An American in Paris – Dominion Theatre, London

An American in Paris was a few hours of irresistibly danceable tunes and swirling skirts. A mix-up of jazz-driven tap and modern ballet. It is taken from a classic musical film, but I hadn’t seen that before I went into the theatre, although I’m tempted to hire it to watch at home one night.

Despite the grim settings and back stories of many of the characters (none of whom are prepared to discuss the war they have just lived through at the start), it is about finding purpose, beauty and love as life unfolds before them, so becomes a very feel-good show

The number of dancers filling the stage, and the music also helped with this: the band were fabulous.

The greatest mystery is how the woman two seats across from me (near the front of the stalls!) managed to fall into such a deep sleep that she was snoring in both acts!

Advertisements

Ragtime – Charing Cross Theatre

I had barely heard a song from Ragtime before we saw it this weekend – but it was the most suitable-looking show on in London this weekend with tickets available that we hadn’t already seen, so front-row tickets were booked.

Of course we didn’t know what to expect: but from the opening number it was clear we were in for something which was both deep and rocking. There are some seriously catchy tunes, heartbreak and politics. A lot of it is looking frighteningly relevant to the way the world is currently moving (as we saw this in the week Trump won the presidential election).

I really enjoyed the way this production had all the instruments onstage, and a simple set of two walkways that swung back and forth and was used imaginatively. Part of the fun was how the pianos were used as furniture on stage: I was amazed how much jumping on and off the tops was manageable without slipping or standing on the keys.

Other bits of fun whilst we were in London: John Soane’s museum, a fascinatingly packed house of everything he had collected in a lifetime, and of course a trip to the London Review of Books bookshop.

Metroland – Julian Barnes

Metroland is one of those books that keeps coming up, through conversation or mentioned in other works. Eventually I decided it had to be read, and put a reservation into my library account. I had to wait a few weeks, but then before I got the email, I was told that it had just arrived when I was returning other books, and the librarian fetched it for me immediately.

A lightly-mocking account of two schoolboys, this has parallels to Catcher in The Rye: a book I was so unimpressed by that I didn’t bother to review. But the more British humour of Metroland worked much better with my tastes.

“Hey, what about that? What if the whole school, apart from us, became bank managers. Wouldn’t that be great?”

I also greatly appreciated the passage of time, impact of adulthood and benefit of perspective when reexamining characters who grew up together. That expectation of the whole school being dull, except our central characters, is cast into a new light as one of them grows up.