockheads. The end of the evening was Phil Jupitus taking the place of the late, lamented Ian Dury for a number of the Blockheads greatest hits. The man was living my ultimate dream in part, and looked like he was having the time of his life. He was better at it than I thought he would be, in fact he was very good indeed. They opened without Phil with a song called “Spread It”, which I hadn’t heard before, and then Phill joined them for went though Wake Up And Make Love To Me, Billericay Dicky, Hit Me, and finally…

The last track of the evening was wonderful. They brought up on stage the BBC news/continuity announcers, Geoffrey Perkins to Charlotte Green, and they joined the Blockheads to sing “Sex And Drugs And Rock And Roll”

It was glorious.

There was a recording made, though I’ve no idea if it was for broadcast, or sale, or will never be seen again. If you see mention of it, find it. This show will never be seen again, and deserves to be heard.

On the way out of the theatre I dropped my mobile on the road, and was nearly run down by a taxi and a bus trying to get it before it got ran over.

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Fiction Imported From Epistula media Theatre

On the importantance of qualifying your arguments

O sir, we quarrel in print, by the book; as you have books for good manners: I will name you the degrees. The first, the Retort Courteous; the second, the Quip Modest; the third, the Reply Churlish; the fourth, the Reproof Valiant; the fifth, the Countercheque Quarrelsome; the sixth, the Lie with Circumstance; the seventh, the Lie Direct.
All these you may avoid but the Lie Direct; and you may avoid that too, with an If. I knew when seven justices could not take up a quarrel, but when the parties were met themselves, one of them thought but of an If, as, ‘If you said so, then I said so;’ and they shook hands and swore brothers. Your If is the only peacemaker; much virtue in If.

(And, from the same scene, because I love it so)

He uses his folly like a stalking-horse and under the presentation of that he shoots his wit.