Sunday, 29 August 2010

Lots of Proms and Rude Britannia

How I love holiday weekends!  The treat of that extra day off.  I think I've overdone it this past week - risking sensory overload, and a quiet Bank Holiday Monday doing as little as possible is just what I need.

On Monday, I went to see 'Deathtrap' at the Noel Coward Theatre, a rip-roaring old fashioned mystery thriller, with more twists in the plot than you could shake a stick at.  It's an Ira Levin warhorse, with everyone displaying their best US accents (including Jonathan Groff, who sported the real thing) except for Simon Russell Beale, playing himself to the hilt - which is what we all wanted to see, of course.  A nice night's entertainment, with perhaps just one twist too many. 

Then Proms on Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday.  I've made a vow that from now on I will give any Prom programme featuring Scriabin a miss - even if is is my lifelong hero Ashkenazy conducting.  All made up for on Wednesday, with the Holberg Suite by Grieg played with great verve by the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra, and Mozart K491 directed from the piano by the superb Lief Ove Andsnes.  On Friday, gorgeous Bruckner from the Minnesota Orchestra.  It's such a wonderful privilege to see these world orchestras at the Proms.  I think it must be a record season - I've been to about a dozen concerts so far, and they've all been virtually full.  Great support for this uniquely wonderful music festival.

Then today, reminded by a friend of mine that I was in danger of missing it, I headed off to Tate Britain to see the exhibition Rude Britannia - visual humour, satire and absurdity from the 17th to the 21st centuries.  I am still grinning at the thought of some of the work I saw there.   But it was rather an odd experience.  The first thing that gave me pause for thought was a 'Don't Sue Us'-style notice at the entrance, to the effect that some visitors might find some of the material offensive, that in certain cases there were warning signs next to the art-works, and that staff were on hand to advise in any cases of doubt.  The clue is in the title, perhaps?  Might people not have seen a particularly scurrilous Gillray print or vicious Steadman cartoon, or have heard of the legendary excesses of Viz comic?  Seemingly not. What on earth is the world coming to, I wondered?

Another thing that struck me was that, threading my way through all the visitors plodding round the rooms, I occasionally heard the sound of laughter, and it was always my own.  I was obviously not behaving very well, not as an exhibition-goer should.  But the wall-high Viz cartoon spoof of art criticism, Steve Bell's John Major and his burning underpants, and Robert and Roberta's bonkers posters are all riotously funny - so I'm sorry to say I laughed at them. I'll behave better next time, I promise.

1 comment:

  1. Every year I watch the first and last night of the Proms and always want to go, even if it's just to stand in Hyde Park. I really will source tickets for next year - you've given me that extra push!