Friday, May 15, 2009

The British Empire's Attic

I've heard it said that the Smithsonian is "America's Attic." Well, if that's so then the Victoria & Albert Museum (the "V&A") is definitely the British Empire's attic. Mom and I took the tube over there to poke around, she wanted to peruse the very large silver collection, and I wanted to see a special exhibition about hats. Somewhere between the hats and the silver we got lost and ended up on a floor filled with William Morris and other Arts & Crafts artisan's objects domestiques. There were decorative tiles, stained glass panels, carpets, textiles, furnishings...that whole style of design really appeals to me in the way that it combines various ethnic and natural motifs into useful objects that are anything but utilitarian.

From there we stopped at Barclay's Bank on Picadilly Circus, which I only mention because a man there told Mom that it used to be a Burger King.

Our evening started with a well-exected dinner of tasteful new British cuisine (Mom had steamed mussels, I had a red onion-stilton tart), we walked around the corner to the Prince of Wales Theater to see "Mamma Mia!" In general I had been feeling kind of dubious about the whole stage-musical-made-into-a-movie thing, but I had enjoyed the movie version despite Pierce Brosnan's atrocious singing on "S.O.S." The movie was so entertaining overall that I decided I wanted to see the stage play, but missed it when it was running in Las Vegas. I'm so glad I finally got to see it, because the live musical was so much more intimate and had a more personal and energetic vibe than the movie. Comparing the two, I feel that some of the production numbers of the movie that rambled all over the island took a bit away from the actual interactions between the character, despite the beauty of the locations where they were filmed. Mom summed it all up the best, saying "It was the best stage play I have ever seen. You could not point to one actor and say well he was better than so-and-so. You could not point to one singer and say she was better than so-and-so. Every single dance sequence was fabulous, it was wonderful!" I also really appreciated the technical aspects of the show, and found that the high-tech sets did not overwhelm or detract from the show, as I find they sometimes do (for comparison, I thought some aspects of "Phantom of the Opera" were just too much of a muchness).

After the show we headed back to the room to pack, as we were checking out the next day and heading to Edinburgh by train.

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