The classics department at my school (and you know it’s gonna be nerdy as soon as you read that it was organised by the classics department) organised a trip down to London to see Oedipus at the National Theatre. They decided to make a day of it, so we visited the British Museum and National Gallery as well. Yes I was all cultured out by the end of it.
We had about one hundred hours too few in the British Museum, the National Theatre is a concrete monstrosity and the National Gallery is so horrifically pretentious that I nearly threw up. Other than that it was a really good day out and well worth £25. Yeah, I can’t go anywhere without moaning about something, it is a testament to the awesomeness of the British Museum that my only complain was that we did not have nearly enough time in there. Free entry to one of the finest museums in the world? At times you have to admit socialism has its bonuses… NO! Stop! Get in character damnit!!!! Socialism sucks ass.
The play itself (the reason we went down in the first place) was pretty good. I wont bore you with the details of the performance, but I want to mention a few things I didn’t like so much. For one it took a long time to get going, especially Ralph Fiennes (better knows as Lord Voldemort), who pretty much carried the entire thing – as you might expect from a main character. The play is of course a Tragedy – written originally by Sophocles (as if that information will get you anywhere in life), so you expect a fair amount of dramatic wailing, but at times the actors got a little carried away and there was little one could do but laugh at the over-dramaticism (and word is telling my that dramatisicm is not a word… well it damn well should be). The last thing that got on my nerves was the fact that all the cast looked like city executives; they were all wearing black suits and ties. Seriously, could they not afford authentic Greek costumes? I don’t know if it was meant to be some subtle political point or just laziness on the part of the costuming department, but either way it was pretty bewildering, especially when the play was in no way re-written to fit a modern context. Other than that, I really liked it. Shame it was I such a pathetically dull building.
As you can see from the picture it has 1960’s written all over it. Clearly concrete was the in thing when this was built. Granted they try to liven it up at night by lighting in a rather pleasing way, but you can polish a turd all you want, it’s still a turd. The most bewildering thing is that they didn’t even bother to decorate the interior! Most of the wall is still just bare concrete, full marks for originality I suppose. The theatre itself was rather better than the building in which it was situated, which was nice.
Last on our whistle-stop tour of the cultural attractions of London was the National Art Gallery. Suffice to say we decided to abort our tour round the place as we approached the modern art; we were all Classicists or Ancient Historians, so venturing past 1000 AD was an adventure in itself. I mentioned before that it was the definition of pretentious and I wasn’t kidding. Half the security guards were French, one was balding and still had a ponytail and several were more than a little camp. Not that I’m stereotyping or anything. The art itself was nice, but the place seemed very full of itself (yes I’m aware of both the hypocrisy and the fact that the Gallery is inanimate and therefore cannot be full of itself, it’s a turn of phrase you arse.). Even the Café was pretensions; it was all weird flavoured smoothies and organic fruit. I suppose they’re just appealing to their customer.
Right, so that was my cultured and very nerdy Wednesday. I think I’ve managed to garble on long enough to distract from the fact that I have nothing much to say. Next weekend is hectic, but I shall endeavour to write a review of Chinese Democracy and get it up as some point…