Sunday, December 04, 2005

Sunday in the Park with George

OK two separate posts about last night, as I have two very different things going around in my head.

Firstly, the play; Sunday in the Park with George at the Menier Chocolate Factory in Southwark was very enjoyable. We met up with Ping, Matt W & John S in the attached cafĂ©/bar around 6:30 as we were on the ‘dinner and show’ deal. (The country terrine and coq au vin was nothing special but it was filling and tasty enough.) The Menier theatre is quite a small venue, with padded-bench seating which wasn’t terribly comfortable, but which meant you got a great view of the stage.

Artistically the show was good – although my senses along these lines are not always reliable, everyone else agreed with me in this case. The staging was quite fascinating; done in front of a fairly featureless white backdrop with the use of five or six high-resolution video projectors which were used to provide scenery and some (very minor) characters and (with amazing precision!) to paint canvases littering the stage.

Add into the electronics a cast of real people in fairly authentic looking period costume and you very quickly got drawn into the picture, even before you realised that that is exactly what the show is intending – on several levels.

The shorter second act opens with the tableau which closed the first; a recreation of the central painting “Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte.” The subjects of the painting sing about their experience, forever held immobile in not-always-flattering poses on a hot Sunday afternoon, which was quite amusing, before the rest of the show gets underway in earnest.

Well worth putting an evening aside for.

After the show, Ping and John headed straight off, while Brett, Matt and I had a couple of drinks in a nearby bar. It was a busy, straight bar and quite an unusual experience; it felt a little like scenes from a nature documentary on TV as we watched herds of heterosexuals moving across the bar, noisily demonstrating their group hierarchies. The bar had football showing on a large screen and it was clear that testosterone was in the air in abundance, as the males of the herds would occasionally challenge each-other with pseudo-confrontational calls, gestures and rituals of displaying their stomachs (yes, really; lifting their shirts and brandishing their beer-gut!?)

You wouldn’t get that kind of behaviour in a gay bar and I did wonder at the contrast; I think partly it’s because the gay-bar culture grew up for different reasons than straight-bar culture and, although gay men can often be WAY over-the-top, we don’t usually display our machismo in such blatant ways. I just so wished there was some gay sociology team I could call out and have them examine and explain it all!

Anyway, we stayed for two drinks and split the time fairly evenly between chatting with each other and observing the straight world around our table, before heading home.

No comments: