Friday 6 March 2015

Letters and Plays

Just a brief recap on my participation in the Month of Letters in February, which I enjoyed very much. While I did not manage to post something every day I did write a lot of proper letters including several to friends who I had not been in touch with for several years. I have had a couple of replies which was really wonderful, including a long missive from my Uncle Den, and I plan to keep going and try and write a letter at least every couple of weeks. The down side of hand writing is that I don't have any record of what I wrote to each person and so risk waffling on repetitively ... ho hum.

I have spent the last couple of days with Monkey down in London; she was having a break in the rehearsals for the London season (Fourth Monkey) which begins on 11th April. I am so annoyed that I took my camera but failed to take it out of my rucksack and so did not get pictures of us being silly in the Natural History Museum or eating Mexican street food at Wahaca round the corner from Waterloo station.
We very carefully copied down the instruction on how to find the Vault Festival and were glad we did because you would be unlikely to come across it by chance:
Leake Street Wiki commons
The entrance is off the notorious Leake Street graffiti tunnel (apparently also called 'Banksy tunnel') and the venue was in the railway arches under Waterloo, the performances were provided with added atmosphere by the gentle rumble of trains passing overhead.
First we saw a performance entitled 'Bitesize Chekov' by a small company called 'D'Animate'. Neither of us had ever seen any Chekov before. It was very physical and the three characters on the stage moved through a variety of scenes that gave us a flavour of his lesser known works (from the list on Wikipedia two of them were 'On the harmful effects of tobacco' and 'A Marriage Proposal'). Monkey said she liked this one better because of the clowning (and that doesn't mean red noses and grease paint type clowns, it's a theatre thing) that she learned about during her training last term and was enjoying seeing it put into practice. 
After going off to eat we came back and saw 'King of the Fucking Castle' by LAB Theatre, about a homeless man living by Edinburgh Castle who befriends a young homeless girl, and the story traces their volatile relationship over a few weeks. I felt that the atmosphere in the railway arches really added something to the performance and the two actors were utterly compelling; it really got across a sense of how homeless people experience life and how invisible they are. I am not sure I have ever heard the word 'fuck' quite so often in such a short space of time, it was more like punctuation than a word with any meaning by the time they finished. While the story felt a little predictable it conveyed some timeless themes about the need for human connection. We agreed that the most striking thing about the performance was the moment when they took their bow at the end, and the tension and anger in the stance and expression of the man were gone, and he looked like an utterly different person. 
The festival is finishing on Sunday but I would certainly recommend you look out for next year if you like that kind of thing. We are going to be looking out at Edinburgh for Charlie Tuesday Gates, who's show 'Sing for your Life', with taxidermy roadkill puppets, was sold out.

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