Tuesday, 5 July 2016

When most I wink

Actual anniversary

Today is my Pearl Anniversary of being married to Sally on July 5th 1986. Thirty years, four houses, two daughters, and two careers later, we are celebrating by going out for a meal tonight. Over the weekend family and friends surrounded us but tonight we’ll be going it alone. Will we have enough to talk about after thirty years? I expect so.

There are certain people….

Dud in the pit at Birmingham Hippodrome and afterwards in a Chinese restaurant
People come and go in your life. Some are “little while” friends and some take root in unexpected ways. I met one such friend in 1979, before I’d met Sally, whose 1998 wedding in Italy I was honoured to attend (along with Sally, Emily and Harriet.) Dudley Phillips, for it is he, loves family, loves music, loves castles, loves reading, loves absurd humour, loves talking, loves listening, loves being quiet, loves eating, loves drinking, loves life – all loves I happily share. Our most recent meeting was prompted by his performance in the Colin Towns’ Mask Orchestra playing Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn music for David Bintley’s Shakespeare Suite for Birmingham Royal Ballet. Dud plays bass guitar thrummingly, dynamically and intricately, always supporting, always driving, always surprising.


The first piece, choreographed by Jessica Lang, was based on five Shakespeare’s sonnets read tenderly by Alfie Jones, taking as the starting point Sonnet 43 “When most I wink, then do mine eyes best see….” The sonnet can be paraphrased something like the following, and it is as good an expression of friendship as I know:
When I’m asleep, then I see clearly
For during the day I look at things I don’t care about
When I sleep I dream of you.
Your image brightens the darkness of sleep
You brighten the dark
You even brighten the day
Things seem clearer when I think of you.
Day seems like night until I see you
During the night it seems like day when I dream about you.
Dudley Phillips on bass and Wink
A group of ten dancers twisted, turned and lifted through pairs, trios and groups expressing heartbreak, joy, loss, love and anger. A raw violin dominated the music by Jacob Ciupinski, aching with longing, longing with ache.

The Moor’s Pavane

José Limón’s riff on Othello was less abstract and set to stately music by Purcell. The four dancers representing Othello, Desdemona, Iago and Emilia presented a palpable sense of abusive love, smothering emotions and violent outbursts. The contrast between the regular pulse of the music and the discordant actions and reactions between the four performers was deeply disturbing.
The Moor's Pavane

The Shakespeare Suite

The final piece, the highlight, David Bintley’s The Shakespeare Suite, with Dudley’s bass playing, surprised and delighted with sassy variations on Shakespeare plays: a virtuoso Hamlet, a punky Taming of the Shrew, a quirky Richard III, a gothic Macbeth, a comically lusty Midsummer Night’s Dream, a troubling Othello and a lyrical Romeo and Juliet. Each pairing (Kate/Petruchio, Richard III/Lady Anne, Macbeth/Lady Macbeth, Titania/Bottom, Othello/Desdemona and Romeo/Juliet) was scored with a different mood and strangely captured the essence of the whole play without any words at all. Hamlet leapt alone but was surrounded by the other dancers in more abstract outfits symbolising different aspects of his personality (or so I thought….) The designs were startlingly bold (Costumes: Jasper Conran; Lighting: Peter Teigan and Steven Scott.) The Duke Ellington/Billy Strayhorn music was sexy, strutting, prowling and funny – switching and purring, changing and swinging as the pairings paraded. One of the best things I’ve seen (and heard) this year!

Loyal, Dependable, Non-judgemental, Honest, Open-hearted

A couple of lines that neatly capture my thoughts about Shakespeare (and Dudley….):
But if the while I think on thee, dear friend,
All losses are restor’d and sorrows end. (from Sonnet 30)