Saturday, 26 January 2013

Day 26 - the designer needs a rethink.

Saturday 26th January
Arrived safely back on my beloved Arran after a lovely couple of days in Glasgow. I fall more in love with that city every time I go and I think it should be on everyone's 'to do' list if you haven't been there already. We left on the early ferry yesterday to be sure of getting off and it was already on amber alert meaning that it is subject to delay or cancellation. After a fairly rocky crossing we were pleased to be on the train to Glasgow. In under two hours we are in the centre of Glasgow and in a completely different world. After the very necessary coffee we took the subway train to the Peter Rabbit exhibition. It is set in an old school designed by Charles Mackintosh and that, in itself, was a joy to behold. More on that in the post tomorrow. The Beatrix Potter was dedicated to the new 'Further Tales of Peter Rabbit' which was written by Emma Thompson. I have been commissioned to do a review on it so when I have finished that I will do a potted version here. Suffice to say, it was wonderful and I became beautifully lost for an hour in the world of bunnies and hedgehogs.

The main purpose behind the trip was to see 'Midsummer's Night Dream' the opera at the Theatre Royal in Glasgow. The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland’s collaboration with Scottish Opera offered up a revival of Olivia Fuchs’s 2005 production with musical score by Benjamin Britten. Gin and tonic in hand we settled down for the three act opera hoping to be inspired. In my previous life as a performing arts lecturer I saw so many productions and, in the case of this play, have put it on on various occasions and know it well. I should say I am very picky when it comes to the theatre.

There were some real moments of highlight, particularly in the second act, and some of the cast were very good indeed. It was a modern interpretation with a very post modern staging strategy. This was, I believe, its biggest problem. Britten focused on the fairy kingdom aspect of the story but the staging was simple rectangular boxes placed on top of each other. The character of Puck was played using rope gymnastics and that dominated the centre of the stage. The work on the rope was exceptional but Puck was played by a non singing actor and I felt it took most of the production for him to 'feel' the character. By the end he was very good and Puck finally came to life. The four lovers were, on the whole, disappointing. Their voices were OK but their story telling was predictable and unsuited to a modern interpretation. The king and Queen of the fairies were much stronger and held the narrative together. The almost complete omission of the wedding scene was a gamble and one that didn't pay off and further relegated the lovers towards the bottom of the pile. The tradesmen players were all very good and stole the show, as they so often do in the context of this play.

Overall, I liked the production as it had some engaging moments and I do so love this play. I do like a production that challenges and it certainly achieved that. The use of children as chorus didn't work at any level but I am guessing there were lots of proud parents in the audience. It came across as more of a community based production rather than a professional offering so I need to view it in those terms. Thus, there is a lot to be proud of but the designer needs to do a major re-think and perhaps try to be a bit less clever. The choreography was also incredibly predictable but movement around the stage was excellent.

We enjoyed our trip to the theatre and we enjoyed our little venture onto the mainland. The winds are picking up as I write and you should see the forecast for Monday! We have some serious weather heading our way and, as usual, we will be out repairing various things on the smallholding once the wind has done its worst. The boys appear to have managed well without us but the kitten has disgraced herself; enough said on that!

I do have some wonderful news to share with you all. Molly has been selected as one of the volunteers on the Isle of Eigg conservation programme and will join the team for the month of July. In the conservation world this is a very big deal indeed and we are all thrilled. More than that, we are incredibly proud. Congratulations Molly. Forgive me because I am tired and have run out of steam. Much more tomorrow. xx

Picture is of Corrie shore last summer.