I start 2017 with a museum trip in my top 3 – I don’t think I’ve featured a museum in my blog up till now. So that’s a first. There’s also a play and a telly:
I made the very worthwhile trip to Stratford Upon Avon to see Anders Lustgarten’s Seven Acts of Mercy.
The play is set in two times, 1606 with Caravaggio hiding out in Naples and painting the eponymous canvas, and in modern day Bootle where an old man holds out in his rented home against the tides of commercial development trying to eject him.
It’s a beautifully crafted, state of the nation play, but what Anders has that so many other writers who attack big national topics don’t is huge heart. This isn’t a cold, academic autopsy but an impassioned cry for change, for justice. Erica Whyman’s production moves effortlessly between times and there are some stunning performances, my favourites from Tom Georgeson and Alison McKenzie. The play’s now closed but I really hope it gets a national tour.
My museum visit was to the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich – not the sort of place I’d normally be chomping at the bit to get to. Why then? No I’m not writing a play about Napoleon, instead I went along on my daughter’s school trip and was delighted with the place and how much the kids got out of it. There are all the usual galleries with naval paraphernalia, but there are other interesting spaces too including Ahoy! which is a nice sized play area with a special section for babies and toddlers. Recommended.
I feel a bit of a cheat with my final choice – BBC One’s Apple Tree Yard – as it’s only two episodes in (of four) but it’s already a favourite. This telly adaptation of Louise Doughty’s novel is tense, sexy, nail-biting and totally engrossing. I won’t risk any spoliers but already in just two episodes it’s genre-busted all my expectations. And with the brilliant Emily Watson, Ben Chaplin and Mark Bonnar there’s a feast of acting talent to savour too. I’ll be sad when it’s over.