Archive for January, 2020

Oedipus King, Theatro Technis 18 January

January 19, 2020

**

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Overexposed picture I acquired from Twitter

They are certainly very nice people at Theatro Technis, and go out of their way to make you feel part of the family.  At the end of the production, director George Eugeniou made an affecting appearance to thank the audience and to point out the contemporary relevance of the play.  His idea was that Sophocles had reflected in Oedipus the character of his friend Pericles, who had done much good for Athens but also lead it down the road of empire.  And now our world was beset by charismatic, dishonest leaders like Trump, Erdogan and Boris Johnson.

As for the production itself, there was some effective direction in for instance the reaction of individual chorus members to the news of Jocasta’s death, and the creation of striking stage pictures, as in the stolen and overexposed picture above.

BUT it was very difficult to make out what any of the actors were saying, even the native speakers of Standard English, so anyone who did not already know the piece would have been baffled.  ALSO the curse of naturalistic acting, when what was needed to stand and deliver (clearly!) ALSO the chorus neither danced nor sang.  ALSO there should have been some indication that Oedipus and Jocasta are King and Queen and so set apart.  ALSO the translation by Don Taylor depressingly combined inexactness with the bureaucratic-colloquial register.  ALSO the family feeling included audience members recording proceedings on their mobile phones, which distracted me at least.

Twelfth Night, Brockley Jack 16 January

January 17, 2020

***

Twelfth-Night-cast-Brockley-Jack

As far as we know, this comedy was first performed on the sixth of January (the twelfth day of Christmas) 1601, while in the play Antonio advises Sebastian

In the south suburbs, at the Elephant,
Is best to lodge (III.iii.39-40)

So Brockley on the 16th of January was pretty close both in time and space, and appropriately enough this production was very much mainline pub theatre Shakespeare.  In particular, ID tags, mobile phones and messages from electronic devices were very much in evidence.

At the beginning I was just alienated by the people rushing around but then I was drawn in by the poetry and the combination of absolute beauty with absolutely accurate psychological insight.  I enjoyed the boyish charm of Jessica Kinsey playing Viola playing Cesario.  The character of Feste was elided, so his machinations fell to Maria, while Olivia was very much a no-nonsense North Country lass who seemed to be mourning as a matter of form to pass the time.

The audience laughed or at least chuckled quite frequently, which is far from a given at Shakespeare comedies, and this was a very reliable performance of a very reliable comedy.

But what interested me was Olivia with her hard-bitten morning and her name that contains ‘Viola’, as does Malvolio’s name.  First of all, I thought that as in some kind of student clique Olivia (I, Viola) was trying to get in on the sibling mourning thing, while Malvolio (Viola, olm)  was trying to get in on Olivia, just not very adroitly.

Then I decided that in fact this was all an hallucination of the drowning Sebastian, where he fantasises Olivia as a longed-for ideal of salvation but Malvolio (who remains unreconciled) serves a a reminder that all is not well.  In fact, Sebastian is deluded and confined like Malvolio but in a watery grave.

When Malvolio says

I will be revenged on the whole pack of you! (V.i.380)

he will indeed, for they are all dead…

Antigone, New Diorama Theatre 1500 11 January

January 12, 2020

**

Antigone

This was the story of Antigone reflected in the world of two girls too young to go drinking.  I found that painful, with the heroism and beauty of the original dismissed without hope of appeal and what felt like a lot of overextended improvisation of sisters arguing and sistering.  They occasionally got to imitate some other characters as well.

I just about managed to last out an hour by concentrating on Ismene’s spangly sneakers and counting the number of people in the audience and fantasising about a clear run to the doorway.

Once again somebody had missed the point that tragedy is about things happening to people who are adults and are able to comprehend and react to events as adults.  That is tragic, bundles of suffering crushed by the incomprehensible is just disgusting.

After Antigone’s death there followed what I thought was a rather affecting momologue by Ismene covering first sexual experience, marriage, childbirth, social obligations, widowhood, being left unoccupied in a big house.  It would have been better if the actress had spoken more clearly.

So then I thought the playwright wanted to ask what a woman’s life is for.  First of all Antigone tries to be like a man and act in the world and then Ismene although damaged experiences family life and a husband and going to ceremonies with relatives, but all the will and intellect is just the emptiness of unused rooms.

I quickly made my way to the NDT unisex toilets, and then home.  See also  Greek Drama in London 2020.

 

 

An order from Ozon

January 12, 2020

It seemed to be that only Ozon was offering a copy of Портреты без рам, so I tried my first order from them for some time. In order to fill in the address, I had to locate myself on an interactive map and supplement that with further details of street name, house number, postcode. Frightening enough already! That was on 24 December.

ozon1

Then the order remained in process without any sign of it being packed up and sent off:

ozon2

until it turned up on 8 January–that is, as promised, before 9 January!  And so here we are:

ozon0

I suspect that like Frankie and Johnny this story has no moral.  Anyway, it cost me 800 roubles for the book plus 398 roubles delivery.

Visit to Perm in September 2020, for those with Oxford connections

January 10, 2020

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Karen Hewitt has written as follows (see our own experiences from 2012 here):

Dear Member of the Perm Association,

Here are details about our annual two-week visit to Perm which is open to anyone in Oxford and Oxfordshire or with an Oxford connection. This is because Oxford is twinned with Perm and Oxfordshire with Perm Region. More details are on the form. Most of you have been to Perm, but it is possible – probable – that you know someone else who would be interested in going. We can send a maximum of eight people, and we have already recruited two. So there are six vacant places.

If anyone wants to come, the best thing is to read and think about the conditions, and then send me an email immediately. The completed form and deposit can arrive a little later, once I have confirmed that there is a place available.

Best wishes,
Karen