What reading!By Ralph McAllister in London
Newspapers ,through the letter box every morning, mean that it is well nigh impossible to get out of the house quickly as The Times and The Guardian are crammed with quality and quantity and deserve attention over breakfast, stretching to morning coffee and, sometimes, through almost to lunchtime.
Where else can I get detailed analysis of Suarez and his three bites and you’re out?
- Or England poor England and its latest defeats in cricket ,rugby and football?
- Or find out what Michael Billington thinks of the latest production by 89-year-old Peter Brook?
- Or the latest court decisions on phone tappers and their ‘innocent’ employers?
Yes, life is indeed short and the latest Michael Arditti novel must wait until the peace and calm of my next international flight.
For you see it is not only newspapers that distract.
Even my darling hosts in London are still waiting to see the productions.
I bowled along an hour before both shows and got front row dress circle seats each time. I was nervous about what might be done to the novels but I need not have worried.
Stunning acting, fluid scene changes and production values of the highest order made for a very brief and compelling six hours over two evenings, in the Aldwych, one of my favourite London theatres.
King Lear not good
I wish I could say the same about the National Theatre’s King Lear starring Simon Russell Beale. I doubt I have ever sat so dry-eyed through a performance of this great play ,as I did the other night.
Much of the dialogue was inaudible, Edgar and the three sisters seemed to be in different plays, and Beale did nothing to change my mind about his less than engaging acting.
I remember well his Iago in Wellington some years ago when he was, perhaps, thinking of the trip home. Sam Mendes offered a sloppiness in direction which one does not usually associate with him.
The best part of the evening was rubbing shoulders, almost literally, with Derek Jacobi, in the interval.
He, of course, gave a moving interpretation of Lear only last year at the Donmar, and I couldn’t help wondering if he went backstage at the end of the evening, and what he might have said.
The wonderfully creative Henri Matisse
Then to exacerbate the situation on the non-reading front, there was the visit to Tate Modern to see a hugely interesting exhibition of Henri Matisse and his Cut-outs.
Unable to paint conventionally for the last 16 years of his life, he took to discovering the world of paper and methods of cutting and shaping.
Sound bizarre? It was then, and remains now, incredible to behold, but compulsive and brilliant.
And if you have never visited Tate Modern you have a major treat in store. If and when you get to this marvellous city.
Just don’t bother to bring a book!