Thursday, July 24, 2008

Global Warnings

Last time I was in London, it peed down all day and, in case we hadn't noticed, National Express kept warning us against slipping on the dangerously wet platforms. This time it was the turn of the Station Announcer at Kings Cross Tube to explain that, as it was a hot day, we should "carry a bottle of water and not attempt emergency medical procedures between stations but wait until the next stop and summon help".

These safety notices haven't penetrated Lincolnshire yet. But I can't imagine it will be long before we have signs saying, "Don't Drink the Sea" and "Remember to Blow on Chips Before Consuming", for our own protection. Anyway, it's bad enough having to steel myself to brave the knife-toting hoodies and gangs of pickpocketing Roma children down south without having to worry about all these other dreadful hazards. So I thought it best to double back to the Spar for an extra couple of litres of Drench before descending into the inferno. Just as well I did. The train arrived half-empty due, I guess, to passengers foolhardy enough to have attempted the journey from Cockfosters having suffered Spontaneous Evaporation en route.

Most of us made it to Piccadilly Circus in one piece, although Russell Square was full of casualties as usual - mostly reckless tourists who hadn't Minded the Gap. It was a relief to get into the fresh air again, but I did give some dossers near Eros a wide berth by detouring down Lower Regent Street - it would have been a shame to have got this far only to lose a lung to passive smoking.

No such problems at Kneehigh Theatre's inventive stage production of the Noel Coward/David Lean classic, Brief Encounter. It superbly picks its way through affectionate pastiche and respect for the dramatic tension of the piece by cleverly mixing film, song and comedy with a faithful reproduction of the core central relationship between the two illicit lovers. Their cut-glass accents and anguished reactions to the implications of their affair would be fertile ground for parody and easy laughs... so it's to the producers' credit that they allowed the plot to stand as its author intended, and the fact that it can still resonate even in today's more licentious atmosphere was proved by the audience's rapt attention to every nuance. A warm and memorable entertainment from a talented ensemble. Special mention must go to Naomi Frederick and Tristan Sturrock for taking on Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard's iconic roles, with such skill in nodding just far enough to the originals. Can't have been easy but they get it spot on.

So if you're on Haymarket with a spare couple of hours, there's nowhere better to spend them than with Kneehigh. Certainly not across the road at the Theatre Royal where Marguerite plays to half-empty houses. Good performances - dud book and music. In fact I can give my new favourite word an outing for that show. It's sententious.

Glad to have got back safe and healthy. Whew. It's a jungle out there.


Selena Dreamy said...

“they allowed the plot to stand as its author intended, and the fact that it can still resonate even in today's more licentious atmosphere was proved by the audience's rapt attention to every nuance.”

Evocative once again! And once again you made me feel nostalgic... the same time, of course: it’s a jungle out there. London is where the mutants come out. Types with razor-sharp teeth and a taste for juvenile flesh. With crime and violence ever in the ascendant, it has deftly but unequivocally declared unilateral war on the rest of England.


All Shook Up said...

Yes, it presses the right buttons.. although nostalgia can just as easily stem from fairly inert things like the smell of Germoline, the Archers theme tune or the sight of an old MG. In this case, though, I thought the 'old fashioned' attitude of the guilt of two married people being smitten by each other still struck a chord with the audience - although, admittedly, it probably wasn't generally representative of the demographic most usually associated with marital infidelity.

By contrast, Marguerite, which is set in an identical period, concerns a 40 year old sophisticate who unaccountably falls for a 20 year old and conveniently dies at the end. The 'nostalgia' isn't sufficient to engage the audience due to the premise being so slim.

London's mutants survive among their prey thanks to the anonymity afforded by overcrowding. They wouldn't find it so easy up here!

Selena Dreamy said...

"...or the sight of an old MG."

MGB, actually,or MGB-GT. Used to drive one of those. Admittedly it was an old-timer when I acquired it, but gosh did I love the sound of it, sun-roof down, pelting it all the way through France, across the Pyrenees into Catalonia...


All Shook Up said...

Haha, I had one... furthest I went in it was Devon though. Lovely sound, lovely smell.

Pelted through France many times too, usually down the west side to cross the border at Irun. Best way to travel.. really feel Blighty falling back behind you as the landscapes and temperatures change.

Glamourpuss said...

I hate, hate, hate the tube, but even more so now they insist on bombarding us with 'safety' and 'security' messages. I just want to yell 'SHUTUPSHUTUPSHUTUP!' in a postal rage everytime I step on a train. Honestly...