Wednesday, 17 June 2009

nothing comperes...

I’ve finally hosted my first event here in London!  Quite by accident, I’ve stumbled into it.  Most people who run events here don’t seem to like to host.  They have “compères” which is their word for host.  I looked it up.  It means, literally, godfather.

Does that make me a “commère?”  A don?

I don’t know, but I did get to host Sound Bites last weekend at The Abbey and had a great time.

Then Wednesday, I hosted TABARNAK , a favourite venue in a favourite room. 

Unfortunately, there was a teeny weeny tube strike going on.  It took me 3 ½ hours to get from where I’m staying to Mornington Crescent.  I was completely late to meet with a friend, but very very early for TABARNAK.  When I got there, it was all set up and ready to go.  All the musicians were pretty much on time or early.  Then we waited.  As we waited, it got sillier and silier.  In part because we were a particularly silly bunch (well, Ed Sheeran was there) and in part because I think we all realized at some point that there wouldn’t necessariliy be an audience.

I jeopardized my status as Celebrity Chimp’s stalker by not remembering I’d met Kayv, their current bass player, a couple of years ago in Edinburgh.  You’d think I’d do better.

It was a nice night anyway, very intimate and the music was great.  It didn’t take me nearly so long to get back, but I did overhear two people – total strangers – on the 214 dissing a friend of mine.  They did not use names – just details – that made it clear it was my friend, or one of my friend’s colleagues.  Really annoying.  I wanted to say something.  They were basically just hating.  They were jealous.  But still.  Wrong wrong wrong.  So don’t hate in public!

Earlier in the week, I got to see the Royal Court Theatre’s revival of Aunt Dan and Lemon, Wallace Shawn’s 1985 play.  I had a hard time realizing that 25 years had passed since that landmark production with Linda Hunt.  The new production left me feeling mixed.  The play is a bit dated, and I think the production doesn’t help that.  I don’t think it’s without relevance, but I do think it needs to be done more distinctly as a period piece.  Jane Horrocks, one of my favourite underrated actresses seems either miscast or hamstrung by the direction.  The monologues – hers, Dan’s and others – all feel incredibly speechy.  They don’t seem to be in character, but almost as though the actors are just reciting without feeling.  

It’s always jarring to see people try to play American characters here.  For me, they generally don’t get it.  This was no exception.  The accents went in and out, had no regional character and the body language and mannerisms seem to be taken from sit coms on television.  That part of it was really disappointing.  The humour wasn’t highlighted as I think it should have been.  The whole production seemed to make a bit too much of the text in some ways and not enough in others.  

The scenes with multiple characters were beautifully handled, moody, interesting and in general, sexy.  Yet the play is made up of so many monologues, it felt tremendously uneven.  I was glad to get to see the play in production, but overall, was disappointed.  As part of the Wallace Shawn season here, I felt that it would be a definitive production, yet for me it was missing something.  I’m not sure the English get how incredibly neurotic Americans are – and this was missing for me.  You’d think with all the episodes of Friends they watch, they would, but I was missing that in the show.

I was hoping to catch the “In Conversation” with Wallace Shawn, but staying too long over tea and coffee and talking to Tshaka as well as the threat of the tube strike and the need to get back to the other side of town, made me miss it.  We went to Bea’s of Bloomsbury, one of my fave places here.  It’s run by an American who makes fantastic cupcakes, cakes, and pastries.  It’s a great place to hang out and eat treats.

We had a much-needed long talk on both sides, before braving the perils of the impending strike.  Later in the week, much chaos.  I'm not sure how to think about it, let alone blog it.  I promise, if I can get my mind around it, I'll post something.

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