Review, travel

The Art of London

Two weeks ago today, I had just returned from Japan the night before, but was up, at it, and off to London!

It might seem not-exactly-sensible to have committed to a weekend away immediately after returning from such a trip, but working life led to it really with that being my only three day weekend for the rest of the year, due my dad’s birthday being during August Bank Holiday. For my birthday in April, Alex’s parents kindly got me vouchers for theatre tickets that could be redeemed for most theatres in the country, in complete acceptance of my wish to collect memories not things. Now, despite me not being the biggest fan of London in the slightest, it must be admitted that London does have the best theatres with the widest range of shows. London is also home to the BFI, one of four places in the country showing Dunkirk in 70mm, the British Library that currently has an exhibition about the Russian Revolution running, one of my great friends from Keele, Georgia, and Cantina Laredo that makes your guacamole in front of you. Weekend: sorted.

The Ferryman

The Ferryman is the latest creation from Jez Butterworth, who is famed for ‘Jerusalem’. Without wanting to give too much away, it is based on an Irish family in the 1980s. The vast majority of the play takes place in the kitchen in home of Quinn Carney, his wife and seven children, three older relatives, and his sister-in-law and her son. They appear to be based in the Republic of Ireland, but when cousins ‘from the town’ come to visit, the town referred to is Derry (where my dad’s from incidentally), and that is in Northern Ireland, so they’re probably very close to the border. You can see Donegal from Derry, so I imagine it is probably there.

The set is used very well, meaning that you aren’t constantly staring at one point of the stage, even though there is only one set mainly used. The characters that come in and out also add great depth to what is being performed, and keep you alert throughout the three hours that the play lasts. All of the actors play their roles very well, and with great sincerity, that is including the children. The storyline is also very sincere, and as far as I can tell, accurate. The family are Catholic, and the IRA are involved in the plot, but it isn’t overdone or farcical, there is something very genuine about the whole play.

It’s an absolute must-see, and I’d love even more people to discuss it with!

DunkirkAs with ‘The Hateful Eight’ by Tarrantino, ‘Dunkirk’ was filmed in 70mm, with only four cinemas in the UK able to show it in exactly that. It was released more broadly, but the actual picture is somewhat skewed, eg. black lines needed at the top and bottom of the screen. It’s a real film-nerd thing to specifically seek out to go and watch, but that’s my Alex! And to be honest, I really appreciated it to.

The film was absolutely incredible!

With little dialogue it was a very serene experience, even though you were watching extremely emotional events. In general, I’m not the biggest fan of war films. I’m a massive history nerd, so appreciate them on that level absolutely, but I detest war and people killing each other so I usually end up angry and sad. (Side note: Desmond Doss recently became an absolute hero of mine, and ‘Hacksaw Ridge’ a film that has completely touched my because of this). I definitely did get angry and sad when watching ‘Dunkirk’, but I also felt sheer elation at the end.

Everyone in it played their parts very well, but with the lack of dialogue it wasn’t possible for any brewing egos to emerge. I have to give props to Harry Styles, as I imagine it must have been ridiculously intimidating working with such greats as Kenneth Brannagh and Tom Hardy, but he performed his role admirably.

The Russian Revolution Exhibition 

I have always been interested in Russian history, but have only actually studied Peter the Great, so in terms of knowledge ‘westernisation’ is the phrase I know. Alex however, is far more knowledgeable about Russia, having studied it to the point of writing his undergraduate dissertation about it. That meant that going in to the exhibition we both in the same book, but on very different pages. Having said that, I feel with both were able to enjoy it. I think Alex’s enjoyment was more of an appreciation for the artefacts that were available and what not, while for me, I enjoyed learning more about events that thoroughly interest me.

It was a very well but together exhibition, and made logical sense in the way that it was laid out. There wasn’t a lot to it though, and even with reading pretty much everything readable, watching everything watchable, it only took about an hour for us to go around. This was fine in terms of ‘value for money’ as we had 2 for 1 tickets that were made available when we booked our train tickets, and we didn’t have all afternoon due to getting the train home. If you are planning to go there without any other plans for the day though, I would make other plans, as it really doesn’t take that long.


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