Thursday, January 22, 2009

Three Big Nights

Three hot summer nights: three wildly different forms of entertainment.

Tuesday: after an appallingly hot day, an evening picnic (pea, leek and mint frittata: chicken and apricot salad; and raspberry bakewell tart: all made by my own fair hands) in the botanical gardens, followed by a lively performance of Taming of the Shrew. The cool change had come in and by the end of the evening I had wrapped the picnic blanket over my knees, and those of my parents. As night darkened, the stage was beautifully lit against a backdrop of cypress and eucalypts. Possums appeared in the trees; flying foxes flew above us; and moths circled in the floodlights. But what a difficult play it is. This was a fairly "straight" comic production, with a nod to the cross-dressing Rufus Sewell BBC version. Oh, what the hell: why shouldn't we have a picture here?



But really: surely this play should put an end to the idea of Shakespeare as the man for all seasons and times kind of thing? I think there are a number of ways around its difficult politics: something allegorical about the accommodations required in all marriages, perhaps. Or something about the deliberately provocative final speech, delivered by a boy in women's clothes? something like the envoi in Chaucer's Clerk's Tale? But none of these rationalisations is straightforward! Anyway, lots of discussion as people made their way to their cars. If Shakespeare's plan was to get men and women talking to each other, it worked!

Last night, a different kind of Melbourne event. We booked tickets for the tennis a few days ago, not knowing who'd be playing, and really lucked out to be part of the jubilant, warm, excited crowd that welcomed Jelena Dokic back into its arms. The poor girl still looks dreadfully troubled, even damaged, but the crowd was willing to recognise the struggle she has had with her father and all (and is of course desperate to find an Australian tennis champion). And she played brilliantly, and emotionally, narrowly losing the second set in a tie-break, but eventually edging out the No. 17 seed. We all screamed and yelled. Joel was at first very disapproving of any applause of poor play by Anna Chakvetadze, but was soon yelling out "c'mon Jelena" with the rest of us. We were part of a record crowd for a single day of any Grand Slam event. We got there around 5, and caught fragments of a few matches that were finishing up; feasted on gourmet sausages (my lads); and nori rolls and rice paper rolls (me and Paul's mother), before we headed up to the fourth back row of the stadium. But who cared? The atmosphere was electric, and our sight of the court fantastic. I've half a mind to go again next week.

Tonight it was time to stay home, and chill out. One of Joel's friends had lent him the Julie Tamar film, Across the Universe. Here's the trailer:



A wonderful, wonderful film, though probably much better on a big screen. But in your loungeroom, you can sing along. I'm going out tomorrow to buy a copy of Abbey Road.

4 comments:

Pavlov's Cat said...

What, no Obama-watching? And me up till 4.30 am with the tissue box! But I also watched that Dokic match -- wish I'd known you were there, I would have been looking for you in the crowd shots. I thought she looked calmer than I've ever seen her, but there was obviously something edgier that didn't come across on the teeve. And compared to poor Chakvedatze, anyone would have looked calm, I guess.

Stephanie Trigg said...

Well, it's weird. We were so far up the back you could only *see* emotion in an obvious sense if you looked up at the big screens and recognised the format of what would be televised highlights. But there was something about being part of the crowd waiting and waiting for some emotion being directed to us — as it was, very graciously and gratifyingly, at the end, when she let her concentration drop — that was quite different from watching it at home. And part of the interest in watching her, live or on tv, is the tension between past and present, private and public, yes?

Was too tired to stay up or get up for Obama. But have been doing my duty on the web, don't you worry...

pinsandthimbles said...

The Taming of the Shrew is a difficult play, certainly. To my mind it was done wonderfully by the BBC in their Shakespeare series from the 80s. Many of these are AWFUL; I fell asleep twenty minutes into an unedited Troilus and Cressida. But John Cleese as Petruchio: perfect. Just the right balance of mocking Kate's seriousness and enjoying her spirit. You can still get it for $10 from ABC shops or from the ERC at Melbourne Uni.

Michael said...

BIG NIGHT is a charming little gem. It isn't about much of anything, and yet the emotions are more genuinely expressed that many a more pretension endeavor. This is not a particular important picture, and it will certainly not be much of a money maker, but it is full of heart and some nice pieces of acting.
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michael gentry

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