Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Day 49 - Bonfire Night and The Commitments

Palace Theatre - The Commitments
 Today was Bonfire Night or Guy Fawkes Day, which celebrates a group of catholic supporters unsuccessful attempt to blow up Parliament.
Because of the day, several events were reported in the news.  One concerns the village of Lower Hartshay in Derbyshire, whose hedge clippings and scrap wood collected for a bonfire celebration tonight, mistaken for fly-tipping (illegally-dumpted) waste, was collected by the Amber Valley Borough Council and removed.

Sample Bonfire in England
Villagers said they were surprised and disappointed to find "environmental crime scene" tape surrounding their collection site along with a warning that their were heavy fines for illegally dumped waste, and that people were being watched.

Amber Valley Borough Council said it responded to a fly-tipping complaint and put up a warning sign first. They also said organizers should have applied for a temporary events license. Residents said they did not see the warning sign and villager David Crowder said they had never needed a licence before.

"I've been involved for the last 29 years, as long as I've lived in the village, so it has been a longstanding event," he said. "I'm sure the council have been aware it happens every year, so we feel it would have been better had they approached one of us, rather than take it away." He said the council should have realized the heap of hedge cuttings and scrap wood was for a bonfire, given the time of year. Children and adults usually help to build the material into a bonfire on the day of the event, which Mr Crowder said "brings people together".

A smaller event, with fireworks and sparklers, was held on Nov. 2. "We want to try and have a bonfire next year and we just want to work with the council now to ensure we do everything they want us to," said Mr Crowder. A council spokesman said the authority was happy to provide help and support for organizers of community events.  Sounds to me like someone had a splinter in their butt and wanted to make others pay for it.


Million Mask March at Trafalgar Square
Today, at dozens of cities across the world, one million people will be marching. Many will be wearing Guy Fawkes masks, and protesting against the internet spying being done by the NSA and other government agencies. It is being coordinated by the Anonymous movement, a loose collective of like-minded individuals around the world mainly concerned about protecting internet freedom and opposing surveillance.

Guy Fawkes mask used in "V" for Vendetta
The date - Guy Fawkes Day - is of course intentional. The Guy Fawkes mask has always been the symbol of Anonymous, taken from the final scene in the movie 'V for Vendetta'. Guy Fawkes famously said 'a desperate disease requires a dangerous remedy' . Though the marchers aren't planning to blow up the Houses of Parliament, they do want to shake up the system. These individuals are out to defend Internet freedom, and they are growing in number.

For more information about Guy Fawkes and the role he played in history, please visit Day 46.

Bonfire Night Fireworks
Rather than attend any firework shows or bonfires, hubby and I chose to attend "The Commitments" playing at the Palace.

The Commitments - Palace Theatre at Night
I never read the book, but both hubby and I saw the movie on which the musical is based.  The movie definitely had more grittiness and heart to it than the show did.  However, these performers give all to their audience.  It's not their fault that the dialogue and conflict was trivialized.  Some of it, like the Irish rain being dispensed through a garden hose was intentionally funny, but other parts just missed the mark.

The Commitments starting to form their group - Deco is at the mike
I agree with Paul Taylor, the Independent critic who wrote " Though Doyle himself wrote the book, the storytelling lacks texture; the crude banter has been drained of most of its saving charm and the characters all come over as two-dimensional comic types. Newcomer Denis Grindel is winning as the band’s manager, Jimmy Rabbitte, who yearns to spread the gospel of soul to the Dublin working classes. But you’re never properly convinced that there’s real hunger behind this mission and that the music represents, for him, a rebellion against the material and spiritual poverty of the environment. Despite Soutra Gilmour’s looming tower-block set, the stakes feel low and the mood blandly upbeat.

The Commitments in an early gig with Deco in front again
Killian Donnelly is phenomenal as the obnoxiously big-headed Deco, his mighty voice ranging from a snakily sexy falsetto to a deep rasping boom. Even when scoffing a bag of chips as he performs “I Heard It Through The Grapevine” (a feat Marvin Gaye curiously never attempted), he can imbue a number with insidious erotic drive. Persuasively charting their growing prowess, the engagingly cast band pound out the numbers with infectious zest and energy.

But the whimsical notion that they re-group as a spoof country & western outfit – on the grounds that sex broke them up and that playing country music is about as arousing as singing the phone book – is a flat-out mistake that merely exposes how dramatically flimsy the brawling disputes are that cause them to implode in the first place. And the encores, where the fourth wall is knocked down (“Hello, London!”) in too calculatedly frenzy-inducing a fashion, reinforce the feeling that this show about soul is itself a mite soulless."

Deco and Natalie
On the whole, you leave feeling that everyone in the show has given their all.  "There's virtually nothing to be faulted about the cast, the music or the glorious set. Soutra Gilmour has worked wonders with the strictures of the rotting old glory that is the Palace theatre, giving us a vaulting taste of the rain-streaked concrete of 1987 Dublin as the backdrop to the tribulations of an impoverished band trying to resurrect American soul; and musical supervisor Alan Williams can take many plaudits. The cast act their little grimy socks off: Denis Grindel is a lovely band manager, Jimmy Rabbitte; Steph McKeon has real chops for soul; and, of course, Killian Donnelly as the thoroughly unlikable Deco, unredeemed by the end but for his voice (which is to say, wholly redeemed), is the star of the show," reported Euan Ferguson for The Guardian, and he's right.

Hubby enjoyed it, but as much as I love the theatre, I left the show feeling somewhat deflated like I'd just eaten a large meal that was less than satisfying.

All the same, I stood at the end to applaud the performers, because like both Paul and Euan, I felt the performers deserved the accolade, and yet I wasn't satisfied by the show.

Finally, I want to close with a note about London's dressing up for Christmas.  I love the way this city gets into the spirit of the holiday.  Unfortunately, we're leaving too early to catch most of the lights and the pantos, but Covent Garden is scheduled to turn on its lights tomorrow, and Regent Street is lighting up on the 9th, which is also the Lord Mayor's Day.  Tonight, Slingsby Place had its Christmas finery on display, so I'll leave you with two pictures of it.  Click on them to view a larger image.

Slingsby Place dressed for Autumn:

Slingsby Place - Autumn
Slingsby Place - Winter and Christmas

Slingsby Place - Christmas
Until tomorrow.


  1. I'm sorry I've been less than diligent in commenting lately. I can only say that I've been swamped. I have been reading the posts though.

    Guy Fawkes Day has always sounded like so much fun. I really need to get to England one of these years. How appropriate that Anonymous is taking advantage.

    Sorry the play was so disappointing. Sometimes, it just doesn't gel, and the cast doesn't hit the high notes. It sounds like a lack of ensemble to me, as though the individual actors were doing a fine job, but together, they were less than stellar.

    Good that you got to see some of the Christmas lights. They really can make a place magical.

  2. Glad to hear you've been busy. I haven't been able to finish my posts, so I figured you were probably waiting until I indicated I'd finally finished the post. The Commitments did have excellent staging, and I think the actors did the most with what they had, and the sets were fantastic. If I had to put it down to one thing, I'd say it was the book, even though it was written in part by the same person who wrote the novel. Thanks for visiting and commenting.