Sunday Salon

Sunday Salon, the occasional blog that brings you all the arts.

Today a rattling good story, two very different theatre experiences and a concert.

She Who Goes Forth by Audrey Driscoll

I posted this review on Amazon.co.uk, but it was rejected! I also posted it on Goodreads, giving it five stars.

Whether you are young or can remember setting out in life on your own, you will connect with France our heroine in this ripping yarn. She is the new girl and nothing in Luxor, Egypt is as she was expecting. France finds herself with a complex set of colleagues and like anyone new does not know what is going on. But with her trusty cello by her side she does not let much daunt her. Although this novel is a fantasy, it portrays real people at an interesting time in history. We are not sure at first what is truth, what is France’s imagination or what part others have played in the strange happenings. Then events start to happen fast and there are terrifying page turning moments as France’s life changes forever.

https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2792704117

DSCN1406

Whatever your taste in music, drama or films; going out to a live event is always an experience.

The Pavilion, Bournemouth

The Pavilion has been celebrating its ninetieth birthday, not the oldest theatre in the country, but it has seen off two winter gardens and survived several attempts at closure or change.

The actual birthday night was celebrated with a trip back in time, three hours of varied entertainment for less than £10. A municipal orchestra was recreated and rose from the orchestra pit. This was followed by amateur silent film of Bournemouth in 1929 and newsreel films accompanied by the fantastic Compton theatre organ, which can also pop up and down and can make the whole theatre vibrate. At the many keyboards was Donald Mackenzie who plays its sister organ at the Odeon Leicester Square.

http://www.donaldmackenzie.org.uk/

After the interval was a showing of my favourite old musical, 42nd Street, made in 1933 when movies had made a great leap forward from silent to large scale musicals. The first time I watched it was when the lovely Art Deco cinema in Christchurch was having its eightieth birthday in 2011. On that occasion Mark Kermode, film critic from the BBC, introduced the movie and declared how great it was that the little cinema was still using real ( reel ) film. Shortly afterwards the cinema went digital; modern technology has to be embraced to keep these places busy and functioning…

Meanwhile back at the Pavilion I enjoyed the film again, great music and a show business story that is still relevant, the fat bloke with the cigar and the money was Weinstein. As the film finished the organ rose from the pit with a resounding chord and played the National Anthem and yes we did all stand. Happy Birthday followed to round off a good evening.

Lighthouse Arts Centre, Poole

 The Lighthouse opened in 1978 and has a concert hall, theatre, studio and cinema. We went to the theatre to see ‘Dracula The Bloody Truth’ a family friendly show with the premise that Bram Stoker stole a true story.  Exeter based Le Navet Bete are committed to creating hilarious, physical and totally accessible comedy theatre using creative and engaging storytelling. The four chaps played many roles between them, including all the ladies. Their timing was brilliant as they mistimed everything, knocked scenery over or spoke each other’s lines. By the end of the first half, most of the set had fallen onto the stage. It was hilarious for the adults, but even better, the theatre was filled with the genuine laughter of children.

http://lenavetbete.com/shows/dracula/

Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, has not been based in Bournemouth since it moved to the Lighthouse; it plays its main season of concerts there and some are broadcast live on BBC Radio 3 – make sure you have your mobile phones turned off! But it still plays some concerts at the Pavilion and also in other towns all over the South West of England, as well as spreading out its members to work with schools and care homes.

Even if you are not interested in classical music you probably have an idea what happens at a live concert and you would be right…   audience sits down as orchestra come on and start tuning, leader of orchestra comes on, more applause, conductor and perhaps the soloist comes on; even greater applause and they haven’t even done anything yet, but they look smart. If there are choir seats behind the orchestra and no singing planned the audience can sit up there and get a great view of the percussion section, although I always worry the huge cymbals are going to go flying backwards into the audience as the percussionist strikes them with gusto. I have never tried these seats as it involves lots of clambering around watched by everybody else in the auditorium and it would be embarrassing to trip. On broadcast nights you can watch the radio presenter chatting away silently to the microphone in his little booth at the side of the stage…

https://www.lighthousepoole.co.uk/about/

But every concert can be different and there is plenty to watch. Serious concert goers who all know each other, school parties, restless children and inevitably some people who fall asleep; even the most ardent music lover can find their eyelids, or worse, their head drooping as a busy day catches up with them and they sit in warm comfort soothed by the music… and what of those going for the first time? At one concert, as we all filed up the shallow steps to the exit doors at the back, I heard a woman behind me saying to her chap

‘I feel like I’ve been run over by a tractor.’

You have no soul, it was fantastic.

‘Don’t ever bring me to a live concert again, I don’t mind listening to Classic FM on the radio…’

26982451_1950181711678276_1013422918_o

At a recent concert nobody knew what to expect and the conductor gave us an introduction so we would be prepared. It was the third symphony by Armenian composer Avet Terterian. Two soloists played small wooden instruments called duduks. The piece started with total silence for a good few moments which was surprisingly moving; do we ever hear total silence? This was suddenly broken by the drums. I noticed some of the orchestra had ear plugs and a lady up in the choir seats kept her ears covered the whole time. The duduks, far from being overwhelmed by the orchestra, played piercing notes that took you back to ancient lands. There were other periods of silence and sweet lyrical parts. I could not describe the symphony, but I loved it. There was rapturous applause at the end; it had been an experience.

sunshine-blogger

p1090504

 

Sunday Salon – Reading and Viewing Reviews

A book, a television series and a film.

MARLIE   BY ANNELI PURCHASE

I posted this review on Amazon and Goodreads. Marlie is set in the remote Queen Charlotte Islands – Haida Gwaii an archipelago approximately 45-60 km (30-40 mi) off the northern Pacific coast of Canada.

Janet Gogerty

5.0 out of 5 stars   Island life is always good for a story and this tale has everything.

16 December 2018

Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase

I knew nothing about the islands and little about this part of the world, one of the reasons why I had downloaded Marlie. Anyone who has found themselves with a new career in a place where they are the stranger in town will find Marlie’s story resonates. We may not have met a bear, but islands and remote places anywhere in the world can be surrounded by space and the illusion of freedom, but also have an insularity. On Marlie’s new island there are the locals and the original people and then there are the incomers, most of them ‘getting away’ from their previous life. Everyone knows everyone else, except of course Marlie who has no idea who to trust or how to avoid upsetting anyone. As for any young single woman, dating is a complicated game and it is easy to make a mistake. Enjoy the beauty of an island and the seas, but this story will also have you on edge as Marlie faces the elements and some sinister characters.

 

‘Mrs. Wilson’ A BBC 1 television drama of three episodes.

We have just finished catching up with this enthralling series based enticingly on real life. One fact about Alexander Wilson we know to be true is that he was an author of thrillers, you can find him on Amazon and Wikipedia, but unlike most writers his imagination spilled over into real life. He spun his lies to four ‘wives’, only the first was legally married to him. We follow the story of his third much younger ‘wife’ Alison Wilson; she is played by her granddaughter Ruth Wilson. The women in his life were real, as are his seven children. It’s almost certain he did work for the secret services at one stage, with his excellent language skills and intelligence, but what he actually did and for how long remains closed in the files. His own large family are never likely to know who the real man was. If we didn’t know it was true we would hardly believe that one man could be loved dearly by his women and children, despite all the trials he put them through; none of them had an easy time. Only after his death did Alison start to discover the truth. Eventually all the families got together. Perhaps only God knows if his Roman Catholic faith was more genuine than the rest of his life! It all made a cracking good story for viewers.

https://www.radiotimes.com/news/tv/2018-12-11/what-is-the-real-life-story-behind-ruth-wilsons-new-bbc-drama-mrs-wilson/

 

                                                      ooo000ooo

 

We don’t have Netflix, but Cyberspouse knows someone who has… he has his name on Netflix with two family members, either side of the Atlantic. In his explorations of what is available he occasionally comes up with a gem and this was one of them we watched a few days ago. But was it a book of short stories or a film? Each tale was begun with the turning of a page in a beautiful old book. When I looked it up I was surprised there were only six tales, it seemed like more.

‘The Ballad of Buster Scruggs’

The Coen brothers turn their Netflix series into an anthology film made up of six tall tales of the Old West.

Each story opened like a scene in the theatre or a painting. The singing cowboy riding his white horse and playing the guitar. Residents at a city boarding house sit at the dinner table, but two of the characters in that scene are to set out with a wagon train. This is the longest story, it moves gently until events take a turn… A travelling entertainer sets up his stage at each tiny town, but silently things move towards a dark ending. The story of the gold panner opened like a Disney film on an idyllic scene in a peaceful valley and progressed gently until a stranger came along. A stage coach is the setting for the final story and final it certainly is… If you get the chance, see this film.

https://www.netflix.com/gb/title/80200267

Sunday Salon – Astraens and Agents

Two novels, a short story collection and a film to take your mind off the real world.

The book reviews have been posted on Amazon and Goodreads.

A Marriage of Convenience by Stevie Turner

4.0 out of 5 stars A modern fairy tale for adults.

By Janet Gogerty on 17 October 2018

Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase

This could be described as a fairy tale for our age; a story that crosses from last century into the present. There is a love story, but there is also the bad fairy. Here is a tale of young people making rash decisions and bizarre plans which the reader knows can’t go well, which we hope they won’t go through with… There are dreams that come true and dreams that fade. The final part of the tale keeps us in suspense; can the dark spell be lifted from our heroine, can she ever forgive?

Coffee BreakEscapes: Twenty Short Stories To Set You Free  by Phillip Howlett

5.0 out of 5 stars Twenty tales lyrical or snappy, often taking you where you did not expect to go.

15 November 2018  Verified Purchase

A blackbird singing in the garden, a sure bet at the racecourse, poignant memories and a young lad’s sixpence. All life is here, though not always confined to the living. Secret meetings, terrible mistakes and deaths that shouldn’t have happened. Spare time for the last two longer stories ‘Radio Man’ and ‘Your Turn Will Come’, two very different tales exploring beyond our earthly limits.

Harmony ( Sanctuary Part Two ) by Maureen Turner

5.0 out of 5 stars Science fiction for all…

18 November 2018

Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase

I bought Harmony as soon as it came out as I had been waiting in suspense since reading Sanctuary. It was good to be back amongst the two communities, humans and Astraens. They are not so different from each other, which makes this such agood story. Can harmony be achieved when both sides have various agendas andthe Astraens are not as angelic as their appearance suggests? The tentative peace between the two races is constantly at risk because of the action of some individuals. But this is also a story of good characters trying to do their best and a tale of love blossoming.
Cosy science fiction perhaps? We don’t need to know how the motherships work, though we learn more about their travels since having to leave their own planet, nor why the aliens are conveniently sexually combatible with humans… lucky the woman who has a chap with wings to shelter her on a chilly night. But don’t get too cosy, the pace of the story escalates to a stunning ending.

Johnny English Strikes Again

‘Rowan Atkinson returns as the much-loved accidental secret agent in “Johnny English Strikes Again”. When a cyber-attack reveals the identity of all active undercover agents in Britain, the country’s only hope is called out of retirement. English’s new mission is his most critical to date: Dive head first into action to find the mastermind hacker. A man with few skills and analogue methods, English must overcome the challenges of modern technology-or his newest mission will become the Secret Service’s last.’

 Would you go to the cinema at 11am? One of my favourite places in Christchurch is the Regent Centre, a rescued and restored Art Deco cinema. On a damp grey winter day why not go and watch a film guaranteed to take your mind off the real problems of the world… and Johnny English has to save the world from a very big disaster. The film was silly but very funny. Just under an hour and a half, a sensible length for any film and certainly for this sort of film which is non stop slapstick send up with lashings of wit. Our hero creates nearly as much collateral damage as James Bond and doesn’t get the girl. A clever plot line somehow turns every disaster to advantage and Johnny saves the day.