Week Nineteen: 2022

Theatre or cinema? Live or celluloid?

I enjoy both but what separates one from the other is the quality of the enjoyment. And it might be the story, the acting, the setting or the company. And while I’ve been surprised many times, I’ve also had my fair share of disappointments.

In the last three days I visited the National Theatre on the South Bank of the Thames – it’s more on the east bank given how the meander has unravelled at that point but I’ll stop being a pendant in a moment – and more prosaically an Everyman cinema in Crystal Palace.

In terms of ambience, comfort and surprise the Everyman wins hands down. We sat on a sofa, had food and drinks brought to us and no numpty decided to wobble past us when, had he gone in the other direction he would have had an empty row to imagine the toes he could reorganise.

The National, for those that don’t know it, is a brutalist lump of cubes. The exterior makes you grateful the action is inside. Another, now long gone 1950s development from the same school of ‘fuck the aesthetics, see how cheap we can make it’ architects was once described by Prince Charles along these lines. ‘Say what you like about the Luffwaffe, at least they only replaced what they knocked down with inoffensive rubble unlike the developers of Paternoster Square’. The inside has more to hide the concrete and the auditoria are functional.

The play – the Father and the Assassin – reimagined the life of the Hindu nationalist who assassinated Gandhi in 1948 – shortly after independence and the catastrophe of partition. How can someone, the playwright posited, go from reverence to hatred and believe their destiny lay in the death of one of the 20th century’s great men? It was an engaging history lesson, with perhaps too much understandable exposition for it to be a totally engrossing production. Was it his upbringing – his parents feared for his life as their previous sons had died early and his sisters lived so brought him up as a girl – the abuse that saw him portrayed as the incarnation of a female god and support the family; was it the inherent injustices of growing up under the last days of British Colonialist control; was it the seduction by those who saw the end of Empire as the beginning of the real conflict between Hindu and Muslim forces? We were asked to make up our own minds and it is easy to see that little by little all played their part.

The context led almost inexorably to that shooting. It was, I thought, nicely ambiguous. Not a great play but a perfectly enjoyable evening and a healthy reminder of the appalling consequences of what happened when independence was granted in 1947.

In contrast the film was utter fluff. Downton Abbey: A New Era. I admit to being a bit of an addict of the TV series. That said, like all successful TV series they eventually out-grandiose themselves. By the end Downton was churning out enough scandals to place it alongside East Enders for egregious events occurring to a small group of people.

By leaving a gap and only needing a couple of storylines to make it engaging, this Downton returned to its tea and scones, antimacassars and aspidistra roots. Say what you like about Julian Fellowes, he does nail time and place. This story, set in 1930, had Team Grantham in need of some roof fixing cash and a strange bequest of a French villa to the Dowager Violet to kick us off. Cue lots of impressive piles, Cricket and croquet, and clunky dialogue. There was the whiff of old scandal, a fin de siecle sense of ‘this too shall pass’ and a welcome inclusion of all the old favourite faces. If you’ve enjoyed Downton the TV then you’ll like this well enough; if you’ve missed it so far, then don’t start here. And is it worth all the luxury of an Everyman cinema? Probably not; maybe add it to a cosy post Christmas snoozefest- if you doze off you’ll not lose the plot…

We ended the weekend titivating the top lawn. It’s the most difficult to keep looking good but it warrants the effort.

As long as we avoid any drought….

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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27 Responses to Week Nineteen: 2022

  1. Thanks for the “buyer beware” on Downton Abbey. I came into the TV series late and had to cram the first three years into a couple of weekends catching up on the internet. Beyond the end of the series, I’ve not been tempted by the silver screen offerings, Dog, Dog, you is a heart thump hog! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The Downtown Abby hype here is ferocious. Glad I don’t have to go now. No thought to drought.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. JT Twissel says:

    As much as I love Maggie Smith, DA devolved into a soap opera around the second season. So I’ll pass!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. KL Caley says:

    Busy weekend. Never caught Downton although I’ve been recommended it many times as I do like a historical series (The Crown is very good). They are currently building an Everyman cinema in Northallerton, not too far from us, so that should be enjoyable. KL ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  5. At least the tennis ball has survived pretty well. I see Dog didn’t fancy a shower!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Rachel M says:

    I’d quite like to get rid of our lawn completely and plant it with things. It feels like a waste to me and something of a monoculture. I’m just not sure I’m artistic enough to pull it off.

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      I battle with the notion it would be far better as a wildflower meadow!/orchard and the joy I gain from primping it! I expect while my back holds up I’ll be carting topsoil around!
      PS tried your date/nut balls yesterday. Delicious. They’re in the freezer as I’m going to dip in chocolate before dipping in coconut and mixed nuts. The perfect after dinner treat! Thanks.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Rachel M says:

        Ooo yum, dipped in chocolate sounds delicious!

        I love the idea of a meadow/wildflower lawn too but whenever we stop mowing our lawn it just looks like a hideous overgrown mess. It’s never the beautiful wildflower meadow you see in pictures. I thought I’d try planting some creeping thyme on it instead to see how that grows and looks.

        Liked by 1 person

      • TanGental says:

        We’ve just seeded a section with camomile to strengthen it and hopefully create a powerful scent. I’ll post how it goes…


  7. Your usual good reviews – and description of the ugly National

    Liked by 1 person

  8. noelleg44 says:

    Clearly, Dog is appreciative of your efforts! I do intend to see the Downton Abbey film – maybe after Top Gun 2 – I do enjoy a bit of tea and crumpets now and then!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. V.M.Sang says:

    The trouble with an extended series is the need the producers feel to carry it on beyond its sell by (or even consume by) date. So many seem to end up being disappointing. They start running out of ideas, and thus get far too ‘inventive’.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Elizabeth says:

    Nice to see the lawn is wedding ready. Since both of yours are happily paired, maybe you can rent the space out.LOL

    Liked by 1 person

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