Thursday, January 3, 2008

Stuff We've been doing here in London

Others things we’ve done:

*The American style New Year’s day parade with 1,200 American cheerleaders and a bunch of American High School marching bands. It was pretty cute- most of London’s boroughs entered floats and there were borough beauty queens who looked bored and cold, a giant kinetic sculpture of a tiger, an Indian Scottish pipe band, Harley Davidson clubs, a fire engine from Bethesda, MD (we understand why the WWII trucks and tanks are in the UK, but a not terribly historic fire engine?), historic bicycle clubs, a bunch of clowning groups, and my favorite: a group of miniature steam engines. Basically I want one.

*The Soane Musuem: Okay, so maybe he was a great architect but what a trippy museum. He had a special act from Parliament that means that the house is in the same state that it was when he died in 1837. It is interesting in terms of seeing how museum curating has changed and how different museum aesthetics are now. There is virtually no explanation of any of the artifacts, and there are tons of artifacts. The walls are *covered* and some of the walls swing out on hinges so that more can be displayed on the walls behind the first walls. The sheer volume is overwhelming, and a bunch of the artifacts are just creepy. There is so much stuff in the house and the hallways are so narrow that at times my shoulders would be touching the walls. My shoulders and I’m not that big. Nancy and I decided that we were both happy that we have never had to live with Sir John Soane. Also it was totally cool to see Hogarth’s The Rake’s progress, not the prints, but the paintings.

*The café in The Victoria and Albert Museum. This was my discovery (I only mention this because it means that someday I might get to be as good as Andy at finding out of the way, cool stuff.) I remembered it from a book that I read at Mical and Dan’s house called “Whatever You Think, Think the Opposite” and it had a slogan that the V&A used at one point which was “An ace Café with quite a nice Museum attached.” It turns out to be the first museum restaurant in the world. Quite tasty food too.

*A puppet version of Cinderella at The Little Angel Theatre in Islington. The UK’s leading puppet theatre. The most abstract version of Cinderella ever. There were stick puppets and marionettes and the whole story was told through the music and the puppets movements except for a few bits where the puppeteers spoke in French. A number of extra characters were represented simply by shapes without faces. The kids seemed to be following the story more easily than the three of us were. Andy said later that they could advertise by promoting their ability to speak a language that only children will understand- the parent’s will be flummoxed. This was the first thing we went to that Andy found and then a few days later Time Out magazine wrote a big spread about. The second thing was The Young Ones

*The Young Ones was a musical at a theatre called “Upstairs at the Gatehouse.” The theatre is located on the second floor (first floor, whatever) of a pub in Highgate that has been there more or less since the 1670’s though there are arguments to be made for an Inn being on that site as far back as 1337. (1337!) The musical was a fringe theatre adaptation of a 1950’s movie of the same title that starred the UK’s answer to Elvis- Cliff Richard. It was pretty charming, and in such a small theatre we were practically on the stage. It was cool seeing such classic musical theatre choreography so close up. They played it very straight and without irony, which was sweet but also highlighted how incredibly predictable the plot is.

3 comments:

Moogle Crusader said...

that sounds like it was a lot of fun!

-Matt D

Casitareina said...

Oh, it was. Also, all of that happened in the last three days. We've been kind of busy.

Andy said...

Actually, the Cinderella puppet show was Nancy's idea, and a very good one. The Little Angel Theatre was listed on the walking tour card, saying "Don't laugh, this is the capital of British puppetry". Nancy read the bulletin board and found out about the Cinderella show. A few days later, TimeOut published a 3-page feature article and a review of the show, and then everybody knew about it.