Wednesday, 20 July 2011

The Emperor and Galilean

A very busy day. Up early and off to Camden for a quick catch up with Keith at The Comedy School and a chance to see what we can do for next year. I'm hopeful we'll be able to run another freshers gig in September and perhaps help out in a more formal way at his Comedy Store fundraiser next Spring. It's hard times in the world of rehabilitative arts and Keith is increasingly looking towards the private sector to deliver his training programmes. He's stayed in touch with three of last years graduates - Steph, Danny and Kadeem and has been offering them occasional work for the company. It's a start.

Down to Westminster Cathedral for graduation. Patsy and Trevor also there in Hogwart style gowns ready for the proud procession down the aisle past beaming parents, best behaved siblings and finally the well scrubbed graduands themselves nervously gathered in the stalls. The service itself is long as each of the three hundred or so BA students come to receive their degree from the Principal - but it's always wonderful to see another batch make their way forward in the world. It was especially exciting for us as lecturers because these were the first cohort of the new degree to pass through. A full circle that's taken five years from the initial planning to fruition today.

In the evening I headed with Eleanor to the National to see a really good production of Ibsen's little known play The Emperor and Galilean. Set in 4th Century Rome, it's a complicated and intellectually challenging piece of work. Julian the Apostate rejects the oppressive Christian doctrines of his Uncle Constantine's court, only to become a tyrant in favour of his own brand of paganism once he inherits the empire. Cut back from an original script of over eight hours to a still substantial three and a half, the play wrestles from start to finish with the rights of individual belief and the parameters of tolerance, especially in an age of evangelism. Jonathon Kent's production leans heavily on contemporary parallels as a recurring film track loops silhouetted images of bombs falling on the present Middle East.

The real star of the show is the wonderful Andrew Scott in the lead role. He is an actor of such quick turn and fleet thought. Nothing is spelt out and nothing is missed. Although this show is probably not starry enough to go down as anything but a solid and timely revival - his high octane intelligence must surely mark him as one of the leading players in London.


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