Friday, October 22, 2004

West End Girl

I have discovered the joy of cheap standby theatre tickets. Yesterday We Will Rock You was sold out – I suspect I'll have the chance to see it in Australia anyway - so I grabbed a ticket to Les Miserables instead. My seat was pretty good, in the Dress Gallery (one level above the stage) and a little to the side. I already knew most of the songs and the basic storyline, but I think I was expecting to find more storyline in it, upon finally seeing the whole musical. In the way that musicals sometimes do, it seemed a bit disjointed, and some parts were a bit slow. That said, I did enjoy it, especially the big numbers like Do you hear the people sing, and Master of the house. The cast were excellent, and the costumes and set design were fantastic.

When I saw Phantom of the Opera in Melbourne (wow, I just realised that was twelve years ago), we were in the top tier of seats, waaaaay above the stage, and in the foyer we hired opera glasses so that we could see the costumes and facial expressions. West End theatres go one better, or at least the two that I've now been inside, with the opera glasses available attached to the backs of the seats, released by coin like an airport trolley. I didn't need them but I liked the idea that you don't have to decide before you go in, if you think you will want them.

But today….today was the day. Christian Slater in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest!!! I only found out yesterday that it was on, because I walked right past the theatre, the Gielgud, on my way to Queen's Theatre for Les Miserables. They told me there would always be standby tickets for the matinee, and how right they were. Fantastic seat (also half price), almost in the middle, 14 rows from the front, in the stalls, down at stage level. Spitting distance, for a particularly good spitter. Boy did I enjoy this show. Wow. I believe the appropriate word might be… (could it be?) Wahoo! You can keep your hobbitses and your elves, and your Michael Crawfords too. Go on, comment, tell me how jealous you are!

Oh yeah, and the play was excellent. Nurse Ratched (Frances Barber) was fantastically evil, and Billy Bibbitt was played wonderfully by Mackenzie Crook from The Office and Pirates of the Carribean. Actually a lot of the cast was made up of stand-up comedians rather than established stage actors, and there were lots of laughs, at least until the latter parts where it moves more towards tragedy.

What else have I done lately?

I've seen the deer in Richmond Park. I've visited my uncle and aunt in Guildford, and seen the main sights there including new bits (university) and old bits (ruined castle, old churches and town buildings). The town has a charming main street, and a terrible traffic problem. But I gather that's not uncommon.

I've been to the Tate Modern, which I really warmed to, after a slow start. For some types of modern works, such as Andy Warhol's Brillo Box, and Dali's lobster phone, nothing much is added when you see them in a gallery, having already seen them as photos in a book. But others, such as Picasso's drawings, prints and paintings are absolutely worth seeing 'in the flesh'.

I've seen the giant computer shop construction where I think Kensington Market used to be. This was where the coolest threads could once be bought, from Roger Taylor and Freddie Mercury at their clothes stall.

Da Vinci Code sightings are way down. One being read in the Eurostar terminal in Paris – could have been another English person. Copies for sale in Schipol airport in the Netherlands but no actual sightings of people reading it.

I've been shopping, and discovered the Halloween seems to be a bigger thing here, or at least, so the shops would have you believe.

I'm less of a supermarket geek than I used to be, but I've still taken some supermarket geek notes, for those who care. Range of types of trolleys, including one for use with wheelchairs. Optional self service checkouts. Checkout operators generally sit on stools. You pack your own bags. Beer is cheaper in the supermarket than orange juice. (this could make breakfast more interesting). Alcohol is sold in the supermarket, not in a separate section. There's a huge range of pre-prepared meals.

There's more to say, but time's up for now. Off to beautiful Cornwall tomorrow. Sayonara sugars.

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