Thursday, January 22, 2015

adaptation: Treasure Island adapted for the stage by Bryony Lavery

I haven't read Treasure Island since I was a child and I'm really not all that keen on pirates, but I went to see the Royal National Theatre's live broadcast of Treasure Island adapted by Bryony Lavery today.1 I'm glad that I did because I really enjoyed the play.

The set is dynamic, growing and changing with the story, and it features a lovely planetarium-style sky.  There's a character that appears at key points to play the fiddle and lead the sea shanties that help set the tone for the play before the ship even appears.

As one would expect (especially given the promotional material for the play), there's a parrot.  What's less expected is that "Captain Flint" doesn't stay perched on the shoulder of Arthur Darvill's2 Long John Silver, parroting his lines. He's actually an active player in the story and at times seems to fly around the theatre (in the movie theater this was accomplished by how the sound effects were dispensed from different speakers in turn).

There are some female pirates (and a lady doctor) as well as a couple of other characters that seem to have been added for additional comic relief, but the most unique feature of the adaptation is that Lavery imagines Jim Hawkins as a girl child rather than a boy.  And actress Patsy Ferran, who plays Jemima, is fantastic in the role, lithe and expressive. And, her costume and makeup lend her an androgyny that allows her to read male at the opening of the play when viewers are expecting a male protagonist and assists her in maintaining the illusion that Jim is a child.
  1. I'm a huge fan of these live performances shown in movie theaters and highly recommend them. In two different movie houses, I've seen two ballets, an opera, an operetta, and now a play.  In my experience, the Royal Opera House and the Metropolitan Opera's live productions offer more in the way of added value ("pre-game" and intermission interviews, peeks behind the scenes, and other interesting content) than the Royal National Theatre.
  2. Rory from Doctor Who. He's fine as Long John Silver, but not outstanding.
disclosure: I paid for my own ticket to see this show, but got a discounted rate because I'm a member of the non-profit that runs the art house-type theater where I saw it.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Waistcoats and Weaponry
by Gail Carriger

source: gift

Waistcoats and Weaponry by Gail Carriger
series: Finishing School (3)

Waistcoats and Weaponry is the third book in the Finishing School series after Etiquette and Espionage (see post) and Curtsies and Conspiracies.  I'd had it on my wishlist ever since that once-just-books-now-everything online retailer had it available for pre-order.  Since it came out in November, I didn't go ahead and buy myself a copy in the hopes of getting it for Christmas.1 So sure was I that I'd have a copy of Waistcoats and Weaponry in hand by the end of December2 that I started rereading Etiquette and Espionage in preparation.3  And get it for Christmas, I did - two copies!  Both Russell and my mom purchased the book from my wishlist at that site.4 I assured my mother, who was quite a bit more concerned about the duplicate gift than Russell, that getting two copies was not a problem at all and that I knew exactly what to do with the second one. A few days later I sent it along to sister-in-law #3 and niece #1, to whom I'd previously given the series' first installments.

In any case because I also wanted to reread Curtsies and Conspiracies before I started my new acquisition, Waistcoats and Weaponry ended up being the first book I finished in 2015. It was a good way to start the year because it was such a satisfying read, giving me exactly what I've come to expect from Carriger, whose work I enjoy (see posts), and from this series in particular. In Waistcoats and Weaponry, Sophronia and her friends are properly transitioning out of childhood (complete with the realization that maybe they aren't quite ready for everything that means) and Carriger handles it beautifully. It's also significant to note that I finished Waistcoats and Weaponry with a desire to reread the Parasol Protectorate books (see post) because of a suspicion that if I look closely enough I may find evidence of another of the Finishing School characters that I didn't original recognize as a character from Parasol Protectorate.
  1. I tried my best to ensure this eventuality by dropping copious hints to Russell.
  2. If Santa et al failed me I was prepared to purchase a copy myself.
  3. When it's been a while since I've read a series earlier installments, I like to reread them so that they are fresh in my mind before I start the latest one. Also, see note #1.
  4. Site hiccup or user error? You be the judge.