11 December 2006

Dying to live, we only live to die

Assuming I can leave tomorrow -- the Irish Sea is being somewhat temperamental -- this will turn out to have been an almost perfect trip. Granted, I failed in my main mission, but come late on Wednesday evening, that looked pretty much inevitable.

So. Today was lovely. Work in the morning, a fine and final departmental lunch - though with some sad news being shared, a carefully drafted letter in the afternoon, a swift pint with Gareth and his Dad, and then off to meet Louise for dinner - which was lovely -- and then to see Cyrano de Bergerac at the Royal Exchange.

Seriously, how good is Cyrano? Admittedly, I'm biased, but how many plays are there out there that combine fencing, letters, pens being mightier than swords, capes, swaggering, unrequited love, delicious pastries, groanworthy puns, a refusal to bow in the face of impossible odds, and -- of course -- the very soul of panache?

All that, and a Dubliner in the title role. How could I not adore it?

Ben Harper was marvellous as Cyrano, with Oliver Chris -- Boyce from The Green Wing - spot on as Christian and Jonathon Keeble imperious as De Guiche. Jessica Oyelowo was rather annoying -- Louise called her 'insufferable' -- as Roxane, but that's the fault of the character, rather than the actress, and she does redeem herself massively as the play goes on. All the mucking about before the play proper looked good, though with us arriving in the nick of time - having to forego the pleasures of the Weihnachtsmarkt as we'd hurried to the theatre -- we didn't see much of it. Still, it sounds like it's getting a good response.

It's funny -- Lou and I have been to the Exchange four times together now, and with the exception of Separate Tables every play we've seen has ended with a man slain on the ground. That's a truly troubling trend. Hopefully that'll get suitably derailed in the new year, and if we're lucky we'll get to see something that really takes advantage of what the REx offers set designers.

The Tempest has potential, I reckon. Mind, there'll be things to be seen before then, and not just in the REx either. Anyone for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead?

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