Posts Tagged 'Summer'

A Pantomime for the Summer. Review: Merlin, Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre.

On Friday I concluded, definitively, that the perfect way to spend an English summer evening is in the park, with open air theatre, a basket full of food, and a blanket wrapped around you.  I spent another wonderful evening at Grosvenor Park Open Air Theatre, this time to see Merlin and the Woods of Time.  The atmosphere inside the walls is beautiful; glasses of wine, picnic baskets, deck chairs, people snuggled in blankets, all as the sun is slowly sinking behind the trees, and the air is soft and chill.

The production opens in a burst of energy and laughter, with a full-scale theatrical number, musical ensemble, with the whole cast on stage (or should I say ‘On the bark chippings’?).  The laughter of the audience, in particular the children, pierced the air.  When the kazoos came out, and the cast began parading around, blowing them, it was hilarious, and you could hear children laughing unreservedly.  Every so often, throughout the performance, the quiet of the auditorium would ring with the mischievous chuckle of a child, clearly showing that the children not only followed the plot rapturously, but that they got the jokes as well.

Bright, rich costumes, and vividly coloured puppets created an exciting and vibrant feast for the eyes.  A clever device was used, in the form of two sports commentators (with stereotypical voices), who were extremely funny, and created a lot of energy, and, together with the rest of the cast, kept the performance highly dynamic.  The humour is hard to pigeon-hole, as it was mainly very family friendly, often decidedly so, but occasionally a line or gesture was thrown in that was unsuitable for the children in the audience, but hopefully went over their heads.  It wasn’t entirely child-suitable, but as a whole experience, it’s very family orientated.

The characters are larger than life, and make it a kind of pantomime, but with the alfresco freshness of Summer.  Mordred, for example, played wonderfully by Robert Mountford, enters with energy, boldness, and loudness.  Again, very cleverly funny.

Every so often a line, or gesture, absolutely lit me up with joy.  For example, Lancelot being described as; ‘A bilingual, metro-sexual fairy’, or the moment when a siren went past outside at the precise moment of David Hartley’s line; ‘It makes all sounds melodious’, with a small inclination of his head, which couldn’t have been better timed if it had been planned.

Robert Mountford had a tendency, being tall and dressed dramatically all in black, to steal each scene he was in, no less than his shining moment, for me, when he came in as though he’d been decapitated, with the costume making it look as though he were holding his head under his arm, and he began to dance, which was so delightfully funny.  The giggles of children and adults alike could be heard above the music.

Lancelot, played perfectly by Paul-Ryan Carberry, was a pompous, dense fop, but played with intelligent humour.

When I saw As You Like It last week, I fell in love with Rosie Jones and her Maxine Peake spunk.  This week, as Elaine in Merlin, she didn’t disappoint.  One of my very favourite moments of the night was when someone asked; ‘Would you like some wine?’, and Elaine replied; ‘I would not! I am having a pie’.  It was one of those beautiful Waynetta Slob moments, with perfect comedic timing.  The later scenes whirl up into a dizzying chaos, as potions are brewed and drunk, time is warped, and the stage is flooded with the entire cast.  Throughout one of the most chaotic scenes, Rosie Jones (or should I say ‘Elaine’?) is walking around the edge of the audience, hunched over, eating a pie that she has just fallen in love with, thanks to one of the potions, giving disgusted and aggressive glares at the audience members.

Natalie Grady, who plays Morgana, made two appearances as a seemingly unassuming cleaning lady, dressed in overalls and headscarf, singing the Vera Lynn song; We’ll Meet Again, which could be perfectly unremarkable moments in the production, but for Grady’s growling delivery, and northern tea-lady charm, which was hilarious.

Alan McMahon’s Merlin, a tall, spindly figure, was camp, dapper, and Leslie-Neilson-posh.  His delivery and performance were completely golden in terms of comedy, so beautifully effeminate, and twinkly-eyed, and nimble-limbed.  In terms of the funny lines, his delivery was spot-on.

Nicholas Asbury’s commentator injected high-energy comedy, usually installed just above the audience’s heads in the special commentator’s box, he was wickedly funny, and the scenes with Poor Dee The River Girl were hilarious, especially the fight with the White Knight.  Any time a man is wearing a platinum wig, and fighting another man twice his size, only good things will happen.

The finale is grand, with another large-scale musical number, which leaves you on a note of feel-good warmth and energy.  I got a real feeling that the cast love what they’re doing, and they want their audience to enjoy it.  As a production, Merlin feels very warm-hearted, with wit and pomp, and theatricality, but all in the bliss of a park on a summer night.

Another perfect evening in the park, it really is the only way to spend a summer evening in England.  Go, while you still can!

My Mum said she felt 'Pampered', what with the delicious picnic we'd brought, and the comfy striped cushions we were given by the lovely people on the ticket desk.

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Summer is for Music and Dresses

When the weather is beautiful, all I want to do is put on a dress and listen to music.

Summer Playlist: 

1.  Two Door Cinema Club, Tourist History (Record)

  1. Cigarettes In The Theatre
  2. Come Back Home
  3. Do You Want It All ?
  4. This Is The Life
  5. Something Good Can Work
  6. I Can Talk
  7. Undercover Martyn
  8. What You Know
  9. Eat That Up, It’s Good For You
  10. You Are Not Stubborn

2. The Twang, Two Lovers (Track)
3. The Best of Fleetwood Mac (Record)

  1. Rhiannon
  2. Go Your Own Way
  3. Don’t Stop
  4. Gypsy
  5. Everywhere
  6. You Make Loving Fun
  7. Big Love
  8. As Long As You Follow
  9. Say You Love Me
  10. Dreams
  11. Little Lies
  12. Oh Diane
  13. Sara
  14. Tusk
  15. Seven Wonders
  16. Hold Me
  17. No Questions Asked

4. Dirty Pretty Things, B.U.R.M.A  (Track)

5. The Very Best of The Velvet Underground (Record)

  1. Sweet Jane
  2. I’m Sticking With You
  3. I’m Waiting For The Man
  4. What Goes On
  5. White Light/White Heat
  6. All Tomorrow’s Parties
  7. Pale Blue Eyes
  8. Femme Fatale
  9. Heroin
  10. Here She Comes Now
  11. Stephanie Says
  12. Venus In Furs
  13. Beginning To See The Light
  14. I Heard Her Call My Name
  15. Some Kinda Love
  16. I Can’t Stand It
  17. Sunday Morning
  18. Rock & Roll

6. The Libertines, Boys in the Band (Track)

7.  Blondie

Sunday Girl (Track)

Rapture (Track)

8. Bombay Bicycle Club, Flaws (Album) 

  1. Rinse Me Down
  2. Many Ways
  3. Dust On The Ground
  4. Ivy & Gold
  5. Leaving Blues
  6. Fairytale Lullaby
  7. Word By Word
  8. Jewel
  9. My God
  10. Flaws
  11. Swansea

9. The Emotions, Best of My Love (track)

10. Kasabian, Secret Alphabets (Track)

11. The Rolling Stones (Because it wouldn’t be summer without the Rolling Stones), Beast of Burden (Track).

12. Al Green

1. Tired of Being Alone (Track)

2. How Can You Mend a Broken Heart (Track)

The music you listen to in the summertime has to have a special quality.  It has to be light, and fresh, but deeply funky and soulful.  It’s the kind of music, as some of the tracks above have been for me, the kind of music that comes onto your i-pod when you have it on shuffle, lying on the sand of a beach, and it just feels perfect.  It’s about the music you’re listening to fitting the light around you perfectly; that golden-green light.  Summer music, more than any other, has to be music you love.

I had to restrain myself, because I didn’t want to stop compiling this list.  This is only a tiny selection of the music I’ll be listening to this summer.  Feel free to add to it.

The Start of Summer Outfits

Dress: Dorothy Perkins, Cardiagan : Jack Wills, Sandals: New Look.

Flowerpot Dress: Utam London at Dorothy Perkins, Cardigan: Jack Wills, Plimsolls: River Island.

I have a thing for clothes and flowers

Okay, it’s probably fair to say that it’s an obsession.  I love seeing clean washing blowing in the wind, and wild flowers, and the sun in the garden, and the green of the grass.  Over the Winter it’s necessary to dry your washing on radiators or maidens, indoors, with the heating on.  Once or twice, this Winter, I did put my washing out, and went to retrieve it a couple of hours later to find it frozen solid.  I even put some washing out when the garden was thick with snow, because I needed clean bedding.  However, when Spring comes we can hang clothes and sheets and white fluffy towels outside in the sun.  It’s a fact that sunshine is good for washing, it’s salubrious and somehow healthy, not to mention it dries it really well.  In the Spring and Summer there is a beautiful satisfaction to working hard all morning; sorting and piling and hauling clothes downstairs, washing them, putting them in a basket and carrying the heavy load outside, then to watch them blowing elegantly on the line, delicate rays of sun shining between them.  It is one of the greatest pleasures in life, in my life anyway.

The sight of washing in afternoon sunlight is so incredible to me, and so comforting, that I’m often compelled to photograph it, or write it into a poem, simply because I want to preserve the moment; I need evidence.  I feel that if I just tell people how beautiful it is, they won’t believe me.  I have a compulsion to fossilise and treasure the aesthetic, the feeling.

I recently wrote the line; ‘White towels blowing in the heather chives,/wild and purple where you planted them’, in a poem about the people in my life that I’ve lost, in particular my Grandad, who planted the chives.  I wanted to make the sight that I could see from the kitchen table as I was writing become part of the poem.

This is probably very boring to almost everyone else in the world, but just in case, here are some of these moments.


Goodreads – What I’m Reading

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Sylvia Plath said; "Let me live, love and say it well in good sentences". My aim in life is to find things and people to love, so that I can write about them. Putting words together is the only thing I can see myself doing. This blog is an outlet, and I hope you enjoy reading it. Please feel free to comment on posts, or contact me by the special e-mail I've set up (vikki.littlemore@live.co.uk) with your thoughts.


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The New Remorse, Oscar Wilde.

The sin was mine; I did not understand.
So now is music prisoned in her cave,
Save where some ebbing desultory wave
Frets with its restless whirls this meagre strand.
And in the withered hollow of this land
Hath Summer dug herself so deep a grave,
That hardly can the leaden willow crave
One silver blossom from keen Winter's hand.

But who is this who cometh by the shore?
(Nay, love, look up and wonder!) Who is this
Who cometh in dyed garments from the South?
It is thy new-found Lord, and he shall kiss
The yet unravished roses of thy mouth,
And I shall weep and worship, as before.

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Music I Love (In no particular order, except that The Smiths are first)

The Smiths,
The Libertines,
The Courteeners,
Nina Simone,
Oasis,
Pete Doherty,
Gossip,
The Kills,
Amy Winehouse,
Arctic Monkeys,
Rod Stewart,
The Doors,
The Rolling Stones,
Etta James,
Babyshambles,
T. Rex,
The Jam,
Morrissey,
Guillemots,
The Kinks,
Jack White,
The Deadweather,
David Bowie,
The Winchesters,
The Cure,
Kaiser Chiefs,
The Kooks,
The Twang,
Kings Of Leon,
Pulp,
Blur,
The Housemartins,
The Ramones,
James,
Robots in Disguise,
The Klaxons,
Kate Nash,
The Raconteurs,
Regina Spektor,
Aretha Franklin,
Stereophonics,
The Contours,
Dirty Pretty Things,
The White Stripes,
New York Dolls,
Yeah Yeah Yeahs,
The Clash,
Style Council,
Velvet Underground,
The Horrors,
The Cribs,
Reverend and The Makers,
The Subways,
The Wombats,
Foals,
Elle S'appelle,
The Troggs,
The Beatles,
Echo and the Bunnymen,
Florence and the Machine.

Olive Cotton, Tea Cup Ballet, 1935

Olive Cotton, Tea Cup Ballet, 1935

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Will it ever be alright for Blighty to have a Queen Camilla?

One less tree from our window each day


Vikki's bookshelf: read

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
1984
Twilight
Of Mice and Men
Pride and Prejudice
The Hobbit
The Da Vinci Code
Lolita
Tipping the Velvet
Wuthering Heights
The Picture of Dorian Grey and Other Works by Oscar Wilde
Bridget Jones's Diary and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason
Irish Peacock & Scarlet Marquess: The Real Trial of Oscar Wilde
The Peculiar Memories of Thomas Penman
Moab Is My Washpot
The Bell Jar
The Other Boleyn Girl
On the Road
Brideshead Revisited
Revolutionary Road



Vikki Littlemore's favorite books »

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