Our first Piccadilly line gallivant took us one station down the line. From King’s Cross to Russell Square. This time we’re going a little further afield – 2 stops to Covent Garden and a further 4 to Hyde Park Corner where we’re going to enjoy some literary-themed night life.
Covent Garden is right in the middle of theatre land and there are no end of theatre productions inspired by literature. The current season includes stage productions of Roald Dahl classics Mathilda and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, a thoughtful production of two of Alan Bennett’s Untold Stories – excellent by the way if a quiet, thoughtful, vignette of ordinary lives is what you seek. But for the best piece of theatre I’ve ever seen, hie thee to the New London Theatre for War Horse..
In theory, this shouldn’t work. Whoever heard of puppets where the puppeteers are visible? And the star of the show Joey (or Topthorn, if you are Captain Stewart aka William Rycroft from Just William’s Luck) is controlled by 3 fully grown men. Actually it takes only 5 minutes, if that, to forget the men and live the story. The flick of the tail, the movement of the head, the ears. Name the movement, those horses are real. The story may be taken from a children’s book but I wouldn’t say this play is for kids. There are some brutal scenes, and while not graphic they are frightening. Also there are scenes in French and in German. The idea is to portray the war from the horses’s viewpoint. They had no translators and neither should the audience.
My fellow blogger William offered a post-show backstage tour and so, for one night only, I trod the boards of a West End stage.
I was also amazed at how little space there was for all the props. Tanks, and spectral horses are simply hanging from the ceiling, though fortunately Joey the horse, Joey the foal and Topthorn were spared that indignity and granted stables at stage level.
Interestingly a German version is being prepared for the Berlin stage – I can feel a trip coming on.
Continuing our excursion down the Piccadilly Line, let’s skip Knightbridge (alight for Harrods) and Green Park (alight for Pall Mall and Buckingham Palace) and head for Hyde Park Corner. We’re heading for Belgravia, home of the mega-rich and the most expensive real estate in London. These Georgian mansions will set you back about £10 million – if you can find one for sale. Belgrave Square is also home of the embassies and we’re now heading for the Austrian Embassy. (Thank you, New German Books for the invite.) Another blogging superstar, Katy Derbyshire of Love German Books is moderating (actually, as you can see, she’s deeply engrossed in) a conversation with Austrian author Clemens Setz.
The translation of Setz’s German book prize shortlisted novel Indigo is currently in progress, targeted for publication in 2014. Clemens Setz read a portion of the translation and pronounced it more beautiful than his original! It appears that Ross Benjamin is doing a fantastic job. Read a sample here.
And blogging’s bringing some unexpected and fantastic experiences along with it. Who would have believed that, when I lost my notebook and decided to put future notes in a place where I would not lose them, it would lead to opportunities like this?