mockturtle (hellblazer06) wrote,

the gorilla in the room

Well, it wasn't a disaster in the rational scheme of things, but it did feel like a rolling comedy of unfunny errors. Having to change the dates was my fault. Everything that happened after? Well, that was probably my fault, too.

Decided to go down to Melbs to see the world's most miserable and depressing Monet show. Seriously. It was just (as always, never the good stuff) the last works of the last years, when he was mostly blind and distressed over WWI. I've always wondered why the five hundred (or seems like) paintings of his pond, and now I know. World War One was raging outside, pretty much on his doorstep, and instead of engaging I guess he retreated, which is a valid response, imho. Especially when you're old and tired. I can see it now. It's all too horrible to deal with, lookit, waterlilies, so tranquil, so constant. I get it, but it's effing sad.

Then it all gets smeary and ugly as he seems to just melt and bleed all over the canvasses. Pretty awful, I thought, watching the man disintergrate before my eyes, canvas by canvas. Like I said, a wretched exhibition.

Much better was the accompanying Australians In Paris exhibition, because all Australian artists between about 1880 and WWI had to go to Paris. And so they did. So here are the usual suspects (Condor, Preston, Ramsay, Fox, etc) painting in France instead of what are now outer suburbs of Melbourne (then, rolling hills of semi-rural wilderness). I liked. Because it was my usual crew of favourites, and whle I prefer their Oz paintings (because the light is right, I can never get over the dimmer ASA 100 light in Europe, even though I know it's true) I didn't mind the odd peasant, the obligatory haystacks, and those wonderful, wonderful flower gardens and Chinese lanterned parties. Why do Parisian parks always look so good on canvas, and are so drab in reality?

So, that was fun, and surprisingly well attended. Put on some Aussies and no one will go (cultural cringe), but mention Paris, and you'll scoop up a few punters. It's a shame they're not more highly esteemed or well known (I was the only one who didn't need to read the bios, and I got some odd looks cause I didn't) in their home country (as opposed to country of origin, the question of what qualifies an artist as 'Australian' is vexed, but as an art historian put it bluntly 'if they've pissed here, they're Australian', which is the test I use for the British Actors list, if you're interested) because those Aussies, they were mixing with Monet, Van Gough, Toulouse-Lautrec, etc. Right in it, in other words. As you'd expect from an Australian abroad - grin.

The other exhibition I saw was the Hollywood Costume one at ACMI, a cut down version of the V&A exhibition. I assume it was cut down as it only went for one room, and I remember reading quite a few key pieces did not travel. I think it was my abiding fed up-ness, and the crowds, because even though I saw Audrey's black dress from Breakfast at Tiffanys, Marilyn's infamous rayon-y thing, Tippi's green dress from The Birds, Kim Novak's green dress from Vertigo, I was all very meh, especially as it was mostly Depp, Di Niro and Streep, actors I do not care for.

One thing that did bemuse me, and I'm sure there must be a proper term was it, was the period costume paradox. That is, when a designer tries to evoke another age, they tend to scream the era in which their outfit was made. Thus the very Thirties outfits for Cleopatra, the oh so Sixties dress for Camelot, and Sean Young's Oh My God It's The 80s dress from Bladeruuner that was supposed to be evoking the 40s.

Speaking of the 80's, the NGV had an 80s exhibition that was a bit meh but they had a version of the only properly 80s dress I owned on display (I am now archival) and I just giggled hysterically. So cruel that I came of age, and the only time I was a size ten, at the height of the 80s. There's a reason, beside poverty, that most of my wardrobe came from the 50s, 60s and 70s via the local op shop. But hey, my one 80s enseimble was museum worthy. Cringeworthy?

Anyways, the ACMI exhibit. They did have one Errol outfit, proper Aussie bloke (the only other costume that matched him for shoulder span was Heath's from Brokeback), a few frocks from films I've actually watched, but that was pretty much it.

So, worth all the trouble? Flight cancelled, hotel lost booking, then put me in a room fresh sprayed, nearly had to call an ambulance (they wanted to, I declined), finally got into another, unsprayed, room (I did put it on my requirements note but they said it wasn't there, the no chemicals thing), but they did give me a free coffee, I just wasn't up to appreciating it, what with the whole nearly dying thing, and then when I finally made my red faced and puffy way to ACMI, they, too, had lost all trace of me in the system but I had a printout, dammit, and in the end I did get in, but, you know, heck.

 photo flinders_zps2fad8d2c.jpg

Matthew Flinders statue, Melbourne

Staggered back to hotel room, pouted, and decided to turn around and go out again. I could say it was an excuse to see the inside of The Regent (they had an old organ, they played it), but you know me, anything with a monkey in it. Got a ticket at the door and subjected myself to the inexplicable King Kong: The Musical. Yes, really.

What was it like? Well, as the young bloke behind me opined on the way out, without the monkey it was pretty ordinary (typical Aussie, straight to the point). Yep. The book and songs were quite dire, like high school production dire, nothing you could hum and stilted dialogue that's make a Home and Away actor blush with shame, but they did have the monkey.

I was curious to see the big puppet, and he was a big puppet. Thank goodness I wasn't sitting in the front rows when he loomed over the audience and roared (I was up in the balcony, but right up in the front, in constant danger of toppling over in my clumsiness). It was a pretty impressive puppet, I've got to say. None of the grace of Joey, but it's a giant gorilla, grace isn't really his thing. It took twelve guys to operate it, quite the feat, worth the ticket, really, just for that.

The other thing that rocked for me were the lights/set design or whatever they call it. It was pretty damn clever and spectacular, evoking the wide ocean and New York on a small stage, and Skull Island, way, way creepier than anything I've ever seen in Doctor Who, all with some lights, music, costume, set design and choreography (the background music for Skull Island did the business, but it was more filmic than what you'd expect in a musical). I was really getting into it while they were on the island.

Then we had some pointed messages about New York (post stockbroker merde), yawn (see previous posts for where I stand on Messages clumsily and obviously shoved into the text, instead of being woven in textually so it slips into your subconscious ever so sweetly) and then they tried to restage the last battle on the tiny stage, so some effect, I will give them that, and it was all over.

As a musical, pretty awful. As a puppet show, pretty awesome. That's my caveat. And, you know, I'd seen the ads, I was Kong curious, so now I've seen it. I had nothing better to do. Tea was a semi warm pie on the way back to the hotel.

The pie wasn't that bad, truth be told. It's that damn ice cream I had at intermission which is still giving me trouble, which is what I call holding a grudge. I rarely ever have ice cream, for this reason, but the guy selling it set up right next to my seat, and it was a novelty to have ice cream touted in the intermission, as they never do at the plays I go to. Hand out the number for a suicide prevention hotline during intermission, yes, ice cream, not so much.

Anyway, still experiencing buyer's remorse in that regard. Oh dear.

So that was my weekend in Melbourne, tripping over myself to make up lost hours I could never get back. Even Sunday, which you'd have thought would have reset the clock, gave me a broken hotel lift so I was running over an hour late everywhere and only just made my gate at the airport before the boarding started (no buses to the airport, two mile queue, wtf).

The one thing I did appreciate (but alas had no chance to, but it's the thought that counts) was the NGV, in a rare show of civilisation for a gallery or museum, instead of keeping us locked out in the freezing cold (like the NGA in Canberra, or that time at the national museum in Edinburgh when it was actually effing snowing and we froze, in the snow, like the Little Match Girl, as staff faffed about inside) actually let us in the foyer, to partake of warmth, shelter, the loo and the cafe, serving breakfast to a full occupancy of tables and then some. Lookit, they were making money while being decent. Well, I hope they were making money, because I'd like the trend to continue.

There was also a lily pond inspired sculpture set up in the foyer, a pool where dishes of varying sizes, evoking lily pads, gently chimed together as they bobbed about. It was lovely.

Did a quick whip round the gallery (I'd only intended a few rooms, forgetting that once you start out at the NGV you're commited to a full circuit, as there's no opt out point) so I did the circuit, rushing past favourites (I hope they didn't think me rude, I just had a plane to catch and one more exhibition/gallery to go before I got there) and finding only one new love, in the contemporary art section, of all places. I'm not normally one for kinetic sculpture, but this rocked.

Btw, at some point they're gonna have to stop calling mid 20thC art 'contemporary' though Himself tells me it'll be over the Baby Boomer's dead bodies. Snerk. Says she, with the 80s dress a museum piece. Still, anything to discomfit a Boomer, eh what?

I tell ya, though, this just a weekend thing is okay for Canberra, but far too tight for Melbourne. It was so fraught and frazzling, running from exhibition to exhibition like I was a contestant on some mad reality show. I'm not sure how it ended up such a chore when my tour of the highlands of Scotland in three days by train, bus and taxi was a doddle, but there you go. It wasn't my choice, is all I'm legally allowed to say, re the just two half days in Melbourne thing.

The next day: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.

Oh man, this was good. The day preceding it, not so much, being a lead plated Monday, and even dinner ended up being a dripping pie on a park bench surrounded by enough ravenous seagulls to give it that real Hitchcock feel. But the play, well, the play was the thing.

First up, my boys. Now you know I'm a great admirer of Mr Schmitz, and I've no quarrel with Mr Minchin, and the rest of the troupe were familiar faves. Our seats were brilliant, properly, oh my, this is the business brilliant, the stage was an evocation German expressionist series of black tunnels heading off to infinity, with a dead tree above at one point, in some serious nods to Godot, and the costumes were the stuff of RSC nightmare, like out of a Helpmann production, all OTT to a ludricrous and terrifying degree. I do like a costume with a bit (or a lot) of menance and insanity. The acting of everyone not our hapless duo was deliberately pitched to be classic RSC dialled up to 11, and it worked so well, again with the menance and insanity as our doomed duo are swept up in events they don't understand by folks who defy comprehension (Gertrude in pacticular is more queen from Through The Looking Glass than Hamlet).

The play, of course, is a classic, and I've attended the pre and post performance talks (it's like having dvd extras - grin), I should be able to ramble on about the various philosophies of existence examined and discarded, the cheek of of a young Stoppard pointing out (and laughing at) the plot holes in Shakespeare, the text and meta text, etc, etc, but no, I'm not that clever. I'm just there to laugh at the jokes and bask in the perfomance of two gentlemen, old friends, performing their dream roles at the height of their powers.

Toby, all high strung, preening, prickly, brittle and argumentative, and Tim as his quieter, almost childlike sounding board. They were a perfect match for each other, the perfect buddies. We cared from the moment they appeared, tossing an improbable but not impossible string of coins (three escaped, causing Tim to corpse a couple of times, the dear boy), and when they realised their fate, it was weep into a hanky tragic. The best bit was being so close I could see every snarl flounce and eye roll of Toby's, every hapless shrug of Tim's.

The players were magnificent, too, with their wonderfully crazy costumes, poor long suffering Alfred, and the cart beeping when they back up. Priceless. Tim Walters was the most evil Hamlet I've ever seen (had to fight the urge to boo and hiss when he swapped the letters), doddery Polonius was a treat, and Ewen Leslie damn nearly stole the show.

He couldn't, though. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were the stars, poor dumb creatures caught up briefly in a moment of confusing existence before being snuffed out on a whim. Such is life, eh?

Oh, that was amazing theatre. Ya shoula been. Damn criminal that NT Live haven't recorded it.

Today: Ha! As I lumbered onto the bus this morning, and for once all those little bitches snatched their bags off the seats and clutched them protectively. Result!

You see, they always leave their bags on the seat because nobody wants to sit next to this frumpy old monstosity, and fair enough, so I usually stand for a significant portion of the long, long journey until we reach one of those towns where the bus empties before it refills.

Yesterday, though, I'd had enough. Of everything (because the wonderful Tim and Tobes aside, it has been A Week). I just was not in the mood to strap hang. So I selected the perfect victim, a nice sized dark blue bag nestled on a dark blue seat (so I had recourse to plausible excuse of not seeing it in the dark with the usual bus lighting all but non functional) and deployed the buttocks of doom in a full thwump! I do hope I broke something, I really do. The skinny little bitch scrabbled desperately at the handles and, in a magnanimous gesture, I lifted one mighty butt cheek slightly and let her snatch the ruins of it it back. Bite me, bitch. (Insert Jabba the Hutt laugh here).

That was really...satisfying.

Let me just mention that they've had me strap hanging for several years before I finally broke. Like I said, it's been a week, twixt the house falling apart in ways my bank balance can't keep pace with, and yet another red X painted on the back of my chair at work. Le sigh.

The dvd shelf also decided to tip over and fling its contents at me on Monday morning, just before my alarm went off, just because it could. Reshelving has been this week's part time project then, though I really should do a proper sort, because some wtf purchases did surface, as well as a few 'so over it's. There were some cute mash ups though as my usually subject orientated shelving (not strictly LoC because I have neither the time or care anymore, but vaguely by genre and georaphy) went higgledy-piggledy, causing me to imagine Billy Wilder's Miss Marple, and Jane Austen vs the Cybermen (Mr Collins returned from Rosings behaving even more oddly than usual...).

Well, I make my own fun.

Oh man, Tim Minchin is on Triplej with Dr Karl right now, switching between science, philsophy, and making chicken noises. I'm sitting at my desk and Tim Minchin is making chicken noises. Trying so hard not to crack up right now.

And for someone who kept insiting he was the dumb one in the Q&A on Monday night, he's rocking the facts today. That lad has just shot to the top of my imaginary dinner party guest list.

Sydney Theatre Company - Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead's-on/productions/2013/rosencrantz-and-guildenstern-are-dead.aspx

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Tags: art, claude monet, film, melbourne, theatre, tim minchin, toby schmitz, william shakespeare

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