Well, the weirdly wonderful weather’s gone, but this year’s first greylag goslings have arrived!
Here’s a shot taken from the bottom of my garden this morning, Easter Monday, under glowering grey skies.
But no matter the weather, there is nothing, absolutely nothing half so much worth doing…
…as messing about in my old friend Robin’s boat on the canal near Oxford. On Saturday David Savile and I went to visit, and Robin showed quite touching faith in my competence in allowing me to take the boat through several canal locks, the first time I’ve ever done it. Here’s the view as Albert the Boat and I rise steadily on the surge of incoming water, the clinging chill of the climate eased, as you can see, by generous supplies of hot coffee and biscuits.
Last week there were two theatre visits. The first, as I mentioned in the last entry, was to the Cambridge and “Matilda the Musical”. Everything about it is excellent – zappy music, crisp choreography and direction, spot-on design and costumes which take you straight into the faintly surreal world of Roal Dahl – and of course smashing performances.
All of the children are wonderful. There is a rotor of 4 Matildas – the night we were in it was Eleanor Worthington Cox’s turn, and she acted, sang and danced the part to perfection. All of the adults are superbly cast, including a terrific turn by Paul Kaye as Matilda’s appalling dad. But you just have to hand it to Bertie Carvel and his performance as Miss Trunchbull – he’s up for an Olivier award – as indeed is Paul Kaye – and quite right too.
Bertie’s Trunchbull is quite simply a fine piece of acting, miles away from the world of pantomime dame, or even great drag acts like Barry Humphries. At its core is a beautifully pitched, utterly female voice. To this Bertie adds layers of whacky, psychopathic sadism – but tempered with hints that this woman is bonkers for a set of reasons. The physicality is quite believably that of a female hammer-throwing champion, and there is a moment of sheer triumph with a vaulting horse! The grotesque elements all match perfectly Dahl’s deliciously ugly take on the world, which the whole production captures so well. All in all it’s an example of an actor using every last ounce of his RADA training to exploit and share his own impressive, God-given talent.
In the pub afterwards we got into a great discussion of the craft, and the joys of theatre making, with another old colleague of Bertie’s, Felix Barrett, artistic director of Punchdrunk theatre company. Their show based on “Macbeth”, “Sleep No More”, is currently a smash hit in New York and may well be on its way back across the Atlantic for a season at a new and exciting London venue later in the year. This blog, and of course its website www.teachyourselfacting.com will keep you posted as soon as we hear more.
NEWS UPDATE as of April 15th: Bertie C wins Olivier Award as Best Actor in a Musical.