Saw Mission Drift at the National Theatre's temporary venue somewhat literally titled "The Shed", performed by New York ensemble The TEAM.
Tells two interlinked stories related to Las Vegas. One is about a casino worker laid off from her job and contemplating leaving town. The other is a kind of magical realist metaphor about two Dutch immigrants to New Amsterdam who agelessly chase a dream of wealth across America, building and burning business after business.
The story is told with music and dancing, narrated by a kind of cabaret singer Miss Atomic.
I definitely enjoyed it, there's plenty of entertainment value in the story and presentation. However it does feel a bit bombastic and didactic at times. Its a bit embarrassing how much demand there is for works by Americans that are critical of America: from the East India Company to Fred Goodwin, it's not like the UK is blissfully innocent when it comes to rapacious capitalism.
Overall though, pretty good.
Saw the much acclaimed Othello at the National Theatre.
Adrian Lester does a good job as Othello. I especially liked the early stages of his descent into jealous rage, especially one moment as he turns his back, then forces himself to act lovingly. I didn't think the scenery-destroying stuff worked so well: he throws a table over and punches a dent in a wall, but he has to be a bit obviously careful about it.
Rory Kinnear is superb as Iago though: evil but convincing. He appears bluff and honest in his dealings with others, and in the soliloquies appears to be consumed with jealousy himself, rather than purely malevolent. I saw his award-winning Hamlet here a while ago which was good too.
Has another clever National set. It's modern dress and mostly takes place in a Cyprus depicted as a familiar army base. There are concrete-looking walls, and a variety of container-sized modules which are slid in and out to be rec room, office, bedroom etc without any wasting time.
The show is heavily sold out, but I got a same-day ticket for a standing place right at the back for just £5. The good thing about being used to the Globe is that you can contemplate standing through three and a half hours of Shakespeare and think "great, I'm not going to get rained on".
Overall, great production, lives up to the review, well worth seeing.
What I'm Reading
Zahra's Paradise is an Iranian comic book, about a family searching for a lost son when he disappears in the protests after the 2009 election.
Good book, well drawn and emotionally powerful. Particularly liked the way it depicts the interminable bureaucracy, and the agonizing uncertainty of not knowing whether a loved one is alive or dead.
What I'm Reading 2
The Ouroboros Wave by Jyouji Hayashi. Japanese hard SF. Feels like a bit of an old-fashioned fix-up, it's a collection of novellas set over a long period, with various incidents along the life of a construction project where a small black hole is parked around Uranus for a power generation project.
Liked this a lot. Has some great ideas, some interesting science, and plots that make sense. The characters are a bit perfunctory in accordance with hard SF tradition
Definitely worth reading if you don't need explanations of what a Dyson sphere or a laser interferometer are, and like to read stories involving them. I'll be keeping an eye out for this author.
Socioeconomics. Patent Theory versus Patent Law, the Tabarrok curve. Poverty rose by 900,000 in coalition's first year. IFS study serves to rewrite UK narrative on pay, jobs and productivity. From non-jobs to non-businesses. Pensioners' incomes rising fastest.
Politics. Why we should care about surveillance. Why Sweden has riots. Inside the United States. 45 per cent of working people in Britain would fail to meet the income threshold to bring in a non-EEA partner. When the Bushies return. "For the president the war on terror is what the Vietnam War was to Lyndon Johnson: a vast, tragic distraction in which he must be seen to be winning". Electoral bias in 2010 UK election: "The strong advantage in 2005 held by Labour of a much smaller average vote per seat won was all but eliminated by 2010."
Video. Deshaked Star Trek. The adjustable cosmos (21min animated short). Bitchy Resting Face is a disorder that affects millions. Live street photoshop retouching. Troy McClure.
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