It’s Getting Green Around Here

IMG_1728Day 5

I always wondered if Shakespeare had ever undertaken a juice fast. Now I realize he must have done several…

Green grows the holly, this life is most jolly” – As You Like It

“For, being green, there is great hope of help.” – Henry VI pt. II

“How green you are and fresh in this old world.” – King John

“Poor Tom… that drinks the green mantle of the standing pond.” – King Lear

Green indeed is the color of lovers” – Love’s Labors Lost

“… everything I look upon seemeth green” = The Taming of the Shrew

“And with a green and yellow melancholy she sat like patience on a monument.” Twelfth Night

But for my favorite vivid, evocative use of the word…

“Time held me green and dying, though I sang in my chains like the sea.” – Dylan Thomas, Fern Hill

 

Mood Swing

DAY 3

Sometimes you hear of dramatic mood swings when doing a juice fast or detox or any kind of woo-woo-adjacent adjustment… Well I’m here to report on one.

When I commute to work from Pleasantville to New York City, I usually choose the quiet car. This is the carriage at the end of the train where the rule is, no electronic devices with sound, and conversations in hushed tones only. There are signs fixed to the carriage roof that confirm this. If you need to make a phone call, you are cordially asked to walk into the next carriage where people are talking as normal.

The day before yesterday was Santacon. This is a charity event where people dress in Santa Klaus costumes or allied festive, brightly colored garb, and raise lots of money for good causes. It may also include heroic feats of alcoholic consumption (I have no firm information on this last – just a guess).

So, there I was in the quiet car, preparing to read a peaceful book and transition calmly into the day’s labors.

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All of a sudden and noisily, about 250 people, all of them right around the age where it is legal to drink in the USA, (some under some over), got into the quiet car (alright there were probably only 20 of them, but it seemed like a lot more).

They swarmed up and down the carriage uttering mottos of seasonal celebration. “Hey Britany – there are seats up HERE!!!” for example, or, “Matt, uncork me another one, wuddya?”

I caught the eye of a passing reveler, “Er excuse me,” I said in my best Downton Abbey accent, “this is the quiet car.”

“HEY YOU GUYS” bellowed the reveler, ” THIS IS THE QUIET CAR!!!”

A compote of deafening expletives erupted from the group. To their credit, they agreed to move to the next car (or carriage as we Brits call it). The motion was a noisy phalanx as each member of the group insisted that the others “KEEP IT DOWN, DUDE!” About half the group passed into the other car, before the collective changed its mind (the train being very full), the ensuing melee put one in mind of the outnumbered Spartans against the hordes of Persia.

Having regained the quiet car, the group then had a brief post-debacle analysis of the situation before moving on to other topics which were then discussed for the remainder of the journey at ever increasing volume.

And me?

One of the finer British magazine publications, which I commend to my readers, is The Oldie. The pages are filled with splenetic and amusing articles from grumpy retirees on the decline of standards generally. At one time I would have written a letter to the editor across the pond and signed it “Disgruntled of Pleasantville (ex-pat).”

But on this occasion… on this occasion, my inner curmudgeon had subsided. I simply sat there, mellow on my green juice, with a friendly smile “Ah, let the young people have their fun.” I mused.

And if that isn’t a mood swing, tell me what is.

Pre-launch Prep

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This morning I took delivery of a lot of carrots and greens.

A brisk 20 minutes later, there were these jars containing primary and secondary colored juices prepared for freezing

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As much to make room in the fridge as for any reason

Drink the rainbow!

Tomorrow is DAY 1 of the reboot

This Blog is Going Ballistic (for a while)

For the past several years I’ve been blogging about what it’s like to be a jobbing actor. The idea has always been tweedy, lost-in-translation type articles intended to lower your blood pressure. A reference to a gentler time when there actually was time to read something — anything, just to while time away.

However…

For the next two months or so I am going to ramp up the frequency of this blog as I revisit a long term project mentioned in these pages before. OLM. Operation Leading Man.

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You see before you, what I believe is known in today’s media-savvy quotidian-common-tongue as “a selfie”. As you see, it’s a shot in diffuse lighting, slightly distorted by the mirror, and it doesn’t really tell you the whole story

It reminds me of a joke the late great British comedian, Tommy Cooper, used to tell.

I went to the doctor, he said, “You’re fat.”

I said, “I want a second opinion.”

He said, “You’re ugly too.”

To celebrate my 61st birthday, I have signed up for a guided reboot as brought to the world by that crazy Australian, Joe Cross, and pioneered in his film, Fat, Sick, and Nearly Dead. I start the day after tomorrow.

You can check all that out via the cunningly named websites: rebootwithjoe.com & fatsickandnearlydead.com where you can see the film for free.

Watch this space

NB: If you find it too unsavory a prospect, or too painful to watch as I struggle to reclaim the casting of my earlier youth, then simply delete all posts until the end of January (Imbolc) 2019 when normal service will resume.

Do You Like Being Read To?

The BBC is re-releasing some of its archive and broadcasting on Radio 4 Extra. As of today, November 3rd 2018, there are 24 days left on this release

Go here to listen to a 15 minute story written by some guy called Collin Johnson (aka Colin McPhillamy) way back in the last millennium …

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The Ferryman, Broadway 2018

The Ferryman, by Jez Butterworth, directed by Sam Mendes, with a superb cast, opened on Broadway last night. The show just could be that rare commodity: a review-proof play. In almost 40 years of acting I have seldom seen audiences respond like they do for this one.

Rather being ‘on’ this production, than ‘in’ it, I considered it part of the job to read the reviews — something I try hard to avoid when actually appearing in a show — See previous blog post here.

And the reviews are spectacular. Across the board. Up to and including the mighty New York Times.

Theatrical history is full of contention between critics and actors — see for example Dame Diana Rigg’s amusing volume of collected reviews, No Turn Unstoned

Sir Nigel Hawthorne once took issue with a review of his production of the seldom-performed The Clandestine Marriage. (He directed and played the lead; I played a hedge. Yes, hedge, as applied to topiary, not to fund management). Nigel wrote a closely spaced four-page letter to a prominent theatre critic, with point by point analysis supporting his production choices. The critic in question conceded that perhaps he had been too hasty in his judgment. Too late! The damage had been done. The show closed prematurely.

It’s no secret that adverse reviews can close shows. I have witnessed at close hand the collapse of box office in several productions — each time, in my opinion, completely undeserved and a great shame, considering the work, talent and yes, money, that went into them.

You may wonder why I am taking the trouble to lay out this context, when in the present case there is, as far as I know, (again in my opinion) universal, absolutely earned, deserved, and appropriate high praise. There is a reason. But on this occasion I certainly have no quarrel with either critic or criticism.

The reviews, as I said, are raves across the board. In the Broadway landscape, The New York Times is a king-maker, and Ben Brantley, as senior critic there, is the most powerful. He’d already endorsed The Ferryman when he saw it in London last year, and his review of the Broadway production, published today, confirms what he said in 2017.

One usually doesn’t think of an actor reviewing a critic, (see here for an example).  I have taken issue with Mr Brantley’s view on several productions, as many theatre folk I know have done from time to time, but here I find his review to be accurate and excellent, and filling the highest function that theatrical criticism should: namely to elevate and preserve standards, and to inform and enrich the community it serves.

Well, that’s enough about that. A long way to say that The Ferryman is a hot ticket.

Looking at another part of the production, and now I disclose a fun technical detail which may come in handy should you (or I — as my present employment may at some point require) ever be called on to go on stage with a live goose tucked under one arm. No spoiler here, every review mentions the goose. And the rabbit. And the baby. Our goose is mostly well behaved and quite a hit with audiences. I do know though, from our wrangler, that if the goose were to get stressed, there is a chance that she might… well… what’s the word I want? — Evacuate. In projectile fashion. This is where the staging is crucial. Consider if the actor were angled even slightly down-stage. Well it hasn’t happened yet. But if you do chance to buy tickets, perhaps choose something beyond the very front row?