Well, three now, actually. But I begin to ramble already...
So. One week, bookended by two ever so special nights out. First up, Sunday. A gig. I ended up going on my own to BEN FOLDS. Yes, that bloody man again. Oh yes. and it was absolutely bloody marvellous. I went went wearing a ridiculous pair of high heeled boots because I knew how low the floor was, and met with my mate Rich and his girlfriend who somewhat bizarrely had won a pair of tickets a day before. It turned out they were upstairs and I was down... aargh! No! So instead of a nice night out with hardly-ever-see-him Rich, we had 5 minutes in a queue before I went to stand as close to the bloody stage as possible.
He played for well over 2 hours, that man! He rocked the bloody house! Played a bunch of songs from the new album and the fake album, then plowed straight in to a mass of old songs, about 4 or 5 of which were alone at the piano. He played "Fair", which I adore. A daft, singalong BF5 classic with bittersweet lyrics. All the ones you'd expect, too - for some reason a ton from Silverman and nothing from Super-Sunny but then, just one encore. A double speed "One angry dwarf" that ripped the roof off.
One of the best gigs I've been to. And what a wonderful, wonderful night.
Fast forward to Friday night and a preview night for "Hamlet", as the cast are getting used to the London stage. My friend Mac queued for nearly 3 hours outside the theatre whilst I was gainfully employed on the telephone and internet (to no avail), and we got *corking* seats. Bang in the middle, only 3 rows or so from the front. The theatre is one of those lovely, homely, slightly ragged looking jobs with baroquish gold leaf and filigree balconies. The stage design was perfect for the performance - an empty stage backed with high glass mirrored doors which doubled the conceptual size but also, brilliantly, reflected the audience upon itself, making it feel a lot like a stage in the round.
I'd actually forgotten the beginning of the play, in terms of the set up of the plot. I'd forgotten that Hamlet's Father was already dead, so the opening scene, of the court, with Patrick Stewart regal, calm and generous was perfect. You'd never have known what was going on. Patrick Stewart acts with such grace. He's glorious to watch. As his true nature was drawn forth, the black, evil streak up his spine was subtle but hard and icy. Brilliantly controlled. He's a bloody Master, in't he. But what of Mr Tennant, the soon to exit Hamlet?
He was bloody brilliant. There were a couple of speeches, early on where I felt he had such a connection to the words, there was a real sense of Shakespeare the man talking through Hamlet the character about life experience, coping with life events as an intelligent young man. The words felt fresh and new, which for Hamlet is astonishing. David Tennant was a young, arrogant, smart university student with a cynical sense of humour. He sneered, and he took the piss, mimicking other characters but not in a way that felt forced. In a way that felt very real, and funny. Bored, unable or unwilling to go back to university and shadowed by a grief of monstrous proportions, he was physical and rangey. The audience loved him, and loved the whole troupe, laughing at all the gags (and the sight gags not in the script). It was at least 30 / 40% youthful, and that energy, reflected back off the stage by the very set itself energised the cast.
The first scene, he felt a little bit stiff, to be honest, but then it was a preview. The first soliloquy, he fell to the ground in grief for his Father, but it felt like acting. I mused, "Your Dad's still alive" as I watched. It didn't feel like he could channel anything from having really lost someone of that stature in his own life. That's not to say it was bad though, Jaysus.
How lucky am I? Not just two absolutely superb nights out in one week, but also, the two nights McK and I have managed to get out to see a play this year were Othello, with Chiwetel Ejiofor as the Othello of a lifetime (and brilliant, brilliant acting all round from the whole cast - with Ewan McGregor doing at least a memorable turn, if not an iconic one) and now this! A hamlet so vital and alive, David Tennant must be crushed with misery that he's out of the production. Like I said - how lucky? I think he only lasted another couple of performances after the previews before his back pain became too bad.
Funny, before he was in Dr Who, I sneered that he was a skinny streak of piss and would be terrible. I take back my stupid assessment absolutely. He's a wiry ball of charismatic energy. He's got that 'thing' that only some actors have. That magnetism thing.
What a glorious week.