Monday, July 27, 2009

portobello, petya trofimov, and ponies

Up and out early, as we were beckoned by the sights and smells of Portobello Road! It's always fun to check out Portobello Road, even if I never buy anything. Well, actually I bought a Nutella and strawberry crepe. But I never buy anything substantial, because the last time I did it was a shirt that said Cuba and it shrunk in the wash. But the weather was perfect today and we set out to see what Portobello had to offer. Hyrum and I got quickly separated from the ladies, because the ladies actually stop to look at things. We set off on our own and spied a few interesting things, including the Electric Cinema, the UK's oldest working movie theatre with the cushiest leather seats. There are actually leather lounge chairs, for those of you who may want to stretch out during your movie. It's fantastic. I wish we had those at our movie theatres at home, though if we did, people would stuff all of their kids on one lounge chair to save money.

We continued up Portobello Road, stopping to look at the fresh food section, and holding our breath past the fish stand. At the end of the road Hyrum and I ran into a pub called the Fat Badger. As far as pub names go, the Fat Badger is pretty standard. Pub names can be basically anything. But we couldn't pass up the chance to have a Diet Pepsi in the Fat Badger, and it hit the spot!

We continued our little tour of Notting Hill by stopping in at All Saints Church, and then continued on past My Beautiful Laundrette, the site of a Daniel Day-Lewis movie I have never seen. Quaint little parks and colorful houses abounded, and I decided that a Notting Hill flat may just be within my budget if I sell that joint in Edgemont.

On our way out of Portobello, we ran into these gentlemen who were singing about going to a "cow party." What is that? A euphemism? I don't get it:

We saw two plays today, and both were fantastic! First up was The Cherry Orchard at the Old Vic. We made it by the skin of our teeth after Ms. Mandy Lyons was mysteriously separated from the group, and I found her - or she found me - just outside Waterloo Station. The Cherry Orchard is put on by the Bridge Project, a company Sam Mendes and Kevin Spacey have created to fuse English actors with American atcors. They performed The Cherry Orchard and The Winter's Tale in NYC last year, and are now performing them here as well. The Cherry Orchard is a difficult play, no doubt, but I loved the clarity with which they did it. Everything made so much sense, and they found the humor when they needed to, and Mendes (who directed) had some really wonderful ideas for the staging. I loved when Simon Russell Beale threw the chairs around the set, and I loved the creepy zombie peasants! Afterwards we met two of the stars:

Ethan Hawke, star of Gattaca, Reality Bites, Before Sunrise/Sunset, and Dead Poet's Society

Rebecca Hall, star of Vicky Christina Barcelona, and Frost/Nixon

With a few hours open, we walked down the river to the Tate Modern, which is always fantastic. If you've never been to the Tate, it's located in a former power plant. It still retains the feel of a power plant, if the power plant took some E and invited Andy Warhol over. I loved everything, well mostly everything (that giant anime lady was terrifying) but especially loved:

Snack Bar, by Edward Burra

Three Dancers, by Picasso

Marguerite Kelsey, by Meredith Frampton

30 Pieces of Silver, by Cornelia Parker

Our second play today was War Horse. If there was one show I was most anticipating on this trip, this was it. And it didn't disappoint. War Horse premiered at the National Theatre two years ago, and proved to be so popular that now it has a more permanent home on Drury Lane. And I can see why. It's amazing. The horses are created by puppetry - the most incredible, lifelike puppetry I have ever seen. I kept getting chills throughout. The humans were OK, but it's not really about them. When the horses are on stage you can't take your eyes off of them. Or that little goose. You can see a live trailer of the show here.

And if you get to London, you really have to see it.