Monday 31 December 2012

Theatre Monkey

I have enjoyed a "two-centre" Christmas holiday in Bristol (see me above admiring the giddy view from the Suspension Bridge) and Surrey, incorporating a visit to London...

At the National Portrait Gallery I take a look at Queen Anne and other luminaries from her time having recently read Anne Somerset's biography Queen Anne - the Politics of Passion. It is quite startling to see intimate, colourful and fresh images of these people from so long ago.

Incidentally, who else spotted the portrait lurking in the background when the Queen visited the Cabinet a few days ago? It was actually Anne's half-brother the "Old Pretender" who, if the Jacobites had had their way, would have stopped the Germans taking over the British royal family including the present monarch - is somebody trying to make a point?

On to the Aldwych Theatre to see the musical extravaganza Top Hat which is a great hoot. Best known as the Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers film of 1935 this is frenetic escapism at its best - an appropriate tonic today as it was in the economic gloom of the 1930s. The set reminds me of something ... then I recall it is Guildford Cathedral also designed in 1935 with those familiar geometric lines - see this post.

Our seats are fantastic but only £14 (slip seats in the Grand Circle) in contrast to cramped £85 stalls. If you are at all interested in West End shows allow me to let you into a secret which is the brilliant web-site Theatre Monkey. This doesn't sell cheap tickets - look elswhere for those - but gives you the low-down on every seat in every theatre, including tips on unlikely ones which are often bargains.

The show has little serious to offer but Irving Berlin has clear advice on achieving "mental well-being", superior to any humourless NHS pamphlet and which works for me...

Heaven, I'm in Heaven,
And the cares that hang around me thro' the week
Seem to vanish like a gambler's lucky streak
When we're out together dancing, cheek to cheek.

Oh! I love to climb a mountain,
And to reach the highest peak,
But it doesn't thrill me half as much
As dancing cheek to cheek.

Quite right - you can get through the troubles of working Monday to Friday by climbing up Snowdon (or similar physical activity) and, above all, through exciting personal contact.

I snapped this picture looking west from Waterloo Bridge on the way home (click on the picture to expand)...