Friday, 19 April 2013

A Night at the Ballet

Yesterday I had a long awaited day off! After a much needed sleep in, my housemate Rach and I spent the day together.

After a surprise thunderstorm (something all to rare over here – a lot of drizzle, no thunder!) the sun gods blessed us with a brilliant, if windy day. We made our way into Covent Garden to go to a little Vegetarian restaurant that Rach had been raving about for months. And now I see why. 

The place is called Food for Thought – a hole in the wall and completely unassuming. No need for fancy tables, chairs or menus the food speaks for itself. Rach chose the Kashmiri Gobi with Eggplant and coriander raita and brown rice, and I had the Quiche of the day which was sweet potato and sweet corn with salad on the side. Both were to die for. You would think a quiche and salad to be pretty standard, but it was delicious, with four different side salads and MASSIVE servings.

 We cleared the plates cleaned and managed to fit in dessert.

Banana and strawberry scrunch and apple and plum crumble.

It was a chore, but someone had to get through it all.

The food was simple, delicious, quick, healthy and cheap. The best thing about this place is that the menu changes everyday, and you can get their cookbook for £9.99.

I had gotten us ticket’s to see the English National Ballet at the London Coliseum, so after recovering from our food comas, we walked down to the theatre. Which was absolutely breath taking.

Cheap ticket’s up in the Balcony only cost £10 if you nab the seats early enough, and being organized it definitely worth it. We saw Ecstasy and Death, a collection of three short contrasting ballet’s. The first Petite Mort was my favourite. Only about half an hour long, with six dance partners on stage, all in simple flesh coloured costumes. They seemed like ephemeral beings, almost like they were swimming in water. Their skill and strength made the hardest movements seem effortless, and the dancers exuded a passion and raw energy.

The second, Le Jeune Homme et la Mort, was a short piece also which was a little reminiscent of Street Car Named Desire. Perhaps it was just the raw brute of a man in overalls, stamping around the set of a run down apartment. A beautiful woman manipulates him and her love drives him to suicide after which she reappears to him as Death. It was a highly erotically charged piece with a lot of force, but for me the costuming and set didn’t quite work.
 The third and final piece, Etudes, took the audience through the rigorous training of a ballet student from bar work to the final performance with the skill needed to be a classically trained ballet dancer. The large cast were dressed in simple black and white costumes with stereotypical tutu’s with the men in tights made for some striking images. There were some beautifully crafted moments excellently staged lighting, using silhouette to highlight the dancers skill and elegance. It amy be missing the point with this piece but I didn’t connect emotionally with the piece and for me the final two were ruined by the perfection of the first. All in all, highly recommended though there are only 5 performances left. Rach and I headed home, a perfect ending to a perfect day off. 

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Theatre Fix - The Life and Sort of Death of Eric Argyle

Last Tuesday night I decided to have a little impromptu outing to the theatre. I hadn’t been in a while and needed my fix. What to see? Firstly there was the issue of money (the issue being I don’t have any) so it had to be cheap. Secondly it needed to be close to work so I didn’t have to travel far.

I decided to have a little look into Soho Theatre’s programme and The Life and Sort of Death of Eric Argyle popped out at me.  The young Irish Theatre Company 15th Oak, have been claiming accolades left, right and centre on the fringe scene, so I thought it was worth a look in. And with tickets for under-25s at £10 how could I resist? I hadn’t been to Soho Theatre before, and it had a great atmosphere the bar down stairs was absolutely jam packed, with theatre goers and non-theatre goers alike.

Eric Argyle was in the upstairs theatre, which is a self-proclaimed area for emerging companies, young people and brave new writing. A central London platform for anyone who has been tearing up the fringe'. Sounded perfect. Since moving to London, I have been to see really big productions like Book of Mormon, The Lion King, People and The Woman in Black. But small indie and fringes productions is where my love lies.

This photo is the property of Soho Theatre

So when I walked into a tiny box painted black with some dim lighting, I felt home. The play was a book, about a man who wrote a book about his life (non-linear form). A little confusing to begin with, the different time lapses and different realities meant it took me a little while to get into the swing of things. The extremely wordy dialogue didn’t always serve to help this, but the language itself was beautiful – though hard not to think it perhaps should’ve remained a book. Theatre is a visual medium, and I always like to follow the rule ‘don’t tell them if you can show them’ so the descriptive narrating felt a little redundant at times.

Pre-Show Set

That being said, I really enjoyed the show. The actors were lively and young, and brought life (and sort of death) to their characters. There were poignant moments, as well as some sardonic humour, which had me laughing out loud. All the little stories within stories left me wanting to know more in the best possible way. The icing on the cake for me was the music, played by the cast, with guitars and accordions, which seemed to melt into the set, creating a beautiful and surreal atmosphere.

I noticed that some of my fellow patrons left the theatre balling their eyes out. While I wasn’t reduced to tears I did leave the theatre thinking about the true weight and implications of seemingly small decisions in our lives. The Life and Sort of Death of Eric Argyle gives food for thought, eyes and soul and is on until the 20th of April at Soho Theatre.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Spring Awakening... (not the Musical)

Over the Easter weekend, as anyone living in London will know, Daylight Savings officially kicked in! As an Australian expat who just experienced her first winter in the Northern Hemisphere, this came as a welcome change. For me it meant that I had officially survived the short days, ice cold winds and snow drifts of an English winter. Now I can emerge from my hibernation, gradually reducing my layers of clothing week by week.

Don’t get me wrong, I loved Winter  - experiencing snow fall for the first time, drinking mulled wine and cider, Christmas markets, roasted chestnuts, cute winter coats and gloves, ice skating out doors and gorgeous frost covered parks. 

But, after falling over on icy path ways, tube systems down due to bad weather and leaving work in pitch black, I am well and truly ready to welcome in the first signs of spring.

All the natives say that London comes alive in the Spring, and that’s when I’ll truly fall in love with this city. Flowers bloom, trees become leafy fortresses, parks bustle with sun-seekers and everyone seems that little bit happier on the morning tube crush.

I think I’m already well on my way to being in love with London (if not love, then a very deep and potentially life-long friendship), so I can’t wait to see what London pulls out of the bag over Spring and Summer. I plan to see shows at The Globe, play croquet, attend the Royal Ascot Races, have a picnic in Hyde Park and soak up as much Vitamin D as England will allow me. 

Pimm’s and lemonade anyone?