A little bit of Rabbit, Run that I marked in my book last night and then forgot to include in today’s earlier post
“When you twist a rope and keep twisting, it begins to lose its straight shape and suddenly a kink, a loop leaps up in it. Harry has such a hard loop in himself after he hears Eccles out. He doesn’t know what he says to Eccles; all he is conscious of is the stacks of merchandise in jangling packages he can see through the windows of the phone-booth door. On the drugstore wall there is a banner bearing in red the one word PARADICHLOROBENZENE. All the while he is trying to understand Eccles he is re-reading this word, trying to see where it breaks, wondering if it can be pronounced. Right when he finally understands, right at the pit of his life, a fat woman comes up to the counter and pays for two boxes of Kleenex. He steps into the sunshine outside the drugstore swallowing, to keep the loop from rising in his body and choking him.”
Congratulations to the team behind Black Watch, my all time favouritest play ever ever EVER and now winner of four Olivier Awards! Whoop! It (quite rightly) got Best New Play, Best Sound Design, Best Director and Best Theatre Choreography.
John Tiffany directed Black Watch, and I’ve got a ticket for his new play Be Near Me, which comes to the Lowry at the end of next month. I’m trying really hard not to get over-excited about it, because I have a habit of building things up and up until I come out of the theatre feeling like shit because even a brilliant performance could not reach my inflated expectations. Still, I can’t fucking wait to see Be Near Me (which I keeping wanting to call Be Here Now like the Oasis album - hope that’s not a sign of things to come…)
The dude who did the choreography was a guy called Steven Hoggett, and I tell you, that guy deserves a tribute tattoo across my forehead, he’s that good. You wouldn’t think that a play about a group of soldiers dealing with their harrowing experiences would warrant much dancing, but that’s what makes Steven Hoggett’s choreography so special. You barely notice it. He uses set pieces to tell the story of the Black Watch regiment through the ages, and to communicate the endless routine and boredom of being on a tour of duty when you’re seeing little action. That’s what makes it so affecting, and so dark; a few twists and turns and a country dancing step or two can bring about this massive sense of oppression. The expectation of the past on these young men who have joined an ancient regiment is just so stifling, and Hoggett turns it all into movement. BRILLIANT.
Well done Team Black Watch.
I have found somewhere to live in Leicester - whoop! It’s an attic room in a six bedroom house and, during the ten minutes spent in the company of my new housemates, none of them demonstrated any personal hygiene problems, kleptomania or an affinity for hard house music. And when I got off the bus yesterday morning, the Café Nero near the bus station was playing John Martyn so this is clearly MEANT TO BE.
I read the final chapters of Rabbit, Run on the way home last night, while listening to () by Sigur Rós in order to drown out the commercial radio on the driver’s stereo. It pretty much turned me to emotional pulp and I had to face the window so no-one could see me quietly sobbing about how totally unfair life is sometimes. I’m not going to tell you what happens in Rabbit, Run, but I can say that it’s a story about someone with whom you alternately empathise and become enraged, and Updike leaves it up to the reader to decide whether he’s a victim of circumstance or his own worst enemy. It’s a story of complex realtionships and the pressures of being a grown-up, and it’s written for an audience who are the same; a bit good, a bit bad, a bit uncertain of the future. It’s the kind of book that makes you examine yourself a little more deeply, and to be honest, that’s not always the kind of fiction I go for, let alone enjoy.
Well done John Updike.
The recent advent of Mad Men series two on BBC4 has reminded me that I never watched the first one, and this has been an omission I’ve been rectifying, thanks to LoveFilm. Annoyingly, they’ll only send me one disc of the box set at a time, but at least I’m not going on enormous telly binges like when me and Andy got The Wire and then neglected to wash or get dressed until we’d seen all sixty-plus hours of it.
I love watching American stuff about ‘wholesome’ families in the sixties. I love the glamour and well-roundedness of it all, even if things are distinctly darker below the surface. I love Mad Men for the secretary’s hairstyles as much as the plot intricacies. There’s one woman (a satisfyingly shapely woman, in these size zero times) who has the most incredible hair. It seriously must be glued in place. There’s no hairspray strong enough to maintain such perfection.
Coincidentally, I’m reading Rabbit, Run by John Updike at the moment, another tale of young wholesome 1960s families who fall apart at the seams, albeit in gorgeous lace nightgowns and with ribbons in their hair. In keeping with my ability to discover authors via their obituaries (see also Kurt Vonnegut and Iris Murdoch) I’m new to Updike, but I chose Rabbit, Run as my introduction because of I kept seeing it referred to as the suburban equivalent of a Kerouac novel. I hated On The Road, partly because I don’t think the man can string a decent sentence together, but also because I already know what it’s like to get pissed and sleep on someone’s floor. It seems silly, considering all these books and films and TV shows about 1960s America are about society’s dysfunction (I daren’t go anywhere near Revolutionary Road in case it depresses me too much), but when you live in one of the more notorious districts of south Manchester, where gun crime is rife and rainfall is above the national average, the idea of wearing a ribbon in my hair and cooking dinner for my white collar husband in upstate New York feels like the very epitome of escapism.
(Yes, I know that Rabbit’s wife is a alcoholic and he runs off to live with a whore, but at least she’s a shapely whore! She has hips and tits and ass, and that gives this fat woman hope.)