Had several Miniaturists round yesterday afternoon for tea and cake, which was very pleasant and also a vivid reminder to me that the show is less than two weeks away. With my gift for organisation I have of course laid myself open to a daunting double-booking, seeing as B is now liable to go into labour any day. She passed the 37-week mark yesterday, so Buzz really is coming in for landing, and soon.
On successive nights last week I went to Sam Shepard's play at the Almeida (The Late Henry Moss) and the show by the Gardzienice Centre for Theatre Practices at the Barbican. I discovered this may have been a mistake on my part, and that my brain needs more than a day to ruminate on a play before the next one comes along to supplant it.
The Shepard was an admirable stab by director Michael Attenborough at creating one of these down-home, ingrained-with-sweat, dirty productions where everyone's compromised and guilt-laden. As we took our seats I teased a friend I was with, who's a Shepard fan, that as it was one of his there'd be a dead father and lots of drink. And lo there was (I knew so of course because I'd read a couple of reviews). But despite everyone's best efforts, I just didn't believe a word of it. I like Andrew Lincoln as an actor very much, but I didn't buy that he was capable of beating up his bigger brother in a fit of mourning rage. There were so many longeurs in the piece that it was hard to be 'up' for the moments when Shepard's writing took off. And I thought the two Mexican characters were stereotypical, albeit nicely played by Simon Gregor (who was also great in Almeida's previous show, The Hypochondriac) and the gloriously callipygous Flaminia Cinque (she takes a bath on stage and we see her bottom).
The Gardzienice group's show, direct from Poland, was an exploration of classical performance aesthetics, in two distinct halves. First half they had a bash at an impressionistic version of the Apuleius story, The Golden Ass (they called it 'Metamorphosis') though the story part of it was low on their agenda. The second half was a powerful take on the Elektra myth, prefaced by a fascinating lecture (complete with slides) on cheironomia, the language of gesture in Greek drama.
But as Michael Billington wrote brilliantly on the show and expresses in his review everything I'd like to, I'll pass you over to him. Though he doesn't say quite how attractive those Polish actresses were...