SIZE really does matter. Don't let any man tell you or delude himself as to anything different. Of course, it's what you do with what you've got that matters, but no amount of ambition or creativity can disguise the reality of when something, or someone, is quite simply lacking in substance.
These eternal truths are evident in all areas of life, and last week I found myself confronted by a stallion of a theatrical production but also a humble little workhorse effort; and ever since, my life instruction manual of Freudian theories has been thrown into flux.
A Friday night in the company of the 'other' bard wouldn't often top my list of temptations come Crackerjack time, but the lovely folk behind the annual Shakespeare at Traquair events in the Borders are a group I have heard great things about so it was time I paid a visit.
The Merry Wives Of Windsor would not necessarily be the Shakespearean text I would pray for in a cultural lucky dip, either. As with the aforementioned ruminations on size, often the best things come from a little bit of experimentation.
And so it was I found myself swatting off the midges and craning to hear the actors' lines over the cawing of peacocks in the stunning surrounds of Traquair House. It was more than worth the effort, however, as it quickly became apparent that, guided by producer Luca Pornaro and director Richard Forsyth, this community theatre production had little to be humble about. The quality of acting was impressive, as were the costume and production values of the show as a whole. And it was clear that an incredible amount of professional passion had been injected into all areas of it.
Pornaro informs me that the group hope to work alongside Borders Youth Theatre and Lady Catherine Maxwell Stuart (the Laird of the house) to expand the resources and ambition of the annual project in order to create rehearsal and workshop spaces for the local creative community, be it costume designers, artists or actors. If this summer's production is anything to go by, they have their calling card in the bag.
And so to later in the week, and a night spent enduring all the bombast and vacuousness you might fear a production of Evita might bring with it. I sense I stand alone in this opinion (but don't cry for me). Unfortunately, the Rice/Lloyd-Webber take on the tale of Eva Peron felt like nothing more than a greatest hits concert with a little narration threaded through. A story of such political and personal struggle and survival felt decidedly weakened by its short running time and cut-throat scene changes.
Fortune and fame are not always the solutions they promise to be. Something small, but with substance, can often be so much better.
OUR WRITERS' WEEK
I had been really looking forward to Rupert Everett's documentary, The Victorian Sex Explorer, on the dashing Sir Richard Burton. Within about 15 minutes, as Everett tittered and Carry On-ed at the Kama Sutra and went shopping for medieval aphrodisiacs, I was ready to switch off.
Burton was a serious figure, and his interest in eastern erotica is a very minor aspect of a major figure (I prefer him trying to learn monkey language, performing the Hajj to Mecca, visiting the Mormons and translating the 1,001 Nights). A much better portrait is in Ilya Troyanov's novel.
One hot ticket has been Sparks' commitment to performing every album in their back catalogue in a three-week residency. My personal highlight was the Plagiarism night with a surprise appearance by Jimmy Somerville, duetting with Russell Mael on 'Number One Song In Heaven' like two men with their knackers in a vice trying to think of more pleasant things. In a good way. The Mael brothers will be heading to Connect festival, and Scots fans should cross their fingers that they bring the eye-catching percussionist, a remote beauty who plays like a Dietrich of the drums.
Went to see Joan As Police Woman at Glasgow's Classic Grand, and though the album is another gorgeous collection of torch songs by the classically trained musician and singer who used to play with Antony And The Johnsons, their power didn't quite translate live. Liza Minnelli's concert at the Clyde Auditorium, however, was quite simply one of the best nights I've ever had. I don't think I've ever seen an audience rise for a standing ovation not just at the end of every number, from 'Cabaret' to 'New York, New York', but sometimes at the end of every sentence too. Astonishing.
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Weather for Edinburgh
Thursday 20 June 2013
Temperature: 11 C to 19 C
Wind Speed: 7 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 11 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West