Tales from the city (part 2)

Posted: 10/11/2005 in Daily Grumbling, travel

It is always fun going back to the UK. Whether it be a flying visit trying to cram in as much as poss or just lazying about the old ancestral home. The last visit was the former. In five short days we managed to walk down memory lane in Manchester (or rather ride the number forty-two bus along Oxford Road) and attend a wedding, see all our parents (and a pseudo step parent) and a sibling and a cousin, catch up with an old work mate in London, fit in two shows and a very good lunch.

It has been a while since I took the Virgin West Coast from Manchester to London, and WOW what a change in service. Plush seats, digital displays instead of the flimsy paper tickets for indicating if the seat is reserved or not, power points on the tables and water closets that resemble daleks. Hand on heart I walked up and down the length of the train looking for the pokey beige grey toilet door, that usually was to be found at the end of each carriage. I thought I was going crazy, until it finally clicked that the purple party pod with the flashy lights was what I had been searching for.

I managed to drag Alex to two plays in London (within less than twenty four hours of each other, poor boy); Richard the Second and A Few Good Men. I really don’t know what to make of Richard 2.0, I left feeling rather ambivalent about the whole shebang. Its modern dress and machine guns reminded me of the Broadway production Julius Caesar (not good). Either I didn’t get Spacey or I didn’t care for Richard. I kept waiting for the Verbal Kint energy, but it never came. The staging was interesting, mixing it up with video feeds and footage. But, it felt in parts that it was trying too hard to be minimal. Ben Miles stood out, can’t quite see Joey taking on a role of that magnitude. The rest of the men in grey, well merged into the background. But, that might have been the point.

Who knew that A Few Good Men was a play? And what a smashing show it made. The Sorkin dialogue is snappy and peppy. The set design are inventive, with the naval maneuvers superimposed on the legal/court room action. Men in uniform climbing ropes, men dropping from helicopters, good stuff! Rob Lowe was dashing and charming as the rookie lawyer, he seemed genuinely happy to be there and as you’d expect is comfortable with the Sorkin dialogue. The rest of the cast were fabulous, and there was a very late sub for Lt Jack Ross (John Barrowman, opposing council). I didn’t get his name, as he was drafted in at the 11th hour and did a magnificent job. I just wish the “you can’t handle the truth” bit could be done like a pantomime!

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