29 November 2006

Arts Corner

This is a serious blog, you know (!), and as such, should obviously have an Arts Corner. Much like that bit in The Guardian that you never read, cos it's full of reviews of opera, biographies of obscure authors and how the telly isn't as good as it used to be (discuss).

So here goes.

Item number one: The Tempest. Shortly to be appearing in London, but last week brought to the provincials in Newcastle courtesy of the RSC.

It should have been fantastic - it starred the thinking woman's favourite Star Trek Captain, Patrick Stewart, for a start. I have to say I was distinctly underwhelmed though. It had the usual RSC groovy-yet-ingenious-scenery and staging, some pretty weird music and some really good actors, but to be honest I fell asleep in a couple of places, and Mr Stewart wasn't anything to write home about. I was expecting someone with real stage presence - I've seen a couple of people (Kenneth Branagh and a very young Toby Stephens spring to mind) who were so mesmerising that you simply had to watch what they were doing no matter where they were on stage, but I just didn't get that with him. And he was a bit fond in places of the shouty hammy thing that actors do when they are attempting to get all emotional, so you can't tell what the hell they're on about. Speak the lines dear boy. Us punters in the gallery who can't necessarily see all the facial expressions and movements need to know what's happening. Or we fall asleep cos it's dark, warm and we were up at 5.30am with a teething toddler. You have to allow for these things.

Thinking of Toby Stephens reminds me of item number two: Random Quest on BBC Four. Which didn't contain Mr Stephens at all, but the lovely Samuel West instead. I know it's not much of a segueway, but I'm trying, I really am. Anyway, I saw it completely by accident - you know how it is, you end up eating your tea in front of the telly watching some mindless rubbish, stay tuned, and actually end up with something really really good. Plot wasn't amazing (it was an adaptation of a John Wyndham short story, and lacked a ballsy ending), but the whole look and feel of the piece was gorgeous - the alternative reality segments looked to have been shot in a house that could have been straight out of Wallpaper. Me wantee. Anyway, nice restrained music, great acting...it was one of those dramas that don't leave your head for a while afterwards. And it was sci-fi. Now that doesn't happen often.

Arty-farty stuff over. Toodle pip.

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