Girl About Town: The Drowned Man

The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable – A Punchdrunk production

There’s not a lot I can say about The Drowned Man: A Hollywood Fable without ruining it, other than, it’s not really a play, it’s more of an experience, an emotional journey. One designed to take you out of your comfort zone and make you think – even if you’re not thinking about the play itself, even if you don’t like the story, I guarantee you’ll be thinking about the dance talent, the amazing sets and the curious artefacts you’ll find along the way, for a long time afterwards. Let me also qualify this post by saying that this is not a review, I’m not a theatre critic, I just like to be entertained. And entertained I was. In fact I still am. Since seeing the play I’ve lost hours on the internet Googling reviews, reading online discussions and stalking the cast members on Twitter to see what others made of their experience.

I booked tickets upon recommendation that it would be “weird, thought provoking, like nothing you’ve ever seen before and right up my street”. I was glad I took up the suggestion and I reiterate the advice to you!

It’s a promenade performance, by the brilliant Punchdrunk, set in a disused four storey building next to Paddington station. Upon arrival you check your bags (so you don’t pilfer things from the amazingly intricate, lovingly accessorised sets), you are issued with a mask (to clearly mark out the audience from the actors), and given a slip of paper with two paragraphs which loosely detail the two parallel story lines of love, adultery, paranoia, betrayal, social struggle and murder.

You are welcomed to “Temple Studios” by a glamorous employee with a brief introduction and then you are encouraged to leave your companions behind, open your mind and follow your own path…

And for three hours that’s what I did.

I lost my family within minutes as I got my bearings in a dark “street” lined with “shops”. I found a few characters and became engrossed in their stories, following them in earnest as they tore through the “desert”, “forest” and on to “movie sets” up and down stair wells, through dimly lit corridors and feeling uncomfortably voyeuristic as I peered through key holes and “bedroom windows”. I got hot and sweaty running up and down staircases (one covered in fresh, bloody hand prints), I shivered as I watched a narrated movie scene play out on a snowy mountain and I ruined my suede boots on a sand dune and had to step through a puddle of water around a bathtub in the middle of a “chapel” in a “trailer park”.

I put those words in quotes as I was well aware I was walking on a set, amongst scenery, but the eerie lighting, disconcerting music and smells, mist and different underfoot textures made the sets feel spookily real. Although I knew I was perfectly safe and was watching a show, my over-active imagination went hell-for-leather and I had a few freak out moments as an audience member was “kidnapped” by a cast member and taken in to a locked room, and I was left virtually alone in a dark corridor next to a shrine to an “ageing actress” and was then taken by surprise by an elegantly dressed lady, appearing at my shoulder literally out of nowhere.

I know, I know. It sounds like I’m talking gobbledegook!

Well I am. And that’s all I’ve done since leaving that building, talking non-stop about how amazing it was to people who haven’t seen it, who clearly think I must be going crazy.

I managed to follow only one of the stories, albeit twice over, thus from two viewpoints, and at the climax I realised that not only was there the parallel narrative detailed on the slip of paper at the beginning, but a number of other subplots and about 10 additional members of the cast that I’d completely missed! I also had a small tantrum (in my head) at the beginning where I got all stroppy that I had absolutely. No. Idea. what was going on. But on speaking to other people, I clearly wasn’t alone at that stage.

I was also worried that I wouldn’t know when it was over, that I’d end up wandering the deserted floors until the small hours, but after a very definitive ending we filtered through in to an on-set bar to be reunited with our companions where we flitted between stunned, reflective silences and garbled chatter where we all spoke over each other in our excitement to relay the things we’d seen, done, felt, touched and experienced. Each and every one of us had seen a different story. Different details, characters, rooms and props. We’d all had utterly unique experiences within the same building in those three hours. Our discussions continued via text and email long in to the night.

I can’t describe it to you without ruining it for you, but I whole heartedly suggest, nay, urge you to read a few professional reviews, check out this synopsis and watch this trailer.

Even if you don’t like it, I guarantee you you won’t regret it. You can book tickets here.

And if you’ve seen it already please, please, message or call me so I can talk to someone about it.

It seems I lied in my first line. There IS a lot I can say about this play, in fact I can’t stop saying things about this play…

Victoria x

PS! Find Victoria over on her blog Sugar Plum Slipper or on twitter @VictoriaHale.

Recommended: Liverpool

As I was brought up by the sea, I have found that the older that I get, the more landlocked I feel, longing to see the sea. Often, weekend breaks (particularly where we live with the Peak District, Wales and Lake District all close by,) are focused on historic cities or rolling countryside, yet I prefer a town I can get dressed up for, culture to absorb and a coastal influence, so en route home to Southport for Easter, we spent a day and night in Liverpool. When I was growing up, Liverpool was where I would venture for decent shopping and many a family day out was spent at it’s Albert Docks, but so much has changed since then it’s worth another look now. Liverpool gets a terrible rap whether it’s for the accent or sweeping generalisations about the people which are outdated and (like so many other stereotypes) ignorant. I’m proud of the city and I hope my little round up will encourage you to consider visiting and enjoying it – there is something for everyone.

We started off at the newly built Malmaison Hotel. Overlooking the river, it’s in a regenerated area that previously hardly existed and perfectly located next door to the Liver Building for walking along the river front into central Liverpool. I’ve mentioned the great deals you can get in most Malmaison hotels and we took advantage of a Room, dinner and cocktails for two offer, for just £99 and you can park next door for 24 hours for £10.

The next morning, after a Mal breakfast feast we bundled up (Liverpool is ALWAYS cold, due to the bracing wind off the Mersey,) and headed off towards our first stop, the Albert Docks. In 2008 Liverpool was European Capital of Culture and has been vastly regenerated as a result. We walked past the new Museum of Liverpool in it’s incredible purpose built building (free to visit) towards the Albert Docks which house the Maritime Museum (focusing on the city’s naval history and strong links to the slave trade triangle between Africa, Liverpool and the Caribbean,) The Tate Liverpool and where we were headed, The Beatles Story. I’m not a huge Beatles fan, but Pete is and wanted to see it, plus from a cultural perspective it’s an interesting take on an era. Our tickets were £12.95 and we spent about 2 hours going around with the audio guide. It was a little repetitive in places but a must for a fan, I would say.

Other cultural attractions in the city include The World Museum (a more traditional museum with egyptian mummies, dinosaurs and a planetarium,) 2 cathedrals and performances at the Liverpool Empire and St Georges Hall.

For me Liverpool was always a shopping destination and the shopping area was very disparate from the Albert Docks. The creation of the new Liverpool One shopping centre and surrounding sleek glass arcades and streets now house shopping to rival Manchester and you can literally cross the road from the Albert Docks and be there straight away. There are also restaurants and an Odeon cinema. After a quick Pret lunch we headed into the shops for a bit of a spree and ended our day walking back along the river front to pick up the car and head back to Southport. You can also explore nearby Mathew Street for a boutique area and lots of musical references as it was originally the site of the famous Cavern club.

Our Liverpool adventure didn’t end in Southport however. On Easter Sunday we drove back to Crosby to walk on the beach and see Antony Gormley’s Another Place. A public art installation, it consists of 100 life sized iron men positioned along 3km of coastline and up to 1km out. As it is an estuary, your experience of the men varies according to whether the tide is in or out and many of them are partly or completely submerged at different times of the day, particularly when we visted at the spring high tide.

The men are strangely haunting and spooky, meant to represent ‘the individual and universal sentiments associated with emigration – sadness at leaving, but the hope of a new future in another place.’ You’d be best driving here (probably 15 mins from central Liverpool or less, and there are directions, or public transport information here. We were lucky as it was sunny but wrap up whatever the weather to avoid freezing on the beach!

Have you ever visited Liverpool or have I encouraged you to plan a trip today? If you happen to be a Liverpool local and have any recommendations, for sightseeing or eating/drinking, do leave a comment below!

Love,
Rebecca
xo

#JanuaryJoy – Go to the Cinema


Image Credit: Make a DIY vintage Movie sign on Oh Happy Day

I’m super excited today as today’s #JanuaryJoy prompt was one of the first to go onto the calendar way back in early December when I started planning this series. The instant I saw the trailer for Les Miserables, I knew I’d be making a bee-line straight for the cinema to watch it on the big screen.

I know it’s a cliche but there’s something magical about the movies. My favourite types of film to see are those with sweeping theatrical productions, Baz Luhrmann and his surreal style being amongst my favourites. I’m not a ‘Les Mis’ fan and *hangs head in shame* had never seen it on the stage because I thought it might be, well, miserable? Having seen the trailer however, although I know it’s going to be sad, (no spoilers please!) I’m totally sucked in by the drama already.

I love seeing films I can get lost in, transported to another time or place and that pull at my heart strings. I’m pretty sure the Les Miserables film is going to fit the bill.

Are you going readers? Are you excited? I can’t wait. For the first time in my life I have booked the Premiere seats!

Love,
Rebecca
xo