Thursday, July 31, 2008

Hamlet at the Courtyard Theatre

Last night I joined Naomi, Matthew and Debbie for a jaunt to Stratford. With the main theatre under renovation what I knew as the Other Place has been consumed by the Courtyard Theatre into a magnificent venue that put me in mind of the Globe. The stage was embedded in the audience, a layer of black shiny tiles with a mirrored back drop. By out heads (we were in the gods) there were six chandeliers waiting to be lower into the play. The opening scene was cleverly done, the auditorium was in pitch black and the guards on the roof tops of Elsinore castle shone their torches onto the shiny floor to illuminate their own faces and the ghostly king in the reflected light. The king Patrick Stewart - he also played the living king Claudius) had a coat that billowed smoke, which gave a very good effect. In the first few scenes with the non-mad Hamlet David Tennant was hardly recognizable but as he ruffled up his hair and became more lively in his actions he became more like the Doctor, we even had twiddling of knives and recorders a la sonic screwdriver! Horatio (Peter de Jersey) sported leather elbow patches and complimented Hamlet well, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (Sam Alexander and Tom Davey) were suitably stuck up, whereas Laertes (Edward Bennet, who looks remarkably like Prince William) fenced like a champion! Gertrude (Penny Downie) and Ophelia (Mariah Gale) gave dazzling performances but bumbling Polonius (Oliver Ford Davies) had us in stitches many a time. The atmosphere was perfect and had us speechless by the end.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Crucible 2: Edinburgh

Once more this weekend I joined up with my fellow cruciblists in Edinburgh. Another packed weekend was started with a speed collaboration - just like speed dating but trying to marry ideas rather than hearts. It was a great way to re-acquaint ourselves again but also to spark off potential ideas, all in 2 minutes. After wonderful food we adjourned to the campus bar and chatted until we were ousted at closing time. Then for a strange few moments we compared bathrooms - Robin had a magnificent bath in a bay window, whereas I had a shower head that could accommodate thousands and Jim had what we thought of as a fairly normal bathroom but with a view into someone elses! (Not that he was looking). The following day Steve, our facilitator, took us through Global challenges and Utopian universities allowing us to build models and generally make stuff with playdoh, pipe cleaners and willow withies - I was in my element. In the evening we went for a trip down Mary King's Close - under the streets of Edinburgh lies an old city, no longer lived in but full of ghosts. The final day came round quickly and we talked of art and writing in science before heading once more to our disparate parts of Europe.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Les Madeleines du 'France'

These are no ordinary madeleines!! Soazig kindly gave me a silcone madeleine baking tray a few weekends ago along with the recipe below which came from her grandfather who was the pastry chef on board the France, a big cruise ship about 50years ago. Prone to making things in vast quantities and not doing the washing up he was banished from the kitchen by his wife when not at sea. I have just made a fifth of the original recipe and have 27 beautiful little, light and fluffy madeleines to enjoy!

To make 27 madeleines whisk together 2 eggs and 100g caster sugar until pale and fluffy. Add in 100g plain flour, 1 teaspoon baking powder, the zest of a lemon and 80g melted butter. Then spoon a little of the mixture into the madeleine moulds and bake in an oven pre-heated to 200°C for 8min. Unmould immediately and reuse the mould for the rest of the mixture!
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