The prisons inside us

This morning, after the gym, I went to Nero’s. What a difference. A seat, small queue, no screaming babies, chattering hordes or noisy students. A very pleasant coffee was had. I think this might be the way to go. As much as I love going to Starbucks, at 9am, Nero’s is altogether more pleasant.

Bliss

I noticed, as I left the bus at East Street Shops, that the hoardings have started going up around the Woolmead. This is going to cause some havoc to the traffic for quite a while but, and I mean this most sincerely, I’ll be very happy when it’s gone

The Woolmead is ugly and building it was possibly the worst decision ever made in Farnham. Mind you, there could be worse ones coming on the other side of the road but that’s for further down the line. For now, just blocking it from view is great.

Hide it away

Something that does concern me though, and it was mentioned on Monday by David. The Woolmead takes up the entire block so, as they demolish it then build a replacement, where are they actually going to work? I suggested they might use skyhooks but I think an Interdimensional Space Rift might be better.

After the usual day of housework, dog walking and general devil-may-care stuff, I showered, changed and headed off for London. There was an amazing chance meeting with Lizzy outside Farnham Station which made me smile.

Ages ago, I spotted an ad for a production coming to the National. It was a play called The Prisoner and was co-written and co-directed by the legend that is Peter Brook. In Paris in 2006, we saw a production of Athol Fugard’s Sizwe Banzi is Dead (or Sizwe Banzi est Mort in French) directed by Brook and it was excellent…though a lot of the text was lost on us.

Peter Brook is a giant of British (and French) theatre and the author of The Empty Stage, a book we avidly studied as actors/directors/theatricals back in the day. To see his work live is a sort of nirvana for us.

Tonight was our chance to sample his work again. This time the play was based on an event that happened to Brook in Afghanistan. He came across a man who had been “…condemned to not sit inside, but to sit outside, of the prison for his whole sentence, staring at it.” The memory had stayed with him and this play was the result.

Of course, dinner was first. Originally we were going to meet at Mirinda’s club for dinner but, given the play was on the South Bank and her club is north of Covent Garden, we decided Canteen was a better option.

The Thames by night

But what of the play? I absolutely loved it. I thought the premise highly original, the concept of imprisonment outside a prison yet holding us by our own guilt was marvellous. I adored the pared down dialogue and action, the meditative quality of a man struggling to come to terms with what he had done. It was 80 minutes of fantastic performance.

In saying that, it would obviously not be for everyone. As an actor, I would have loved to have worked on something like this but, not all audiences are actors (not many in fact) so it’s an opinion not universally held. Even so, I thought the audience enjoyed it very much given the feeling in the room and the applause at the end.

The Dorfman is an intimate space and the cast needs to connect with and hold the audience from the off. This happened beautifully. The ensemble work of the cast of Hiran Abeysekera, Herve Goffings, Omar Silva, Kalieaswari Srinivasan and Donald Sumpter was flawness.

In the foyer

It’s hard to believe that Peter Brook is 93 years old when he can produce something as beautiful and original as The Prisoner.

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