Reverse the Jelly Baby of the Neutron Flow

I interrupt my whinging and Bulgarian ethnic slurs to bring you news of this out-of-this-world experience: The Doctor Who Experience, to be exact. Also, seeing Dr Faustus at the historic Globe Theatre last night, which would otherwise be unrelated.

Originally, I learned about it when I was in Cardiff and saw a sign on an area map that there was a Doctor Who tourist trap near the Torchwood set/Millenium Centre. When Karen and I were in the area, we couldn’t find it. The signs were there, but the exhibition itself was not. When we got back to the hostel, I learned that it had been dismantled and moved as of April 1st. Crushing disappointment.

Yesterday, since I decided to spend the next 3-4 days left in London (more on this later, too) I needed to figure out something to do beyond sitting on the couch and watching shit BBC3 TV. I got the bright idea to check what was on in The Globe, and then I got distracted by reading about some article explaining how H&M can get away with stealing so many prints from, like, Anna Sui or Diane von Furstenberg, which actually doesn’t interest me in the least. While on this page, it was hard not to notice a blinking advertisement that said “CAN YOU FLY A TARDIS?” The rest is history… It was showing at the Olympia 2 in Kensington. I booked a “Silver Package Adult Ticket” for 12pm on Friday where I get a tour and a whole bunch of fun stuff included (lanyard, signed certificate, poster, book, etc.) WEE.

 I left here at 10:30am because I was so nervous about getting there on time. (It was fine. St Johns to Cannon Street, District Line to Kensington (although I got off at the wrong Kensington and had to hoof it from there.)) I knew I was in the right spot when I saw a TARDIS lurching out of the side of the Olympia like some weird crash site. The guys in the reception area knew immediately that I was there for the exhibition (because nothing else was going on) and I even went into an elevator with, like, a real bellboy/elevator man.
There’s a mini walkthrough with the sets from the Hungry Earth/Cold Blood episodes. I took a picture of two frightened schoolgirls in exchange for them taking a picture of me with a Silurian. The old gentleman who was the main chaperone was hilarious and we ended up bonding over the Weeping Angels. That sounds weird. You know what else is weird? Hearing ten-year old children yelling “I WANT TO SEE THE WEEPING ANGELS. AND DALEKS! EXTERMINATE, EXTERMINATE, SEEK AND DESTROOOOYYYYYY.” It gave my heart like a deep cardiac plunge of joy to hear this stuff. To make it even better, I was the only ticketholder for 12pm who wasn’t a member of this large school group, so I pretended I was with them for over half an hour. As a result, I got to touch some stuff and linger longer in some areas. After a while, they figured out I wasn’t with them. Still.

We watched this pre-simulation video from Matt Smith about the crack in the Universe, which ROTATED ON THE SCREEN and the screen split vertically to let you walk into the Starship UK set. Whilst we don our “radiation goggles,” Matt Smith comes on the screen again and explains the dilemma he’s in as THE TARDIS MATERIALIZES IN FRONT OF US. I mean, it was hidden behind a gauzy screen but I was standing next to a Smiler the whole time and wanted to get the hell out of there. Thus, we walked through the TARDIS policebox doors and into one of the actual sets of the interior with an actual TARDIS console that beeped and booped and had a moving floor to simulate flight/disaster. The mock-dilemma escalates in mock-emergency because we were under a Dalek invasion, so we literally ran into the next room, me feeling as excited and young as these shrieking ten year-olds. In the next room, though, I was standing near a wall where an animatronic Dalek just came out and pointed at me to scan our brains. You watch the TV show and wonder how something that looks like an overturned bin with knobs on it could possibly destroy the whole of the Universe, but when this Dalek pointed its little plunger-and-whisk combo at me, I almost shit my pants. Of course the Doctor saves the day, and then the staff realized I wasn’t with the school group, so I had to go my own way onto the last of the exhibit.

Here, there were really valuable pieces from the entirety of Doctor Who, including the ENTIRE Doctor wardrobe with models, dating back to 1963. I almost reached out to touch Tom Baker’s scarf and David Tennant’s trench coat. Almost. I didn’t want to get kicked out. An American guy took a picture of me with a Matt Smith wax figure and I took a picture of him with the row of Daleks. His iPhone had a TARDIS screen on it, to give you an idea of the fandom surging around the memorabilia in this room. Some kids were playing in the shell of a Dalek and I was taking MySpace-like pictures of myself with the gasmask little boy a la ARE YOU MY MUMMY. There were models of Slitheen, Judoon, Oods, some other things I’ve never even watched yet.

The gift shop was unreal. As I later told Liz, I nearly bought lifesize cardboard cutouts of the TARDIS or a Weeping Angel, but checked myself. 1) I can’t fit them in my suitcase and 2) if we ever had an apartment together, a Weeping Angel is the last thing you want to see in the dark when it’s 4am and you wake up really needing a pee. So I bought some Dalek expandable towels and a Cyberman mask for myself instead of blowing dozens of pounds on DVD sets, comics, books, Adipose stress-relief dolls, reproduction Sonic Screwdrivers, or Dalek bubble bath.
It was truly amazing. Despite my utter devotion, though, I felt weird walking around Kensington by myself, clutching a big white bag that said DOCTOR WHO EXHIBITION on the side. I walked into a Sainsbury’s and bought chicken breasts and avocados just to have one of the orange Saino’s bags to cover my purchases. Dumb.

This all brings me strangely roundabout to the Globe last night, where I finally saw my first stage production of Dr Faustus instead of having to read it or– Lucifer forbid– read it out loud in a class of freshmen. I had the utmost pleasure in seeing the role of Mephistopheles acted by none other than Dr Who’s companion Rory, Arthur Darvill (“in real life.”) It’s like the role was written for him. Imagine Darvill as Roman Centurion Rory in his grief and rage as he shoots Amy, and that was EXACTLY how Mephistopheles was portrayed. Darvill went the route of utter remorse and frankly looked like some brooding Conor Oberst of the Underworld with the arms folded, leaning against a pillar and trudging to do Faustus’ biddings. It was hilarious, but it was also really powerful to watch this guy who played the most wishy-washy whipped Dr Who companion become a screaming demon in a doublet and enormous shoes.
Faustus was quite good without being too obnoxious, although I think he giggled a bit too much. Robin was also really good. I didn’t think his character was all that funny in the text, but the actor definitely clowns very well.
Darvill looked up into my balcony and I thought I’d faint from the tortured look on his face.
The spectacles of the play were amazing, with these dragons carcasses and furred demons on stilts. To my complete delight, the last spectacle consisted of the entire cast manipulating these bloody dead bodies being tortured in hell, and Mephistopheles and Faustus were playing rock renditions of the song ON THE LUTE.

I was sitting next to three Californians in the middle gallery, second row. The guy only started talking to me after I’d had a moderately-priced-but-still-revolting-Budweiser (or maybe I talked to him first because of that.) He said they run their own outdoor theatre company in California, yet he couldn’t remember the name to The Two Gentlemen of Verona after he described the plot to me. I told him about The Two Gentlemen of Lebowski but he stared at me blankly for a bit until the bell rang for the end of intermission. He couldn’t understand what I was doing there and where I was from, whether Central Jersey, North Jersey and did I permanently move to England? I think he was a bit slow in that Californian way.
Also, there were two high school-aged tour groups there, one from China and one from Italy.
The leader of the Italian tour group sat next to me during my solitary beer and tried to soothe her charges. “Gianna, do you like the play so far?” And this girl Gianna, whatever, stereotypical Italian name said, “Yes, but my English is not good enough. I do not understand everything.” The teacher lady just shrugged and, I guess, comforted her with “Neither do I. I don’t understand a lot of it because it’s not really English.”
I was like, OF ALL REMARKS TO MAKE WHILE SITTING NEXT TO ME. Let it flow over me and yell in my head “WTF, WHY ARE YOU–, ARE YOU–, HUHHHHHH.” At least they have the sense to try and enjoy it rather than to, like, talk on the phone or clip their toenails the whole time. Which I saw others do. Talk on the phone, I mean.

Overall, I’m pleased with the collective £60 I spent on a most excellent 24 hours of enlightening endeavors.


Fog is the sweat of the never never navvies…

This trip so far has been an extreme vacation of extraordinary costs. I just came back from Amsterdam yesterday morning but I think I’ll do that in a separate post…

Up until now, things have been okay. Some things have changed, but it’s much the same as it was two years ago.
The house is a hulking stone thing from the 1850s with these worn-down steps covered in little purple flowers. It’s impossible to imagine it as a one family home, because it’s enormous; the house is now subdivided into four flats and we occupy the top two floors. Basically it’s a garret by another name. To say it is drafty is an understatement. Weird fuzzy crap keeps blowing in through my skylight. By day, cats walk around the street. By night, you can hear the foxes raping each other in the wood across the street. (This is not a jest– google it, it has something to do with the canid family.)

I think I’m home by myself at the moment, which means I can’t necessarily leave. The girl who’s renting her room to me failed to leave her door keys behind, so if I leave, I can’t return until Karen or Emily is home. So I’m sitting here, writing up lists, and eating a cheese sandwich. My room’s quite large, with a bed, dresser, and wardrobe. My greatest regret is that I have no bedside table. Well, okay, I do, but it consists of two stacked cardboard boxes. I doubt it can bear the weight of my DAVID TENNANT MUG.

Last night after Laura and Karen left for the airport, we parted ways at London Bridge and I went up to Charing Cross. I had well over an hour to waste after I picked up my ticket for Much Ado About Nothing and sat in a cafe to get out of the rain. And here my notes resume:
It’s hard to believe I was in Amsterdam last night, Calais and Dover this morning, and now I’m sitting in a cafe in Leicester Square. Yesterday, I was walking around the Van Gogh museum, sort of crying to myself, and trying to find that one painting (which I found out is hanging at the Orsay.) So, there’s that. And now I’m staring at wilted tiger lilies, drinking tea and eating a proper scone with clotted cream, etc. Assimilation is fun! Now I simply have to wait for this Polish man to stop staring at me and for time to pass so I can go lurk in front of the theatre. I am mindblown that I’ll be in the same room as David Tennant and Catherine Tate. Together. Falling in love. Which, if anything, is definitely something they failed to do in Doctor Who, thank God?
Oh, I forgot to mention that I had a serious dilemma on the way here. While walking by St. Martin-in-the-Fields church, I saw they were doing a large orchestral thing with HENRYK GORECKI for only £10, starting at 6:30. My show started at 7:30, so I seriously contemplated sitting there for an hour in hopes that Gorecki would come on in the beginning, but I decided to go straight for David Tennant. I hope I didn’t regret that decision.

I don’t have enough words of praise for Much Ado About Nothing, except that I completely understand those vintage reels displaying girls screaming over the Beatles while they disembarked. When Benedick and Beatrice kissed, I screamed. I was also one of two people to give them a standing ovation on the first round of applause. They came out three more times after that for everyone else’s applause, but I have that to remember.
The staging was really interesting– a rotating circular stage with four movable pillars to mark scene changes. It also provided a really interesting  depth to the blocking in some scenes. The setting was sort of “80s cruise ship party” and the music was all incredibly dorky, bloopity British 80s. I saw David Tennant in drag, David Tennant covered in white paint, and David Tennant in an naval officer’s uniform, which is enough for any girl. Catherine Tate was the perfect casting for Beatrice. Perfect. And of course, their energy together was even greater than it was on Doctor Who… OH OH OH and when Benedick was trying to compose a song for Beatrice (which he did on a mini keyboard keytar thing) he was staring up at me in the balcony. No big deal.

So people can take cracks at London or shake their heads confusedly at what I’m doing here, but I’m perfectly content to lay here on my bed right now and watch the clouds pass over my head. It’s sort of like… Europe has different air, different pacing, a certain austerity at times that’s quite frightening. Each city is a different color, kind of. London would have to be a pearlescent grey. Amsterdam would be a sunny, slow orange or maybe a rich sunflower yellow. (No, Amsterdam would not green. Don’t be retarded.) Paris would be a really bitchy royal blue.  I’ll think more on this.

After freezing my ass off all night, I woke up this morning and moved my pillows to discover that someone had left £80 pounds under them. I was visited by a fairy godmother! Actually, it was Laura Bates who seemed to feel like she owed me something for her stay here. She is incorrect, although I do owe her sister 31 quid. So, there’s that.
On to writing about Amsterdam!


Woke up 2 hours early for no particular reason. Did laundry, read the newspaper, ate breakfast. I was going to say that “I made myself an English breakfast this morning,” but it’d be sort of untrue. Tea and eggs and toast and mushrooms. Mostly mushrooms.
Another thing to miss: going to market.
Yesterday, Chris and I went to Lewisham Shopping Centre for bric-a-brac and what-have-you, and we stopped to buy some veg. Having been craving mushrooms, I bought a bowl (because these things come in bowls.)
We stood at the table for a long time, deliberating over which bowl to choose while ruddy people shouted Cockney garbage at each other.  The woman poured the bowl of mushrooms into a plastic bag and asked me for 1 pound. ONE QUID for nearly TWO KILOS of Portobello mushrooms. Holy crap. I can’t even cook that much at one time, much less eat all of it.
I should’ve bought tomatoes as well.

 Dylan Thomas sort of said Wales was the chosen land, but England could be included too. Aaand everyone knows it. “New York is great but London is the greatest city in the world” said someone raised in Gloucester.
People are less judgemental than in France, anyway, which is probably more beautiful, if we’re to judge by aesthetics. London is comprised of so many foreignors that no one really knows we’re you’re from until you open your mouth.

I don’t think it’s all that mad that Under Milk Wood just springs up unbidden in my mind. Sitting on the 453 at dawn, the back of my mind said “The principality of the sky lightens now” like he’s narrating my life from the grave. Cool, right?
As I sit in my room with my snowglobe and blow bubbles–>
I’ve made my choice and am left to regret my decision.

Last night, I watched 101 Dalmatians. The movie is so much better now that I can recognise places in the movie. I mean, yes it’s Disney and yes it’s animated, but they included famous places and tossed about slang like it’s no big deal/like it wasn’t written for 6-year old kids.
Right off the bat: Regent’s Park, St Paul’s Cathedral, Camden Town, etc.
Between the lines: the 2 criminals are watching a TV show called “What’s My Crime?” It looks A LOT like Question Time, although I doubt Question Time existed in the 60s when the film was animated. That’s something I’ll have to research. [edit: No, Question Time was introduced in 1979.] But when they break into the house, the criminals make up some bull about a new Act issued by Parliament in order to get inside. They yell about how no one cares about Parliament and Scotland Yard is useless. Durf.

There were times when I actually laughed out loud just from watching. I guess this all went over my head when I was still more interested in the daily adventures of Barney.

1) Tonight is the last Taco Tuesday for our group. After Christmas, we’re going to reconvene at Andy’s house (if it’s okay with Marc and Celia) to have a Taco Navidad. Gam will be in Wisconsin or something, so we’re going to set her up a place and Skype her.
2) Tomorrow is the CEA Christmas dinner and then Othello with our Shakes. class. I’m really excited about Othello, because I’ve never seen it, and because Lenny Henry (a British COMEDIAN) is acting Othello. He was half-trained at RADA, I think, so this will either be really interesting or really bad.
3) Thursday is the Christmas dinner, for which I’m either going to make pumpkin spice bread or kiflis/kolaches. Whatever I don’t make for this will be made for the following morning.
4) Friday is the Shakes. class Christmas party and viewing of our films. (Ours is completed, and runs about 16 minutes long. It was supposed to be 3 minutes long, but it’s just SO FUNNY.)
5) The weekend is up for grabs, but people start leaving. Not only am I going to be the last person to leave out of our group, but also out of our flat. I was the first one to arrive back in September. Think about that one.

On Being Realistic

Emily Carroll will be in Heathrow airport in 8 hours, so I think I’m going to pick her up. Not only is that a terribly nice and friendly thing to do, but it’ll also give me a feel for how long it’ll take me to get there when I need to do it by myself… in 25 days.

Taking the tube to Heathrow is going to suck, no mistake about it. I should look into taking a train from one of the main stations, but I also need to consider how I’m going to be hauling a backpack and two suitcases (one of them old, unruly, and wheel-less from the 1970’s.) Definitely not the suitcase I would’ve brought, had I realized its wheel-lessness in time.
I might buy a new one from Jubilee Market Hall, if it’s okay with you, Mom. I know it was yours, so maybe you’re sentimentally attached to it.

For my personal reference:
Trip #1: train to London Bridge, Northern to King’s Cross, Piccadilly to Heathrow.
Trip #2: train to London Bridge, Northern to Monument, District to Acton Town, Piccadilly to Heathrow.
Trip #3: train to Charing Cross, Northern to Leicester, Piccadilly to Heathrow


Killer decisions: I’m not going to Barcelona with the rest of the gang in 2 weeks. I’m not sure if the entire “gang” is even going or that they can rightfully afford it. That’s fine. I keep telling myself that this isn’t the only time in my life that I’ll travel Europe, so if I say it out loud, it must be true to myself.
Poop on you, if you don’t believe me. This is where I one-up you and comfort myself: I’m a business major. Someone who will have a job, nyah nyah. But on a serious note, all that needs to be done is put money away every paycheck. Boom, that’s it. It’s what I’d been doing all summer at JCPenney and I made enough there to be able to come here for 3 months even without my loan refund money.

While it’s going to kill me that they’ll come back from Barcelona spouting about how they had such a good time and the weather was great, sabuh-da, I don’t want to “do” Barcelona in only a day and a half. Instead, I’ll be seeing Twelfth Night and going to Stratford with my Shakespeare class.
Such is my serious hysterical devotion to this class.

Yesterday, after our typical 3-hour chat, we reconvened at 2pm to take a walk to Christopher Marlowe’s grave in Deptford. We took turns libating and left quality chocolate after having a quiet sort of (hilarious) ceremony.
After that, we hop-scotched over to this bizarre statue on an English midget covered in flies next to a very tall Russian man with a tiny head. (Peter the Great)

After a snack-like dinner at The Gipsy Moth in Greenwich, Dyanna and I decided that now would be the greatest time to see New Moon. No one else wanted to come… I wonder why?

As we should’ve guessed, the 6pm showing was sold out. This nice lady put our names on the top of a waiting list (how embarrassing) and we had another snacky dinner at the tapas restaurant attached to the picturehouse. Great tapas. Fantastic.
At 6:10, we got okay seats and settled down. The movie that ensued was so awful that I gave up writing a review in my head about 15 minutes in. I literally could not think of words to describe how I felt about it. The cinematography was awe-inspiringly bad.
However, gauging the audience’s reactions was pure joy. The gasps and cries would follow our chortling reactions by an entire second, which I found odd . . . As if the teeny-boppers had no idea what was coming next. Aside from drooling all over their copies of Stephenie Meyer’s bull and reading it like a bible, the movie is formulaic. Get a clue.

Five noteworthy things I concede to:
1) The soundtrack was really good when it wasn’t Muse
2) Greatest ending scene. Shitty predictable dialogue and it went to credits.
3) I was entertained, but there was something sordid about it
4) The actor for Jacob got seriously ripped.
5) For stemming from books with strong messages against pre-marital sex, the director took a bit of liberty with the whole let’s-make-out/let’s-not-make-out/but-let’s-share-a-bed/walk-outside-naked-in-the-sun thing.

When I was standing off the queue for the toilet, these British girls were like “Well, she [Kristen Stewart] has no personality, I don’t like her. . . aaaand she’s a bitch.” Imagine this in an English accent and you can understand why I was close to having mirthful tears rolling down my face.
And not that I have reason to defend Kristen Stewart, but I’m 90% sure both of them were high the entire filming of the movie.

I’d like to see it again with Liz. I’d probably pee my pants.

vindicta mihi!

I know I should get on about Dublin, Amsterdam, Brussels and Paris, seeing as it was over a week ago. (Well, not Paris. That was 4 days ago.) Other things have been happening.

As I said, I snagged a free ticket to see War Horse on Wednesday. On Thursday night, my Shakespeare’s London professor took us to see a production of Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy at the Arcola Theatre.
Disclaimer: if you are unfamiliar with The Spanish Tragedy, none of this will make sense to you. My review would’ve been different on Thursday night, but we talked about it during class yesterday morning. Thus, I’m stealing some opinions.

First off, the Arcola is a pain in the ass to get to. It’s on a side street in Dalston and you feel like you might be stabbed if you dawdle too long in the wrong direction. The Arcola did have a fantastic cafe in the box office, though.

The show was fantastically directed, but a little over-conceived on some accounts. I didn’t think it detracted from the show at all, but other people in my class did. I. Loved. It. Plus, it was flawlessly adapted AND I had a front row seat. (Not that it mattered much, for reasons to be discussed later.)

Revenge was manifested as an 11-year old girl swinging an axe in a pink dress and mary janes. The first dumb show put on my Hieronimo was a black box sketch that made me snort. (Overconception #1.) It ended by a character being dismembered, and it was one person per limb, which was impressive. Probably a waste of energy and rehearsal time, but great nonetheless.

I also really liked the director’s interpretation of the final spectacle, particularly during Lorenzo’s death. I didn’t think they’d ACTUALLY do the “play” in all four languages (Italian, French, Greek, and Latin) but they did.
Horatio’s death was insane. He was left hanging upside-down on stage for a good five minutes. Imagine how light-headed he must’ve felt when we got pulled down…
Hieronimo’s video montage of his son at the end was a little unsettling (Tidmarsh later told us they were “taking the piss out on Katie Mitchell” to which we said “they did who to what?”) Hieronimo’s madness in one of his extended monologues about “what it a son” was really moving– especially when he was staring right at me. When I referred back to the text later, I couldn’t find it. I guess it was added in. Unfortunate.

Unfortunate moments:
1) Joe and I had a wide glimpse of Isabella’s commando crotch during her great suicide scene. I guess the actress figured she could represent a loony mother best by wearing a slip (and only a slip.) She did the madness movingly, but she was flopping about a bit too much for my heterosexual taste.
2) Because the Viceroy of Portingale was standing in our way, we couldn’t get a clear view of Hieronimo’s suicide. We did, however, get an upfront view of Hieronimo biting out his own tongue and spitting it on the floor. (They left it laying on the floor after the show. It looked a bit like a pig tongue.)
3) The end scene had blood spilling off the desk and splashing onto the floor, which was a great effect. The sound effects were mostly subconscious but all brilliant. The fire alarm during Balthazar’s murder was a little too jarring. People were freaking out about whether it was “real” or not, and I was thoroughly convinced it was because Hieronimo grabbed a stage lackey by the neck and threw him. They would’ve legally had to stop the show and wait for fire trucks to come before they could resume. I didn’t realize this until later.

I give the actors credit because
1) they probably didn’t get paid and
2) it was a really difficult space to fill. Instead of a proscenium stage, they had to occupy a transverse. That is, a stage that splits the audience into two groups stretched along the walls, facing each other. Who am I kidding? It wasn’t a stage. We were in a black warehouse studio with a garage door and four fire exits.

Lots of blood and death, yet I loved it.
If it wasn’t in Dalston, I’d go back again and see it by myself.

my face
Fuh. I made crepes for class yesterday morning.
We talked about containment and Jung. AGAIN.
Set my thoughts a-rolling.

Emily invited me to go with her to the jazz festival happening in town tonight, but I think I’m getting sick. It’s that time of the year. Main brand chicken soup over here sucks. Makes me a little homesick.
Here’s the odd part . . . I know when I go home, I’m going to miss: PASTIES; treacle and pudding; Strongbow or Strongbow-with-black; the accessibility of things like fish & chips or Afro-Caribbean accoutrements (tamarind paste); EVERYTHING blackcurrant-flavoured (which has been outlawed in the US). I’ll have to make my own pasties and wish for the best.

ALSO last night, aside from ziti and the rugby team, we got suited up and went to Venue down the street to check it out. We got in free since it was before 11pm and we had the dance floor to ourselves, which was both awkward and cool. There was a Blondie cover band on the second floor. I waited for them to play “Heart of Glass”, but instead I left. I plan on going back to Venue on December 11th to hear their Smiths cover band. Until then, these cover bands are lined up for the rest of 2009: Queen, Kings of Leon (people go CRAZY over them here.), ABBA (will definitely NOT attend), Arctic Monkeys, Robbie Williams, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Spice Girls, Tina Turner, The Killers, the Blues Brothers, and Queen B. Whatever.

I bought a POUND of chocolate (450g) for £2,50 yesterday. That’s $4 of delicious Cadbury Dairy Milk. Another thing I’ll miss: Cadbury vending machines. But for now, I’m eating fishcakes and mushy peas, readin’ The Information.
Load of b-b-bull.
Eating mushy peas with a fork is like trying to pick your nose with your pinky finger. Interpret that as you will. I don’t even know if it’s true; I just felt it needed to be said.

"mushy peas" by Natalie Dee
I’m fat.

Come on home…

…The poppies all are grown knee-deep by now.

I got to see a free West End show tonight. Daria texted me that her class had 3 extra tickets for War Horse, so I grabbed one and we all got to the Drury Lane theatre on time.

Act one was exceptional. Character exposition was okay, but I was so impressed with the horse puppets. (Each puppet took three people to control, and you could ride on them too.) I can’t imagine how long it took to block the play or how many times they had to perfect the movements and tics of the horses.
One of the characters was blown off his horse by a “mortar shell” at the end of act one, and I loved the way it was done: a flash, blackout, and then you see him backflip off of the horse, aided by a four-person lift. 

For a minimalistic play, it was well done.

Act two had a bit of unnecessary drama in it, but I can understand why: to wrap up the “heartfelt story part” of the play and make trench warfare a little more realistic. It was mostly climax and then no denouement, which left the Goldsmiths kids feeling bored. To really appreciate the play, it had to be viewed on at least three different levels: historical, theatrical entertainment, and the technical employment of the puppets/body language of the characters. (You gradually forgot that the horses were being controlled by 3 people. Those guys deserve an award– they had the toughest job of anyone on stage.)

The stage itself was unusually wide, and all black with a large horizontal ripped screen of white paper, which projected the countryside on it. Alternately, it showed the war charges or other extraneous information. I guess you could say the ripped paper representated a pure thing that can never be made whole again. You could say that.
Horse puppets, I already talked about. Loved ’em. During one part of act two, they brought on their interpretation of a tank which must’ve taken at least 6 people to manipulate. Very cool.
war horse

It really made me appreciate WWI like nothing else ever has before. (History Channel, my father, history classes, etc.) WWII wasn’t the only war ever fought that was atrocious, you know. WWI’s where everything changed. Try picturing riding a horse into a wall of machine guns, tear gas, and mortar rounds, armed only with a sabre and 140 rounds on a shitty rifle. And those who didn’t die came back like ghosts. 

Someone in our party said they felt no emotional connexions to the characters; you really had to forge ahead and make your own rather than have it shoved in your face, particularly in act one. Act two had more opportunity to connect, but it might’ve been too comical to take seriously.
Music was okay although, again, someone said it was too dramatic. He compared it to Howard Shore’s score for The Lord of the Rings. I disagree. A lot of the music were war marches from WWI.
Also, it was neat that part of the play was in three different languages and I understand all of the French and German. Yeah, I’m proud. Deal with it.

People around me kept hacking and sneezing and it made me want to puke. Completely distracting when I’m trying to watch this play. Both of the girls next to me kept coughing wetly in my direction when they weren’t twirling their hair or talking about what they ate for lunch or how hot the room was.
It was distracting and it was rude. A large group of disinterested young people. They’re the ones who have to discuss the play in their class. I kind of want to go back and see it again.

Overall, I left the theatre feeling enlightened, alarmed and disturbed at the general lack of intelligence in my age group, and more than a little disgusted at how many germs were coating my body.
I was pissed off by how bored the girls next to me were, and everyone’s general agreement that it was “ok” and not “important.” Then I was pissed at myself for feeling the need to be the devil’s advocate for this play.

To make matters worse, I experienced trouble with my Oyster cards in Holborn, so I assumed people went on without me and I set out by myself, relieved. I understand I was being irritable, but I couldn’t take another minute of farting around with 1) people I’ve spent the last twelve days with or 2) the girls who kept coughing on me / being baselessly judgemental.

“Why are people partying more than usual today?”
“Oh, it’s that veterans day… What they were talking about in the theatre before.”

Idiots. Jesus Christ.

During the curtain call, all of the actors came out wearing their poppies in support of the British legion. This was a little disorienting, as I remembered the poppies from French Canada referring to secession.

I am so tired of being a part of a group.
I need serious alone time.
However, blogging about my Euro-trip is not on my agenda.

Happy Thursday!

Sat at my kitchen table and read Hamlet in two hours.
I am a champion.

The Phoenix gig last night was cool.
Brixton has a nice-ish street of places to go, depending on what you want, but we didn’t see anywhere we REALLY wanted to go.
Mostly Brixton is just offensive-smelling halal butchers.
Walking past this one sidestreet for the 5th time, we spotted the SW9 Bar for dinner, where Andy tried an ostrich burger. I ordered, for the hell of it, a salmon fishcake that came with a poached egg. Didn’t really see the connection, but they tasted good together.
The place was packed. It must be the only happenin’ place to go at night in Brixton, so I’m glad we’d grabbed a table. The only truly awkward part about the place was that it sported an enormous painting of an orgy on the wall, which was also their bar logo. Unfortunately, I can’t find a picture of it on google, but it looked like it was painted by a retarded child in kindergarten. 

At least the O2 Academy wasn’t hard to find.
The opening band, Chairlift, was cheesy indeed, but I liked them. Good dance music. I spent the majority of their set bopping up and down, gaping at the venue itself, and wondering how in hell the lead singer’s dress was held up. (Magic? Tape? Boning?)

Forgive my lack of architectural knowledge when it comes to the stage. It had this crazy proscenium arch that had to be almost 100 feet high, with this… Italian villa-like  protrusion. I know this is a terrible picture, but take a gander:
Academy Brixton stage  
You can’t even see the tiny little people on stage.

Phoenix had a crazy lightshow. There was a poster that basically warned epileptic people of strobes lights, but I was not prepared for this. I was initially afraid it would be boring, because the lead singer doesn’t play an instrument; I’ve seen some bands where they just stand there, mic in hand. (Cough, sometimes Ed Droste from Grizzly Bear.) But it was awe-inspiring how Phoenix could command a “bajillion” people to get on their feet and throw their hands up in the air, laughing. That’s another thing– they resort to really corny, old-school methods of crowd involvement, but they actually pull it off. Or maybe it’s just because I’m in Europe and Europeans know very little about our American horse sense of what is “lame” or our inbred masked shame when it comes to public comportment.

I drank my first pint of Guinness during the show, which apparently is the “dessert of beers”. It wasn’t as awful as I had figured it would be, seeing as my mouth does not like beer.

WOO, this trip. Is it terrible that I’m also repulsed by the idea of wearing the same clothes over and over again? We’ll see how it goes, since I’m only bringing solid color things. All my pictures are going to be weird.