I think it's really cool, these cities that tie together exhibitions, in this case, Les Misérables, the musical, was playing down in Melbs, so the library down there is hosting an exhibition on the man, the manuscript and the musical.
Yes, the actual manuscript of Les Misérables (gosh and golly!) with scribbles, and the inky quills used to write it, and photos of the man bent over his desk. Wow (though my favourite photo was of M. Hugo straddling a chair ala Christine Keeler, it bemused).
There were also old maps of Paris, photos taken by the Hugo family, books of like minded contemporaries (Dickens, Dumas, etc.), posters of film and theatre versions (the drawing of the 1920s Japanese actor as Jean Valjean will be haunting my nightmares for days to come), copies of international editions, a really cute mashup of all the various film versions to make a ten minute movie in the theatrette, costumes from the film and stage productions, videos, music, props, more posters. Yep, everything you ever wanted to know about Les Mis and then some.
I thought I'd have to elbow people out of the way to get a glimpse of the cabinets, but no. How sad. People, they have the frickin manuscript there. The Actual Book.
Anyways, there was that. By the time I came out it had stopped lashing down with rain and was sunny (so Melbourne), went past some folks lining up with blue hair, silver canes, Firefly t-shirts, my people in other words, but alas, no time to find out whatever was going on there.
Never mind, on to one of the Ian Potter galleries (there are two, at either end of the city, just to confuse a tourist). So I went to the one with the mid-century design exhibition, which was basically groovy Oz furniture aping Danish designs from the mid 20thC. Pretty cool, though I found it sad, as chairs my mother let rot to pieces under the house are now exalted in museums and worth $$$ (grumble, especially as I loved the basket chair big time, and it is so $$$ now), and now I know the kitchen and bathroom were painted with Dulux multi-coloured paint (paint with flecks in it, I don't know why).
So, while I'm normally, 'oh to die for' over this stuff, it was sad in a 'wish I still had that' way, mainly because it was the cheap Oz knockoffs they were examining (because only the very few could afford to import from Europe or the US). Honestly, it'd be illegal now, to make such obvious copies, local flourishes notwithstanding, but the punched tin light stands, the cheap and uneven tacking and stapling of chairs covered in cheap Indian printed fabrics, the jigsaw cut ex WWII surplus plywood chairs, they made me nostalgic. It was all a bit sweetly 'can do', making copies of stuff seen only in magazines with surplus tin, rubber and plywood, but this was the stuff I remembered as a tiny child, the uneven line of furniture tacks on the backs of dining chairs, the splinters from plywood chairs. Yup. Kinda sad, in a very Proustian way (the smell of old vinyl).
So I wandered across to the Fashion Detective exhibition. Oh my giddy gothic aunt. This was my exhibition. First off there's a projection of Jeremy Brett (my Holmes, still, if I'm really, really honest) stupefying poor old Watson with all that can be known about a man from the hat he left behind.
So, onto the mysteries of the exhibition, the obvious and not so obvious fakes, the items with no history (but clearly with some story to tell, like hastily made mourning outfits), the invention of chemical dyes (some dangerous), arsenic loaded William Morris designed wallpaper, arsenic in green dyed clothes (no wonder Victorian ladies were always keeling over), a stand of women in white (various white dresses from the collection) in tribute to Wilkie Collins, and an optical illusion (via magic lantern, I presume). I went round three times. Squee!
Shamefully, the gallery had not produced any books on that exhibition, just the wanky art and photography ones which were so dull and deserted. Tsk.
So then there was Les Mis, the musical. I had a pretty good seat, an amiable seat companion to chat to, and yeah, it was okay. It was pretty damn good, actually (I was just being a bit all purist they way they played fast and loose with the book, as they must, but you know, we all do it). I do like a bit of theatre with my theatre, and this was very, very theatrical.
What can I say? I love a good magic lantern trick.
Also, I wonder just how many of the well heeled conservative voting audience took the novel's message home, you know, of being excellent to each other? No, they'll hum the songs but disconnect. Le sigh. (No wonder it was first staged in 1985, ahem).
So, I've finally seen Les Mis on stage. Never thought that would ever happen.
And that was my weekend in Melbs. Getting down there was a trial. I was held up at work (dreadful day) and the check-in line was crazy con autograph line long, and I made it to the gate with five minutes to spare, only to find the flight delayed 2 hours due to bad weather (actual blizzards).
Finally arrived in Melbs, made the mistake of getting a taxi instead of the bus (see blizzards) and was taken round the world for a sixpence (saw the Queen Victoria Markets, RMIT, the baths and Exhibition building on the way, none of which I should have seen on the way) but my hotel was waiting there for me, at last, dearest Ovolo, and, mercifully, there was a Chinese place lit up and advertising itself as open till 1.30 AM. It was called the Shark Fin Inn, and it was quite the greasy spoon, but at that hour who can complain. My menu was very anglo-suburban, but the secret menu looked suitably exotic, if the dishes being served to other tables were any indication.
One day I will learn to properly read Chinese so I can order those dishes that arrive in piles of silver trays and lion dancers and fireworks and the whole shebang. One of these days. Until then, chicken and cashews it is. Sigh.
Hotel was lovely, lovely, lovely (this time I did have a soft bed and fluffy towels). I also did a tiny bit of shopping, including picking up That Shirt.
The spotty shirt. The saga of. It's a really, really spotty shirt, and it hasn't failed to elicit comment: I look like a jockey/bike rider/art catalogue from 1968/creepy kid show presenter/I'd been paintballed. Sigh, I was going for indie band, but never mind. I would have never have worn it to work but I was huffed and tutted and tsked and sighed at more than I could bear the other day so I thought if my continued existence was that troubling, I'd up the ante and wear the loudest, most offensively lurid shirt I own, in other words, the spotty shirt I'd just bought in Melbourne.
Alas, the intended recipient wasn't in (no doubt sensing a disturbance in the force, for the passive aggressive is strong in this one). I'd even bought some nuclear strength kimchi noodles to unleash at lunchtime, sigh, but everyone else enjoyed my slip into childish wickedness (if deliberately trying to offend someone who finds offence in everything can be called wicked, I suppose it can).
As for the noodles, well, I didn't eat them then, but I will, because I like kimchi noodles (which is how I know how bad they can be in enclosed spaces).
The Babe Rainbow - Secret Enchanted Broccoli Forest
Yes, I know, I'm such a child. I should be weeding the garden and fixing the gutters, being quiet and not speaking until spoken to. I should. I will.
What else? Oh yes, I went to yet another Ibsen production, this time it was the Doll's House by Sport For Jove at the Seymour Centre. And it was damn good. The audience lauged and groaned along with the characters, brilliantly realised with lively touches. Just watching Nora's ecstatic transportation over illicit chocolates caused deep chuckles of recognition from the audience, and that's an audience won, right there. There were three curtain calls, and whoops, unlike the stunned silence and no curtain calls over at the Belvior (who are also doing their version, I think I have a ticket, shudder).
I could, should something about the locks patriarchal society inflicts on women, and I'm with you there, Ibsen, up to a point. Having suffered a mother who also abandoned her duty to family, not by walking out the door, but just by deliberate withdrawal (which is worse, I wonder, I found it rough, having to take up all the responsibility of washing, cooking, shopping, ironing, cleaning, etc when I was six. I had a stool I had to stand on to use the oven, wash the dishes or hang out the clothes, all by myself, in that cold, cold house). So I find her choice a coward's one. Probably the only one, as her husband was a dick, but still, selfish. What can I say, the child in me (picture that well known image of Cosette) is still suffering, and though I'm grown old if not grown up, and I get the whole stuck in a rut of artifice, I say so is everyone and either suck it up or try and fix it or find ways to deal but don't abandon. That is the way of the coward.
That said, I loved the actress playing Nora, I felt for her plight, I did, but, you know, too much on the other side of that door to cheer her exit, you know? The guys were great, too, being awful with gusto to make the walls of Nora's prison.
So yeah, Ibsen isn't a write-off. That's why I went, to see it done properly. (Really, if you want to do something new and different, local theatre companies, do something new and different, don't piss all over the classics, harumph).
Maybe I enjoyed it so much because instead of running down straight from the office I left early and decided to trust myself to dumb luck and go looking for somewhere to eat. Now, I wasn't expecting anything to exist, be open, serving food or food I'd buy and eat. It's a problem with the theatres being old factories in old industrial areas, but, if you're lucky, the old pubs that served the factories still exist, and here was one, the only one I've found. I walked in, expecting carpets that the 70s forgot, decor like an old train station urinal (and smelling like one too), but clearly the neighbourhood has gone upmarket since I last dared to wander there. Old pub, inside, a cheery welcome, the best Brooklyn boho clutter decor, and duck in chocolate jus on the menu. Hola!
I was enjoying myself, and celebrating a (temporary) drop of two dress sizes, so I went the chocolate bread and butter pudding as well. What can I say, I'd been living on green tea all week.
So nice, so friendly. It was the Duck Inn, and I swear I'm not making these names up. That's why I had the duck. I had duck on my mind and there was duck on the menu. I always go with the meta, it always knows best.
That's pretty much it, although I think I undid all my feminist points by watching It Happened One Night. Yes, it's funny, but when the 'hero' is accepted as the romatically suitable choice because he was willing to beat a woman every day, whether she needed it or not, umm.
I'd like to be able to say the past is a different country, but when they still kill women for learning how to read or having opinions, I'm thinking not. (And they wonder why Ibsen is still relevant).
Other than that there's not been a lot of telly watching except for workmanlike British series which are good to watch but not terribly remarkable. The tv equivalent of a railway novel, they pass the time, fill in that last hour, that one hour before bed when I don't want to do anything else any more but try and wind down with a cup of tea. (British shows are good for this because they rarely ever shout, even when it's all gone to shit).
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