Archive | October, 2015

The smell of wine and Oresteia

22 Oct

I walked into my kitchen tonight and it smelled like wine. This was alarming for two reasons: 1. I don’t have any wine in my kitchen, and 2. I had just gotten back from an outstanding performance of Oresteia, where wine was used throughout and the girl next to me was constantly sipping a glass, so it felt like 4-D smell-o-vision, and now it had somehow followed me back to my kitchen.

oresteia londonOresteia was my 32nd London show (9th this year). It was actually not on my radar until I was queuing for Photograph 51 a few weeks ago and a wise promoter came by and handed out flyers for it, noting that they still had tickets available. This was one of those rare, rare occasions where being handed a flyer on the street actually lead to a purchase. I was intrigued by the photos and reviews of the show, calling it a “once-in-a-lifetime piece of theatre” and “the best show of the year.” Despite studying Latin, ancient Greek and the classics for many years, I’m not strongly drawn to ancient theatre. It always seemed — dare I say — boring. But Oresteia was thoroughly modernized and boy, oh boy was it good. All three and a half hours of it. And the best part was I scored a £15 ticket on the night before, which meant I did not have to wake up early to queue for a day seat (which would have cost me twice as much, not to mention less sleep). Normally I shy away from online theatre ticket sales because the booking fees are outrageous and the box office is almost always cheaper, but not this time. I’ll have to keep you in mind for next time,

Anyway — the wine smell. Once I determined it was not the wrath of Clytemnestra or Orestes clinging to my being, I sniffed around for the culprit. My nose drew me to the fruit bowl. The bananas were giving off a slight “why are you not eating us, we’re gonna be super brown soon” scent, but that wasn’t it. I picked up the pineapple — the pineapple I bought at Aldi on Monday and meant to put in the fridge the next day. There was a white fuzzy mold on the bottom and it was spreading around the skin. In a last ditch attempt to rescue the fruit, I cut it open and ate a small slice. It tasted like wine. I don’t think I’ve ever had pineapple wine (does it exist?) and if I did, I would probably like it. But I did not like this pineapple. I promptly spit it out and reluctantly threw an entire once-good fruit in the garbage. What a waste. Although after watching a father murder his daughter, a wife murder her husband, and a son murder his mother, I guess losing a pineapple doesn’t seem too bad.

The best running roadblock ever

19 Oct

First, something completely random. I logged into Facebook yesterday afternoon and these were my top 3 trending news stories:

facebook news

Even using the term “news” loosely, how in the world did they cobble together these three stories? Christmas is still over 2 months away. They can’t even predict London weather two hours from now. The second story is at least interesting and I was even tempted to click the link. As for the third one, nobody cares about the Kardashians, but if they did, at this time Kourtney is the least interesting of them all. Is this her big move for more notoriety — wearing a skeleton outfit? Her sister’s ex-husband is fighting for his life after a drug and brothel bender, and Kourtney is wearing a skeleton outfit? And it’s a trending story?


On Sunday Stephen and I were on our usual run through Regents Park when we saw a large crowd of people and dogs blocking the pathway ahead.

“Should we go around?” I asked him.

“No, let’s just run through them,” he replied.

“Oh look, there’s a BT!” I said as I noticed a Boston terrier in the crowd. And then as my eyes focused in I noticed another. And another. And suddenly it became clear that this was not just some random crowd of people blocking the path — this was a world record attempt London Boston terrier meetup and we were about to run through it! Boston terriers are one of my top 5 favorite dog breeds and I used to dogsit a pair of them back in Chicago. I love BTs! I really wanted to stop and play with them, but had to resort to sketchily taking a photo from a distance because I’m antisocial like that.

boston terrier regents park

And now I feel a desire to look up when the next local pug and corgi meetups will be. What’s the rule on showing up to a dog meetup without a dog? Is it akin to showing up at Chuck E. Cheese’s without a kid?  Asking for a friend, of course…

More friends for the day [seats]

8 Oct

On Tuesday afternoon on my walk home after my run I was listening to the Alison Rosen is Your New Best Friend podcast and guest Riki Lindhome was talking about her recent trip to London. She said she saw a bunch of West End shows and Gypsy was her favorite. Now I’ve seen posters and ads for Gypsy starring Imelda Staunton (aka Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter) for months now and had no desire to see it. I was not very familiar with the music or plot (something about strippers?) and I’ve realized over the years that I prefer plays to musicals. (I just did the math and only 9 of the 30 London shows I’ve seen have been musicals. Although I guess that’s kind of a lot for someone who says she doesn’t prefer them.) But for some reason the moment I heard Riki Lindhome gushing about how great the show and Imelda Staunton were, I decided right then and there I was going to go see the show as soon as possible (which meant the next day matinee).

gypsy london dolores umbridgeSo yesterday morning I went down to the Savoy Theatre and queued for day seats. Fun fact: of those 9 musicals I’ve seen in London, I only got day seats for 2 of them: Viva Forever and Wicked. There’s a reason for this. Musical day seats aren’t always available, and when they are they’re usually more expensive, more in demand and not always front row. For Gypsy I paid £25 to be in the 4th row of the grand circle (which is the nice way of saying the highest balcony section. There is even a separate entrance so the posh stalls folks don’t have to deal with us grand circle peasants). The Savoy is rather small so I still had a good view of all the action and did not get a nosebleed, however it was hard for me to fork over £25 when just last week I paid £10 to see Nicole Kidman in Photograph 51 from the second row. Still, I’m glad I went and Riki Lindhome was right — Imelda Staunton was amazing! I had no idea Dolores Umbridge could sing that well.

Although I’m an introvert who dreads the idea of small talk, I’m always glad when I talk to my fellow day seaters. Theatre people are a unique breed. I never really thought of myself as one of them, but now that I’ve got 31 London shows under my belt I can’t deny it. During the Gypsy interval the woman from Vancouver on my left and the women from the Midlands, England on my right and I had your typical theatre geek conversation that goes like this:

Have you seen InsertWestEndShowHere?

Answer 1: Yes, it’s brilliant!
Answer 2: No, but I want to. Have you?

Yes, it’s brilliant! InsertActorNameHere is brilliant!

Answer 1: PretendToUnderstandWhoSaidActorIsAndAgree
Answer 2: Oh yes, I saw him in InsertShowHere and he was brilliant!

Repeat with every single show currently playing in the West End.

I joke about it, but I actually enjoy that type of conversation. These women were probably a good 30 years older than me, but that only showed when they mentioned shows or actors from before my time. It was nice to be able to talk about something that wasn’t “What do you do?” or “How do you like London?” I wish I could have talked to the lady from the Midlands more, because I overheard her talking to the gentleman queuing next to her in the morning about living and working in China, but I was a few people back, and now that I was sitting next to her in the show couldn’t just say, “Yes, Nicole Kidman was brilliant. You know what else I bet is brilliant? Living in China, amiright?” This woman may have been way more outspoken and oversharing than your typical English woman, but there are still UK conversation etiquette rules.

Now that it’s October and with a few blinks it’ll be November and then Thanksgiving, theatre FOMO (fear of missing out — isn’t that what the kids are saying these days? I wouldn’t know since I’m basically a 60-year-old woman who lives at matinees) is kicking in full force and I’m trying to squeeze in all the shows I want to see that are closing soon. I’m really glad I caught Photograph 51 with Nicole Kidman. Not only was her acting brilliant, but the story about the discovery of the structure of DNA has been something that’s interested me since high school biology class. Although it was sad — my first thought after the show was “I have to tell Mr. W (my high school biology teacher) about this, he would love it!” and then I remembered he passed away almost a year ago. The older woman sitting next to me at the show asked me if I knew much about the story. I told her I studied it in school. She laughed and said when she was in school they barely knew what DNA and chromosomes were. It’s amazing how much science can change over 50 years.

I’m currently at 8 shows for 2015. I hit 9 last year (and in 2013), so I only need to see 1 more to tie the record, 2 to break it. I think I can manage that.