Archive for April, 2009

Peer Gynt – on Tour

Dundee Rep and National Theatre of Scotland are taking the 5 star award winning Peer Gynt to the Barbican, opening on the 30th April.    Then it is coming back to Scotland for a short tour.     We are planning to see it again – in Glasgow this time.

But the Barbican is a huge stage, and given that this performance started outrageously in the street outside Dundee Rep in the original run, I can’t help but wonder what they will do in London.

It is always interesting to see how a show given almost universal 5 star acclaim in Scotland will fare in the South.     Success in Scotland is not always mirrored.   But I do wish it well.

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CATS Awards

The CATS awards will soon be upon us, with a shortlist announced soon – on May 16th.    (They have a spectacularly horrible website with sideways scrolling required – yuck! –  but now fixed for IE users like me – thanks Mark!)

But I wonder what they will choose.    And I also wonder if blogs covering theatre in Scotland should get a say.   I’ll bet that Statler and Waldorf at View from the Stalls  will have seen the shortlisted productions.

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Be Near Me, a  joint production between the National Theatre of Scotland and the Donmar Warehouse reached Perth last week.

Ian McDiarmid adapted this from Andrew O’ Hagan’s book, and he also starred in this disturbing piece.     The story, set in a sectarian west coast community is about Father David Anderton, a very English, Catholic priest, fond of wine, classical music …….. and the odd young boy.

Anderton, for ever scarred by the death of a close friend, Conor, in a car crash while they were at University in Oxford, sought refuge in the Church.    A good administrator, but poor priest, he was taken on reluctantly by the Glasgow Bishop only because he was intelligent, and they were short of priests.    In what was a rather improbable series of errors of judgement, he got a little too friendly with a group of difficult teenagers, including 15 year old  Mark.    Mark  ended up at the rectory, and after drink and drugs were taken, Anderton planted a kiss on the boy’s lips.   

The wider community was well represented by the rest of the actors, mostly present onstage throughout.   In a strong cast, Blythe Duff gave was particularly outstanding as Mrs Poole, Anderton’s housekeeper.    Collette O’Neill played Anderton’s mother – bright, old and wise, and still churning out her books with plenty of sex included.    There was some excellent singing, which under John Tiffany’s direction, added much to the drama.

But ultimately, this was not a comfortable play.    The very English, camp Catholic priest was very much at odds with Ayrshire working class community.      Anderton  reminded me of the English Colonel in Tunes of Glory.   And the sectarianism was present from the old down to the young.   Anderton held very different views to his peers, which we saw demonstrated in a wonderful dinner party scene.

In the end, Anderton was a lost man – he lost his job and had to do community service, but he lost his way in life:   he was challenged about what he had achieved in his church career not only by the young teenagers, but by his agnostic mother.     Ian McDiarmid gave a very convincing performance, even if what we were being asked to believe was less so at times.

And nice to see Perth Theatre very busy, and to see a good sprinkling of other actors and a director in the audience, which is always a good sign.

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Farming and Stones

The Blog has been neglected recently because I have been on a tractor for days and days and days.      Farm spring work.  

Ploughing and Seagulls

Ploughing and Seagulls

Ploughing, power harrowing, spreading fertilizer, lifting stones and rolling.      A neighbour comes in with his seeder to sow barley and oats.   







We have had quite a crop of stones this year – all this off one field …….. now stored for future use, as you can see.

Lots of Stones

Lots of Stones

Big Stone
Ya beauty! Big Stone

This stone was just peeking above the surface.   I tried to rock it – it was not moving.   I dug round it with a spade and realised that it needed serious lifting gear.

The stone is now safely in the wood where it won’t be in anyone’s way ever again.   

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My siblings and I were put outside as  babies  in the pram to sleep, and we put our own children outside likewise, well wrapped up.     They would wake up with rosy cheeks from the fresh air and often lie for ages looking up at tree branches and leaves moving in the breeze.      Don’t people do this any more?

We had a lady with a 6 month old staying along the road for the past three months.    The child was taken from the house to the car, to the supermarket each day, and then straight back again.    I never even saw them out for a walk, which was a shame as they had a small dog which would have benefitted from a little exercise, and the lawns would have been a little cleaner.    It is such a waste – this is such a lovely part of the world to be out and about in.

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There is a sign currently on display at Costa coffee shops saying that 7 out of 10 Coffee Lovers Prefer Costa.        Well, not me.   I am one of the 3 in 10 who go out of my way to avoid it, because I just don’t like their coffee.    I can live with that.

But there are situations when the only shop available is a Costa, and the choice is either to put up with it, or go without.   So, looking for a quick coffee and pain aux raisin in Edinburgh Airport to fill a gap before my flight was called, Costa was the nearest to the gate, and as time was short, breakfast was bought here.    The coffee was, as expected,  not great, but the pain aux raisin would have won prizes for its sheer nastiness.    Crispy it was not – bendy and  very rubbery it most certainly was.      Just a flabby disc of sheer foulness.

Why does it have to be like this?    It was 8.00 am – breakfast time for many people (except the group of Scots already hungrily downing pints of beer at the bar, who were clearly running to their own timetable) so there should have been a quick turnover of fresh breakfast items.    I was sold yesterday’s produce.

So 0/10 for Costa.    

I prefer Cafe Nero any day.

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