Went to see Rock'n'Roll by Tom Stoppard at the theatre. The person I was supposed to go with had to cancel, but fortunately found someone else to go with: managed to drag L the Artist out of the studio. I don't think she's quite got the hang of Art really: I've watched extensive TV shows on the subject and know that being an artist is all about drugs, alcohol, angst, partying till dawn and tragically doomed relationships; whereas she seems to just spend endless hours in the studio applying paint to canvases.
Show was a bit mixed. Script was superb: witty, funny, moving; but the performance was pretty weak. Rufus Sewell as the main character Jan was totally hoarse. He struggled manfully with it, managing to croak out all his lines pretty audibly, but didn't really manage to do much great acting with it. Also the audience was a bit irritating: little bit tourist-heavy, and not seeming to grasp the concept of tragicomedy: nothing wrong with laughing sometimes, but you don't need to utter a dutifully mechanical yuk-yuk-yuk at every witty line said by someone raging against the dying of the light. I blame musicals.
It's a very ambitious play, following a set of English and Czechoslovakian characters from 1968 to 1990: chiefly an English academic communist Max and a Czech student Jan who returns to Prague after the 1968 uprising. They follow reverse trajectories, Max becomes more disillusioned with Communism yet like many equally contemptuous towards Thatcherite capitalism. Jan starts out with a degree of cynicism, compromising with the authorities, but becomes both more rebellious, and eventually more optimistic. Each scene is introduced with a piece of rock music of some kind: with a lot of Pink Floyd. The figure of Syd Barret exists kind of behind the scenes as a chaotic figure of the god Pan. Ending could be a bit too cloying as the characters rock out to the Rolling Stones at a Prague concert.
Like "Life of Galileo" it features a clever rotating set, allowing the characters to stroll between exteriors and interiors with a minimum of time-wasting. Some very clever lighting: still not sure how they managed to change the exterior walls between prison and Cambridge.
What I'm Watching 2
Latest dumb-bell movie was 16 blocks with Bruce Willis as an aging alcoholic cop trying to escort witness Mos Def to a court appointment. Bit of a movie of two halves: first half is an excellent, tense thriller with some amusing conflicts between the two characters. All goes a bit over-the-top halfway through, with credibility stretched way beyond my personal breaking point. All pretty entertaining good fun though.
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