Interests, Leisure

Streetcar Named Desire

This wonderfully well known play by Tennessee Williams, beautifully directed by Chelsea Walker and imaginatively designed by Georgia Lowe is being toured by the English Touring Theatre and is one of the best shows I have seen this year. The characters are all quite young (not as old as I remember the film cast being!) and offer extra-ordinary depth. Blanche Dubois is the epitome of the fallen woman, the ostracised, excluded, oppressed and abused southern belle whose descent into madness is as predictable and it would be avoidable if women were treated in any other way.

Photo Credit: The Other Richard

The first act was a dreaded hour and a half but it honestly sped by. The audience (with a notable number of school and college students in it) were rightly captivated and drawn into the characters, their stories, their relationships and their poverty. The New Wolsey in Ipswich is a delightful theatre with an atmosphere that pulls the cast and audience close. As it becomes clear that Blanche has not had the sort of life she wishes she had, that her standing has been fatally flawed by her experiences and her tragic first marriage, we start to see our cultural echoes coming back at us. How women are blamed for their own downfall, how we are expected to hold up no matter what, how we are to compensate the men for their own shortcomings and how we are expected to love the fist that hurts us.

At the post-show talk, Kelly Gough (Blanche) surprised us all with her soft, lilting Irish accent – miles removed from her Southern drawl during the performance. She told us that she was the only person in the troupe that had not seen the film, and so was the only girl on the casting call not to mimic Vivien Leigh. Which got her the part, and which contributed hugely to what was a commanding performance.

 

It is touring until the end of June, so book HERE for tickets,  and do yourself a favour!

Friendship, Interests, Leisure

Aurore / I got life (film)

  • I went to see this at the Ipswich Film Theatre tonight and was utterly charmed. This is how you do older women!

I prefer the French title, Aurore, but then I would as it means Dawn! It is in French with English subtitles which did not detract at all from the experience (as long as you are  or sitting behind someone with a huge head).

The central character is a mum separated from her husband (happily) who gives up her waitressing job when her new boss wants her to have a new sexier name (Samantha)  and to work the bar because she is older.

Early on she finds out her daughter is pregnant. Her other daughter loves a a rather unsuitable type who goes to Spain to be a DJ. Her best mate is thinking about botox and has a wicked sense of humour.

We are introduced to a commune of older women pooling their pensions to increase purchasing power and evade loneliness.  Now they are funny.

The whole cinema had Laugh out Loud moments, affectionate and empathetic. The menopause is almost a separate character in the film.

I loved it and left smiling. Do yourself a favour and enjoy it.

Food, Leisure

The Assembly House, Norwich

I was in Norwich at the weekend with my daughter, and we stopped for tea and cake at the Assembly House. This is a remarkable building, purpose built for public entertainment back in 1754. In 1753 John Hobart, the Duke of Buckingham, granted a 500-year lease of Chapel Field House estate (as it was then known) to a number of aldermen of the city for the sum of £1,800 plus an annual rent of £5. The aldermen subsequently unveiled plans for its conversion into “public places of entertainment for the county and the city”, appointing architect Thomas Ivory, who also built the Octagon Chapel in the city, to oversee the works, assisted by Sir James Burrough. Ivory decided to demolish the central section of the building and designed a new house for the site, which became a ‘House of Assemblies’ where events were held for the gentry of Norwich. Just beside the Theatre Royal, and right next to Intu Chapelfields shopping centre, this little gem is worth a visit every time. We had tea and shared a cake (The Assembly House gateau)

from their extensive cake menu

None of the distracting noise and bustle of the nearby shopping centre national brand cafes here. just walking up the path to get into the building is a delight, and removes you from the crowd. The impressive entrance way, with corridors off to venue and meeting rooms, then the vestibule with the hostess greeting you with a smile and the politest of enquiries as to your comfort and needs, and you are no longer in 21st century Norwich.

Huge chandeliers light a room filled with club leather chairs arranged in easy conversation groups, exactly the right place for tea and cakes.

Staff were unerringly polite, the tea was lovely and hot (and served in a china pot), the cake was a delight and the bill less than you might imagine.

Afternoon tea, at about £20 a head, is as relaxed and as indulgent as you could wish.

And, if you really get the bug, the chef, Richard Hughes, runs classes.

 

The Assembly House, Theatre Street,Norwich, Norfolk, NR2 1RQ.

01603 626402