Sunday 1 January 2012

Dickens vs Olympics

Happy New Year!

To the Old Vic on New Year's Eve to see Celia Imrie and other premier division thespians reprising Michael Frayn's Noises Off, his farce about actors producing a farce. This is a neat satire both on repertory theatre and on 20C British farce which the prestigious cast pulls off well if not quite fluently. It really is demanding to play actors rehearsing a play and then to play those actors playing that play badly, if you get me, and they may have needed more time to get this right though there is plenty to laugh at.

I am presently beholden to the Frayn household for my cultural diet as I am reading his wife Claire Tomalin's new biography Charles Dickens - A Life which is excellent. It's going to be all Dickens in 2012 (forget the Olympics) as it's his bicentenary which is a good thing as he has plenty to teach us today. I was particularly intrigued to find that he explored and briefly practised an early form of psychoanalysis in which he examined dreams and the effects of traumatic events in early life through hypnotism and dialogue - I will come back in future posts to this and other important issues concerning mental illness which Dickens touched upon.

New Year's day finds me cooking sausages on the beach at West Wittering, Sussex, with my friend Nick Jarman. This has become an annual tradition but it is sorely tested today by a massive rainstorm which sends everybody running for their cars. But we persevere and get the job done. The trick is to place the camping stove in a big cardboard box so that there is no breeze wafting the flame from your frying pan - this way the cooking takes little time and you can eat before the symptoms of exposure set in.