Saturday, 30 June 2007

Act Two - Bless You.

Congratulations to ACT for a great evening's entertainment on Saturday night. Two one-act plays with a fish-and-chip supper in the interval.

First off was The Edge, by Steve Carley. A psychological thriller: the story of a man who suddenly discovers he can see a short time into the future. All is well and good for a week, but the blessing soon turns into a curse when he realises he can't see past 5pm on Friday...

Lovely supporting performances from Bill Jackson and Lynsey someone (sorry, I forgot her surname and I've lost the programme!). Bill, in particular, was very natural and believeable, though he needs to watch his hands which seem to wave up and down with each sentence. The lead actor was Graham Botterill and this was definitely the best role I've seen him play. Again, for the most part it was entirely believeable and a suitably naturalistic performance, especially given the jumps between the present and flashback that he was called to portray. The ending seemed a little forced, but then portraying extreme terror must be very hard to do convincingly.

The good lighting plot for this play really enhanced the atmosphere.

Overall, an excellent debut production for director Andrew Bradley. One small criticism would be the lack of depth in the play's blocking, everything being played in one plane across the stage, though that would appear to be a problem with the Addlestone Community Centre stage itself, as it looks very shallow.

Then, Last Tango in West Weybridge by David Tristram. This play also marked the debut for director Paul Bungard. It's a much lighter piece, following the four members of the West Weybridge Dramatic Society as they endeavour to save their club by putting on a risque new play.

This was a very amusing short play, relying on pacey playing from its cast to extract maximum humour from the situation. Alison Byers and Jenny Whitehouse gave us some top physical comedy in their parts, while Martin Gardner and Tony Richardson both provided able support with brusque and shirty performances - though I felt that the two chaps could have pushed their characterisations a bit further over the top to match the ladies' levels of committment.

Lighting and sound was OK. Not much else to say there, as there was little for them to do!

In terms of direction, I felt that the first scene, based in the committee room, could have done with a little more pace and movement - though I understand that the lack of pace may have been down to 'last night nerves' from the actors: Paul tells me that they were much better the previous days. The rest of the play was well staged, allowing everyone plenty of room to do their thing.

Overall, the whole evening was very enjoyable. Well done to everyone at ACT for an entertaining night out.

"A dingo ate my baby"

Jo's comment yesterday about the proximity of Monkey World and Tank World made me think of this great old Larsson "Far Side" cartoon:
He he he. I heard a very sick one today about Madeleine McCann, but I think that it's going too far to repeat it here. Even for me!

Wow. 3 days in a row. Is this a record...?

Friday, 29 June 2007

Dorset? Ooh arr!

So, as I said yesterday, at the weekend we went to Dorset for a long weekend on our anniversary.

We stayed in a lovely little B&B on the outskirts of Weymouth. Very welcoming indeed - though whenever I stay in a B&B I feel as if I'm somehow intruding on these peoples' lives and stopping them from getting on with something.

Like the rest of the country, it poured with rain for the entire weekend. In fact the sun didn't shine until we were on the way home - stuck on the A303, just west of Stonehenge, for 2 hours because a bus had crashed a couple of miles ahead.

Anyway, back to the rain...

We chose Dorset because it was an area that neither of us had explored before and we managed to see a few sites, despite the weather. Though we didn't do as much walking as we normally would and outdoor sites like Corfe Castle and Maiden Castle were off the agenda.

Here's a quick run-down of the places we did see:

Kingston Lacy

An excellent country house (run by the National Trust) with a great collection of paintings, including some by Reubens, Velazquez and Van Dyck. The highlight was undoubtedly having to wear bright blue, slip-on, plastic protectors over our shoes to protect the floors and carpets from our wet footwear.

Portland

The island famous for the stone which was used to build St Paul's Cathedral and hundreds of other buildings around the world; including the walls in my parents' front garden, if I'm not mistaken. Unfortunately, it seems like a dark, cold, miserable sort of place - though maybe that was an effect of the weather. Portland Bill lighthouse was fun, though there wasn't much to see from the top, due to the cloud closing in. And Tout Quarry sculpture park was a strange place. The sculptures seemed to be hidden and the ones we did find were unlabelled, so it was impossible to know if a piece of work was done by a quarry worker 200 years ago, or by Anthony Gormley in the 1990s.

Weymouth



A town of two sides. There was the long beach and promenade - typical of a British seaside resort. Packed with hotels, guest houses, amusement arcades, chips shops and tacky souvenir stands. On the other side of the Wey is the ancient harbour, still in daily use (unlike many in this day and age) and blessedly free of plastic tourist attractions. Instead, sympathetically restored buildings house nice restaurants, bars and exhibitions. Shame we didn't discover this area until our last night.

Dorchester

Again, the rain put paid to our ability to explore the area fully, so the county town seemed seedy and lacking in facilities. Though we did find a nice restaurant at 6 North Square which cooked up a good meal, though in bewildering closeness to the prison.

Lulworth Cove and Durdle Dor

Part of the 600-odd mile South-West Coast footpath which winds from Poole around the Cornwall/Devon peninsula to Minehead in North Somerset. Yet again, the weather was too overcast to really enjoy the surroundings, but luckily the rain held off long enough for us to tackle the 1 mile path from Lulworth Cove to Durdle Dor. This is a steep path. There aren't the words to tell you how steep this is. Or maybe I'm just very unfit and in need of getting on my bike 3 times a week for 6 months!

This area came closest to showing the staggering beauty of the Dorset coastline - and when the sun did come out briefly, it made the climb worth the effort.

Montacute

An Elizabethan manor house. We popped in here on the way home (sort of) and it was a treat. The village is gorgeous and the house was fairly interesting, although much of the original features are now lost. I'll remember it mostly for the large number of school parties traipsing round. The kids were all much better behaved than I remember being at that age (14 or 15, I would guess). But I was partly amused, and partly outraged by the fact that I heard one of the teachers giving out 'facts' that were plainly made-up on the spot, or at least, were completely misinformed. Why he felt the need to give out misleading information when each room contained laminated information sheets telling the visitor everything they might want to know...?

Overall, a great weekend. Though I look forward to visiting again in better weather, having the chance to explore the outdoor attractions more thoroughly.

Thursday, 28 June 2007

Update

Just thought I should post an update on what I've been doing recently.

3 weeks ago was the week of the play. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive, maybe even more so than for Habeas Corpus, which was very gratifying (although My Lovely Young Wife thought that Habeas was better, but then it was pure entertainment, and not as heavy as Whose Life). I've got some pictures (some posed, some which I took during Act 2 on the final night) on Flickr.

Since then life's been curiously empty, yet fairly busy:

Empty because I no longer have rehearsals 3 times a week to attend and prepare for.

Busy because I've decided to take 6 months off from directing or performing in order to spend more time at home. Those boxes will not unpack themselves, and the walls simply refuse to cover themselves in paint.

That said, we haven't yet started decorating in earnest, and yet I haven't found bags of time to sit around doing nothing (as I fell like doing - at least for a week or so).

MLYW has found herself a new job - though it's apparently top-secret and hush-hush and if I told you what she is doing, I'd have to kill you. Nevertheless, she's setting up her own limited company so that she can contract her services to her new client. Having done that in my IT contracting past I've been helping her with this.

I've also been away to Glasgow, for a couple of days, on a SQL Server training course. After nearly 20 years of being exclusively devoted to the high-altar of Oracle DBA, it looks like I'm going to have to convert to polytheism and take Bill Gates' buck.

And last weekend MLYW and I spend 3 days away in Dorset to celebrate our 2nd wedding anniversary.

I think that's enough writing for today. From now on I shall make more of an effort to update daily.

Yeah - right!

Wednesday, 6 June 2007

Whose Audience is it Anyway?

Sorry to be awful, but I'd really like to plug our play. Again.

For some reason ticket sales are much slower than usual. Despite people saying how much they like the plays we put on.

And this one is, in my opinion, as good as anything we've done.

Lighting, sound, acting, props, scenery. It's all fantastic.

So. Come along and see Whose Life is it Anyway? at the Rhoda McGaw Theatre, Woking.

Weds 6th - Sat 9th June, 2007, at 7.45pm.

Tickets £10 (or £8 for concessions). Call 01932 702091. Or 0870 060 6645.

Get there before 7.30 if you want to buy on the door!