the first half was pretty good - lots of interesting stuff with eleanor (who i have been well schooled to understand is the best queen), a guy i thought was sure to steal the throne from john (i.e. the bastard) though actually he never did, and some very amusing scenes where the french and the english tried to besign a city full of trolls, and then bickered amongst themselves. why is this an unpopular one??? i thought. but then the second half was just completely random and picaresque and i was like - oh, this is why, never mind. shakespeare again confused about how he should represent bad kings.
staging wise - they'd gone for something a bit bizarre where there were technies filming the coronations, and the speeches that john and the french king made about why THEY deserved to get into algiers - techniques that had really worked in the westminster-themed richard ii i'd watched a few weeks before, but which didn't work here in the faux medieval costumed world that we'd gone for. although the same screens did
work (i thought) for the battle sequences, where the actors largely went off stage and some films of soldiers crashing into each other were played. costumes also generally... quite cheap looking given that i generally watch shakespeare at the globe where they beautifully hand-sew tudor clothes every time.
acting was largely good (surprise miles richardson
as random background lord), although they all pronounced louis as 'lewis', although he was clearly french. john was good, porthos was good, small child was surprisingly good, eleanor was ok though could have been even better.
theatre really nice - never been to kingston rose before. but it had very good, very airy, very cheap seats from where you could see everything. funny girl
i booked these tickets ages ago, and unfortunately since then sheridan smith has had to take leave/has been really ill, which meant we had the pleasure of seeing the understudy basically acting sheridan (she did it very well, and sang probably a lot better, but alas - it was not sheridan). vvv much enjoyed the show, which i hadn't seen as a musical before this. obviously 'don't rain on my parade' is the only great song, but the others are quite good. overall, i enjoyed it a lot more than 'gyspy' (only very recently also in the savoy), which it's very similar to - largely because i liked the music more - and also because fanny herself is vv good fun, whereas rose is very interesting, and a great character, but not that fun.
quite interested in potentially going back if/when sheridan comes back, maybe in better seats too (though the savoy also has some pretty good cheap seats). north & south
omg, the ending!!!! wtf?? readingnorth & south
really enjoyed the ending of the book, except that i got fed up with everyone dying. the ending was lovely, although i was hoping for a nice denoument after everything was all right. instead it ended at the strongest moment and i was like 'is that it??? well, it's pretty good, but... i wanted to wallow!' the stuff with higgins is really good. the ladies of grace adieu
generally i don't like short stories that much, but having criticised JSMN for being too baggy i admit i did welcome these opportunities to enjoy the world without the baggage. theoretically the unconnected nature of the storis should have made it easy to put down, but i read the whole thing in an evening and then felt rather desolate.
most particularly i enjoyed the chance to hang out with jonathan quickly, even if he didn't come out of it very well (well, he does and he doesn't. he's very clever - which was nice because of how the TV one wasn't that clever; but then he gets FOILED and shown up as being very limited in his world view, so... but, you know what? that's ok, because that is jonathan), and i really liked the title story, duke of wellington loses his horse, mrs mabb (particularly the descriptions of fanny being poor and irritable), and the simonelli/john hollyshoes one.
wikipedia tells me that bertie cavell (who played jonathan in the tv series) played captain fox in a radio adaptation of mrs mabb. presumably he was just walking past the studio and they got him to say one line, because that character is mostly not in the story at all.
anyway - i v much enjoyed the book. and i recommend it. actually i recommend everything in this post - i guess it's been a good time for cultural experiences. temeraire
the real question here is why i haven't read this book (and the other NINE in the series - jesus christ) long long before now. i am only vaguely interested in dragons, though i have friends who like them a lot more, but i love AoS stuff (clearly - see above) and fantasy-themed AoS stuff written for a modern audience. or the idea of it at least, given that there's not tonnes of it around. this is another 'consumed within one day' sort of a book (though actually it may have been one and a half, but who's counting?). very readable, lots of fun. the first line is pretty awkward, and the book only really picks up pace once the dragon is born, but in general - good stuff. i really like how the dragons are both people and substitutes for ships (i particularly like the language used around how they fly, and how nautical this is), and how the aviators are and aren't the royal navy.
the characters need some time to come into themselves - at the moment the world is the main character, and the characters themselves are mostly moving through it with the exception of our leads, but i guess she's got another nine books to go (i've started the throne of jade already, thank you kindle - immediate download post finishing the books). also, i need some sort of viktor krum character to rock up and start pronouncing the dragon's name wrong, so that laurence can say it phonetically for me. in my head i'm reading it as tem-ah-rare-ee, but i have no idea whether that is right or not. it probably isn't. interestingly i note i also have trouble visualising the dragons, though they are well described. i could do with a film to help my limited imagination here.
anyway - good fun, nicely written/engaging battle sequences that are strongly influenced by naval battles. just need some more outrageous characters, i reckon, and more jokes. everyone's a bit too normal and serious.