London

Carolus-Douran

Excellent long weekend in a sunny and warm London. We stayed at the Queensgate Hotel on, ahem, Queen’s Gate, just round the corner from the Natural History Museum. The hotel was very welcoming, with a comfortable and spacious room, and was in a good location close to South Ken and Chelsea.

Highlights of the weekend:

Strictly Come Dancing 1

We have wanted to learn proper ballroom (and maybe latin) dancing, particularly spurred on by Strictly Come Dancing. So Jacqueline arranged for us to have our first lesson in ballroom dancing this evening, from dance teacher John at Castlemilk Community Centre.

We’re starting with the waltz, and learnt the box step, change step and natural turn, and tried to put them all together. Needless to say, Jacqueline suffered a few bruised toes. It was very tiring but we were really pleased with our progress.

We have some practice to do before our next lesson!

A Man for All Seasons

After two plates of duck gyoza, noodles and a large glass of red, (not to mention the white chocolate and ginger cheesecake) at Wagamama, we walked up Hope Street to the Theatre Royal to join the rest of our Book Group to watch A Man for All Seasons.

The play was ok, probably 5/10.

It was acted “straight”, with little attempt to bring it up to date. The costumes were 16th Century; I would have expected some updating, say a Guantanamo Bay orange jumpsuit for the prison scenes, to make some engagement with the 21st Century. The acting was in the mould of the old luvvies – very “actor”, with a lot of shouting and little sublety. There was little warmth in the domestic scenes of the first Act – which meant that there was little contrast with the coldness of the second Act prison and trial scenes.

The part of the Common Man was mugged, with a strange Yorkshire accent rather than with any warmth.

The play by Robert Bolt was first performed in 1960, followed by a film version, and there are obivous relevances to the McCarthy era. The themes are universal – whether a person can maintain their conscience in the face of spin; the ability of someone unscrupulous to adapt to changing circumstances (Richard Rich) and the ability of a powerful leader to corrupt those around him. I would have preferred the production to relate these themes to recent experience, rather than to play the parts purely as written.

And a word about the theatre experience. The theatre seats were obviously made for very short people, the seat pitch was smaller than easyJet, and the seats were tilted forward. I spent 2 1/2 hours sitting extremely uncomfortably. No wonder theatres are complaining about audience attendances when they make it a physically excruciating experience – and all at £20 a seat. Cinemas have invested in giving customers a comfortable experience, why can’t theatres do the same?