Sunday, August 12, 2007

beautiful, crowded, and strange

Another busy Saturday. More of the beautiful weather, though there were constant batches of clouds, and 56% chance of rain. Winds were in the East, and Nannies were blowing up and down Gloucester Road.

Blowing up and down Portobello Road were the Wolverines, prowling for cheap things we could stuff in our suitcases and give away to family and friends as exotic European presents. I love Portobello Road, because it always makes me feel like a bald, red-state Hugh Grant. No one in our group had seen Notting Hill, so nobody got any of my Portobello allusions, jokes, and thinly-veiled references. Their loss! I'm not going to tell you what I bought on Portobello road, because it might be for you! But I did buy a t-shirt that says Cuba for myself. And someone please explain to me why I did that. Portobello was packed today, which meant we trotted up and down the road like lemmings, but it was still fun to see all the antiques, the flea market, and the fish stands. One man got mad at Mark and me for touching his magnifying glasses. Another man gave me a free head massage. In retrospect, was that a good idea?

I saw a matinee of Harold Pinter's The Hothouse today at the National. Wow. Crazy show. Really spooky and funny. Social realism. It's all about a care center which may be a rest home, which may also be an asylum. The set was amazing - it looked like the interior of a really crappy concrete 1950's loony bin. The architecture was all ragged mid-century modern, and the walls all looked like cinder blocks and deterioration. The play itself went a hundred miles an hour, and I thought Finbar Lynch was a knock-out as Gibbs. Really smooth and really spooky. Spooky because he's a serial killer, and also because he looks exactly like Adam Levine.

After this we had time to kill before Merchant of Venice, so we went to the Tate Modern where I particularly enjoyed, and was properly guiltified by, the overcrowded cities exhibit. I also enjoyed these works:

Broadway, by Ellsworth Kelly

Girl in a Chemise, by Pablo Picasso

Workshop, by Wyndham Lewis

Also we saw a fountain made of statues peeing and throwing up, and a giant compost pile that sang Cyndi Lauper's Time After Time. Art is alive!

Finally, more Shakespeare. Back to the Globe for our final dance with the Bard. This was the best of all three. It was funny when it needed to be, tough when it needed to be, and a little randy when it needed to be. Let it never be said that the Globe shies away from sex. But MofV is a snappy play, the plot moves and there's not a lot of pontificating (until Portia's mercy speech.) Standouts for me were Dale Rapley as the miserable love-sick Antonio, Kirsty Besterman as the quick Portia, and the fantastic Craig Gazey, who made Launcelot Gobbo one of the laziest, east-endiest, thick-skinned servants I've ever seen. He was hilarious.

We walked home over the Millennium Bridge for the last time this trip. St. Paul's was lit up, and everything was a little nicer, a little cleaner, and a little more exciting than ever before.