Well, that was a pretty theatrical week for us! On Sunday it was The National Theatre for Behind The Beautiful Forevers and a few days later we were back in London for Beautiful, The Carole King Musical. Before the play we had an appointment with our financial advisors in their new offices hear Holborn Circus so we walked from there to theatre land via the beautiful legal district near Lincoln's Inn. We aren't familiar with this part of London and it was a fascinating walk in warm sunshine.
Before the show we needed to eat. So we had a look around the streets near The Aldwych. There was plenty of choice but we settled on The Delauney which is less than twenty feet away from the theatre. We hadn't heard of it before but it's run by Corbin and King who own the famous Wolseley in Piccadilly and, like the Wolseley it's run in the grand European cafe style with starched white tablecloths, smartly dressed staff and an interesting Austrian themed menu. The restaurant looks like it has been long established but only opened a few years ago. It has clearly been successful as it was buzzing when we visited and, with many of the clientele clearly regulars on first name terms with the staff, it has attracted a loyal following. It was a wonderful place to "people watch" and we spotted a couple of familiar faces including a well known ITN newsreader. The food was great, the service friendly and fast and the prices were reasonable. It was a perfect prequel to the matinee performance.
As for the show, I am not a musicals lover but this was very different. Instead of being just a vehicle for cramming in a load of hit songs from the sixties loosely connected by a flimsy storyline it was, instead, a play about songwriters which, naturally, included the songs that they wrote. So, all of the music was relevant, all was sung in context and none left me wondering why a character was suddenly bursting into song.
The songs were not simply those composed by King and her husband Gerry Coffin but also included those by their friends Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil which added variety and range to the music. So, as well as King's fairly samey It Might As Well Rain Until September and Will You Love Me Tomorrow, there were Mann and Weil's We Gotta Get Out Of This Place and Walking In The Rain. I don't mean to imply that all of Carole King and Gerry Coffin's music sounds similar but the extra couple of songwriters gave even more depth to the production.
It's a marvellous production. Katie Brayben thoroughly deserved the award as "best actress in a musical" that she collected the previous week and the rest of the cast all gave strong performances. The lighting, set, singing and the music were stunning and the audience gave the show a rapturous reception with a standing ovation for Brayben at the curtain call. I still don't like musicals but, plays with music in them? - now that's another matter.
After Beautiful on Thursday it was a hard act for FADS, our local am-dram group to follow on Friday night. They did their very best. The set was, as always, brilliantly done and there were one or two notable performances in House Guest which was classed as a thriller. Leading man Glenn Hurlock as Robert Drury, a dashing film star and director, and Kathy Churchill as his wife were word perfect as was newcomer Ruth Noble who made a brilliant debut for FADS as Robert's cousin. For the rest of the cast I am afraid that it was a case of third night nerves with the prompt working on overdrive as numerous cues were missed. Which is a pity as, behind the fluffed lines, were several excellent characterisations such as Ian Baird's Inspector Burford and Glyn Mackay as thuggish Sergeant Clayton.
I wouldn't blame the cast. I feel that it wasn't a great choice of play - the plot was complex, not totally credible and lacked the humour that usually lifts FADS' performances. We'll be back for the next one but hope that they give playwright Francis Durbridge a miss.
As for the meeting with the financial advisors. All went well and we should be able to live in the manner to which we've become accustomed for the foreseeable future. And to make things even better, the following invitation was in the post when we got home. An invitation to a private view of the Alexander McQueen exhibition at the V&A. That's another trip to London on the cards.