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Le weekend

Doctor Who

It actually just gets better and better, doesn't it? I mean: the little pile of M&Ms by the red telephone, the many alternative Tardises and, best of all, the Massive Weapons of Destruction. Did the old Who ever boast such delightful symbolism or topical resonance? I propose from this day forth always to say 'Massive Weapons of Destruction' in everyday conversation rather than 'Weapons of Mass Destruction' in tribute to this weekend's episode.

And if that all weren't enough, we have the Daleks to look forward to next Saturday night. * faints from excitement *

Lysistrata at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast

I went to see this on Saturday evening with my colleague, John Curran, our three MA students and one of their boyfriends. It was OK, but I think I've been rather spoiled by the stunning tragedies put on by the Actors of Dionysus, not to mention a bright and breezy student adaptation of the Birds which I saw while at Oxford, and which had translated all the references to contemporary Athens into references to modern-day Oxford instead. While AoD's tragedies are innovative, fresh adaptations, which offer profound contemporary relevance and stunning choreography and manage to strike at the very core of one's emotional being, and the Oxford Birds at least drew on the real experiences of its cast and crew, Saturday's Lysistrata was merely... average.

A pity, because Aristophanes' writing at the time was incredibly bold and topical, and of course there is plenty of local significance that could have been drawn out of a play between two warring communities whose women decide to draw the conflict to an end themselves by holding a sex strike. But the attempts made to do so were half-hearted, the translation sounded suspiciously to me like what I remember of the Penguin one, and many of the lines came across as simply being spoken: not meant. This will probably sound like the most snobbish thing I've ever said, but it felt... provincial.

Still, it was nice to go out with our students, and I'm sure we did much to promote intra-departmental bonding in the process. And I enjoyed some very nice pan-fried duck with a summer fruits sauce in a bistro where we ate before the performance. So by no means a wasted evening.


( 25 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 25th, 2005 08:53 am (UTC)
Doctor Who was indeed lots of fun, but I did have a few problems with it, primarily from a reality-check point of view.

- The presence of Andrew Marr and the obvious reference to the Iraq dossier indicated that this was taking place in the real world - so who was the dead Prime Minister, and why didn't he look like either Tony Blair or Michael Howard? Okay, so the story was set one year in the future, but still, it was pretty close to the knuckle.

- The Doctor knew the password for the British defense systems on that day (and surely, given that the password is a word that can be found in the dictionary, it would be changed on a regular basis) - but he didn't remember that he was talking to Harriet Jones, destined to be one of the greatest Prime Ministers in British history?

- As for hacking into the defense systems and launching a missile through an ordinary web browser - eek.

All of these complaints can be easily defused by saying "It's a kids' show" - which I'm happily doing. Looking forward to the deadly Dalek!
Apr. 25th, 2005 08:56 am (UTC)
The main guy was actually the sub minister for something or other, wasn't he? Who'd been made prime minister because they'd lost the actual PM, and all the cabinet ministers were...stuck in traffic, or something.

I was a bit worried about their password security though, yeah...
Apr. 25th, 2005 09:13 am (UTC)
I think aletharch means the dead Prime Minister, who was discovered in a cupboard in the first episode. I thought they handled that quite well, though, because he basically just fell out of the cupboard onto his face, so you didn't get much chance to see what he looked like. It could have been anybody, and in any case, who's to say what might happen within the space of a year?
Apr. 25th, 2005 09:15 am (UTC)
Oooh, yeah, sorry. Confusion.
Apr. 25th, 2005 09:15 am (UTC)
As for hacking into the defense systems and launching a missile through an ordinary web browser - eek

But noooo! Don't you know this is all completely real??? ;)

Damn good point about the password, though!
Apr. 25th, 2005 08:54 am (UTC)
What were the M&Ms about??
Apr. 25th, 2005 09:07 am (UTC)
yeah i was gonna ask that
Apr. 25th, 2005 09:11 am (UTC)
E.T., sillies, which of course goes nicely with the shapes of the aliens' heads. In E.T. M&Ms are what Eliot uses to tempt E.T. into his house atthe start of the film. Put next to a phone from which the aliens are waiting to receive a crucial message, it becomes a definite reference.
Apr. 25th, 2005 09:47 am (UTC)
Doh! I blame the fact that I was six when I saw E.T. and found it quite dull. My mum, who only took me because I'd begged and pleaded so much, adored it and cried.
Apr. 25th, 2005 09:59 am (UTC)
I obviously liked it enough to buy the book, and that's what I really remember the M&Ms from. I don't think I noticed them in the film, because I didn't know what they were: either they weren't available in England at the time, or I, as a 7-year-old, had simply never come across them. But in the book they were named, so I became fascinated with them as a sign of the film's American-ness, and remembered them ever after.
Apr. 25th, 2005 09:04 am (UTC)
I always miss the first half due to forgetting it starts at 7 but liked the rest! I thought they were skittles next to the phone, but then I don't like M&Ms so would be more likely to see them as skittles ;)
Apr. 25th, 2005 09:08 am (UTC)
(i thought they were skittles too)

skittles > baby killers ;)
Apr. 25th, 2005 09:52 am (UTC)
I am *so* into "Doctor Who" right now... I'm just happy to actually be able to say that there's something worth watching on a Saturday night, never mind something so entertaining and cool! :)
Apr. 25th, 2005 10:00 am (UTC)
Hee! Great icon!

And yes - doesn't it feel great to be able to be seeing all this as it is first broadcast, rather than merely discovering it through repeats?
Apr. 25th, 2005 10:42 am (UTC)

i am so very excited about next week. oh yes.
Apr. 25th, 2005 05:21 pm (UTC)
the many alternative Tardises
Did I miss something there?

Whilst I'm not a fan of the bicycle pump, I do rather like the idea of a 70s trimphone in the TARDIS console. And I have to admit, part of me would rather like a re-appearance by Harriet Jones at some future point, Brigadier-style. (Which isn't asking too much, as we all know the south east of England is where all aliens try to invade).
Apr. 25th, 2005 06:34 pm (UTC)
By the alternative Tardises, I mean the other small, enclosed spaces which the Doctor uses to achieve transitions of some kind. Specifically:

1. The lift which carries him away from being gunned down at the order of the aliens (something which another lift had done in episode 1).
2. The cabinet room which also makes him safe from the aliens, and serves as a console from which to direct operations elsewhere.
3. The cupboard which allows him, Rose and Harriet Jones to be transported safely out of an exploding Downing Street.

Given the quality of the rest of the writing, I'm pretty sure these are deliberate echoes of the role normally played by the Tardis.

A reappearance by Harriet Jones would be very welcome, you're right, and I think her character has been strongly enough established that it's perfectly plausible. And yes, the phone was delightful!
Apr. 25th, 2005 06:40 pm (UTC)
Have you seen the new dalek yet? It actually looks like bullets could bounce off it!
Apr. 25th, 2005 07:34 pm (UTC)
Yes, I saw it in the trailer at the end of episode 5. It does look pretty heavy-duty, you're right!
Apr. 25th, 2005 08:35 pm (UTC)
I think I saw that Birds you mention, and it was rather fine, especially coming after an Iphigeneia at Aulis that wasn't.
Apr. 26th, 2005 07:41 am (UTC)
Yes, that would have been it. About 1998/9ish, I think. Actually I remember the Iphigeneia as very good too: I have vivid memories of emotional intensity of the girl who played Clytemnestra, who I think might actually have been crying real tears as she begged Agamemnon to spare her daughter.
Apr. 26th, 2005 02:11 pm (UTC)
I don't recall Clytemnestra. I do recall being very irritated by the Chorus, and not thinking much of Agamemenon.

It's quite likely that I wrote about this somewhere. I think I'd stopped reviewing for Didaskalia about this time (what they wanted me to write about the performances I'd seen and what I wanted to write having shifted too far apart for there to be space for compromise), so it's probably in some obscure apa publication somewhere. I should search it out for Lorna Hardwick's database, really.
Apr. 26th, 2005 02:33 pm (UTC)
Ah, well clearly we differ widely in our tastes, because I thought the Chorus was really good! All that stamping and chanting they were doing: they remain the one and only modern representation of a Greek dramatic chorus I have ever seen that even tried to convey the musical aspect of the original. In every other production I've ever encountered, the choruses have simply been spoken (although the Actors of Dionysus do usually have some physical choreography going on, at least).
May. 4th, 2005 04:08 pm (UTC)
Actually (he said belatedly ...)
... I like music and choreography in a Chorus in theory. But often it doesn't work in practice, and I felt that this particular Chorus was one of those. It did work in the RSC production of Hecuba (which I will write up after I come back from Italy), though it got a little Les Mis at times.
May. 4th, 2005 04:15 pm (UTC)
Re: Actually (he said belatedly ...)
Ah, now my sister saw that Hecuba and wrote to me about it, and she didn't like the Chorus at all! But I will be very interested in hearing your take on it.

Have a great time in Rome, won't you? *is jealous*
( 25 comments — Leave a comment )

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