Jane Austen and I have never had the most comfortable of relationships!
Persuasion was one of my A Level set texts – an exam I attempted to complete without ever getting past p25 of Austen’s novel. My penguin Classics copy to this day stares dolefully down from the bookshelves (complete with annotations up to p25 – I checked!) still unread and very much unloved!
So it was with some trepidation that I set off to the exquisitely beautiful Bury St Edmunds Theatre Royal on Tuesday– (one of only ten grade one listed theatres in the country and the only one that is stocked by the wonderful Pollocks Toy Theatre Shop in Covent Garden in miniature form!) It’s certainly the only theatre I know which is owned by a brewery and cared for by the National Trust!
I needn’t have worried. I have to say I really rather enjoyed myself. Colin Blumenau’s production rattles a long at a speed which ensures the story flys by. It’s played as a light comedy ,losing I’m reliably told, some of the darker elements of the original but none of the humour or deftness of touch. Even with my limited knowledge of the author (now greatly enhanced of course by Colin Firth, Billie Piper and the like) I could see how the production brilliantly captures the ‘voice’ of Jane Austen.
‘You can’t have theatre without a curtain’ declared one of the characters towards the end of the first half. Neil Innes – Eastern Angles patron and I agreed in the interval that pretty much sums up where Eastern Angles must have been going wrong all these years. We need a pros arch curtain!!! We just didn’t agree who should tell Ivan – perhaps Neil will mention it in his special fundraising event for us on 21 October. By the way if you fancy playing a cheeky game pick up one of the leaflets for that event and place an X where the picture of Ivan (our artistic director) could – or should – have been. Send your entries to me at the Eastern Angles office and we’ll make them into a sculpture for the front of house area– we’re pioneering a new form of spot the ball you see!
Talking of new print our Carry On inspired Christmas flyer for Dial M for Murgatroyd has arrived and it looks fantastic – but from the conversation I overheard the other day not half as fantastic as the show itself will be! Two performances have already sold out so do pick one up and book, book, book!!!!
From one carry on to another – equally balmy and equally wonderful!
The day after my visit to the Theatre Royal I found myself at the Southbank for the Tiger Lillies vaudeville version of Hamlet. Lord only knows what Kenneth Williams would have made of it.
Personally I though it was so bloody extraordinary it got a blog post of its own here. Well that’s not strictly true – it got a blog post on its own because I got caught out by a whole new set of engineering works which are going to plague the @greateranglia mainline Mon-Wed (late night) until Oct 14 and every weekend until November. The only possible positive outcome is its like as not going to see another re write for the Rail replacement bus opera (#RRBOpera) – @nickwhitej3, @bishanyia and @glenpearce1 will no doubt be delighted! I got home at 2am in the bloody morning which rather took the shine off a wonderful evening but I guess it did allow me time to complete my blog review!
Talking of trains I spent this morning at the fascinating Ipswich Museum where one of the exhibits – a giraffe – stands at 16 feet 10 inches tall. Almost as remarkable as the thing itself was the fact it arrived by train on a low lying truck!! The guard was asked if he would ride the thing bare back to ensure it’s safe passage – but apparently refused on the grounds of age, weight and lack of training.
We were meeting Jayne Austin and hearing about the exciting plans in difficult and challenging times for the museum. It re-enforced two things in my mind. Firstly what exciting times these are in Ipswich at the moment (and I haven’t even had chance to mention that SPILL festival has just gone on sale). Secondly the theme of our discussions echoed much of what I’ve been hearing at both the ITC, Festival of Social Enterprise and the @gdnculturepros birthday event – about the need for organisations to both collaborate and be fleet of foot.
All in all left me lots to think about – but now I need to relax. Perhaps I’ll pick up that unloved copy of Persuasion….