Monday, bloody Monday

It might be the damp gloom of a London morning, as drizzle festers into heavy, slow droplets.
It might be the twinge of a pulled leg muscle (Moral: “Don’t run after a bus or a woman: there’ll be another along in a minute”).
Most likely it’s the faintest lingering of a white wine hang-over.

Anyway, Malcolm is distinctly Gershwin-ish:

I was a stranger in the city:
Out of town were the people I knew.
I had that feeling of self-pity —
What to do, what to do, what to do?
The outlook was decidedly blue

Any day improves on a dose of Ella, even though that isn’t her best version.

as rough As are the swelling Adriatic seas

Coffee taken, it’s catch up with yesterday’s unconquered newsprint. Susannah Clapp, doing theatre for The Observer (in a very good edition, all round), is a trifle snippy about Trevor Nunn’s Kiss Me Kate at Chichester:

It could be called Trevolution: that peculiar pace at which a Nunn show unwinds. At its best it brings a long array of new detail. At its worst it’s sluggish and wit-dispelling. Kiss Me Kate is Nunn at his worst. Cole Porter’s terrific music and dextrous, startling rhymes can both leaven and expose that most arid of Shakespeare’s plays on which it is based. Not in this production, which adds facetiousness to the disagreeableness of The Taming of the Shrew.

That will transfer to the Old Vic in September, and the Redfellows are already booking for it. Most of the other critics are far more positive: Christopher Hart, all Cultured up for the Sunday Times, coos nicely:

Alex Bourne, playing Fred Graham/Petruchio, has the necessary mordancy and domineering harshness, but he convinces with actorly vanity and hamminess … Hannah Waddington is  perfect and touching as Lilli, swaggeringly, boorishly manly as Kate in I Hate Men.

Possibly the best laughs come from the fantastically dim and subservient blonde (or is he?) Lois Lane, played by Holly Dale Spencer. Of the minor characters, Wendy Mae Brown makes the most of a sadly small role.

The choreography by Stephen Mears is an absolute joy, as good as anything you’ll see in the West End, and the singing is crisply clear … Trevor Nunn’s productions have not always been entirely successful recently, but this is a great return to form, loading on numerous neat touches and visual gags ..

There has to be salt with all this red meat, so Hart chimes with Clapp to conclude:

Tighter pacing and some cutting might have helped. The one universal complaint you regularly hear among theatre-goers is that it went on too long. I’ve never heard anyone say it was too short.

Her name is Katharina Minola

Malcolm has had a very soft spot for Kiss Me Kate, ever since Howard Keel and Kathryn Grayson at the long-gone Regal:

Having occasionally to teach The Shrew convinced Malcolm that the druggist’s son had improved on the son of the glover.

Later he saw Michael Blakemore’s Broadway revival at the Martin Beck Theatre, still running in the summer of 2001. On that same trip, the Lady in his Life and Malcolm agreed to defer viewing New York City from the top of the World Trade Center: it would always be there another year. Marin Mazzie was Lilli/Katharine then, and came to London with the production, where Malcolm caught the show again.

Harkening back to Christopher Hart on lengthy performances, there’s an obvious rejoinder in the magnificent patter-duet that is Brush Up Your Shakespeare. With the requirements of Eisenhower-era “decency”, this was necessarily and shamefully abbreviated for Keenan Wynn and James Whitmore in the 1953 MGM film. As a result, Malcolm had never relished the full-length version until done by Lee Wilkof and Michael Mulheren, which was one of the show-stoppers. Here (in a rostrum performance) is the finest five-minute scene change in theatrical history:

As the rain passes, and the day moves to noon, with a hint of brightness, the lethargy lifts.

And, that, folks, is how Malcolm clears his head, this World UFO Day.


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Filed under censorship, culture, films, health, London, Music, New York City, Observer, Quotations, Shakespeare, Sunday Times, Taming of the Shrew, Theatre, weather, Wells-next-the-Sea

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