Monday, September 04, 2006

Cultural flurry

Last week brought a welcome flurry of cultural activity - I managed to see a film at the cinema, finish reading my first grown-up novel in ages (I've been reading mostly kids books lately) and even went to see a play at the theatre! The film in question was A Scanner Darkly, an adaptation of Philip K. Dick's novel of the same name. I haven't read the book, but was intrigued by the reviews I'd read of the film. They've used some new-fangled animation technique, which basically looks like the actors playing the parts have just been coloured in. My brain went into overdrive just trying to process this confusing visual format, so it wasn't a good start. The dreary plot, bland acting and uninspired directing meant that I only managed to stay awake for about three-quarters of the film (if that).

Thankfully, the theatre trip was an altogether more uplifting experience. It was a family outing in Eastbourne, to see the much talked-about Neville's Island at the lovely Devonshire Park Theatre. The local hype surrounding this production was mostly to do with the amount of water involved, and the implications for the 120 year-old stage! The set, a naturalistic recreation of a Lake District island, was on display as we took our seats (no tabs), complete with aforementioned water. Subtle birdsong twittered around the auditorium, adding to the already atmospheric setting. I knew nothing about the play in advance, except that it involved four middle-aged, middle-management men being marooned during an outbound-style team-building exercise in Cumbria. It was inevitably going to have a comic element, but thankfully stopped short of turning into farce, and stayed well within my preferred realm of black comedy. Sharp comic timing, a good stage rapport between the actors, and clever characterisation all made Neville's Island a resounding success.

On Sunday night I sat down to finish my book, a rare treat, as I hardly ever just sit and read at home anymore. Blackberry Wine by Joanne Harris is mostly set in rural France, and evokes the rustic atmosphere beautifully, with intricate descriptions of food, wine, people and places. With well-rounded characters, some subtle mysteries, and just a touch of magic, it was an easy and satisfying read. And so my brief cultural spell concluded. Back to another week of low-brow TV and children's books then...

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