Wednesday, March 12, 2008

" Scandalous Doings at The Royal Exchange"

I took a trip on Saturday...yes, literally, a trip.
Hm: not THAT kind of trip but a trip over an invisible matchbox ( or scrap of shopping list) on a pavement outside a Manchester nightclub. I'd been watching two big-boy Bouncers who were watching a dusky-skinned girl ( legs:gazelle-like, mini dress:leopard-print) and I'd been wondering JUST how many clubbers that night had sidled in on freebies ...while the Big Bouncers gorged themselves on passing street beauties..
And then I'd landed in the gore of said street, one arm in a puddle, my bag in a muddle...
We'd been to a matinee ( visiting the M/Ch Exchange Theatre, in itself a treat) to Sarah Frankcomb's production:" The Children's Hour"; this is Lillian Hellmann's 1934 play,which has a gay theme, once eminently shockable. The play was banned in Chicago, Boston, London, New York...finally shown in France, but with a new title:" The Innocents". And later, in 1961, the film appeared, starring Audrey Hepburn, Shirley Maclaine ( see above) with James Garner.
The story is set in a girl's Scottish boarding school. There are schoolgirls, who whisper and giggle ( often sitting, almost in the audience, around the edge of Exchange's circular stage) ...girls who make friends, gang up, tell tales...(the usual girly stuff ) and there are teachers, two in particular who started the school, who have a friendship teetering on the brink of something else, and then there is schoolgirl Mary, who picks out her victims, who blackmails, who terrifies...Mary, whose final dreadful lie carries everyone into disaster...
It's a great production: the snatches of music, the set with its swirling chairs, the perfect placing of characters on the circular stage, the costumes..
Maxine Peake with Charlotte Emmerson gave us strong and moving pictures of the teachers.
BUT STAR OF THE PLAY was Kate O'Flynn as Mary. At school, we met girls who "stir", who "scare" ( a tad) ..but O'Flynn ignited Mary's character; her takeover of both this evil young character AND the production was superb.
*** " The Children's Hour" is at Manchester Royal Exchange until April 5th.
OTHER fun stuff:
On Monday, to 1st Birthday celebrations of Zest! ...
Zest! is the poetry-child of 3 local women poets, including Gill McEvoy. They meet every few weeks at Alexander's, a friendly, cosy bar in our city, where an intriguing band of folk share a vast variety of poetry. Good fun, with some pretty wonderful contributions. These included poems from 2 ex-Cheshire Poet Laureates, John Lindley and Andrew Rudd.
On Wednesday, to Chester Theatre Club at the Little Theatre: Margery Alexander's production of Bob Larbey's " A Month Of Sundays". It sounds gloomy ( set in a nursing home) but the two main characters, Cooper ( John Turner) and Aylott ( Tony Kemp) provided humour along with much food for thought....which reminds me to mention the talented Barbara Jemmett, who as Nurse Wilson, provided tears, cuddles and curling-at-edge sandwiches! A fine evening out!


Blogger Bee said...

I was in a production of "The Children's Hour" when I was in high school. Quite the brave choice -- considering that I lived in a small Texas town. I didn't realize that Audrey Hepburn was in the film. Interesting role for her . . .

I discover you quite randomly.

I was updating my profile -- I recently took up blogging as a way to get my thinking and writing cap back on, plus hopefully make some "sparky new friends" -- and I decided to randomly click on "A Thousand Acres" to see what came up. You were at the top of the list!

It is bizarre (or not), but we share quite a few interests. I love the serendipitous aspects of blogging.

Hope to hear back from you!

12:42 pm  
Blogger Lucy said...

I am not often stricken with envy - well only about a dozen times a day anyway - but I have to say your accounts of taking in the cultural scene do cause the feeling to arise in me somewhat!

(I've just been visiting Bee, she's rather fine!)

1:45 pm  
Blogger Jan said...

Thankkyou for visiting, Bee, I'll visit you ASAP!!
You must've been blogged into my "profile" because " 1000 Acres" is one of my favourite fact, you've made me feel I want to read it all over again...

It's not always obvious what's going on in this city in the way of " cultural stuff" ...I think you have to look for it in many cases but it IS there and there's always the idea of making your like the women who started "Zest!" .
And Lucy, I certainly envy you in your lovely part of FRance!!

8:27 am  
Blogger Anne S said...

I trust you tripped after the show, rather than before it. It's happened to me several times usually before the show, so I have to endure in the stoical way I have, a throbbing knee, whatever, until the end.

I am presently nursing a sore thumb after slicing it on the blades of a food processor when I was washing up.

9:58 am  
Blogger Jan said...

Do hope it's OK now.

7:10 pm  
Blogger Jon M said...

Hope you're okay, I know what you mean about rubbernecking in town centres. I've walked into many a lamp post in Liverpool after 'throwing out' time!

8:04 pm  
Blogger Bee said...

I admire "A Thousand Acres" on so many levels. Great characters; wonderful writing; fascinating parallels with Lear; and of course the really interesting commentary on agri-business (aka American Farming). I have several unread Smileys sitting on my shelf -- I need to get to it!

10:13 pm  
Blogger Bee said...


I just wrote a blog called My To-Read Shelf. Your comment about rereading A Thousand Acres, plus some other things, made me think of it.

Despite the many wonderful books I haven't read, I spend SO MUCH time rereading. Anyway, I discuss this phenomenom in the blog.

I thought -- being a book lover -- you might enjoy.

2:05 pm  
Blogger Absolute Vanilla (& Atyllah) said...

I thought I'd seen everything that starred Aubrey Hepburn but I haven't even heard of this one - sounds, as Bee said, like an interesting role for her. I'll have to see if I can find it somewhere.

3:57 pm  
Blogger elizabethm said...

The Royal Exchange is one of my favourite theatres and this sounds a great production. Might have to get myself up out of my winter fastness and go. And also interested to read about the things happening in what I think is chester which is now my nearest city. I had no idea! How do I find out what is going on? I'm afraid that I do tend to stay home when I get back from London but the longer evenings should get me out and about.

10:14 pm  
Blogger Jan said...

Yes, I'm OK now...but hobbbbled about a bit this week..!

Thanks Bee.
I enjoyed my visit, as did, it seems, Lucy!

My sisterinlaw wore a Hepburn style dress t'other wk at her birthday party; she looked great. That style never dates, always looks great..

I'll call in your blog ASAP but for starters, I'll send you something re joining Friends of LitFest if you pass on your email.

6:20 pm  

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