13 November 2005

London in Autumn

The air was cool, there was a smell of wood and leaves in the air, and the theatres were filled with good shows. Summer is definitely over.

We managed two shows, despite the fact that Stuart was working his socks off as usual. The first, "I Am My Own Wife" was a Tony (and other)-award winning one-man show about a transvestite who had lived through both the Nazi and the Communist regimes in ex-East Germany, in the process creating a famous museum of daily life in the late 19th century, the 'Gr├╝nderzeitmuseum'. Brilliant, if a little whacky. And we were all given a string of pearls to wear on our way home.

We also saw Kevin Spacey as Richard II in the Shakespeare play of the same name. He was good, but from our vantage point looked like he had rather large feet, which was a bit distracting (although we were seated in the upper circle at a 90┬║ angle to the stage, which might have skewed our view a bit). Star of the show though was Ben Miles of 'Coupling' fame, as Harry Bollingbrooke, he cut a fabulous Blair-esque figure. V. creepy.

I also saw a few exhibitions, mostly at the Tates. This year's Turner Prize show was a bit thin, I thought, although I liked Darren Almond with his very imaginative ways of visualising environments and journeys. Rachel Whiteread's installation in the Turbine Hall of Tate Modern had only one thing in common with the Kabakov's piece in the Serpentine Gallery, and that was that they were both white. But while Whiteread's jumble of translucent casts of the inside of one of her grandmother's cardboard boxes was evocative and beautiful, the Kabakov's 'House of Dreams' was unimaginative and lacking in atmosphere. But they were both white.

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Rachel Whiteread at Tate Modern

The best thing I saw all week were the cute, beautiful and ambitious, but futile paintings of Henri Russeau at Tate Modern. He really couldn't paint, but he was so determined to be accepted by the establishment that he never gave up trying. His allegorical paintings are so bad that they are good, but his jungle images full of damp leaves and succulent flowers, shrieking monkeys and growling tigers are a triumph of ambience over technique.

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