That heartbreak aside it's the usual merde, albeit autumny now, complete with change of season cold and a bitter, biting headache from far too many nights out (I can't even type Cumberbatch or Hiddleston today without tying my fumbling fingers up in knots). Briefly, saw Cat On a Hot Tin Roof at the Belvoir last week and War Horse last night. Yay.
I don't know why I get so worked up whenever I see War Horse, it's not like tonight's the night they're going to actually shoot Joey, but I do. It's just some daft puppets made of baskets and old bicycle parts, but I care, dammit. Which is damn fine puppetry, if you ask me. Okay, so it's pretty much an equine Lassie Come Home with the Somme thrown in, and it is simplistic and shamelessly manipulative (it's not for nothing Speilberg glommed onto it), but it gets me every time. Maybe because the dead great uncles and great cousins, all the family I would never know and never have, fill not just pages but folders full of names (lest we forget). Maybe because it's so well done, the puppets so perfect, the slides and tableaus so filmic and haunting, recalling every painting, photo or memorial I've ever seen). It's funny, sad, terrifying, and wonderful.
Now tell me why a puppet made out of baskets and bicycle bits can make me laugh and move me to tears in ways certain Hollywood pretty boys never, ever, do.
Oh, and way better than the film. Sorry Tom and Ben, but it's just way better. Because it's more real, somehow, sitting in that theatre. And that's an impressive feat of theatre.
I've seen it in three cities now (London, New York, sydney, and I saw Joey in Melbourne, home of that other famous horse). I love it.
My god, you'll think I had the Bata pony poster up in my room. Not a bit of it. But I am a sucker for those hard luck, hard journey home stories. And yeah, I still get worked up at the end. As if this was going to be the night they shot Joey.
So, over to the Belvoir and their production of Cat On A Hot Tin Roof. I remember reading Tennessee Williams at some stage, but I've never seen either film nor stage production, or at least, I don't remember seeing the films, maybe I did, poor swiss cheese noggin, and the reviews were not the best, despite a sell out crowd, so I went along not knowing what to expect, which is, I suppose, what the Belvoir want with their fast and loose versions of famous texts.
I liked it, at least, the first part was wild. I've never seen Jacqueline McKenzie better, though the rest of the actors weren't really on her level, or even close, it didn't matter as the story started hard and fast and kept getting tighter and louder and shriller and more desperate until something had to break.
And the set, the simplicity of the wall of streamers and the revolving stage, made such great use of the Belvoir's limits (being, after all, just a bare corner of an old tomato sauce factory). I particulaly liked the piano emerging from the streamers to whip around and vanish, ditto the shoes. It was wild and very Australian (if you don't know where the flamboyance of a Baz film comes from, check out some local productions and you'll see it), all broad accents, shrieking and colour, which was a kind of fit for the American South, sort of. I'll stay out of the accents or no argument (especially as accents change, technically, Australian voiced Shakespeare is far, far closer to an Elizabethan voice than modern RP, because we still have the old Georgian vowels) and it was just raw and scary and pin you in your seat intense.
Then the streamers came down and wewere back to a flat, blank stage and it all went a bit flat after that. After the party, it was all a bit of a hangover (and trust me, the moaning Brits behibd who had actually been impressed before, began to maon again). Oh well, it was almost perfect.
I liked it. And now maybe I'm not so upset that I get left out of all those family gatherings I'm never invited to (and actually told to stay away from, these days). If this is what they're like (from the way the audience nodded with recognition), then I'm well out of it.
So that's my week and a bit.
Only Chris Isaak can save me now. And he did.
Here again, at the State Theatre again, it seemed like, as he said, only 45 minutes ago that he was here last night. He's so much fun, so funny, so full of pop, I just love him to pieces. Damn fine entertainer. The show was a little haphazzrd because he said he was jetlagged in the worse way, and I get that, but it was a structured chaos, the way the best do (like any performance of One Man, Two Guvnors).
I really loved him when, during one song (The Song) when the security walked up and down rows slapping phones out of the hands of everyone, Chris stopped and said he didn't wear that sparkly suit for nothing, please take his picture (...and pose). That put the black shirts back in their places, and the party re-commenced. I do like an entertainer who keeps an eye on what's going on, and adjusts accordingly.
Professionalism aside (or not, if he really did mess up the set, I never noticed), he's just damn good value and a joy to watch and listen to. Ran through all the classics, then hit the covers from the latest album, and it was just wonderful. I danced. I squeed. I had fun.
Chris Isaak. My hero.
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4 March 2013
8 March 2013