Dr Astrov screencap spam

After the whole US election certifying crap and mobs breaking into the Capitol in Washington, I needed a little break. TV was switched off this evening and I threw myself into screencapping Richard Armitage in Uncle Vanya. Not too bad a way to self-soothe. I might as well share my screencapping results with you all before I pick some fave images to add to my screensaver. So, here goes, first the beginning of the play with Nana (Anna Calder-Marshall). By the way, for a better look you can click on each of these images to enlarge them…

Then Vanya (Toby Jones) and Sonya (Aimee Lou Wood) join Dr Astrov. I always love Richard’s hand acting..

We get the Astrov, Vanya and Telegin (Peter Wight) drunk scenes at night which are quite funny and a bit sad too…

… followed by Sonya trying to figure out if Astrov returns her romantic feelings.

Then we have the whole Astrov showing his passion for the woods and his maps and flirting with Yelena (Rosalind Eleazar) scene. That’s all quite sexy, the man sure knows how to flirt on stage!

Astrov and Vanya talk things out…

Astrov and Yelena have their last goodbyes…

And then it’s time for Astrov to reluctantly leave as well…

This screen adaptation of Uncle Vanya also had nice impressions of the actors coming into the theatre at the very beginning and these two images of Toby and Richard (who is only seen from behind) were my favourites…

At the very end, after the play had ended, the actors all came on stage to hug each other. I especially loved the Anna and Richard hug. Anna Calder-Marshall was lovely at the stage door when she signed my programme last February and she was gushing about how she loved doing the play and how she loved Toby and Richard in it. The Richard love is quite apparent in these pictures.

Now I got all that out of my system I think I am done with Vanya for a bit. Although, I will never get tired of looking at Richard with long hair and beard, that is just about my fave Richard look.

Fictional crush challenge – day 2

10 days, 10 fictional crushes
Post an image of a fictional character who has been or still is your crush. No names or explanations needed. TV, movie, book, comic, cartoon characters are valid.

When I was 9 years old I had two abridged, youth version books of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre which I loved. The one had details in the story the other didn’t have so I used to read them both and I read them often. One of the abridged books had drawn illustrations and the other had pictures of the 1973 BBC TV mini series in it. I developed a crush on Mr. Rochester and studied those photos extensively, picturing the character of Rochester with this face. It would be at least another 25 years before I would finally actually see the 1973 adaptation.

I have seen many more Rochesters besides Michael Jayston since I first read the abridged book and later the original version.

Orson Welles, George C. Scott, Timothy Dalton, William Hurt, Ciaran Hinds, Toby Stephens, Michael Fassbender, Felix Hayes, Tim Delap. And hmmmm, as I type this the day before it gets posted and look over at the couch to Mr. Esther (who is sporting his ‘corona beard’) he gives me Mr Rochester vibes as well, i.e. the bearded version as portrayed by Hayes and Delap for the National Theatre.

Anyway, each of these Rochesters brought to life by actors had their pros and cons and I don’t have the patience to go into all of that now, it would take too long. Suffice it to say that my fascination with Mr. Rochester, warts and all, remains intact to this day.

#StayAtHome entertainment

All these weeks of staying at home and you’d think it would be boring, but it’s not really, not for me. Yes, I do miss the freedom of coming and going anywhere I please, seeing my family and friends for real, going out to cinemas and restaurants, travelling and experiencing new things. However, for all that I miss, I also have things I am grateful for: I’m with my wonderful husband and kids (seriously, I could never get sick of having them around), I still have work that pays me a regular salary, a roof over my head, a garden I can sit in when the sun shines, I have online and phone contacts with people outside and, as a bit of an introvert, I am also very well able to entertain myself.

I take walks with my husband but sometimes also by myself, with music playing in my headphones as I enjoy the scenery. The other day I took a lovely walk in a little green area about a 7 minute walk away from my house. I was listening to the Yentl soundtrack that I hadn’t listened to in a while. Papa is always an emotional song for me, connected in so many meaningful ways to my own papa…

Anyway, listening to beautiful, relaxing music like that while walking can really lift your spirits, especially when the views are so pretty with nature blooming now in the spring…

Not that many people walk there at the end of the afternoon/beginning of the evening when I tend to take my walks, so it’s a good keeping-your-distance route. I love to see the trees starting to bloom and flowers popping up.

And there is more to entertain me! There are re-reruns on Dutch TV of my absolute favourite show of the end 1980’s / beginning 1990’s, the Australian TV series The Flying Doctors. We’re in the doctor Geoff and nurse Kate heydays right now, so even though I have seen all the episodes and I own them, I also do tune in now and again to see how they’re getting on and where they are in the story. We’re getting close to the big Geoff and Kate rift in season 4 when Geoff’s brother comes to town; that was one of the most exciting times of the whole series, I love seeing those episodes.

There were 9 seasons of that show, the last two seasons or so weren’t as fun, but I wouldn’t mind seeing a special on how they’re doing now, 30 years on.

On Friday evening I enjoyed a broadcast of  a 2011 The Phantom of the Opera 25th anniversary performance on YouTube. By the time I post this, it will almost be going offline, but oh my goodness it was good (and worth a donation)! I didn’t mean to watch the whole thing but I got stuck anyway. Ramin Karimloo plays the Phantom with such feeling and intensity, I became a fan instantly. And Sierra Boggess as Christine is just amazing. I had never heard of them before and they have great chemistry together. Here a clip of them perfoming at the Brit Awards in 2012…

I also loved the celebration bit after the musical ended and, with just small gestures, again Ramin Karimloo made a great impression on me.

And then last night there was another #stayathome highlight for me. For the first time ever I did a three person video chat with two very good friends of mine in the US. We always chat a lot in writing, have done so for 18 years, but until this corona crisis when seemingly everyone has taken to video chatting, we had never thought to do a video chat amongst ourselves before. We’re usually busy and rarely online at the same time but with all of us staying at home now, we figured we should be able to arrange something. So, last night at 9 pm my time and 3 pm their time we finally got together for a video chat and ‘hung out’ for close to two hours, also seeing husbands and a few kids. It was wonderful! The internet and social media really can be so amazing.

Besides all this I have also been going down a Jean Simmons rabbit hole in recent weeks. I had been going through my Richard Chamberlain collection a little while back and saw bits and pieces of The Thorn Birds again where Jean Simmons plays Meggie’s mother, Fee. She is so good in that role!

It made me think of The Big Country with Gregory Peck again, in which she co-stars, and I re-watched that (yup, it’s good movie!). I have always loved her in the role of school teacher Julie Maragon, I always wished for her role to have been bigger.

Looking at her filmography I know I have seen her in a lot of things already over the years, most of the them ages ago, and I have always liked her. Besides the roles I just mentioned I remember her best in Great Expectations from 1946, Black Narcissus from 1947 (excellent movie!), even though those were small roles…

… and of course in Spartacus from 1960. I remember enjoying the film and story but I mostly remember loving Simmons as Varinia. I remember the tension in the Laurence Olivier scenes and the love in the Kirk Douglas scenes.

I have also seen The Robe (1953) with Richard Burton, Young Bess (1953) with her then-husband Stewart Granger and Désiree (1954) with Marlon Brando, all historical costume dramas. I confess to remembering little about them, although Young Bess and Désiree stick in my mind as movies I did like at the time.

I came across a movie called Until They Sail and, when I saw the trailer, remembered I had seen that too. I watched that one again and boy, I really liked it! It’s about four sisters in New Zealand during the Second World War and the relationships they have with Americans stationed there. I loved the understated, almost philosophical scenes between Jean Simmons and Paul Newman…

… and the conclusion between them is just everything. It’s not only about them, though, it’s about four sisters who are very different at handling the same situation. I really liked it, it’s going onto my fave Jean Simmons movies list.

Last night, after that two hour video chat (I’m a night owl), I watched Guys and Dolls from 1955 that Simmons also did with Marlon Brando. I’d never seen that before, apart from bits and pieces. Both are only OK singers but oh my, they have such great chemistry! I loved them together in this movie, like in this clip.

The movie was alright (it apparently also has Frank Sinatra) but really shone and came to life when those two appeared together on screen. It was fun!

Yeah, this Jean Simmons rabbit hole is going deep. I want to re-watch Désiree now to see if the chemistry with Brando was also there in that, and I want to see Young Bess and Spartcaus again. I also need to see Angel Face, a film noir movie with Robert Mitchum in which I think she plays a psychopath; it is said to be one of her absolute best roles.

jean simmon sangel face mitchum

Oh, and she did one with Cary Grant, Robert Mitchum and Deborah Kerr called The Grass is Greener which I also saw many years ago, need to look into that one again as well.

I’m sure there will be more as I dig on.  I’m loving my journey of Jean Simmons re-discovery.

I feel it is so important to be social and stay at home and yes, I do feel restricted during this corona crisis but I am also lucky that I have enough ways to entertain myself. Thank goodness for the world at our feet on the internet and for a world that is beautiful outside.

Jane Eyre at the National Theatre

This week the National Theatre production of Jane Eyre is free to stream on YouTube (here). Jane Eyre is one of my favourite books ever and so I always love seeing how others interpret and adapt the book. I saw the play live on stage two years after this production was filmed during a tour through England in 2017 but with a different cast. I saw it once alone during a matinee and a few days later dragged my husband and kids with me to see it as well. Re-reading what I wrote then, I still agree with my impressions then. There were some points of criticism but every Jane Eyre adaptation has its little gripes for me. Those gripes don’t stop me from finding great things in the adaptations and I found this to be one of the best I have seen yet.

Madeleine Worrall plays Jane Eyre, Felix Hayes plays Rochester. The leads didn’t seem quite right when I saw the first images (Worrall seemed a bit too old to play Jane and Hayes didn’t seem dark enough) but I forgot all that as the play progressed. In the adaptation I saw on tour 3 years ago, I felt the actors looked better for their parts (younger and darker) but in the end it’s all about the intensity and it was there in this version as well as in the one I saw on stage in 2017. What I also loved was that the cast was quite small and it meant that (apart from Worrall) each actor played several characters within the story. Each character is distinctive enough for it to not be confusing and I also loved how even the dog Pilot was acted out in this play, a nice bit of comic relief. Even the musicians on stage (another awesome feature) became part of the cast on occasion.

Here’s a trailer:

Warning: pic spam ahead and spoilers for the story as well should you not know it!

All elements of the story are there in this adaptation as they should be. The story is after all not only a love story, it is a story of growing up, emancipation, strength of character, dealing with pain and loss, striving for freedom and finding your place in the world. Jane’s childhood experiences very much shape the young woman she is to become, so it’s good to see a good deal of time spent on her childhood, at first with the Reed family. She is tenacious, strong willed with a deep sense of right and wrong, and will not be trampled on even though her aunt is uncaring and her cousin bullies her. She likes to escape into reading and in her lonely life her only friend is Bessie, the maid.

The second half of her childhood is spent at Lowood institution. There is so much movement and choreography in this play and I love how they used movement to convey travel.

Lowood is a place of despair but Jane finds a little light for a little while in her friend Helen, whom she sadly also loses.

When she grows up she becomes a teacher at Lowood but yearns to be free. The cast not only play the pupils, they also on occasion play the voices in Jane’s head. I loved that as it felt true to the book where you constantly read all that Jane is thinking.

She advertises and comes to work at Thornfield Hall where she becomes a governess to Adele, the charge of a Mr. Rochester. Just pic spamming here now as she comes to know Adele and Mr Rochester and Mrs Fairfax the housekeeper…

She saves Mr Rochtester from a fire…

… and becomes jealous of Miss Ingram…

… and helps Rochester in a time of need which he thanks her for…

She may look grey and little but she shows a strength of character and steadiness that completely appeals to the gruff and wounded Rochester. She is his saviour although she does not know that yet. She leaves Thornfield for a bit (during the haggling for money part, which I always love, I wished for the “you shall walk up the pyramids of Egypt!” line but alas it wasn’t in there)…

She then returns but refuses to stay with Rochester other than on her own terms. She wants to be free.

Rochester finally confesses his feelings…

… and they almost marry despite Mr Rochester’s secret which he tries to keep hidden until after he has secured Jane.

Alas, the wedding is interrupted and that is always an extremely heartbreaking part of the story. After all of this hardship and strife the little happiness that was finally attained is cruelly lost again. Yes, the happiness was built on a lie and so had no chance of really thriving but it’s still sad. Jane stays strong and principled and Rochester must deal with the reality of his secret. Jane heartbreakingly leaves him, it is the only way.

After some more hardship she finds a new life with the Rivers family where she is content enough. However, she will not compromise her own feelings when St. John asks her to marry him, she will remain strong and true to herself no matter how difficult it is… Her tenaciousness of spirit, built up from her youth, remains intact.

Then on the wind from far away she hears Rochester call out for her…

Jane Eyre NT 2015 (220)

… and she returns to Thornfield Hall where she hears of the fire that burnt the place down and the death of the mysterious inhabitant there. The “Crazy” song that is sung here by the amazing Melanie Marshall (she also played this part in the 2017 tour!) and the way that part of the story is told, just gives me goosebumps.

The reunion of Jane and Rochester is of course beautiful…

… but the one thing I always miss in these adaptations is how Jane saves Rochester yet again at the end of the book, pulling him out of his dispair and feelings of worthlessness. The reunion part of the chapter is always there but I miss the rest of the chapter as well where she basically plays him so that he will come out of his self-pity. Oh well, there is no perfect adaptation out there although I have to say, this one does come close for me!

I also loved the use of music in this adaptation, from the musicians playing on stage to the role of singer Melanie Marshall as Bertha and as sometime narrator. The music is very evocative.

Let me end with a little video about how the whole play was devised, including an interview with Worrall and Hayes.

What I love about the Jane Eyre story is how Jane is always true to herself, believes she is worth something, sticks to what she feels is right and will not compromise on striving for her freedom and for what makes her happy. I love that she seems grey and hidden and Mr Rochester is the first one to finally see who she is in her glory. I love that, through finally being seen and finding an equal sparring partner, she starts to soar. Rochester helps her bloom and in turn she saves Rochester from his darkness. This adaptation brings Jane and Rochester to life though simple-looking staging, inventive choreography, wonderful music and great performances. I conveyed my enthusiasm in the live chat during the premiere live-stream this last Thursday on YouTube and even received a chat reply.

This play is a keeper (and very worth donating to should you feel so inclined).

The arts can lift your spirits

I’m just realizing that right now I am blogging daily, I am on a seven-day-streak today! I am surprised at myself but don’t get used to it, I fully expect that any day now I’ll be going down some rabbit hole again and will be disappearing off the face of the blogging-earth again for days on end… Oh, and a little fun fact: yesterday’s post was number 666 on this blog. 😈666Anyway, those were just little points of order, now on to what I actually came on here to blog about.

All this Corona news can be overwhelming: the rapid rise in cases, the people dying, hospitals that can’t cope with the amount of sick people needing care and then there’s all the information thrown out there to keep track of. We have limited our news intake to 2-3 times a day instead of 24/7 because we also need to keep our sanity and we don’t believe any “tips” on Twitter or Instagram – if I want to know something I go to our National Institute for Public Health for information. We stay informed, we do what we can and then we try to keep sane as well by doing nice things.

In addition to the pressures of corona, I have also been working a lot, it has become almost stressful. So, I’m taking a little breather today, just doing the absolutely necessary stuff, blogging in between, and taking the afternoon off. Luckily there are lovely things happening to keep spirits up. Yesterday, for instance, The National Theatre in the UK announced they will be streaming plays on YouTube. It’s free but I will be making a donation because the arts really are so important and I’m so pleased that they’re doing this. I am especially excited that from April 9th they’ll be showing Jane Eyre. I saw that play a few years ago in Leeds and loved it. It will be a different cast from when I saw it but I’m already excited to watch it again!

Jane Eyre (12a)

Patrick Stewart is reading a Shakespeare sonnet a day over on his Twitter account. The one he read on day two was especially heartwarming, maybe because of the twinkling in his eyes. He’s up to 5 or 6 now as I type this, scroll through his account for a look-see.

Sam Neill’s Twitter is heartwarming during the best of times and even more so now. I saw this today and it made me smile from ear to ear. Not just the delivery, I love the gentleness in his face too.

And it looks like my plans for the weekend are taking shape as well. Drunk Austen is doing a Jane Austen con online this weekend. There are some great events scheduled, I think I just may pop in! 🙂

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And to end it all on a smile, here’s Lin-Manuel Miranda doing a David Bowie from Labyrinth bit.

This makes me think that I’d love to see Hamilton on live streaming theatre somewhere, I always hear it’s amazing.