A Day Out – Good and Bad

Yesterday I nipped out to Norwich for the day, to meet an old friend and to catch the latest visit to the Theatre Royal by the wonderful Rambert Dance.

There were good and bad things.

Good – I picked up a couple of cheap DVDs, the 2 disk edition of Daredevil and thriller Shadow Boxer, which has Helen Mirren as a contract killer.

Bad – I forgot to get cards for a couple of people with birthdays pending, including my brother-in-law, and so this morning had to fake a visit to the bottle bank so that I could pop into the village shop and rectify this oversight. I am nothing, if not devious (but also forgetful, it seems).

Also Bad – I’d planned to spend the morning visiting art galleries, but in the event those I trekked to were either shut or had changed their opening times to 12.00. I wasn’t impressed. Do people only develop an interest in things cultural after midday? Mind you, staring through the window of The Norwich Gallery, I don’t think I missed much – the current exhibition appears to consist of paint brushes and other DIY tools leaning against the wall. This is the same gallery that once mounted a month long exhibition of two men painting the gallery walls, one using black paint and the other white, and each following the other round and painting over his work. I love modern art, but they don’t always make it easy.

Very Good – Meeting the Friend formerly known as Cinema Buddy (and henceforth denoted by the initials ‘FFCB’) for lunch. We used to go to the cinema and theatre together once or twice a month back in the day, but then she acquired a girlfriend and started to hang with her instead of me, which is entirely reasonable in the circumstances. We hadn’t met up for nearly two years, and so lots of stuff to catch up on, and a splendid time was had in the environs of Pizza Hut, where we took full advantage of their ‘eat as much as you want’ buffet (well, I did).

A curious thing – although I am never a messy eater in the normal course of events, whenever I meet up with this lady I turn into an especially clumsy person, dropping foodstuff everywhere and leaving the table surface looking like something Jackson Pollock might have produced in his heyday. When I got home last night at least one cherry tomato dipped in thousand island dressing rolled out of my trouser turn up.

Neither Good, Nor Bad – How do you react when somebody who used to indulge in Black Lace erotica and Sarah Waters novels, tells you that they don’t have much time for reading nowadays but ‘really like the Twilight books’? It’s a conundrum, indeed it is. I changed the subject, tactfully I hope.

Not As Bad As It Could Have Been – Usually the Theatre Royal is only half full for matinee performances on a weekday, if that, but Rambert are very popular and today it was heaving. I was only one of two adults in a section that had been taken over by schoolgirls. I felt like somebody who had wandered into the grounds of St Trinians by mistake, and while the likes of Gemma Arterton, Lily Cole and Girls Aloud in school uniform might be fun to contemplate, the reality of actual schoolgirls is entirely another matter.

To be fair, they were reasonably well behaved. It was Pete who embarrassed himself by tripping over the treats one young lady had left in the aisle, spilling her sweets and drinking water. While the girl herself was okay about it, I got a filthy look from the other adult, who’d earlier asked me to move my coat as it was annoying her by rubbing against her leg. Sigh!

Also Very Good – The performance by Rambert Dance. They did three numbers. The first was a new production, ‘Seven for a Secret’, set against a forest backdrop and celebrating the joys of childhood, of imagination at play, with some of the dancers dressed as scouts and the use of props such as a teddy bear. It was all very Swallows and Amazons, Secret Seven stuff, pumped up with nostalgia for the kind of childhood that probably never existed outside the pages of books, and it was throughly enjoyable to watch, though I thought it did slightly outstay its welcome. The other two numbers were old favourites, and the sort of thing this company do so well, combining artistic vision with elegant choreography, athleticism and a striking musical score. ‘Rain Forest’ consisted of six dancers dressed in skintight, flesh coloured costumes (‘They’re naked,’ shouted one infant), performing on a blue lit stage populated by silver balloons that were cleverly incorporated into the show, with an electronic soundtrack that had something about it of the sounds of the Amazonian rain forest. In many ways it was a very playful piece, with the dancers trying to capture the movements of animals, at times appearing petulant (kicking aside balloons) and competing to outdo each other, then seguing into a casual carnality, or the outright humour of ‘crab walking’, which had the young audience in stitches of laughter. Last piece ‘Linha Curva’ was delayed by technical difficulties, but well worth waiting for. The entire company took to the stage, dressed in singlets and brightly coloured swimming trunks, and hurled themselves at each other to a samba beat and primal chanting, the dancers’ feet often stomping the stage in tune. This in turn led into more individualistic set pieces within the main framework, leaping into the air and sliding across the stage, putting on shows of athleticism and skill for each other, and with moments of humour to lighten the slightly minatory mood of the piece as a whole. It was a brilliant display, a dazzling fusion of sound and movement, one that, for some reason, put me in mind of the Olympics (possibly because of the costumes and the element of competition that surfaced at times). If interested, you can get a somewhat fuller account from the local press here.

On balance, my day consisted of rather more good than bad I believe.

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