Tuesday, 27 September 2011


We're returning from Southwark where we've been watching The Baker's Wife at the glorious Union Theatre. Sadly, it's a train wreck of a show, which was unsuccessful in the 1970s for good reason. The show is peopled by the most grotesque individuals, all of whom seem to have no other function than to hate each other and the world around them. 

This particular production brought nothing new to the piece. The cast spent the entire show shouting at one another. Being able to shout is not an indication of someone's ability to act - a fact I often want to tell the RSC. The director had obvious decided that atmosphere could only be created by smoke, and every 3 minutes a great gust of the stuff would completely envelop the audience, leaving us all feeling sore-eyed and utterly claustrophobic. 

The plastic row of chairs I was sitting on had broken and sort of bounced up and down when anyone moved, which made everyone try to sit as still as possible and this could only be achieved by tensing every muscle in our bodies! You could have played me like a xylophone at the interval! I was sitting behind a man with the biggest head in the world, who was himself sitting in front of a pillar, so the viewing experience was greatly impaired, even before the smoke obliterated what little of the show we could see. 

They missed a trick. There were many songs about the glorious smell of bread and surely it wouldn't have been hard to fill the theatre with that particular smell. A toaster backstage would have done the trick. Theatrical smoke stinks; a cloying, weirdly perfumey all-pervading aroma, which ruined any sense of the place being set in a bakery! 

The experience angered me greatly, because I have so much respect for what they're doing in that space at the moment. Still, all the talk of bakery sent me rushing home to watch my favourite programme The Great British Bake Off. Today's show... Croissants.

No theatre for Pepys 350 years ago. He was too busy eating grapes and gawping at melons. Real melons, which had been sent from Lisbon by Sandwich, and the first Pepys had ever seen! How excited he must have been. I hope he didn't prove to be mildly allergic to them like I am!

Elizabeth went to Whitehall to call in on Mrs Pearce who had been "churched" on that day. This religious tradition, which I'm told lasted well into the 21st Century, involved women, exactly a month after giving birth, being integrated back into society after the mayhem they'd endured. In many cases women would go to church to give blessings for surviving the ordeal (often against the odds), but in some cases they went to be "purified", which seems a great deal more sinister. How ghastly religious men can be! 

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