Monday, 23 April 2012

More than a tea break

Mr Gnome is mortified. Months have slipped by without an addition to his 'blog'. Readers, if there were any, have surely dispersed to the four winds...

To be truthful, Mr G has not been entirely Trappist. Such is the onward oomph of technology that he now prefers to offer his opinions to the world via the medium of his human associate's Facebook page - and also of his Flickr album.

Whatever. Today Mr Gnome has, of course, abandoned himself to the celebration of the Bard's birthday. Hurrah!

Sunday, 13 November 2011


Aldeburgh on a Friday in November. Mist. A chill breeze. Waves crashing on to shingle.

Trudge north away from the town, past the fresh fish cabin ('anything fresher is still swimming') and on to the endless pebble beach...

And that's the site of Maggie Hambling's 'Scallop', the town's memorial to its most celebrated resident Benjamin Britten.

Strange, haunting and very definitely 'on the edge'...

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

The Village Trumpeter

Tragically, the local trumpeter is, as they say in Botswana, late.
Consequently, when the need for announcement arises, it's now a matter of  'toot it yourself'.

Blowing his own trumpet with the best of them, therefore, is Rory Keegan - editor, writer and all-purpose project manager.

Thanks to advice from a savvy 'career coach', he's determined to raise awareness of his imminent availability on the job market.

Intrigued? Pop across to the Rory is Available blog, the source of Rory-related stories and soundbites.

Sunday, 30 October 2011

Written on the Heart

As 2011 fades away, the RSC delivers its contribution to the celebrations of the 400th anniversary of the publication of the Authorised (King James) Version of the Bible.

Frankly, the first twenty minutes (or so) of Written on the Heart are a bit of a challenge: we seem to have landed in the midst of umpteen Rowan Williams lookalikes, all getting hot under the ruff on seemingly piffling points of translation: 'church' or 'congregation'; 'confess' or 'acknowledge'; 'heal' or 'save'? Oh please.

Clever move. With 'Why does any of this matter?' hovering, Edgar begins to forge a chain of profoundly human stories spanning more than 80 years of turbulent history - and completely justifies his perfect choice of title.

(And there are shelf-loads of history to get across: one shudders at the clunky nightmare that might have come from a less gifted dramatist. Top marks for artful exposition.)

Contrasting translators bookend the story: Jacobean prelate Lancelot Andrewes, whose devotion to the King's project may raise him to an Archbishopric - and, back in the 1530s, William Tyndale, exiled, imprisoned and facing death for daring to translate the scriptures so that both ploughboy and priest might have equal access to the word of God.

So far so worthy documentary? Far from it.

Edgar's swift and subtle storytelling draws us in to the passions implicit in the story: immense self-sacrifice, courage and vision - and also compromise, self-interest and betrayal.

And along the way he delivers a fizzingly engaging two-hander central scene, incorporating profound theology, political controversy - and (emphatically) many laughs as well as moments of tear-prickling emotion.

Director Gregory Doran has, as he so often does, gathered a Rolls Royce cast: special mention to the magisterial Oliver Ford Davies as Andrewes and Stephen Boxer whose William Tyndale had me heading home to read up this great man's story.

Written on the Heart runs at the Swan Theatre, S-u-A, until March. Don't miss it.

Saturday, 29 October 2011


Next year is looking good: a golden jubilee, a Titanic anniversary, a Dickens of a bicentenary - and a wee sporting event in London.

And, toot the trumpet, Rory Keegan (Mr Gnome's under writer) is available for employment from 1 January.

Hating to be a bore, Keegan nonetheless boldly invites random readers of Mr Gnome's blog to peek at his new Rory is available blog.

And (why not?) pass it on to a potential employer - or contact Rory for a chat.

Thursday, 20 October 2011


Tsk! Tickets for this remarkable entertainment should be overprinted with a health warning: 'Severe danger of hyperventilation'.

Resistance is futile as James Corden and fellow cast members serve up their sensational seaside soufflé (we're in Brighton 1963). 

Very, very funny - and, for me, far more engaging than the mechanical mayhem of 'traditional' farce. The stunning sight gags and multiple mis-identifications are shot through with real human emotion. 

Corden is a revelation - outrageous, audacious and, despite his ample build, possessed of a physical finesse that many a ballet dancer might envy. 

Winter blues looming? Ditch the Prozac - see this show.

Monday, 17 October 2011


Mr Gnome and I have emerged from tonight's performance of the RSC's new production of Peter Weiss's Marat/Sade

Does this classic example of the 1960s 'theatre of cruelty' still have the power to shock?

You bet.

But it wasn't the profusion of prosthetic willies or the character with compulsive masturbation issues (I know, SO last century) that left one speechless.

It was the Act 1 stunt when cast member Lisa Hammond tried to solicit a sub from an unsuspecting audience member: 'Oh dear, I'm so tired after the performance that I haven't the energy to cook for myself - could you stand me the price of some chips?'

The kindly chump offered her a tenner. Which, naturally, she spurned, berating him for patronising her (she uses a wheelchair). A fellow cast member chipped in, calling the nice man the (in most circs) still unspeakable word. How rude!

So come on, RSC, in what rarefied world is £10 not enough for a single fish supper? Oh please.

Lisa should have asked central character the Marquis de Sade - he'd organise a whip-round before you could say 'Batter my cod piece'.

That said, cast and crew dish up a rollicking revolutionary romp, peppered with a dash of political provocation. And it's all over by 10pm. Hurrah!

Inspired by Monsieur Marat, I whizzed home for an early bath.

And, by the way, Rory is available.