Friday, June 10, 2016

The Wallace Collection and a night at the (Threepenny) opera

On this day the first thing I did was get the tube to Bond Street station to test whether any of my cards would work on the metro contactless system (the first one didn't, the second one did) and so I could go see the small museum known as the Wallace Collection.

And I'm glad I did; it's brilliant. But I did take some photos on the way there, natch.

Selfridge's on Oxford Street.

Okay, so now we're in the museum. First up, a portrait of the young Queen Victoria.

Prince George (later King) IV. Unfortunately, Blackadder has ruined him forever in my mind.

A Crivelli. I've encountered his work before.

Louis XIV.

A fine example of Rococo style. Or so I'm told.

They have three Rembrandts here. Three!

Titian's Perseus and Andromeda.

Van Dyck's Philipe le Roy. It's much better in real life.

Frans Hals' Laughing Cavalier.

A Gainsborough.

A Reynolds.

A piece of Marie Antoinette's actual furniture. That's pretty awesome.

François Boucher's famous portrait of Madame de Pompadour.

It's not just art; they've got a stunning weaponry collection as well.

They also have the dagger that once belonged to Shah Jahan – he who built the Taj Mahal. It was not in a good place to photograph.

This is outside.

While walking back to Bloomsbury (where I was staying) I spotted this; to me it's a reference to The Elephant Man, because in it Treves mentions having bought a place on Wimpole Street.

Kicked back for a bit and then walked down to South Bank, where I had dinner at Yo! Sushi and then went to the National Theatre where I was seeing The Threepenny Opera.

Then it was time for the show. I've never seen a production of it before, in Adelaide or anywhere else. I can't even find out for sure when it was last done there outside of drama schools.

But it's very strange (by today's standards, unsurprisingly given it was written by Bertold Brecht and Kurt Weill in the 1920s and based on something two hundred years older than that. Read more about it here. This production starred one of my favourite actors, Rory Kinnear – who's been in a stack of the National Theatre plays they've screened as part of NT Live; he was also in the last few Bond films as Tanner from MI6 and is superb in the tv series Penny Dreadful – in the lead role of Macheath. I'd gotten very happy when I saw the dates of it coincided with my visit, especially since it would be in the Olivier theatre, which I hadn't seen a show in before (Great Britain in 2014 was in the Lyttleton).

After having bought the tickets I was pleasantly surprised to find that one of my favourite cabaret performers and Adelaide Fringe regular Le Gateau Chocolat had been cast in the show.

The show itself was great. This version is set in modern-day London rather than Victorian era, and combines dialogue and songs. Rory Kinnear wasn't known for doing musicals, so I wondered how that would go, but he's great. And the rest of the cast - presumably more well-known for their singing were amazing. The music is all performed on stage by the band, and (being Kurt Weill compositions) is all that great cabaret style that I like so much (with generous piano accordion, of course).

Le Gateau got to sing the most famous song, Mack the Knife - a song that's far surpassed the show itself in popular culture, having been covered by many, many people including Louis Armstrong, Bobby Darin, Ella Fitzgerald and Frank Sinatra. Hugh Jackman sang it at the concert I saw in Adelaide not long ago.

If you want to read some proper reviews, here you go:
Stage UK

Afterwards I got a chance for a very brief chat to Le Gateau as he walked from the theatre to Waterloo station to catch a train. And he insisted on a selfie, which he later tweeted.

So, a very good night indeed.

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