Journal of the Plague Years (Days 2-4)

Farce to face teaching was cancelled as of Wednesday 18 March 2020. In effect, as I had no teaching, I was already locking down in my office.

Journal of the Plague Years Day 2

First Skype call – and persuaded a student we can Skype not face to face. Sorry, you don’t understand the situation if you want to meet face to face today.

First benefit of OneDrive – looks like I can access my files remotely on iPad. Not tried reading yet. Continue reading →

Watching Paint Dry

Portrait de la jeune fille en feu (Portrait of a Lady on Fire, Céline Sciamma, 2019)

Some point after 1725, the artist Marianne (Noémie Merlant) is commissioned by a Milan-born countess (Valeria Golino) to paint the portrait of her daughter Héloïse (Adèle Haenel), whom she intends to marry off to a Milanese nobleman after the death of her elder daughter. Héloïse, formerly a novice at a nunnery, has other ideas and has already worn out a (male) painter. Marianne must pretend to be a companion, and paint in secret. Continue reading →

A Caller Calls

Friedrich Dürrenmatt, adapted by Tony Kushner, The Visit, or the Old Lady Comes to Call (directed by Jeremy Herrin, National Theatre, London)

Slurry is a mixture of solids suspended in a liquid, but I guess we tend to think of manure. It’s also the name of a town in New York State which by 1955 is almost bankrupt. The trains rarely stop there, the factories have all closed and the bailiffs are circling.
Continue reading →


Dark Waters (Todd Haynes, 2019)
I still don’t get what interested Haynes in this project — like Velvet Goldmine and Carol it has the hell designed out of it, but in a downbeat register that oddly never ends up as camp. It’s the familiar enough story of the downtrodden lawyer up against megacorp— DuPont’s poisoning of a town’s water supply through Teflon. Mark Ruffalo gives a reasonable enough performance, but too often we are told about his character rather than shown it, Tim Robbins meanwhile clearly relishes his setpiece ethical speeches as head of the law firm. Anne Hathaway is largely wasted, more as a reflection of Ruffalo’s character than someone in her own right. And in the end we only get resolution through captions, without the big setpiece court case we probably need for catharsis.

Home A Clone

Caryl Churchill, A Number (directed by Polly Findlay, Br/dge Theatre)

I hadn’t realised that this revival of a 2002 play was a one-act play — it’s a taut hour and change, written at the time of Dolly the Sheep. After the first Royal Court production with Michael Gambon and Daniel Craig, revivals seem to have gone for real life fathers and sons: Timothy and Samuel West, John and Lex Shrapnel. Here we have Roger Allam (who I think I saw at the RSC in about 1987) and Colin Morgan, mainly off the telly (but he was great in Benjamin). Continue reading →