Thursday, June 22, 2017
Second Day of Colloquium and Annie at the West End
By the second day, we got fully into the schedule of the colloquium. Familiarity with our global colleagues developed easily, coffee and tea with snacks acted as fine ice-breakers, the presentations were superb and provided much food for thought and discussion. Lunch (more substantial burgers and quiches this time) provided yet another opportunity to socialize as the afternoon brought more interesting panels. We were all done by 4. 30 pm, when I made plans to join my colleague Brendan at his faculty apartment at Byron Hall near Russel Square.
A Lovely Evening at Brendan’s:
Brendan has been the NY-appointee at London for the past two years and will be staying for yet another year. He has moved house from a spacious, rather special apartment that NYU faculty members in London once occupied to a far more pedestrian ‘one-bed’ apartment in a student dorm—not the most uplifting of moves. Still, refusing to have his spirits dampened, he provided for some of us—prosecco and warming bowls of lentil and corn soup that his wife had cooked. Ifeona, Afrodesia, Brendan and I had a very talkative evening as we mulled over varied aspects of our careers at NYU.
I did not stay as long as the others as Shahnaz had informed me (by phone) that she had managed to get us 20 pound day tickets to see Annie at the West End. It was not a play I would ordinarily had chosen to see but the role of Miss Hannigan was being played by Miranda Hart who is one of the UK’s best-loved comedienne. Viewers might recognize her name for the major role she has on Call the Midwife, a show to which I have never warmed. I also saw her being interviewed on the Graham Norton Show and thought it would be good to see her make her theater debut.
I walked briskly towards Holborn, reached my hotel, brewed a cup of decaff tea for myself, ate a hasty cookie and left.
Seeing Annie at the West End’s Piccadilly Theater:
Well, I hate to bad mouth what was obviously a very sincere effort at excellence, but Annie fell miserably short. Apparently, there are three little girls alternatively playing the role of Annie and, I am guessing, we probably saw the worst of the lot (I simply cannot believe there could exist a worse Annie). The entire set and the costumes were drab and the kind of superb co-ordination that you expect to see in a staged musical was simply missing. As for Miranda, she simply does not have the personality to play Miss Hannigan as she is meant to be played—as a cut-throat female Fagin. Instead, she played a sloshed care-giver who looked horribly awkward as she pranced around and managed to provide not the slightest hint of the sinister. A very disappointing night at the theater indeed!
Neither one of us was hungry even after we left the theater. Besides, we both needed to get home to pack our larger case –which we intended to leave at NYU’s premises when we were in Devon. We’d be leaving with a pull-along backpack. Tomorrow morning, we shall take our cases to NYU and leave them there.
Back Home to Pack:
Packing did not take us too long as we made sensible choices in shoes and clothing for our four days in Devon. When we were done, we took showers and got ready for bed. It was not long before we hit the sack after what had been another eventful day in London. It is a relief that that the heat has abated and the day was far more comfortable.