Monday, 29 November 2010

A Skipped Play, Another Play, and Art (Oh, and Beckham)

I forgot to mention that on the day (18 November) Erika and I visited the Geffrye Museum--the place with rooms furnished in different periods--Susie, who was with us that day, offered me a ticket to a performance of Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night' that night at the Rose Theatre in Kingston. Jim was taking his Shakespeare class to the performance and she preferred an evening at home. Never having seen the play I accepted her ticket. I still have not seen the play. The production was a kind of parody of the play that retained the most important plot elements and characterizations. The stage was set up for a rock concert with microphones, guitars, keyboards, stand up bass, amplifiers. The cast sang, danced, dragged audience members on stage, ordered and distributed pizza to the audience, camped up the characters, and generally had a very good time. The production was really funny, and for those familiar with the play it was probably even funnier. There were moments that might have skirted the edge of self-indulgence, but it was really very funny most of the time. The company somehow edited Shakespeare's play down to 90 minutes while still capturing its essence.

Before the play Jim and I walked through the Christmas Market on Kingston's public square. What struck me as unusual about it is that on one end a booth sold German sausages and saurkraut, and on the other end a booth sold German steaks, and in between them stood a busy temporary pub.

Going home on the bus after the play a class of primary students--about 10-11 years old--got on the bus in Richmond, took over the upper deck, and rode all the way to Ealing. I don't know what they were doing in Richmond, but they were still in their school uniforms and were accompanied by their teacher and one or two parents. Naturally, livinging in Ealing every ethnic group was represented. They got off in Ealing near the Catholic primary school, so I assume these kids attend that school. What struck me is that it was already after 10pm when they got on the bus and that, for what seemed like more than 20 kids, there were no more than three adults to supervise them. I wondered if the kids could sleep in the next morning before going to school.

I got off the bus one stop later at the South Ealing tube station. Instead of walking home directly I took the 30 second ride on the tube train to Northfield instead.

During the week of 22 November I made three visits--on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday--to the the National Gallery in order to finish seeing all the paintings. Each visit took at least two hours as that was about all I could tolerate physically and mentally. After a couple of hours my feet and back ached and I wanted to take a nap. The Gallery has over 2,000 paintings in its collection. They're not all shown, but sometimes it seems like it. If you have a couple of spare hours you can explore the collection here. If you want to, you can get almost an entire course in art history from the online resources alone.

On Tuesday night of that week Erika and I attended a play called 'Yes, Prime Minister' at the Gielgud Theatre near Piccadilly Circus. The theatre used to be called the Globe until the Shakesperean Globe opened, and then this Globe was renamed in honor of the distinguished English actor, John Gielgud. The play is a very, very funny politcal satire. Spot on! as the locals might exclaim.

On the way to the National Gallery this Beckham-sponsored ad demonstrates his still potent marketing influence despite the relative decline of his football abilities. I couldn't resist taking this picture because he has become a kind of iconic figure. Plus the buses are really cool.

This statue of the George Washington stands in front of the National
Gallery and supposedly the soil beneath it is from America.

This is the church of St. Martin in the Fields. I attended a noon concert here the previous
week. It stands across the street from Trafalgar Square.  At the left edge of the photo you
can see the statue of George Washington in front of the National Gallery.

Trafalgar Square from the National Gallery portico looking down Whitehall.

Admiral Nelson and Big Ben, which is basically at the end of Whitehall.

This fountain would be emptied and cleaned a couple of days later.

Cleaning out the fountain.

 A restaurant down the street from Trafalgar Square.
I've been reading one of Benedict's books call Framed: The Perfect Crime...It's a Work of Art by Frank Cottrell Boyce. Though set in Wales it involves the paintings in the National Gallery, and about a dozen of the paintings play important roles in the story's plot. One of the tasks I set out for myself was to find these paintings in the Gallery so I can bring Benedict here and whisk him through to show him those paintings in particular and some of my favorites. I'm unable, or perhaps more accurately unwilling to take the time, to figure out how to copy the paintings to the blog. If it could be done easily I'd have at least two dozen paintings.

Oh, well, here are some links to the ones I like, some of which are mentioned in Benedict's book.

This painting, from 1501, is remarkable for its detail:

In Edinburgh at the Scottish National Gallery we saw a self-portrait of Rembrandt at age 54. Here there are two self-portraits, at age 34 and 63.

The painting stolen by the characters in Framed:

My favorite Van Gogh at the Gallery:

I could add many more, but this should be enough.


  1. I love a weekend out in London, especially to dine at on eof the awesome restaurants in Piccadilly before going to the theatre to see a show. Always a good day out.

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