Saturday, 28 September 2013

Too Many Blogs...

Looking at how rarely I have time to post on this blog, I've come to the conclusion that I may just have too many blogs. You may know that as well as writing this blog, I also write another one, Helena's London Life.

Plus, at the moment,  I'm in the middle of writing a sequel to my first Nordic love story, The Englishman.

So…I'm afraid I'm going to have to say goodbye to Strindberg's Daughter for now. But please pop over to Helena's London Life where I'll be doing the occasional theatre review as well as writing about London, art, fashion and books.

And of course I'm still addicted to Strindberg!

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Out to lunch...

My dear theatre friends, and fellow Strindberg addicts, I apologise profusely for a recent lack of reviews.

It's not that I haven't been to theatre; no sadly, it's just that old thing of life which has been getting in the way of me and this blog. And the three other blogs I write and the three other novels I'm in the process of publishing…

I will be back, soon, I promise.

In the meantime, if you can't be without my musings, be they not on theatre as such, hop over to either Helena's London Life, Scandinavian Review or even buy my first novel which is now on Kindle, The Englishman, or if you've already been one of the thousands (yes, The Englishman has been downloaded more than 1,000 times!!!), you can read extra bits from the novel on The Englishman blog.

Thank you for your patience!

Monday, 8 October 2012

Free Download!

For a limited period for FIVE days only, starting today, The Englishman will be FREE to download from Amazon. (Where you can also find a Kindle app for most other e-readers, including iPads)

The Englishman is a will they,
won't they love story
 set in Helsinki in the 1980's.

The Englishman 
8 October 2012
12 October 2012 

You can download my book here, but hurry, this is once only offer and will end on Friday. 
After this short free promotion the price of The Englishman will be £2.99.

Sunday, 30 September 2012

A Chorus of Disapproval at Harold Pinter Theatre, London

Nigel Harman, Rob Brydon and Ashley Jensen.

I'm not a lover of musical theatre. My first experience of it was many years ago in the eighties, when I saw 'Cats' with my sister in London. We both thought we must have missed something when we didn't really think much of it. Everyone else seemed to think it was absolutely the best thing since sliced bread. Over the years I've seen a few shows, just because I've had to, and only enjoyed 'Mamma Mia' because the tunes took me back to my teenage years in Sweden. I'd much rather go and see a serious depressing play by Strindberg (obviously) or Ibsen. If there's any singing to be done on a stage, I'd much rather it was the real thing, opera. I know I'm dull, but there's no accounting for taste.

So, when I heard that the play, A Chorus of Disapproval, we'd booked to see with the Englishman's mother last night was really a musical, my heart sank. The only saving grace was that the production was directed by Trevor Nunn and starred Rob Brydon who I think is really funny.

Photo A Chorus of Disapproval
Of course had I known anything about musical theatre, I would have known that A Chorus of Disapproval is the mother of all musicals (the programmes can be so informative). Written by Allan Ayckbourn, it's a classic piece.

The opening of the play is also the opening night of a small town amateur operatic company's production of The Beggar's Opera. It ends in a triumph, but when the curtain goes down (which is cleverly portrayed by a shadow descending onto the stage), all's not well with the star of the show, played by Nigel Harman, who seems to be shunned by the rest of the company. 

The play then goes back to the beginning of the story and Nigel Harman's audition with the director, Rob Brydon. And I find myself enjoying this first scene. Not only is there some very good singing by both Harman, and (especially) Brydon, but they are both genuinely funny too. 

It's all a lot of nonsense, but it's good, funny and well-played nonsense, which I enjoyed very much. Rob Brydon is excellent as the ambitious director who admits he uses art as an escape from his real life troubles. Ashley Jensen (of Ugly Betty fame) is good as Brydon's unhappy wife who seeks solace with Harman's character. Her singing is a little weak at times, but then she's supposed to be an amateur…The rest of the cast is stellar too, and there are many more comic moments as we get an insight into the complicated (sex/love) lives of the amateur cast.

All in all, I was almost sad when the curtain really fell and the play was over. 

A Chorus of Approval with Rob Brydon
For a limited season up till 5th January 2013
Harold Pinter Theatre
The Haymarket
London SW1Y 4DN

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

The Physicists at The Donmar Warehouse

Every theatre company is allowed the occasional flop, and The Physicists at the Donmar Warehouse definitely was one. In fact the play was so bad we walked out at the interval. Yes, I know, this is the first time ever I've done it, and I didn't take the decision lightly.

The Physicists at the Donmar Warehouse.
Photograph: Johan Persson
The play, which I presume was supposed to be a farce, had as many caricatures as could humanly be fitted onto the small stage. There were pretty nurses wearing short tight skirts and high heels, being murdered by mad scientists, who in turn were looked after by a thoroughly loony, humpbacked psychiatrist. The final straw for our group was when two young German men dressed in lederhosen entered the stage.

The plot (which was recounted to us by a very friendly member of the staff who saw us leaving early) was so silly that I think even the actors had difficulty in believing in their own characters and came across as stiff and unconvincing.

But in the name of science, which became our theme of the night, we decided to carry out research of our own, making our way to the recently opened Speakeasy cocktail bar in Hampstead, Dach and Sons (Time Out review here). We tried almost all their inventive drinks, so much so, that the next morning my head rather wished we'd stayed on for the second half of the play…below some of the drinks we had. (Don't ask me to name them.)

The friendly barman
who kept supplying us
with cocktails at Dach and Sons.
(The Physicists ran until 21 July this year)

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Timon of Athens at The National Theatre

Simon Russell Beale, centre, is in compelling form in Nicholas Hytner's production of Timon Of Athens. Photograph: Tristram Kenton 
I love Simon Russell Beale and I love the National Theatre.

Mr R-B could act the contents of the Yellow Pages for me and I'd give him a standing ovation. So the fact the this unfinished play by Shakespeare was more depressing and (dare I say it) a little boring, rewritten and set as it was in the modern times, didn't matter a jot to me.

Simon Russell Beale owned the stage, and I laughed, scoffed and cried with him as his fortunes, as Timon, were turned from the wealthy - and too generous as it turned out - Athenian benefactor to a down and out tramp. The lessons of the play were that good time friends are just that - good time friends - and that money breeds greed and violence. There were some references to last summer's riots in London as well as to the recent anti Capitalist demonstrations in the City of London, the credit crunch and the corruptive effect of absolute wealth, but on the whole no-one in the play came out smelling of roses.

I think it's a noble effort to try both to finish a play by such a master as Shakespeare, as well as to set it in modern times. I've said on this blog before that I'm really no expert on Shakespeare - he was but skimmed in my Finnish education - and have to admit that this play was a difficult one for me to grasp.

And Timon of Athens lacked any kind of reprieve for the audience; there was very little humour, no sex and no love story. But, it may be that, as I've found with other Shakespeare plays, they have a habit of growing on you: the more Shakespeare I see the more I enjoy him.

As with Shakespeare, the National Theatre too has been growing on me. When  I moved here in the early 1980's I thought the South Bank building ugly and the theatre too large, sterile and anonymous. But now I love the stark architecture and appreciate the flexibility the different stages at the National afford a theatre company. And having spent the previous night not at all enjoying King Lear at the Almeida, partly because the seats were cramped, the comfortable chairs of the National were a bonus too.

The lighting at the National is often dramatic too.
Timon of Athens runs until 1 November 2012
Olivier Theatre
National Theatre
South Bank

Monday, 14 May 2012

My inspiration and obsession...

August Strindberg
I thought I'd just write a little post about August Strindberg the wonderful playwright, author and painter, who was the inspiration for the name of this blog. He died 100 years ago at his Stockholm Home, Blåa Torned (Blue Tower). He was only 63 years old.

A re-imaged version of Strindberg's most celebrated play Miss Julie, was staged brilliantly at Donmar Warehouse in 2008. It's a production starring Helena Baxendale, Richard Coyle and Kelly Reilly which I often refer to in my reviews here, because it was just the most perfect performance. The acting was so intense I nearly fell off my seat when the neck of an imaginary canary was being broken by Richard Coyle. Of course being a Strindberg addict, I am a little biased when it comes to his most famous play.

Richard Coyle and Kelly Reilly in the Donmar production of After Miss Julie. Photo The Telegraph
My sister told me that Swedish TV is screening a series of programmes tonight in Strindberg's honour including his plays and documentaries about his life. Oh, I wish I was there!

Finally here's a little link to a post I did about the Strindberg museum in Stockholm (among other things), housed in his last apartment on Drottningsgatan.