Monday, May 12, 2008

recent miscellany

henry vi, part i
i can't say that my introduction to shakespearean drama was particularly inspiring -- the productions i had seen at ubc were cheesy at best, with the en-masse death scene endings always eliciting unwanted chuckles from the audience. mostly i've stuck with shakespeare's well-known comedies for viewing in london: much ado about nothing, a midsummer night's dream, twelth night, etc etc.

so i have to say i was a bit skeptical walking into henry vi, part i (what, there are three parts???), one of a series of less-frequently performed historical plays put on this spring by the royal shakespeare company at the roundhouse. and.. amazing what good actors can do with simple dramatic lighting, a set of drums, gooey fake blood, and, well, good acting! the play was tense, absorbing and psychologically thrilling -- even scary in parts! a performance by the rsc is probably as professional as it comes -- the calibre of acting was really fantastic -- in fact, D had seen an rsc production of the same play many years ago with an as-yet undiscovered ralph fiennes in the title role. call me converted.

richmond to windsor bike ride
did i really survive this?? english springtime is finally here -- just in time for the annual 30 mile bike ride my ex-flatmate organizes. there were 15 of us in total, and, as expected, i was at the back of the pack the entire journey along the lovely river thames footpath -- dusty and narrow in some bits, with huge leafy trees providing shade, and cemented wide boulevards in other parts.

despite achy knees and slow progress (for me) it was a great way to see how the other half lives -- some of the houses flanking both sides of the river are amazing -- some with sprawling grounds (not just a garden, but grounds) -- which in these parts you probably either inherit or buy after winning the lottery.

true stories on more 4
channel 4 -- known for producing slightly alternative, sometimes blatantly biased, but always interesting and highly addictive -- programming has spawned many a channel aimed at various audiences, in addition to the original (home to happy-d's fave location, location, location): e4 for the "o.c." set; more 4 for the sometimes politically interested; and -- perhaps the most well-known across the pond -- film 4, sponsoring some truly excellent british films.

more 4 has been airing over the last several months a "true story" every week -- thought-provoking documentaries from around the world. two i've seen that are really worth finding, if you get a chance, are taking liberties (a doc about how our, and specifically british, civil freedoms have eroded over the past decade in the wake of the "age of terror"), and our daily bread (which, if not enough to turn you into a vegetarian, certainly makes you skip a few meals of meat and mass-produced veg sprayed with who-knows-what in preference for something organic). both were released awhile ago, so should be available on dvd.

photos: brighton pier before a storm; "high rocks", near tunbridge wells; a lovely wedding (on a rainy day)

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