We went to the theatre last week to see Middle at the National.
As the name suggests, it’s the middle play of three. We missed the Beginning or the Start or the Commencement (I’ve not checked) which didn’t seem to matter. It’s a challenge writing something in parts and making each part standalone yet echo and foreshadow the other elements without overdoing the catch up. This managed it ok.
In this case the setting was domestic, the middle section of a marriage that was at a tipping point. The wife has decided it had come to an end, the husband wanted to avoid considering anything beyond the pork roast he planned on cooking the next day and so the jeopardy of the drama was established.
Some of it was a little stereotypical, trite almost, a lot thoughtful discussion belying the inherent difficulties in determining something had ended and having a neat explanation of why when the whys comprised nothing nuclear. Incremental breakdowns have no defining features, no stopping point. Sometimes, as here it seems that the lack of an inciting incident made it harder to handle than the crushing car crash of an affair would be.
The couple tried to talk but there was no territory that held firm long enough. It was painful and funny, too.
At one point the confused Gary despaired at his wife’s attempts to keep everything civilised as if such a catastrophe could be handled with grace. ‘We’re from Essex,’ he sighed. ‘We don’t do conscious uncouplings in Essex’… he looked wistful. ‘A few unconscious couplings, sure…’
At the end, as with the marriage itself, nothing was clear. Was it over or could it be saved? I’m guessing, as this was the Middle, it was the latter. Maybe not. It’ll make the Ending interesting if a little short, if it all finished in the Middle. In truth it was excellent and it didn’t really matter. They were muddled and they would keep on muddling.
Like so much in life.
Coming out of a play like that leaves me a bit discombobulated. I’m not sure what to think, I need to process things and so am not really in the frame of mind to be confronted by a new electronic barrier to exit the car park. I sat starting at the stand, looking where to put my ticket and failing to ascertain a slot while the peeps behind me told me to stop bring so senile. It was only as I moved my gaze to the mirror to glare behind me that I caught a glimpse of an open barrier. I drove through feeling (a) foolish and (b) nervous in case my delay caused the barrier to get bored and close on the car roof.
I was back hanging quilts on Saturday. The Textiliste will be curating another show in September but, meanwhile a charity she has worked for – Fine Cell – who teach prisoners to quilt enjoyed their 25th anniversary and hired Bell House, the venue of the Quilt Show, for a celebration. Naturally, given her knowledge of what works Mrs LP was inveigled into the organising which meant me and a ladder were called upon. I rather hoped that the quilt she managed from conception to completion as part of a V&A commission for their first quilt exhibition some years ago might feature.
Apparently, despite being manhandled by goodness knows how many clammed fingered cons while it was being made, now it has joined the V&A collection it costs several £000s to hire, you need to give at least a year’s notice and amongst other conditions when hung, it must be behind a Perspex screen. I am sure it’s absence was toasted.
Temperatures here soared into the low 30sC. To some that will seem chickenfeed. To we Brits, it’s Death Valley and Mercury rolled into one. Dog just can’t get it.