Sunday, 24 March 2019

Nightmares And Dreams - Part One

After my post in January that recounted my first visit to the ballet, there were a few friends who got in touch to say that they, too, were ballet fans, and if I decided to go again then they'd be happy to join me.  I soon began checking out theatres in Manchester to see if any other ballet shows would catch my eye, but sadly there was nothing on the immediate horizon.

Something else was, though.  During a visit to friend and fashion designer Violet Flamingo, the fabulous proprietor told me of another event that might be worth seeing, only this one was in London.  The V&A Museum would be exhibiting the key works of fashion guru Christian Dior, the only UK visit of the show on its worldwide travels.  The V&A had received great reviews for some of its other showcase events (one, the 'David Bowie Is...' was the show I'd finally caught up with in Berlin some years ago), so I was immediately intrigued.  And with no ballet shows in Manchester, a plan began to form.

With S, a female friend on board who also wanted to see the Dior exhibition, I started looking at possible dates for a London trip.  It didn't take long to figure out that we could possibly, if the timing was right, throw a ballet into the London visit too.  At that point, Mr.B, one of the friends that had offered to accompany me to future ballet visits, joined the planning board.

And it took some planning.  With three people now in the group it meant tying in three lots of work/holiday requirements, suitable train times and costs, the Dior show, a ballet show and a hotel that was available and correctly-priced on the day we would be visiting.  However, things began to fall into place.

Mr.B had seen a few ballets previously, and the shows of Matthew Bourne were high on his list of recommendations... but there were none that tied in with our still-only-pencilled-in date.  One potential ballet immediately caught my eye - Frankenstein, Mary Shelly's gothic horror tale retold by Liam Scarlett, and at the Royal Opera House no less.

A flurry of phone calls, confirmed dates, train times and costs checked, and very quickly tickets for the ballet and the train were booked.  Mr.B found a suitable apartment that could accommodate three people near to Euston Station in London, and that, too, was booked. Click onto the V&A website for the Dior tickets (advance tickets only) and... it was already sold out.  Fuck.  I never expected the Dior exhibition to be so much in demand.  A phone call to the V&A revealed that they don't offer a re-selling service to those that have tickets but can't attend, and now the only option would be to queue on the day for any chance of getting some of the few tickets that the museum released daily.  Considering that we now only had until lunchtime to see the Dior exhibition due to our already-booked train back home, it looked like a slim possibility.

Nevertheless, on Wednesday I packed my small suitcase, and once Mr.B had arrived we made our way to the Altrincham train station to meet up with S.  We caught our connecting train to Stockport, and on arrival in Stockport checked the ticket times for our Euston-bound express.  At that moment, an announcement came over the tannoy that the Euston train was now due in - great timing, but we were on the wrong side of the train station.  There was a bit of a mad dash through the underground tunnels to get to the right platform, not easy when you are heaving cases of clothing and wearing high heels.  Thankfully, the very slight delay in the London train meant we got to the platform in time, found our carriage and settled down for the quick journey to London.

Two hours later we disembarked at Euston and headed off in search of our apartment for the night.

Dexi Delite South Manchester Escort - London.

 In the apartment we conferred. We decided to head out into Covent Garden as early as possible (the apartment, though clean, wasn't really the place to sit and while away a few hours).  I changed into my slinky mink dress and heels - suitable attire I thought for a gothic horror ballet.

Dexi Delite South Manchester Escort - ready for the ballet.
 Next, a taxi.  We were next door to Euston Station, but for some reason Mr.B decided an Uber cab was easier than a black cab.  Taxi was called on 'The App' and we went out onto the street to wait, stood around like touristy streetwalkers for five minutes - during which time around four empty black cabs passed us.  Eventually the Uber cab arrived, only for the driver to inform us that it had been cancelled - because it was booked whilst we were in the apartment and by moving outside to wait for it, the system had assumed we didn't want it.  Another Uber was called but we couldn't have the one sat empty in front of us - we had to wait another five minutes for another to arrive... during which time another four black cabs passed us.  Technology and advancement, eh?

Eventually we arrived at Covent Garden, tourist-full but still a lovely place to stroll.

Dexi Delite South Manchester Escort - Covent Garden, London.
 With time to spare before our table booking at a nearby restaurant we headed to find cocktails.  We made our way to Rules, the oldest restaurant in London but. importantly, had a dedicated cocktail bar.

Dexi Delite South Manchester Escort - Rules, London.

Rules considers itself "Understated glamour of a by-gone era and simple old fashioned elegance," and I certainly wouldn't disagree.  Lovely surroundings, a genteel and suitably stylish interior and, of course, a bar bill to match.  With cocktails at around £15-£17, it's certainly not a place to have a long session unless your wallet or purse can keep up, but I'd recommend it as a place for a delightful tipple before a ballet.  It's also the only time and place that I'd heard a recommendation for a cocktail ingredient as it "suits the room".  Pretentious?  Yes, slightly...  but I'd be disappointed with anything less.  This is one instance where I hope Rules never change.

Dexi Delite South Manchester Escort - Rules, London.
 Next stop with The Real Greek on Long Acre in Covent Garden where we luckily had the foresight to pre-book a table.  No sooner had we sat down than the restaurant began filling up, and by midway through our meal they were turning people away.  It wasn't a surprise - the food was excellent and reasonably priced.  In fact, and rather alarmingly, our bill at Rules for cocktails was higher than our dinner bill, which included drinks and a dessert.  Another recommendation, though.

7.30pm arrived, and it was time for the short stroll to the Royal Opera House.  Inside the stunning exterior, delights awaited.  Beautiful ballet costumes from the 1950s were displayed among other show memorabilia.

Dexi Delite South Manchester Escort - Royal Opera House, London.
Dexi Delite South Manchester Escort - Royal Opera House, London.
 The views from the terrace bar were equally breath-taking, looking out over Covent Garden with the glorious London skyline behind.

Dexi Delite South Manchester Escort - Royal Opera House, London.
There was time for a drink before the bell rang for the show, giving chance to visit the glorious bar.

Dexi Delite South Manchester Escort - Royal Opera House, London.
I will confess to being slightly under-whelmed by the attire of the attendees, however.  It's a ballet... at the Royal Opera House.  Call me old-fashioned, but do people still really want to attend such and event wearing jeans and trainers/sneakers?  I felt I was a little under dressed in my shimmering dress and heels, but saw only a couple of other people there that had made an effort to match the glamorous surroundings of the Opera House.

The bell rang for us to take our seats, and I was pleased at our choice - up in the circle on the front row, with un-interrupted views of the whole stage and orchestra pit.

Dexi Delite South Manchester Escort - Frankenstein, Royal Opera House, London.
The lights dimmed, the music rose and swirled, and the gorgeous horror unfolded.  It was breath-taking.  Superb storytelling, beautiful choreography and stunning sets, it was a truly captivating show.

Dexi Delite South Manchester Escort - Frankenstein, Royal Opera House, London.
In particular, the standout memories were the young dancer who played Frankenstein's young brother with an amazing performance... an exquisite wedding scene where the monster appeared as an uninvited guest, swirling and ghosting through the assembled wedding party, catching the haunted eye of his creator time and time again before disappearing, only to rejoin the celebrations again as Frankenstein lowered his guard... a dark pas de deux with the creature and Frankenstein's wife, culminating in the monster's murder of the new bride... and a charged, almost homo-erotic finale between Frankenstein and his creation.  Steven McRae's performance of the monster was truly amazing... beautiful, erotic, dark and damaged.

A few critics thought the show overly long in the first act (indeed, nearly an hour before Frankenstein gets to university where he meets his somewhat mad teaching doctor), but it remained, for me, a stunning show and I certainly left the Royal Opera House a confirmed ballet belle.

A taxi back to our apartment, and I was resting in bed with dreams of lightning-charged skies and dark dancing monsters to lie beside me.

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