Monday, February 25, 2013

Molière with a Taste of Bollywood - Kanjoos the Miser at The Theatre Royal, Windsor.

 I really went 'the extra mile' to review this - in fact I travelled to Windsor, an hour from Waterloo.

I mistakenly thought this quirky-sounding production- Molière's classic 'L'Avare' adapted and relocated to the outskirts of Mumbai -  would be on in South London. When I realised the first night of its tour was Windsor, rather than back out I thought I'd make a day out of it.

.It was sunny and not too cold so a walk around the town was in order.  I wasn't in the mood for the castle and tried to visit  the Guildhall Museum but it was closed. Next I went to the library to work on a book review, but conditions weren't good. It  was small, bright  and open-plan but the study area was too near the kiddies' play space.

 I walked  around the town, dominated by the castle, looking at the statuary. There were certainly plenty of restaurants and tea-rooms  as well as souvenir shops, but I wanted somewhere to linger so the Wetherspoons was a good bet for lunch. Another good place to spend time  was the Costas coffee shop at the bottom of Eton High Street.  You can walk over the bridge and amble along as far as the college chapel. A notice on the door said it was 'the long break' so I didn't see any stiff-collared school boys.

There were  decorative tiles in the public loos, located in a small flat field called Bachelors Acrea designated as a children's playground.  I enjoyed a walk along Eton High Street as far as the huge Chapel on the right, and visits to an ancient bookshop where the categories were written by hand on cards. There was a good charity shop and a Costa Coffee where I could linger. It was all suprisingly run-down  and slightly scruffy. At 7.30pm, after a walk by the river to view the swans as the sun was setting,  I reported to the theatre. There a mayoral reception was in full swing. There were two mayors present, a man from Windsor and and a woman from Slough, in their chains of office. The mayor of Windsor and the  the director of the play,who also heads the production company, made speeches. The mayor stressed the age and history of the town's theatrical connection. Shakespeare's 'Merry Wives of Windsor' was first presented at the castle in 1599
The Tara Arts director said  fund-raising for  a first class venue for South Asian performing arts in London is going well. Work is to begin later this year.  It can't happen too soon for me - the  play went on until 10.25pm, which rarely happens in London. Worse, it ended just as the train left for Waterloo so I had to wait for the 10.53pm one and didn't get home until half past twelve.
I should have waited until the show's tour reached Stratford East, where it can be seen 6th-9th of March.

My review appears on The Public Reviews website.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Hero with a Six-pack: Shakespeare's 'Othello' at the Bussey Building, Peckham

 I was intrigued by the sound of this venue -  a former weapons factory off Rye Lane, Peckham.  Thanks to the Transport for London site maps I was more or less able to pinpoint the location -up a tiny alleyway opposite Peckham Rye railway station. The narrow passage led to a weird courtyard decorated with black and white graffitti in gothic style, featuring a huge animal skull.
The theatre  is housed in the  attic of the the ramshackle edifice, now converted into smaller  commercial units. Stairs lead up to  cavern-like room with a stage at one end and cafe tables at the other. A helpful young assistant, spotting myself and my elderly companion, escorted  us by lift to the theatre.  Just as well - the concertina-like metal door had to be forced open  manually.
It's usally a disadvantage when an acting ensemble has no members aged over forty; here it proved  an asset. A youthful  cast and the nature  of the venue were well-suited to a distinctive  interpretation of Shakespeare's tragic tale. 
My review appears on the Remotegoat website.