Friday 25 May 2018

“Please don’t let me be misunderstood.”
A few nights ago my daughter & I attended a preview of “Return to the Forbidden Planet”. If you are in or near North London and looking for a good night out this comes with our recommendation! It’s on until 17 June.  

“I’m just a soul whose intentions are good. Please don’t let me be misunderstood.” Sang Dr Prospero who was discovered with his daughter Miranda and their special friend Ariel, abandoned for 15 years on the planet D’Illyria. During this time Miranda had grown form a babe in arms to a feisty young women, ready for love. 
Overseen by Angela Rippon, who appeared from time to time on the control screen of the spaceship Albatross, the talented young cast in John Plews exciting production for Ovation (Theatre Upstairs at the Gatehouse in Highgate), romped their way through rhyming couplets from Shakespeare, strung together with two dozen, nostalgically popular rock standards of the 1950s and 60s.
The plot was loosely based on the Tempest with additional material adapted from Romeo & Juliet, The Taming of the Shrew, Macbeth (Is this a dragon which I see before me?), Hamlet, Richard the Third, Henry the Fifth, Twelfth Night and other well known plays. Amongst many other greats, the music included ‘Don’t let me be misunderstood’ (Animals), ‘It’s a Mans World’ (James Brown), ‘Good Vibrations’ (Beach Boys), ‘Great Balls of Fire’ (Jerry Lee Lewis), ‘Teenager in Love’ (Dion and the Belmont’s), ‘Shakin All Over’ (Johnny Kidd & the Pirates).
When the festivities were over, instead of the expected favourite which ends:
“We are such stuff 
As dreams are made on, and our little life 
Is rounded with a sleep.”
William Shakespeare The Tempest, Act 4

Angela Rippon bade us farewell with Puck’s farewell :
“If we shadows have offended, 
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumbered here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
If you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest sort,
If we have unearned luck
Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else myself a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.”

Then on Monday lunchtime this week I caught the encore of “There’s Nothing Like a Dame” at the Phoenix in East Finchley. It was partly a BBC production so hopefully will reappear on TV. It has the feel good factor which would make it suitable to be scheduled as Christmas entertainment. If there’s an encore near you it’s well worth showing up in case it doesn’t make the small screen.
Four great theatrical Dames, Joan Plowright, Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Eileen Atkins on a rainy summer afternoon, at the house where Joan Plowright shared her married life with Laurence Oliver. 
They are all getting old and spoke of hearing aids and memory loss. They all spoke of being afraid of Sir Laurence! Judi Dench and Maggie Smith exchanged barbed comments and Judi spoke of being admitted to A&E where a young paramedic assumed that she should have a Carer until she told him somewhat crossly who she really was.
Their conversations were interrupted and illustrated by fascinating film clips from their lives. It was wonderful to see these great and aged ladies as feisty young things making their way into theatrical prominence. 

This filmed conversation ended with Dame Judi reciting the speech from the Tempest which I’d missed in the Gatehouse production - so I felt that in dramatic terms I’d got there in the end.

Our revels now are ended. These our actors, 
As I foretold you, were all spirits and 
Are melted into air, into thin air: 
And, like the baseless fabric of this vision, 
The cloud-capp'd towers, the gorgeous palaces, 
The solemn temples, the great globe itself, 
Yea, all which it inherit, shall dissolve 
And, like this insubstantial pageant faded, 
Leave not a rack behind. We are such stuff 
As dreams are made on, and our little life 
Is rounded with a sleep

How I wish this was true in my life. My intentions are good but I’m frequently misunderstood, misinterpreted and vilified. I’d love to round things off with peaceful sleep, but since my traumatic 2017, this usually eludes me. Chronic tiredness is leading to mistakes and accidents. 

Jan Loxley Blount 25/05/2017