Monday, July 21, 2014

don't you think she looks tired?

I have never been a fan of Doctor Who, though I know I'm supposed to be. My main memories of the show were falling asleep to it when it came on, late nights, after Friday Night Videos in the mid-80's. I remember cheesy, wobbly sets, a lot of stage smoke, and dour looking actors shouting at robots. So when the reboot came along, I just couldn't get that worked up about it.

But many of my students are big Doctor Who fans, as are Lisa and Miles, so I scheduled a Doctor Who walking tour just for them. Our guide was Jolyon, who was the highlight of the whole thing. He showed up wearing a fedora and a scarf, which I guess is a Doctor thing, and took us on a 2 1/2 hour walk down the river, spouting facts, episode names, and actor anecdotes. He was thoroughly entertaining, even if I didn't understand 80% of what he was talking about. Daleks? Slitheens? Sylvester McCoy?

At one point, Jolyon recruited Miles to play Christopher Eccleston and Paige to be Billie Piper and he had them re-enact the allegedly famous scene where the Doctor and his assistant run along the Westminster Bridge just as a double decker bus drives by. So there we were, on the Westminster Bridge, watching Miles and Paige holding hands and running, just as a double decker bus drove by. Jolyon is an actor, and understudied James Cordon in One Man, Two Guvnors at the National. He didn't speak highly of his life as an actor, telling the students "There's no money in it. You'll just wind up walking up and down the river wearing a scarf." Later we bumped into a director he had worked with, and once he was out of earshot Jolyn said "the only thing I can tell you about that man is that he is a tw*t. And I hate him." And we laughed about that for about five minutes.

In the end I started to create a framework for Doctor Who, and maybe got a little interested in watching the upcoming season. Even if just to honor my friend Jolyn, who calls me 'Professor Chris,' who will doubtlessly be watching the premiere on his couch in Brighton with beer and cold pizza.

Things got gritty tonight at Medea, and not a moment too soon! After a week full of musicals I was ready for something a little meatier, and this one didn't disappoint! Helen McCrory came roaring out in a tank top and cargo pants and spent the next 90 minutes poisoning princesses, murdering children, and hiding knives in the floor. The Greek chorus, all women in bridesmaids dresses, spoke individually rather than in unison, and twitched at random. There was movement and a very specific Sonya Tayeh style dancing throughout, and the whole thing was imaginative, fascinating, and clear. I love this kind of theatre. It was gripping and challenging and beautifully directed. Always great to see the National Theatre at the top of their game.

Incidentally, before the show we saw Damien Lewis a few times. He's married to Helen McCrory.

After the show I took Miles, Kailey, Amber, Brenna, and Caleb to eat at Leon. Our waiter was spooky and was not afraid of eye contact. Amber spilled red sauce on her brand new white Primark pants. There was some palm reading and some ghost stories, and then we climbed up top of the #9 bus and rode it home.