September 20, 2014
I’ve seen the film. Years ago of course, but remember the brooding Brando and the annoying Blanche who comes to stay with her sister and him in the steamy South. This Young Vic production gave me a different perspective altogether and I empathised completely with Gillian Anderson’s Blanche. The apartment is on a rotating stage in the round and for reasons beyond me it is set in a timelessness of somewhere in the late 20th century rather than the original post war era. That kind of jarred as the attitudes were still very much early 50s.
Anderson started as flirty, fragile and funny with some sharp cracks and coquettish behaviour. And regular snifters to keep her going. Her sister, Stella, accepts the appalling behaviour of her husband Stanley because the sex is so great with him and she enjoys the passion and volatility of their relationship. We have no idea of the personal backstory that led her to marry someone so beneath her social standing, but Blanche holds no punches telling Stella what she thinks of Stan. However, I don’t really feel we got see the menace, the animal magnetism, or relentless abuse and brutish behaviour that was referred to. Occasionally Stan would explode but it seemed to come out of nowhere rather than being a tinderkeg waiting to blow. Or it may be that Gillian Anderson was so much better than everyone else that their portrayals paled in comparison. Her desperation for affection and kindness were palpable and her determination for her world to be magical and joyous childlike. She had huge monologues which kept us captivated as she told the heart-rending tale of her doomed marriage and having to watch all her loved ones die.Stanley insists on telling his sensitive friend who had taken a shine to Blanche all about Blanche’s reality of having lost the family mansion and resorted to prostitution until being sacked as a schoolteacher for sleeping with a pupil and Mitch too abandons her. Later, Stella goes in to labour and Stanley rapes Blanche as if it were inevitable. Obviously this is the way to put a woman in her place. And then of course Blanche continuing to live there is untenable and they arrange for her to be carted off. It’s awful. Tragic. Pathetic. I wept as her illusory world shattered around her as her sister decided to side with her husband and the nurse tried to heave her up off the floor. Luckily a man came to her rescue. The doctor, gentle, caring offered her his arm so she could leave with dignity. She responded as a reflex and I could feel the gratitude as she hauntingly said she had “always relied on the kindness of strangers.” I don’t think it was Blanche living in a fantasy world, I think it was Stella and the only way she could maintain it was to obliterate Blanche from her life.
Five starts for Anderson, and four overall.
September 2, 2014
Someone asked me a couple of months ago if I could write an Ode for their niece. How nice was that? I’d never met her niece but apparently she was having a Bridal Shower (another American import??) and everyone had been asked to say a few words so my gym buddy asked me if I could jot down a few verses. I said I’d need some basic facts about the person in question and then I’d give it a go. But no promises on quality.
I thought it would be really difficult if I didn’t know them, but actually I was able to rattle something off fairly quickly with the information I was supplied with. Perhaps knowing less about the person whittles it down so much I have less to think about! what to put in. The event has now passed and I hear it went down well, so I share it with you all now. Perhaps I could run a sideline business writing Odes….
Ode on the Occasion of Anna’s Bridal Shower
And so we are all gathered now
On this sunny August day
To celebrate and raise a glass
Before the great big giveaway.
I know we wish your Mum were here
And she is, in all our hearts,
So let’s make this the finest bridal shower
Ever seen around these parts
Way back in 1988
She did bring you to our worlds
All large and round with big blue eyes
And a mop of raven curls.
You weren’t the easy, placid babe
On adverts far and wide,
No you bawled and screamed all day and night
You just cried. And cried. And cried.
But then you started blossoming,
Loving lots of cuddly toys,
It wasn’t till much later,
You swapped them all for boys.
At school you loved your sewing
And doing craft and art,
You got to go to Uni,
But didn’t like the writing part!
You preferred making, shopping, spending
Buying bags and shoes galore,
Whilst muggins here was working
To raise your dissertation score.
And also whilst at Uni,
You met your Mr Right,
The lovely Mr David Howe
Succumbed without a fight
You work all day at Marks and Sparks,
And design your own creations,
Is all that sewing inside legs,
Good for marital relations?
He’s so lucky to have got you,
You are kind and calm and fun,
You are beautiful from head to toe –
You are the knockout one.
We love you so much Anna
You are great in every way
Let’s raise our glasses one more time
For a fantastic wedding day.
September 1, 2014
So after the fabulous Shakespeare in Love, we walked up the road to Dishoom. A sophisticated curry house. The food was top notch. Really tasty, really tender and served by great staff. Expensive compared to your standard curry house because portions are smaller so you need more of them, but well worth it. The chicken tikka and garlic nan were the best ever. Apparently the prawns were even better. Not to mention the black daal. Mmmmm. And right in the heart of the West End so I know we will be returning. Five stars.