Just me then.
Clare, EineKleineRob, Marie have all got nods too :) Me? Well I thought I'd avoid blatant nepotism, so I'll go for the blog which I've followed from the moment I started blogging, MediumRob's The Medium Is Not Enough. There's a chance it'll be disregarded for not being insignificant enough, but I'm proud to nominate it.
The Insignificant Awards is the world's most unheard of blog competition. It's a place for the undiscovered to be discovered.As the annual weblog popularity competitions begin once more, we at The Insignificant Headquarters wish to praise, encourage and salute the unknown blogs that sit in the unrewarded wilderness. Those blogs that will never be voted for by the masses. Those bloggers who will never be nominated for anything (but should be).
There's some wonderfully weird stuff - I suggest a look.
From the bold to the beautiful, from the wicked to the wise, every day the Wikipedia team relegates possibly "inappropriate" submissions to the garbage dump of time. Here, we make selected rejects immortal and preserve them for posterity.
"It's as if they sat down to brainstorm a few ideas, and then at the end of it just decided: "Hey, what the hell, let's just put them all in." There are so many threads to be tied together, it's like a woollen scarf that's been put through the shredder."and on the other he's completely wrong, because he uses the word "fun". This was anything but fun. It was the opposite of fun. It was dull. BUT I'm willing to give it another go. Just one, mind.
"I'm a groupie now, right? I'm dating the cellist in Grammatics now! I gotta look the part! Get with the program! Can't swan about in back stage bars ripping off free Stella lookin' like some shmuck off the street! I gotta get with it! I'm off to buy the new Klaxons 45! Do they call 'em 45s anymore?"
Just as blogging breeds blogging, non-blogging breeds non-blogging, but I am breaking my lazy habit to do a Sheffield Theatres special!
So, The Caretaker. Now I am aware that this is a massively important, well-regarded post-war play, but I'm willing to admit that I really didn't know anything about it, other than the name, and it seems I wasn't even too sure about that, as I often thought of it as 'The Carpenter'. But I'm using my lack of any knowledge to try and do this review completely blind. Just to see what I can come up with on my own. I've not Wikipedia'd it, no Googling, I haven't even read the pieces in the programme. This means I'll probably make some very obvious statements, while simultaneously missing very important themes... but hey. Might be fun. And rather A-levelish.
The Caretaker is a three-hander, and small casts always need impeccable acting. Luckily this production had three actors which were all immensely watchable, which sounds like rather pale praise, but it is meant as the highest possible recommendation - watchable actors are the ones which make you forget they are acting, and that is always special. The wandering tramp, Davies - here played by David Bradley - is one of the best written, most recognisable characters I've ever come across on the stage. He's done everything, and he did it all first; been everywhere, and he was the first to get there. He's got enough nous to make you think he understands you, or agrees with you, for a while, but eventually his deep-seated anxieties and prejudices can't help but come out. Davies takes full advantage of Aston who takes him in, especially when he realises Aston suffers from a mental illness, and we despise him for it, although we realise life has not exactly treated him well either. The role of Aston was played, in the stand-out performance of the production, by Con O'Neill, who's speech recalling inhumane treatment in a mental hospital brought complete silence to the capacity audience (it was 2-for-1 on tickets to fill up seats for press night). As his disjointed memories turned into a more coherent narrative of what he suffered, he became more and more agitated, and it was really difficult to watch, but the most affecting moment of the play. Aston's older brother, Mick (Nigel Harman) is another wonderful character - dark and brooding one moment, playing the fool the next, and ultimately driven by a desire to protect and help his brother, Harman had a complex role to grapple with, and did brilliantly. Maybe this praise should go to the director, Jamie Lloyd, but he had fantastic comic timing, especially in a couple of great set pieces - including a sequence where the three men tried to get a bag off one another, which actually received an impromptu round of applause.
All three characters have a hard life thrust upon them which has meant that they can never do the things that would make them happy, and that they are all stuck doing and saying the same things over and over. They try to make it new, by creating fantasies of how the flat could be, convincing themselves that that shed will get built, or just making up complete lies, but in the end they have nowhere to go. How they deal with this is what forms our opinions about them - we warm to Aston, are frustrated by Mick's intimidation of Davies, which marrs a character you know you could like, and become increasingly intolerant of Davies' lies and manipulation. This is a very slick, superbly acted production of a darkly comic play, and I'd go again in an instant.
EDIT: Guardian review. Doesn't mention anything major that went over my head, so I'm happy.
Monumental effort??!! As you can imagine, I had something to say about that. Really, is a 7 hour round trip really an unfair price to pay for a fantastic job like he's got? Well, if Mr. Shenton can't face a trip up north, he can always delegate that work... :) The comments, by the way, have morphed into that age-old discussion about the 'essence' of blogs in general. And I'm afraid I contributed to it, but then we already know that I'm rather protective of the comment function...!
"...it didn’t help, either, that our arrival in Plymouth hadn’t been exactly welcoming. All four of us critics had been booked into a rather down-at-heel hotel, the Astor; and then trying to eat at the Theatre Royal’s upstairs café meant dealing with what Charlie called a “Kafka-esque” ordering system in which all orders were taken at a counter by someone manning a solitary till, which took the best part of 15 minutes. Critics shouldn’t expect a red carpet to be rolled out for them – we’re members of the public with free tickets and a notebook, basically – but coming here involves a 7-hour round-trip by train, so it might have benefited the theatre’s management to have noticed we were there at all before we picked up our tickets from the theatre’s charming in-house PR. By then, even though she was as hospitable as she could be (and even rustled up some interval sandwiches to perk us up), the irritations had started building up. Now it wasn’t just memory that the show had to compete with, but the monumental effort of getting here and getting fed were counting against it, too."