mockturtle (hellblazer06) wrote,

dealing with difficult people

Bard busting, big time. First I went to see a screening of NT Live's Othello. It was everything they said it was, and more. Man, that was shattering, a relentless landslide of vicious, petty, insecure men, flustering over pride, all hemmed in the pressure cooker of an army base. Of course, it's the women who suffer, they always do. Would that there was a little blue pill for male insecurity.

It was relentless, yet funny, too, until the final act, as Iago winds Othello tighter and tighter. Such an easy target, and it's cool that being non WASPy is so integral to the part, as Othello is so conscious of his outsider status, that he is resented, that his position is precarious, that he is so easily undone by a few whispers, tugging at ideas and fears that must have been already squirming there to be plucked at.

That said, I've always felt a great deal of empathy for the embittered and overlooked Iago. Okay, yes, he's a bastard, but a rather lucky or clever stategist, and I always wonder if the darkness was innate or implanted after years of grind and unrecognised service. Still, perhaps his poisons work so well on Othello because he knows them himself, also an outsider, overlooked for promotion because of his lack of connection, class, pretty manners. Yeah, I get the motivation, big time.

Why, there's no remedy; 'tis the curse of service,
Preferment goes by letter and affection,
And not by old gradation, where each second
Stood heir to the first. Now, sir, be judge yourself,
Whether I in any just term am affined
To love the Moor....

...I follow him to serve my turn upon him:
We cannot all be masters, nor all masters
Cannot be truly follow'd. You shall mark
Many a duteous and knee-crooking knave,
That, doting on his own obsequious bondage,
Wears out his time, much like his master's ass,
For nought but provender, and when he's old, cashier'd:
Whip me such honest knaves. Others there are
Who, trimm'd in forms and visages of duty,
Keep yet their hearts attending on themselves,
And, throwing but shows of service on their lords,
Do well thrive by them and when they have lined
their coats
Do themselves homage: these fellows have some soul;

Embittered? Moi? Yea, I totally get why Iago does what he does. Did Othello deserve it? That as may be, brave to be sure, but a bad judge of character, and rather woeful at industrial relations.

Certainly the women did not deserve their betrayals. Are we watching an honour killing on stage? Or just your bog standard angry man who slaughters his family because he feels his masculinity, and therefore sense of self, has been threatened - like that's any excuse. Is it because Othello, in his own words, has been a child soldier and been through some shit, and his only response is rough violence? Just another soldier whose domestic life has gone to the wall. Does the constant racial abuse flung at Othello (none of which I can repeat here) really justify such actions? I don't think so. I don't think it helped, but I don't think it excuses any of it.

Iago certainly knew where to stick the knife. Call him a villian (I prefer disgruntled), but I think they missed a trick not sending him off to Psyops. Or the marketing department. The man is a master manipulator. It did, after all, all go to plan, and he would have got away with it too if it hadn't been for those pesky kids...

And all for pride, for disappointed love and duty. There lies the tragedy.

The set was amazing, totally evoked the claustrophobic nature of the barrack rooms whre the actions fester and drive on (like rats in a cage?)

And the acting? Oh my, everyone was perfection. Mr Lester and Mr Kinnear, you have my ever growing respect and admiration. That is a performance I will not forget lightly.

I also went and saw the STC's Romeo and Juliet at the Opera House. It was as good as the reviews said, not mindblowing, but good. A bit Bazzy (some scenes and characterisations seemed direct lifts) but if you're doing modern rich kids run wild I guess there's going to be some thematic overlap.

I thought Romeo was a touch underwhelming, but Mercutio (Eamon Farron) was a scene stealer, outrageously so, in that lairy yellow suit and 70s screaming shoes, but necessary with the other boys offering about as much as a flat glossy ad in GQ, but Merc did not steal the play, that honour went to the nurse, though points to the Jerry Hall-esque Mrs Capulet, Trophy Wife Inc., with ridicuolous outfits to match, including that red feather construct (If I didn't know better I'd saw the creative team had overimbided on those cable reality shows).

They said it was Juliet centric, and in one of those departures the Sydney stage loves, just to be seen as 'edgy', she was still standing at the end, albeit holding a gun, so I guess that's what they meant. Girls just wanna have fun?

It's hard to say if it's a feminist tract, as Juliet usually ends up dead, but then all the great uppity women tales usually end in death (Boudicca, Emily Davison, etc), and the one thing Shakespeare could do, and do very well, was write uppity women. Only George Bernard Shaw, in my meagre readings, comes close. Okay, so most of these uppity chicks usually find themselves submitted, dead, bewitched, married or in some way restored to the normal order by curtain's fall, but just for a bit, they get to take centre stage and rant and rail against their fate to be born a woman in patrical society. Word, sister.

So yeah, if you can show me a better writer for women and of women than Shakespeare, let me know, because I'd be curious to read them.

Because, usually, it's just ciphers or the old life sucking femme fatale (see Poe, Doyle, etc). The Woman.

Speaking of 'eeek, girl germs!', I was casually browsing re Dorian Gray, Oscar Wilde, Bosie and the whole Reading Gaol thing, just following ideas because I had this confused blend of Dorian and some Holmes story, or was it Raffles, in my head, bubbling away, possibly from reading Chesterton and Dickens, this ideas of toffs slumming in the opium dens and bawdy houses, and the Cleveland Street affair was mentioned in my researches (in an actual book), and I must have read this somewhere before and forgotten it, but not quite, because, lo, there it is, the basis of the story of Dorian Gray, and all the usual suspects, including old Abberline himself. Right in the thick of things. This is just too good to resist.

I think I just potted meself a plot bunny.

Meanwhile, I'm wearing a very, very silly dress today (not wearing it well, alas, but wearing it nonetheless), the very, very silly dress I bought from M&S. I'm not sure if I'm off to the Blitz or about to tell Avon how to do his job, but that's the sort of look I've got going (if Servalan had been played by Dawn French, that is, sigh, too much comfort food last week). This is what I get for playing my old albums last week, not very loud.

Hey, I've just discovered behind all these silly post-Vivienne zips are real pockets. Real Pockets. Bless the Brits, they still makes clothes with real pockets (we only have fake pockets, if pockets at all, so I don't even bother). Ok, so where was this dress when I was 19? I coulda so loved and used this dress way back then.

OMG, they just played Joy Division on triplej! Squee! Should I squee over Joy Division, it's not very Joy Division to squee, but I want to squee. Typical Curtis, write the perfect song, then top yourself. Seems to be the tortured artiste template. Still, Joy Division. Whoo. Should one 'whoo', oh, never mind.

You know, I'm liking this dress more if it can summon up Ian Curtis, though I must be careful, I'm not sure we've got an extra setting for dinner - snerk. What, too soon?


I always forget I was a fan of Alexis from Sharpe and Soldier Soldier way before he was in Buffy. I'm only reminded of it reading up on Much Ado About Nothing. Yep, my dvd arrived. I love it.

I have an abiding fondness for Soldier Soldier. Sometimes I have fun spotting the old alum. One Saturday past, while I was confined to bed, I spotted Robson (some fishing prog on One when I changed channels), Jerome (GoT and Ripper Street), Thomas Craig (Murdoch Mysteries), Annabelle Apsion in Lewis and Shaun Dingwall. I was bitter that we weren't up to Angus's episodes of Chuck, or Dougray's Doctor Who, just to get a nice sweep - grin. Still, good to see most of my boys still picking up pay cheques.

Oh, I forgot to mention I was talking to a gentleman while waiting to go in for Othello, and he used to be a bouncer at Rooty RSL, and was therefore missing half his teeth, but he was also a Belvoir subscriber, like Steve the taxi driver (Belvoir really need to rethink their subscriber demographics, clearly we're not all elitists in posh suburbs), and he also singled out Toby Schmitz for comment. That's three conversations about Toby in a week, without me introducing the lad into the conversation once. Truly. Now there's your star.

Anyways, there's that, and of course still squeeing over the discovery of Web of Fear, the lost Doctor Who episodes. Man oh man, I remember that episode, though I must have been a babe when I saw it, younger than five, I'm not sure how far behind the UK we were (usually about 2-3 years), but I remember Troughton regenerating when I was in kindergarten, it was my first regeneration and I was shattered - I still remember it, how I felt, to this day, I'm feeling it right now. That, ladies and gentlemen, is television indeed.

Oh man, I remember it, I still have nightmares about it. Hell, I had one last year - when I dozed off on the bus and woke up and saw the dark shadows of fat fuzzy Xmas trees through the dark rain smeared window and thought YETI!!!!

So, even though I only remember fragments, I do remember how it felt to watch it. Proper scary. Proper Neil Gaiman worming away in your head scary and dreadful (as in full of creeping dread). Then, imagine, if you will, how I feel about this treasure of childhood, this touchstone, this elementary horror story, perversely beloved, being rediscovered.

Not that I'm without my cynical adult quibbles. Being scared into a new nappy as a very small child is one thing (no, I had no parental supervision, I was abandoned to disinterested grandparents, I was raised exclusively by the Doctor, hence my clinging to him like a frightened possum joey in all times of stress), but watching it now, that's a whole 'nother thing. Because I was watching the Fendal last night, the one with Ma Cumberbatch, and I was thinking those papery monsters are a lot less terrifying now than when I first watched it. A lot less. One might almost say laughable. Oh dear.

So, will the episode that gave me a lifelong dread of the dark, that still gives me slight pause everytime I ride the Tube, the one that makes me start at shadowy plastic trees even now, be undone by viewing its 15p FX budget in the harsh light of day? Hmmmm.

But, you know, I should just enjoy the moment. They found my favourite episode. Virginia, there is a Santa Claus.

I am always shocked, and, I daresay, appalled when people boast to me they never read fiction, like it's something to be proud of. I always sort of nod, like it's their choice, but I really ought to call them on it, ditto the same jerks who say they only watch docos on the ABC. And they are jerks, because, well, fiction and narrative and characters make you care and teach you empathy, they show you new worlds, new ways of thinking and feeling, new ways to dream. It's an escape, it's a rehearsal for real life (so many times in so many situations I've extricated myself by following the example of a favourite character), it's hope, love, life, loss, adventure, friendship and understanding.

Fie, fie on you, haughty fiction haters, as if it's something that makes you better than me, humble fiction reader. At least Neil Gaiman agrees with me.

There's a place for dreamers, there has to be.

Speaking of fiction, because it'd only hit something vaguely historically accurate if it tripped over it, I'm still watching The White Queen, even though it's bad, like, really, really bad. This may be the tv age of the criminal anti-hero, but it's also the age of the really awful historical drama. With all those ladies with heaving bossoms and lusty drunken lords, it always hovers just one dropped trou away from a Carry On film, which is exactly how I watch it. I wouldn't feel it all out of place if they played the Benny Hill theme over the end credits. And yet, I watch it, because I can't help watching my Brit boys slumming it in silly costumes in front of freezing cold historical properties. Because I'm bad like that.

That and I can't stop humming Big Yellow Taxi every time the little emo R3 slopes onto screen, because I'm also cruel like that:

Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And put up a parking lot

The White Queen is to make a comeback

Guess what else is back (okay, in a country I'm far, far away from, but still...)

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Tags: doctor who, theatre, toby schmitz, william shakespeare

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