Much Ado About Nothing

This past weekend, I watched a friend of mine perform in Fox and Chips’ production of Much Ado About Nothing at The Pack and Carriage Pub close to Mornington Crescent station, North London.

This is the upbeat Shakespeare play about Claudio and Hero, sorry Benedick and Beatrice. Let’s be honest the storyline of Benedick and Beatrice does tend to steal the show. What can be more interesting than two people who are determined to never fall in love – who do fall in love – with each other…?

Much Ado About Nothing may be familiar to some who’ve seen the movie adaptation with Kenneth Branagh and Emma Thompson. Those of you who are not Shakespeare fans, of course, and who have read it or seen it performed before.

The Fox and Chips’ production is set in the 80’s and, as it’s being performed in a pub, it allows the actors to interact with the audience in a way that a traditional theatre space rarely allows. Overall, the actors are very good and do justice to Shakespeare. I would say, the difficulty with Shakespeare is to make the text sound like natural speech. With a play like Much Ado About Nothing, were most of the action seems to take place in the middle of a party, to speak your lines naturally, would be essential.There’s also a good chemistry between the actors, especially important if there is a romance invloved.

As you may have already figured out, I truly enjoyed watching this production. Despite it’s darker elements and a bit of melodrama, it’s very light-hearted. It runs Sundays and Mondays until July 26, if anyone should get inspired to go see it.



Bards Without Borders

Those of you who have visited my About page might have noticed that I am a supporter of the local charity Global Fusion Music and Arts. At the moment they hold, among so many other things, open mic evenings once a month. Yesterday’s opens mic had Bards Without Borders as the special guest.

Bards Without Borders are a group of poets and writers who all have the experience of being refugees or immigrants. Currently, they are performing a set in respons to the 400 year anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. It was really special to experience this group of poets. There was much to take in; their experiences of fleeing their home countries, their amazing poems and what kind of influence Shakespeare has had within their native cultures.

The most enjoyable part was to hear them read favourite passages from Shakespeare’s complete works in their native languages. It really brought out the beauty of Shakespeare’s words. Even if I cannot understand Swahili or Spanish or any of the other languages, there is a beauty in the rhythm, the word flow and the articulation of the text that makes it wonderful to listen to even when you don’t understand.

The next Global Fusion open mic night will be the 29 of July. Anyone near or far from Greenwich, London is welcome to come by. The special guest will be Cheng Yu, a Chinese Pipa player.

If you wish to find out more about Bards Without Borders you can find them on Facebook.


Bards without boarders

At The End Of The Orchard

I have followed Tracey Chevalier’s writing since the debut book Girl With a Pearl Earring. Although the setting, the characters and the story, can be very different from one book to another, she never disappoints. Any new book is quickly bought and devoured.

So also At the End of the Orchard. In this book, released spring 2016, we follow the Goodenough family who move from a settled life in Connecticut to a new life in Ohio. What’s interesting is that the family is not, as done so many times before, among the first to go into Ohio looking for new land. They are quite late and much of the desired land is already spoken for, which leads them to settle where no one really would chose to settle. Where they couldn’t get any further because the wagon gets stuck in the mud,┬ámain character Sadie claims.

In the first part of the book, the story focuses on the parents James and Sadie. Their relationship is a toxic one where settling in a harsh environment can only bring out the worse in them. An interesting fact which Chevalier has made use of in the book, is that at the time, to be deemed a permanent settler in Ohio, you needed to grow 50 apple trees on your land. This becomes a matter of conflict for the Goodenoughs. James wants his 50 apple trees and a few sweet apple trees for eating; Sadie don’t care about apples at all, as long as she gets her cider and heavier alcoholic apple drink. I don’t think I spoil too much in saying that their story doesn’t have a happy ending.

In the second part of the book, we follow Robert – James’ favourite child as well as Sadie’s. Robert has drifted from the east coast to the west, taking odd jobs along the way. The focus of his story though, is in California. Trees have a major part of this storyline as well, since Robert collects saplings, cones and seeds of various pine trees to be sent to rich landowners in England. Like all children, even when an adult, he carries both the good and bad of his upbringing. He has inherited his father’s love of trees but is haunted by past events.

I found the two main storylines of the book very fascinating. Sadie surely is not a likable person but James has his dark sides too. It is easy to see how two people, clearly unsuited for each other, can grow such hatred for each other when their tough surroundings drag their spirits down. Robert’s story is fascinating too. It’s unusual to get a gimps of a set of people and a period of history through trees. The part I didn’t like is a series of letters Robert writes to his sister. They are very repetitive and although I see their function in the story, personally I found them tedious to read.

But my worse criticism of Tracey Chevalier’s books is that they are too good and compelling. I read them too fast. When will the next one come out?