Thursday, 13 December 2012

Low Tide03:38 (0.70m)
High Tide09:50 (2.60m)
Low Tide16:00 (0.60m)
High Tide22:16 (2.60m)
Sea temperature: not taken
Sea conditions: choppy
Weather: a bitter, bitter wind getting up, blowing in from the sea.
Joined by: Sara and The Poet
Topics of conversation:
Again not much chat today as the wind was bitter - a 'lazy wind' as it's called here, as it's too lazy to go around you and just blows straight through you. There was one topic on everyone's mind though: Privates on Parade. The Swimmers are all going down on Saturday to see the show and The Poet was keen to know how I'd found it, I was able to be honest as DK hadn't arrived get... it's brilliant! I'm not an aficionado of the musical play by any stretch of the imagination but you have to be completely heartless to find it anything but touching. The reviews have been universally glowing, The Guardian had issued theirs online as the cast and crew (and general hangers on like me) had been celebrating the opening night at the National Portrait Gallery and as the word spread everyone desperately grappled with their canapés, glasses of fizz and smart phones to see how it had been written up. The cry went up "5 STARS!" and then the toasting really started. Michael Billington:
"Michael Grandage could hardly have made a better start to his five-show West End season than with this joyous revival of Peter Nichols's 1977 play with music. With songs by Denis King, it is much more than a star vehicle for Simon Russell Beale: it offers a heady mix of personal memoir, musical parody and jaundiced account of postwar colonial politics." (See full review here)

By 1am we were back at the hotel scoffing sushi in the bar, after Legs made her smashing entrance, scouring the online reviews to find The Guardian wasn't a one off - hurrah for DK! Oh and the rest of the rather professional and totally delightful team. They are such a great bunch and DK has really enjoyed working with them, especially the director Michael Grandage. 
The Guardian, The Telegraph and The Times were the three reviews everyone was most concerned about on the night as they are obviously hoping for a commercial success, and by breakfast they were in.
Charles Spencer in The Telegraph was captivated by Simon Russell Beale's performance - even though he was suffering terribly with a heavy cold - "Grandage’s outstanding production is also blessed with an irresistible star performance from Simon Russell Beale. He plays the outrageously camp Captain Terri Dennis, who refers to our Lord as Jessica Christ and during a moment of stress memorably announces: “You dare speak to an officer like that and I’ll scream the place down.” With his bottle-blond hair and fleshy face leering delightedly at every conceivable double entendre, Russell Beale is superbly entertaining, and offers brilliant turns in the show’s delightful pastiche songs (lyrics by Nichols, music by Denis King) with impersonations of Marlene Dietrich, Carmen Miranda, Vera Lynn and Noël Coward, all but the latter performed in extravagant drag. 

My favourite line from this review, and in fact from all those I have read so far was "It Ain't Half Hot Mum it ain't" which really sums up how the play brings the writer Peter Nichols's experiences in Malaysia to the contemporary audience in a context which is quite changed from the first run in 1977. Time Out also gave it 5 stars and a great quote for the programme: 'Apocalypse Now' given the Kenneth Williams remix or 'Cabaret' retold by Noël Coward

Variety's David Benedict name checked DK in a very favourable light too "Armed with Denis King's top-notch musical parodies and lips ever-ready to purse, Beale's wonderfully timed reveling in the role is seriously infectious. It is, however, considerably deepened by the world-weariness and the sense of bitter experience he brings to it. His hints at the private difficulties of being publicly homosexual in the 1940s, when it was entirely illegal, is all the more powerful for being suggested rather than overplayed"

I'm sure that the village trip down on Saturday will be wonderful and I know the The Poet will love it. He asked if Legs and I had managed to find ourselves glam enough for the West End, being aware of our own little dramas trying to find clothes and I reassured him that we certainly achieved some kind of glamour, although DK's description of us as "high class hookers" wasn't really what we were aiming for... He compounded his felony when we both looked at him askance by adding that he meant the kind that charge £1000 a minute, but hey - it was his night, I'll hit him later, when he's not expecting it.

Links to individual reviews:

Couldn't have offered a more solid piece of theatre
A master class in authenticity, structure and characterisation
Remains as piercingly original as it must have been when the RSC originally premiered it in 1977
Parody, political intrigue and period charm: this was more than just the sum of its Privates
This makes small potatoes of Glastonbury
a wonderfully funny show, it's panto season, and here's Simon Russell Beale in a dress - what more could a red-blooded Englishman want?

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