Monday, 5 July 2010

See "The Road to Mecca" and die (or at least cry)...

On Saturday I went to Dalston. This is irritatingly difficult for a west Londoner – it took me longer to get to the other side of London by public transport than it would take to get to my mother’s, over seventy miles away. But it was worth it. I went to the Arcola Theatre, to see Athol Fugard’s “The Road to Mecca”, and it will be hard for my theatre-going to top it this year. It was absolutely bl**dy brilliant.

It’s a fine play which I have loved since I first read it in the late eighties. Perhaps it’s a little too drawn out in the first half – but it builds up to a terrific final scene and Linda Bassett’s rendition of Miss Helen’s great speech about her artistic journey and the purpose of her life reduced me to tears. If the play is still in print, I think a lot of my friends are going to get copies for Christmas this year. It says so much about creativity, about freedom, about women’s lives, about growing old, about inspiration and how we find meaning in our lives, about friendship and above all about being a creative artist, with all the joys and all the pains that that entails. And it says it all so beautifully.

It is on for another few days; if you possibly can, see it before it closes - Saturday the 10th is the last night. Sadly I think a play about an elderly South African outsider artist is probably way too much of a minority interest for anyone to fix up a West End transfer. Besides, the gorgeous, intimate studio space of the Arcola was a perfect setting, unlikely to be replicable elsewhere.

Nice café, too; six quid got me a good-sized plate of lovely veggie food and a cold pint; perfect on a very hot day. The cakes looked good, but I was strong. Incredibly, I resisted cake. Quite proud of that - I mean, they were brownies, and something with toffee on top, and carrot cakes...

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