Wednesday 13 May 2009

Early Bank Holiday Weekend 2009 in London

As a change from the usual Friday evening theatre trip, I did the rounds of some favourite City pubs, just as the post-work rush subsided.

The Bell in Bush Lane, The Tipperary in Fleet Street, The Devereux Arms and The Edgar Wallace off The Strand.

On Saturday morning I was off to Little Venice (via bus 15), mainly to get the programme for Canalways Cavalcade 2009. There were lots of colourful boats there already and stalls were setting up. Bought some exotic fudges originating from Deeping St Mary.

After a lunch break (my usual pairing of The Harp and Porters), I nipped over to see the eight Bond cars on display to the crowds at BFI Southbank. Warwick Davis was being interviewed and there were some Effects blokes chatting to people.

Having waited since I booked on 8-Nov, at last I was off to the Theatre Royal Haymarket for Beckett's Waiting for Godot, with Ian McKellan and Patrick Stewart - the third Preview prior to First Night on Tuesday. Very warm and funny - a delight (not always the case - some productions are very sombre). Simon Callow and Ronald Pickup were also moving. The set was of a derelict theatre and all four characters were hinted as having theatrical backgrounds, which really made sense.

In the evening, to the National Theatre for J.B. Priestley's Time & the Conways (booked 13-nov), which was also a Preview. Sadly disappointing, one of those plays where there's no real plot or emotional resolution - it just tapers off. Director Rupert Goold did tack on a strange audio-visual display but to no apparent purpose. It's about a family coming to terms with its reducing circumstances between 1919 and 1938 and features the trick of Act 2 (1938) being in the middle of the continuous action in 1919 of Acts 1 & 3. One does learn a lot about the characters but never sypmathises or cares.

Sunday started with bus 381 from Waterloo and then a long walk around Rotherhithe, including revisiting the Brunel Museum, followed by a quick trip to check progress on the Cutty Sark in Greenwich - still covered.

I chose GBK (Maiden Lane) for a quick pre-theatre bite - mistake! Very slow, very busy. What normally takes 5-10 mins took 35.

To Wyndhams Theatre for Madame de Sade, starring Judi Dench and Rosamund Pike (booked 7-Dec). A fascinating and engrossing play about the women in the Marquis' life and how they change as events unfold. The core is that Madame's mother can't understand why she's so supportive of her husband, come what may.

BH Monday started with my now-traditional trip to Kew Gardens (via Hammersmith bus station), this time including the tree-top walkway. I still have more to explore on another occasion - there's so much to see. [The Queen did the official 250th anniversary thing the next day.]

Another pair of buses took me back to the Canalways Cavalcade (beer, burger and fudge!). The dull grey and increasingly wet weather wasn't dampening the festivities.