Saw Death and the Maiden starring Thandie Newton at what used to be the Comedy Theatre, now renamed the Harold Pinter theatre. Not sure if the old name is a factor, but noticed some laughter at the wrong times from the audience. Perhaps some of them had thought it was a comedy, or were just attracted by Hollywood Star Power. It's a 1990 play by a Chilean playwright, about a woman who was abducted, tortured and repeatedly raped years before; and holds prisoner a man she believes to be responsible.
I've seen the play before a long time ago, and thought it was pretty powerful. Looking at it now it does seem a little stagey in places, with long speeches that feel a bit unnatural.
Newton has a pretty solid performance in the starring role. Was impressed by the way she did the abduction scene onstage: she's fairly slight but still managed to heave the much larger character around.
The other performances were good. Nice set design with some sliding windows separating inside from outside.
Overall, worth a look.
Tickets are pretty good for something with a Hollywood Star: £10 for restricted view, I paid £28.75 at Lastminute for an good centre seat in the stalls (G12).
Saw the Apocalypse John Martin exhibition at Tate Britain. Martin was a staggeringly popular, then staggeringly sneered-at Victorian painter who specialized in apocalyptic canvases of Biblical catastrophe.
The exhibition has a good selection. I liked the way it compares different-sized copies of the paintings next to prints and reproductions. Martin seems to have been pretty professional, was interesting to see how the designed for print paintings look so much better at the smaller scale.
The bigger canvases are highly impressive, with lurid colours and dramatic compositions.
When they're all presented together though, you do tend to see the saminess which the critics disliked: a lot of them have the same trope of a muscular foreground figure gesturing in very similar melodramatic poses. Some of the paintings near the end are a pleasant relief, of more toned down landscapes.
There's also a sound and light show at the end which tries to reproduce the melodrama of a Victorian talk and show. I liked it, but for some it's too cheesy and not informative enough.
Overall, not the most brilliant artist, but a good fun exhibition.
What I'm Reading
Finished Snuff, the latest Discworld book by Terry Pratchett. Commander Vimes takes a holiday in the country, but where there are policemen, crime follows.
Not terrible, the book trundled along OK to its conclusion, but not one of the best ones. The jokes, the plot, and the setup all seemed a bit too familiar.
Feels a bit like taking a last loving walk around the garden of a house you're about to move away from.
What I'm Watching
Saw We Need to Talk About Kevin at the cinema, since I liked the book. Tilda Swinton plays the mother of a nightmare child, who is harassed by her neighbours.
I liked it a lot. Has a brilliantly deadpan, shell-shocked performance from Swinton. Her accent seemed fine to me, not sure that the Americans think. Seemed a pretty good balance: a lot of tragedy but some wry humour. I loved the bit where she stopped the pram with screaming baby next to a jackhammer in the street and had a blissful moment of relative peace.
Worth seeing. Tempting to say everyone should see this before becoming a parent...
They made a wise decision not to try too hard to replicate the twist in the book, which wouldn't really work on screen. I don't think it would work in the book if you're expecting one. RT, review, review. review review article
Socioeconomics. Do not pronounce a bank profitable until it is dead. Fat people not overwhelming health service in Manitoba, big PDF, only use moderately more resources. Stagnation predicted for UK. Skilled worker shortage? Britain should join Euro (disagree, but funny how inflation hawks also tend to be anti-Euro). Riots and revolution ("Our explanation of the recent riots is that there was a temporary jump from a low-crime equilibrium to a high-crime equilibrium."). Gen X-ers lead happy, balanced lives. Sex positive feminism. Perry campaign uses flawed economic model.
Sci/Tech. How to use Adblock to stop "Read More" crap being inserted into your clipboard. Small bicycling robot. Abstract: Extraversion linked to more social activity in US but not Germany. Dubious happiness gene.
Politics. No more Parliamentary scrutiny of NHS. Minor scandal for Cameron's guru Philip Blond. Referenda a bigger threat to democracy than EU. Gangs did not play a pivotal role in riots. Abolishing unfair dismissal will achieve nothing. Tories and Europe.
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