Wednesday, 25 May 2011

Welly Wouldn't!

I loathe the idea of the 'Wellywood' sign. For those of you who have matters of importance to worry about, this will probably have passed you by, so let me explain. The owners of Wellington Airport (Infratil: 66% and Wellington City Council: 34%) have decided that it is a good idea to spell 'Wellywood' out on the hillside approaching the airport in big white letters, a la Hollywood. Many Wellingtonians disapprove.

For a start, it seems like a waste of money. We are told that it is not really for Wellingtons but for national and international visitors alike to admire when they fly into the capital city. Apparently fixing a 3.5 meter high steel word to a hill turns a place into an item on people's bucket list. I have never felt an urge to visit Hollywood, sign or no sign, and Mosgiel hasn't exactly got them flocking. Besides, most passengers who arrive at Wellington airport are too busy clinging onto the seat in front of them, utilising the sick bag or praying to the gods of wild weather, to notice anything other than a safe landing.

Yes, it is extremely derivative. Wellington has a thriving arts culture, comprised of theatre, dance, music, literature, film and television. Actually, scrap that last one, seeing as that is what is happening to Avalon studios. Just because Peter Jackson and Warner Brothers can over-ride the rights of the workers in this country with a snap of their fingers, should Wellington rent out prime advertising space to them as well? And when I say rent, I mean give for free, because of all the so-called benefits they will bring the economy regardless of the draconian and dictatorial changes to employment law.

Cobham Drive (the road down which nearly all traffic must drive as it leaves Wellington airport) already has plenty of original sculptures which interract with the one force Wellington doesn't lack - no, not bureaucracy; wind! Petty-minded people vandalise these on a regular basis. Do you really think they would leave those letters intact? You might as well write 'Steal Me' up on the cliff - I'm sure that a giant 'O' would become the latest in haute-decor for student flats in Newtown.

Actually the Hollywood sign is unsprisingly copyrighted, and the people who own the rights to it have threatened Wellington Airport with legal action if they persist with this quest for mediocrity. This potential crusade against the world's most litigious people isn't really worth fighting, is it?

One digital media agency, Skull and Bones have created their own sign generator with which techno-folk can mock-up their own copywood message. The responses are spectacularly uninspiring and unoriginal (with 'I'm a cliff'; 'Hamilton' and 'Help' being the best offerings) thus indicating that unoriginality isn't unique to the owners of the airport. Hardly anyone outside Wellington cares enough to notice, but those who do are defintely having a larff!

Monday, 23 May 2011

Our Man in London: All's Well That Ends Well

All’s Well That Ends Well at The Globe, London

First trip to The Globe of the year and probably not an obvious choice of play to go and see. All’s Well seems to be viewed as one of Shakespeare’s ‘problem plays’, but I am not sure I see the problem in the same way as I am meant to. The problem is meant to be that the main characters are a flawed bunch. While I agree that they are, another problem is the story. Some bits just don’t add up. Why would Diana give that lengthy performance in front of the King of France at the end and end up with being threatened with being thrown in jail? Is Bertram really so dim that he did not realise that the ring he is given was the one worn by Helena? How come he did not realise that the Italian he was in bed with had suddenly developed a French accent?

Putting aside my pedantry for a moment, this was a great performance. The only bad review I could find of it in the London press was from the Daily Telegraph. To me that means it is worth seeing, although worryingly the Daily Mail gave it a good review. I had no idea who any of the actors were in it, even though I should apparently know of Janie Dee who plays the Countess of Rousillon. I always think you are on safe ground with UK actors if you say you have seen them in The Bill or Casualty and move the conversation quickly on.

To me the star of the show was James Garnon’s Parolles. But with such great lines to deliver and playing the buffoon it’s probably hard to mess it up. Ellie Piercy as Helena was also great despite one reviewer calling her dull and drab. I might be biased though because I think I have a crush on her. I did have a bit of a problem with Sam Crane as Bertram. He looks very young and a bit like the Tory Chancellor George Osborne. Plus he was being very rude about the lovely Helena. I was tempted to ask him outside at one point but decided I would see him afterwards.

I feel a bit metrosexual about this next point but think I am going to make it anyway. The costumes were stunning. Usually when I watch Shakespeare acted out in Jacobean costumes, they are par for the course and unremarkable, but there really was something stunning about these ones. I could quite happily prance about in the King of France’s togs but doubt I would make it to the end of my street in one piece.

That’s all for now, I have a train to catch and work to pretend to do. Next up is Merchant of Venice at the revamped RSC theatre in Stratford.

Adieu... from Our Man in London