Thursday, 15 May 2014

My annual (or less often) visit to the theatre and what happened there.

I went to the theatre.  A matinee of course.   I go sleepy byes at night time theatre.

I have never been a major lover of plays.  My simple and unsophisticated heart yearns for ultra daggy musicals with Cats being my all time favourite and Les Mis a close second.

But plays...all that talking.  No singing or dancing to amuse my teeny weeny attention span.  Not so much.

Especially since a terrible experience a few years ago when Mike and I decided to make an effort and accepted an invitation to a dinner and performance of A Long Day's Journey Into Night.

Yes it was, a long, long, long journey.  Four hours after it started, we stumbled out into the near midnight darkness and wondered at the time we'd lost and would never get back.  Yes we know the actors were excellent and the storyline was heart rending, but four hours? Really?

Since then, the only time I've stepped into a theatre is for the 13 Story Treehouse, Charlie and Lola and several of Sarah's dance performances.  None of these were over 1.5 hours.

I'd booked to go to this performance with a couple of mates way back in October 2013, so we'd all completely forgotten until Tuesday when the girl who'd organised it, (my top notch friend C) reminded us.  I ditched any plans I had for Wednesday, geared myself up for a long afternoon, and then thought to double check how long I was in for the play went for.

Imagine my joy when I discovered that this performance was only an hour. 60 minutes. 11am-12 midday.  A real play, just really short.  A perfect match for my attention span.

After experiencing unprecedented fullness in the car park across the road we realised we were dealing with a sellout.  And after experiencing some very strange parking antics by our fellow play attendees we realised we (in this case, comparatively only) were spring chickens!

We were at least 20 years younger than the AVERAGE age of our companions.  Seating took forever, and there were many rearrangements of seating as theatregoers who didn't bring their glasses were redirected to the right spots.

As we waited for the performance to start, my compadres and I discussed what our nana hairstyle would be? The bouffant? The groovy coloured pixie style? The curl and set? Then we started on fashion but had only begun on jackets vs cardigans before the lights went down and we had to stop.

Myra Hess- one clever and determined lady. 
FYI the play was about a lady called Myra Hess who was a famous pianist during WW2. She was behind the organisation of 6.5 years of musical concerts in the London's National Gallery, which went on throughout the war despite many, many risks, struggles and setbacks.  She was completely amazing.  The monologue parts were interspersed with a very talented pianist, playing pieces that were popular during the concerts.  He was totally awesome.

The performance was excellent, and starred Patricia Routledge (Hyacinth Bucket from Keeping up Appearances).  She's getting on a bit herself and sat down for the performance and even got to read from a book (although she looked like she was remembering an awful lot).  I reckon anyone would need a book.   I'd have no chance of remembering nearly 60 minutes worth of monologue.

Although I'm quite good at five minute shouty made up monologues at the kids.

It was an excellent role for someone who is 85, and Patricia Routledge was sensational.  It made me think of my Mum and how unfair life can be.  Mrs Routledge (all credit to her) can hold the stage on her own for an hour and be so articulate and polished and my Mum can't even walk anymore because her body has let her down.

It just made me feel a bit wistful, y'know?

As the play went on, the unmistakable scent of talcum powder, lavender and a faint undertone of naphthalene wafted gently around us.

At least one of my friends had a wee nap mid way through.  And we heard the unmistakable snorfle sound of an elderly gentleman who's drifted off and woken himself up with his first snore.

I'd turned my phone to mute but not turned it off, not realising how quiet a theatre gets during a play (I'm used to kids movies where your phone could ring forever and you'd never hear it).  The vibrate was still on so I had to sit on it to shut it up.  I was treated to a few disgusted sniffs and at least one disapproving 'humph'.  I so deserved it.

When it was over we escaped quickly, but not quickly enough to get caught up in some very strange departure shenanigans in the car park.

I know I've posted not that long ago about how I think I'm becoming a Granny, but this experience has proved it.  I had such a nice time, got my kulcha on and was back at my kitchen bench laptop position by 1pm with a cup of tea.

Myra Hess is famous for her arrangement of Bach's Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring. I think it was originally made for an orchestra but Ms Hess did a version just for piano.  It's song I've always loved when I've heard it but never knew the composer or name of it until about 10 minutes ago.

You will know it too, and it may even lift your heart to hear it on this day.  Here is the link to a very talented girl playing it.

PS.  I know it's been a long time since my last post.  And while I live in hope of continuing regularly, I have discovered in 2014 that life is a bloody tricky thing and blog posting can sometimes fall by the wayside.  Please bear with me, and forgive me because I'm very unreliable.

Photo courtesy of Libby Foster (nee Hess) via The National Gallery website.