Scottish Ballet presents the world premiere of ‘The Scandal at Mayerling’ – a real life Romeo & Juliet tale of passionate love and tragic death.
With unwitting, timely prescience, (following recent Royal scandals), Sir Kenneth MacMillan’s epic narrative ballet has now been reimagined afresh by Scottish Ballet in a dramatic new touring production.
Originally created by MacMillan, an innovative, ground-breaking choroegrapher, for the Royal Ballet in 1978, The Scandal at Mayerling is based on the tragic, true story of Crown Prince Rudolf, the only son of Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria and his wife, Elisabeth.
When he was 23, his parents selected 16 year old Princess Stephanie of Belgium to be his wife but this was a very unhappy, arranged marriage. A few years later when Rudolph met and fell in love with Baroness Mary Vetsera, his parents demanded that he swiftly end the affair, and also that he could not divorce Stephanie.
On the morning of January 30, 1889, the bodies of Rudolf, aged 30, and Mary, aged just 17, were found at the Hunting lodge, Mayerling in the woods outside Vienna. The scandal of the affair and apparent suicide pact was immediately hushed up by the Austrian Royal family. As heir to the throne, Rudolf’s death, publicly announced as a heart attack, left the succession in jeopardy, dividing the Hapsburg empire which ultimately led to the Great War in 1914.
The Mayerling Incident, full of mystery, murder and intrigue, has been adapted many times for the movie screen: a 1936 French movie starring Charles Boyer and Danielle Darrieux; Mel Ferrer and Audrey Hepburn, (1957); Omar Sharif and Catherine Deneuve, (1968). The Illusionist, (2006), set in Vienna, 1900 is a fictionalised version of the royal romance.
This passionate story of real life star-crossed lovers also inspired Sir Kenneth MacMillan to devise a narrative ballet, exploring the social, political and personal background of Crown Prince Rudolf, set within the opulent grandeur of the Royal court. John Lanchbery, conductor of the Royal Ballet orchestra, suggested Liszt as the composer, selecting over thirty pieces to orchestrate into an atmospheric, lyrically lush score.
The premiere of Mayerling took place on Valentine’s Day 1978 at a Royal gala with David Wall as Prince Rudolf and Lynn Seymour as Mary Vetsera. The audience gave the ballet and MacMillan, a prolonged ovation and the critics praised the ballet’s boldness and originality: Mary Clarke described ‘.. a thrilling, moving theatrical experience’. Clement Crisp commented that MacMillan had moved the three-act ballet from its 19th century structure and conventions into the realism of modern life. And after a revival by the Royal Ballet at the Met. New York, Anna Kisselgoff was impressed by ‘great dancing, great acting on a level of sophistication and richness of detail’.
Opening in April at the Theatre Royal Glasgow before a Scottish tour, Scottish Ballet now presents a sumptuous new version entitled The Scandal at Mayerling, featuring the full company of forty dancers. This world premiere will be the first time MacMillan’s iconic ballet has been produced in the UK outside London.
The drama centres on the Prince and his relationship with the women in his life – his wife, his mother and his mistresses – dramatised through a series of intense duets.
Rudolph is a desperate, disturbed young man, trapped in a charmed world of royal wealth and privilege, seeking an escape in in the reckless pursuit of women (both nobles and prostitutes), drink (Cognac and Champagne), drugs (morphine), and revolutionary politics. He also has a morbid fascination with death. With clear echoes of another anti hero, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, he was obsessed with a skull and a revolver which he keeps in his room, as he delves into a deteriorating state of psychosis and addiction.
MacMillan’s precise and potent choreographic storytelling focuses on characterisation with psychological insight to relate a brutal account of human nature, in a way which only dance can express. With his moods ranging from desire to rage, Rudolf is one the most demanding male roles created in British ballet requiring a high level of technique and stamina coupled with strong acting skills.
However, the dancers of Scottish Ballet excel at dramatic clarity as recently illustrated in the stunning adaptations of A Streetcar Named Desire and The Crucible, based on the iconic plays by Tennessee Williams and Arthur Miller.
“The Scandal at Mayerling” is a story rich with political intrigue, conflicting emotions, passion and obsession played out against an archaic and crumbling empire. Sir Kenneth’s choreography is some of the most visceral and emotionally charged ever produced – it demands our attention right up to the ill-fated conclusion.” Christopher Hampson, Artistic Director/CEO of Scottish Ballet .
This revival has been adapted and staged by Christopher Hampson and Gary Harris in association with the choreographer’s widow, Lady Deborah MacMillan:
“Kenneth didn’t set out to shock people but was acutely aware that in the ballet world of fairies and tutus, more realistic insights into human behaviour might prove difficult. There is a strong Scottish connection – Kenneth was born in Dunfermline – and Scottish Ballet attests to the highest aims of ballet companies worldwide, performing the best of the classics as well as looking to the future in choreography and designs.”
This bold, ambitious new production features an elaborate stage set and lavish costumes with the Franz Liszt score performed live by the Scottish Ballet Orchestra.
Dancers and rehearsal staff are taking part in a series of workshops with the Fight and Intimacy Direction company, Rc-Annie. Training in the safe use of replica imitation firearms will also create the authenticity for realistic theatre.
The historical mystery of the Mayerling Scandal has recently had a new twist. In 2015, a long forgotten collection of letters found hidden in a bank vault in Vienna might now reveal the secrets behind one of the world’s greatest love stories.
“Please forgive me, I could not resist love,’ wrote Mary Vetsera in a farewell letter to her mother, Helen, ‘I am happier in death than life.’
Apparently, an unknown person had deposited a leather-bound folder containing personal documents, letters and photographs of the Vetsera family, including Mary’s letters, which were finally discovered, 126 years after her death.
Dark, dangerous and daring, ‘The Scandal at Mayerling’ by Scottish Ballet promises to be a richly romantic and captivating dance drama. With a tasty flavour of the raunchy, period TV drama, Bridgerton, (with more bite), it’s sure to be a smash hit and described once again, as in 1978 as “a thrilling, moving, experience.”
Book your tickets now!
Scottish Ballet – The Scandal at Mayerling
Tour dates: 13-16 April 2022:Theatre Royal, Glasgow, 21-23 April 2022: Eden Court, Inverness, 5-7 May 2022: His Majesty’s Theatre, Aberdeen, 25-28 May 2022: Festival Theatre Edinburgh
Age guidance 12+
The French Film Festival UK is the only festival dedicated to and embracing French and Francophone cinema in all its diversity. Instead of waiting until November, an inspiring season of French and Francophone cinema comes to Summerhall from 30 January to 17 April, 2022.
Presenting a diverse range of films for all ages, from award-winners to new talent, classics to documentaries and animation. Several will be accompanied by introductions, Q&As and talks by leading experts in film and French culture.
“With the easing of restrictions, we’re delighted to be able to offer Summerhall screenings in the newly re-equipped Red studio theatre with its Seventies’ vibe. Audiences will have the chance to catch up with French Film Festival titles they may have missed the first time around. The programme really does have something for everyone.”
Richard Mowe, Director, French Film Festival UK
Summerhall, located near the Meadows, is a well established and popular visual arts and performance venue, – with a pub, brewery and gin distillery on site too – a buzzing cultural centre year round with exhibitions, drama, music, films and, in August, Edinburgh Festival Fringe shows.
And what must be the best kept secret, a brand new cinema opened here in October 2021!
The Red Lecture Theatre was previously used for the Edinburgh Short Film Festival, Cinefile, French Film Festival and Cinematic, shows films every weekend as well as special events. The revamped cinema was financed from the Screen Scotland’s Cinema Equipment Fund, featuring Dolby 5.1 surround sound and DCP projection and is the only cinema on the southside of Edinburgh. Each Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the venue screens new releases, independent films, modern horror, retrospectives and world cinema.
The French Film Festival UK presents Screen Horizons@ Summerhall.
As Valentine’s Day 2022 fell on a Monday, there is still time for a delicious sweet taste of romance on Sunday 20 February with a 3pm matinee screening of Love Affair(s).
The French title, ‘Les Choses qu’on dit, les chose qu’on fait’ is translated as ‘The Things We Say, the Things We Do,’ a classic brief encounter tale of two strangers thrown together by chance, set against the lush green French countryside. Exploring their notions of what real love is, the chemistry between Daphne and Maxime is viewed with authenticity, elegance and compassion. Directed by Emmanuel Mouret, the film has been described as a more serious Love Actually, pitching between the philosophical and farcical.
This really sounds like a smash hit with rave reviews, awards and accolades:
Best Film nomination, Césars 2021.
Rotten Tomatoes – Critics score,100%
‘ Mouret channels a cacophony of beating hearts in an effortless conversation about the universal trappings of love and monogamy’.
‘A complex romantic drama which twists and turns at every juncture’.
Later that afternoon on 20 February at 5.30pm is Hello World! (Bonjour Le Monde!) for adults and children alike. With perfect topicality in the race to save the planet, this is a whimsical animated study of our fragile ecosystem. How is a bird born, why does one come into the world as an insect, mammal or fish?
Hand crafted papier-mâché puppets with a colourfully painted backdrop interpret the life and habitats of a pike, beaver, bat, salamander, turtle, dragonfly and several birds to illustrate the amazing spectacle of the natural world.
And here a few more highlights over the next couple of months:
Oh Mercy! / Roubaix, une lumière (Sunday 27 February, 15.00)
A fictionalised adaptation of the 2008 French TV documentary Roubaix commissariat central, which followed a police officer and his colleagues in Roubaix, near Lille, as they deal with the shocking homicide of an elderly woman. The investigation has real authenticity to create a riveting, compassionate drama and among the potential suspects are the neighbours who report the crime, Claude and Marie. Grégoire Hetzel’s sombre soundtrack creates a suitably chilling Bernard Herrmann, (Psycho, Citizen Kane, Taxi Driver), mood and ambience.
‘ Engrossing and well worth checking out’. Time Out
Simply Black / Tout simplement noir (Sunday 6 March, 17.00/Sunday 13 March, 15.00)
Jean-Pascal Zadi’s feature debut follows, JP, an actor and activist (played by Zadi himself) who, tired of the bigotry and racism in France, decides to organize a “Black Man’s March” to raise awareness in Paris. The politically incorrect satire is essentially a mockumentary through a series of dramatic, often hilarious misadventures. By exploring how racism remains a serious issue in France, Zadi questions whether the motto ‘liberté, égalité, fraternité’ is more of an ideal than a universal truth.
‘An extraordinary comedic work of lilt and sparkle’. The New Yorker
Léon Morin, Priest / Leon Morin, prêtre: (Sunday 10 April, 17.30/ Sunday 17 April, 15.00)
The French Film Festival always includes a classic programme of vintage movies which are always a joy and here is another classic in Screen Horizons.
In 1961, a year after appearing in Breathless, Jean-Paul Belmondo starred as Léon Morin, Priest, playing a devoted man of the cloth who attracts all the women in a small village in Nazi-occupied France. Holy but human, he finds himself drawn to a widow—played by Emmanuelle Riva—a religious skeptic. Sparse yet utterly convincing in period detail, this is a potent study of desire, religion and politics.
‘ Belmondo is masterly at embodying how Morin uses his charisma and surly, forthright charm. Riva’s emotional vitality powers the story with an oscillating vibrancy .. the accumulation of small expressive touches is as exact and suggestive as a pointillist masterpiece’. Deep Focus review
Adolescents / Adolescentes (Sunday 17 April, 17.30)
Emma and Anaïs are best friends and yet everything in their life seems to set them apart – from their social backgrounds to their personalities. Five years in the making, Adolescentes is a remarkable achievement, charting the lives of the two girls from the age of 13 to 18 as they grow into maturity. Things turn more emotive when the personal meets the political during key moments in French history from the Paris attacks to the election of Emmanuel Macron.
Melancholic and graceful, ‘ ….capturing moments of aesthetic bliss ..comparisons to Richard Linklater’s 12-year narrative ‘Boyhood’ are evident.’ Hollywood Reporter
For the full Screen Horizons programme of films, trailers, dates and tickets – https://frenchfilmfestival.org.uk/2021/front-page/screen-horizons/
Supported by Film Hub Scotland, part of the BFI’s Film Audience Network, and funded by Screen Scotland and National Lottery funding from the BFI.
The 30th anniversary edition of the French Film Festival will run in November and December 2022, as always touring numerous towns and cities across the UK, as well as an online programme. Keep up to date with all news of this special celebratory year.
‘The sea is a huge part of my life. I live by it, I walk with my wee dog every day by it, I swim in it no matter what the season, and of course I paint it. It’s very much my muse’.
Fee Dickson Reid
With her home in North Berwick, just a pebble’s throw from the beach, Fee Dickson Reid specialises in large, atmospheric seascapes along the East Lothian coast. This collection has been an ongoing project for several months, as the theme emerged naturally when she was drawn to painting at different times of the day.
Hence the evocative title of the exhibition, Night, Day, Dawn, Dusk featuring fifty seascapes from sunrise to sunset, observing the ever-shifting expanse of light on sand and sea.
Just like in the Phantom of the Opera – ‘Night-time sharpens, heightens each sensation, Darkness stirs and wakes imagination‘ – the ink black sky is brilliantly illustrated in a series of dramatic, moody paintings.
A shimmering glow of moonlight shines on the glistening sea in The Rain falls at Night, with a threatening storm cloud overhead and a misty whirl of black and grey clouds.
There is a most spectacular burst of light flashing across the heavens, shaped like a tornado in Shades of Night, illuminating the sheen on the surface of the gentle flowing waves.
‘I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky ….’
From ‘Sea Fever,’ John Masefield
And now a stroll along the beach in the cool light of day in the panoramic scene, As The Wind Blows. The perspective is beautifully composed, drawing the eye over the sea-soaked sand to the water’s edge and beyond to the Bass Rock and Fidra, with a furious flurry of soft clouds and welcome patch of blue sky.
The waves in Glengarry Point show the splish-splash rhythm of the sea water with such clarity and translucency as the curve of the bay leads out to the bird sanctuary Rock. It gives the viewer the impression of standing on the beach alone with a realistic sense of tranquility.
Fee describes how she likes to paint a seascape in one session to capture ‘the wide open sky and far horizon in all its changing light’ all in one go, instead of returning to finish it later.
The freshness of a new day on the seashore is witnessed in Soft Start where two thirds of the scene is a broad expanse of sky, with pink tinted clouds and an early promise of sunshine. The tide has just gone out leaving behind glistening pools of water.
Milan Kundera’s philosophical novel, ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being’ centres on the theme of living for momentary beauty. Most aptly Fee has used this title to illustrate the pure delicate light as dawn breaks over the sea with an amber gold shimmer.
Dusk: one can never tire of watching a sunset, always a peaceful and truly painterly experience when the sky is splattered in all the shades of the rainbow from orange to indigo as seen in The Light of Setting Suns.
With a sweep of brushstrokes, this is a mesmerising composition, akin to Rothko-esque abstract expressionism, as is the vivid Fade to Dusk as the sky glows with glorious shades of pink, purple and crimson.
The tidal flow of the sea clearly captures Dickson Reid’s creative imagination, and in a couple of paintings, Froth and Frills and Drop Shadow, the power of the crashing waves denote such energy and atmospheric vision.
Take visit to the Torrance Gallery soon for an exhilarating walk along these beautiful deserted beaches, to experience the realistic light, a refreshing sea breeze and the soothing sound of the waves on the shore.
I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide ..
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
From Sea Fever, John Masefield
The Torrance Gallery
Fee Dickson Reid – solo show
Night, Day, Dawn, Dusk
15th January to 5th February
Tuesday – Saturday, 11am-5.30pm.
36 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6JN
The smart new Neighbourhood Kitchen-Bar-Garden, is the place for coffee and cocktails, lunch, supper and Sunday Brunch
The Bruntsfield Hotel, in the southside of Edinburgh is a grand property of four connecting Townhouses dating from 1861. Converted into a hotel in the 1920s, today the quiet location overlooking the Links and Meadows Park is ideal for visitors within easy walking distance to shops, theatres, cinemas and a short bus ride to the city centre.
As part of a £1 million investment, the Hotel’s former Bisque Brasserie has been transformed into The Neighbourhood to welcome hotel guests, locals, shoppers, students and office staff to meet, eat and drink, and described as “a new, exciting all-day dining, working, and socialising space”.
A recent media launch party was a marvellous opportunity for a sneak preview to sip a cocktail or two and sample the food. In the large, L shaped space, the Neighbourhood Bar is well designed for comfort and relaxation, the booth tables ideal for a couple or group of friends
As well as good selection of wines, Scottish beers the bar tenders have invented a menu of house cocktails such as the “Scottish Garden” made with Edinburgh Gin, Grey Goose vodka, Elderflower cordial and apple juice. This is so refreshing, tart and fruity ….and rather dangerous as you hardly taste the alcohol!
The Penicillin sounds like a healthy tipple to keep the bugs away – a blend of Famous Grouse and Laphroaig whiskies, lemon juice, honey ginger syrup, the perfect winter warmer, plus all the classics, Cosmopolitan, Negroni and a signature Ferrero Rocher Martini – Smirnoff vodka, Frangelico, cocoa liquor and whipped cream.
“We want The Neighbourhood to be somewhere to work and play with homely food, creative cocktails, and true Scottish charm.” Alistair Bruce, General Manager
Around the corner from the Bar is the Kitchen Bistro where Chef Colin Moore and his team serve an all day food menu focusing on seasonal, local ingredients, classic and modern Scottish cuisine.
For lunch, a choice of sandwiches and sharing plates. Warmly recommended is the Crab Arancini, a tiny, tasty light bite, and for a hearty meal, good old Fish and Chips – having sampled an appetiser portion, this was superb, crisp batter and perfect fat fries.
Other dishes include Cullen Skink soup, Scallops with cauliflower puree and Stornoway black pudding and Haggis ravioli with neeps, potato and whisky sauce. All the favourites too – pizza, pasta and burgers with vegetarian/vegan and gluten free options. And you might be tempted by Apple crumble or Sticky toffee pudding.
With the King’s Theatre, Dominion and Cameo Cinemas, a short walk away this is the ideal place for a drink or meal before or after the show.
The Neighbourhood is open for breakfast each day and at the weekend for a leisurely Brunch to enjoy a full Scottish fry up, Eggs Benedict/ Royale or Smashed Avo with Feta. Sip a spicy Bloody Mary or for a celebration, opt for the bottomless Prosecco to turn brekkie into a party.
Outside is the ‘secret’ garden, a plant filled patio where you can sit in heated booths with good lighting for alfresco drinks year round – dog friendly too after a walk around the Meadows.
As a change from WFH why not visit the Neighbourhood for a business meeting, work on your laptop with tea and coffee on tap and fast Wi-Fi for just £10 per day.
Hospitality is also family friendly with a healthy, appetising menu for children who can join in fun, educational quizzes to keep them entertained.
‘Eating at the Neighbourhood should feel like eating at your family dining table. Good food and good company is at the heart of what we’re about’.
Visit The Neighbourhood for coffee, a glass of wine, brunch, lunch or supper. The Kitchen is open from Wednesday to Sunday, 7am-1am, while on Monday and Tuesday, the Bar is open from 5pm until late.
Check all the information, browse menus and book a table here: www.thebruntsfield.co.uk/theneighbourhood
Best Western Plus Bruntsfield Hotel
69 Bruntsfield Place, Edinburgh, EH10 4HH
Having visiting Manchester a few years ago, I planned another trip recently to find out what’s on, where to go and what to see during the festive season. Instead of a seasonal sleigh, I had a smooth, comfortable journey on a brand new Nova Tranpennine Express electric train from Edinburgh. There are five carriages, with 264 seats in standard class, 22 in first class, complimentary wifi and a power socket at every seat. Trolley service for refreshments and snacks, and storage for 4 bicycles. The Nova 2 trains run between Edinburgh and Manchester Airport so the ideal route if planning to jet off somewhere exotic.
As I headed south to Manchester, meanwhile my sister, June, was speeding north from London Euston on an Aviva train: the itinerary for our Christmas shopping and cultural city break began with perfect synchronicity, the two trains arriving on time, just four minutes apart at 1.23pm and 1.27pm respectively.
Manchester’s Christmas Markets have been attracting thousands of visitors to the city centre every year since 1998 to add a sparkle to the winter chill. Staying at the Mercure hotel was a great central location on Portland Street, Piccadilly Gardens, which has been transformed into the ‘Winter Gardens’. This is a pop up village of Christmas market stalls and log cabin bars such as Apres Ski & Off Piste where you can warm up with an Alpine Ale, mulled wine, prosecco, cider, Nordic Glogg, Hot toddy and a Bailey’s coffee.
The markets are also located across St Ann’s Square, Exchange Square, New Cathedral Street, King Street, Market Street and Cathedral Gardens which will entice the skaters to the ice rink. A central stage with a series of live music events will entertain the crowds. Sip Gluhwein and sample apple strudel around the traditional German stalls, and, of course, Bratwurst – perhaps best to share the half a metre sausage!
Dine around the world from Little Spain – paella, chorizo rolls, patatas bravas and hot sangria to Mexico Joes Ltd – Chicken flatbread, falafel, and halloumi fries. Eat Greek – halloumi fries, pitta bread, Elsie Mays for warm brownies and milkshakes. French, Sicilian and Dutch dishes too. An American feast at Triple B -Pastrami Burger and a huge Turkey Reuben bagel.
The best of British at Porkys of Yarm serving Hot roast pork rolls, Hydes beers, local cider, English wines and Clowbecks for Cumberland sausage, bubble & squeak, tatties, mulled wine and lager. Porky Pig Yorkshire puddings wraps. Battered pigs in blankets. For vegetarians and vegans, Panc is a plant-based stall offers meat free sausages, burgers, fried chick’n and more.
And of course, the Markets are the place to buy innovative gifts galore – from chocolates and cheese, to toys and games, arts and crafts, soaps, clothing, socks, hats, gloves, leather bags and wallets, jewellery.
The Markets are open until Wednesday December 22, 10am to 9pm daily with some stalls continuing around the Winter and Cathedral Gardens into the New Year.
A night at the theatre to see the musical, Waitress at the Opera House, originally The New Theatre, which opened on Boxing Day, 1912, then renamed the Opera House in 1920. It was a cinema in WW2, then a bingo hall before launched as a theatre again in 1984, renowned for touring musicals such as Barnum and Phantom of the Opera. Waitress is a comedy drama set in an American diner and after the ten day run in Manchester, it’s now on tour around the country so do catch this heart-warming, feminist, feel good show if you can.
The pantomime at the Opera House this year is Aladdin, starring Alexandra Burke, with flying carpets, a genie, an evil sorcerer, magical effects, song and dance.
Warmly recommended for a pre-post theatre lunch or supper is Bill’s Spinningfields which is perfectly located a two minute walk away from the Opera House.
‘Our passion for great food, cooked with care in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere. Whether with friends, family or an intimate dinner for two, from breakfast to bedtime and everything in between.’
Bill’s started 20 years ago, when Bill Collison opened his Greengrocer’s shop in Lewes, East Sussex and soon added a café, a concept for seasonal local food which has gradually grown into a collection of restaurants across the UK.
The modern, stylish menu changes seasonally – quality, gastropub, homely food with generous portions and is very vegetarian-vegan friendly. I selected crispy calamari, perfect finger food, dipping the rings into the creamy aioli. Then a veggie burger, Halloumi, avocado and roasted peppers, with sweet potato fries. My sister nibbled a few olives to start and then enjoyed a real, juicy meat burger, cooked to her liking, with rosemary fries (we declined the bun to reduce the calories). With our meal we sipped one of the house wines, the South African, Journey’s End Chardonnay – deliciously crisp and dry.
This Christmas season, with the witty Wizard of Oz theme, There’s No Place Like Bill’s, you will be tempted by the enticing seasonal food and cocktail menu such as Pigs-in-blankets, Christmas Truffle Cheese Fondue Burger, Boxing Day curry, Truffalo sprouts and for dessert, sugar-sprinkled Snow Nuts or Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree, a red berry cheesecake with chocolate tree, stars and baubles.
Time for party cocktails: Gin-gle Bells (Whitley Neill Raspberry Gin, Chambord, fresh pineapple), Passion Fruit Spritz and the Strawberry Margarita.
After the theatre, it was back to the Mercure hotel for a nightcap at the Level 3 Lounge Bar overlooking the bright lights of the Christmas market. The ‘seasonal’ cocktail list includes a Summer Mojito (not quite right for a chilly winter night!), and, disappointing that there was no Campari in stock for the Negroni. I chose a classic Gin Martini (but no olive garnish available), while June sipped a Nojito, a minty, fruity tipple without the rum.
Art lovers should visit the Contemporary 6 Gallery, 37 Princess Street, owned by Alex Reuben who selects a series of inspiring shows of paintings, modern prints, (Picasso, Kandinsky, Matisse), ceramics and sculpture. Throughout November is the eclectic artwork of Jim Moir (as seen on Sky TV, Celebrity Portrait and Landscape Artist), ranging from a flight of birds to quirky portraits.
For a marvellous day out for all ages, take a trip to the Trafford Centre, five miles from the city centre, and easy to get there by metrolink tram. This is very much like This is very much like an American shopping mall with designer and high street stores, not least a large branch of Selfridges, as well as a cinema, bowling alley, Game arena and Legoland. After browsing the shops or seeing a movie, time for refreshments, but signage needs improved as where to eat and drink is difficult to find. The Orient is designed around the replica of a pool deck on a classic ocean liner featuring numerous bars and bistros from All Bar One to Zizzi. A huge marble staircase modelled on the Titanic leads to the Great Hall and features the largest chandelier in the world.
Drink, eat and stay at the Kimpton Clocktower which was named recently in the Sunday Times as one of the best 100 hotels in the UK. Founded in San Francisco in 1981, the cool, quirky Kimpton brand focuses on art, wellness, modern cuisine and playful style while reflecting the heritage of each destination.
The majestic Victorian red brick and terracotta building was initially the The Refuge Assurance Company (1890), which opened as the hotel on 1st October 2020. In the lobby, a bronze horse sculpted by Sophie Dickens illustrates the turning circle for the former Hansom cabs and carriages; original features include ceramic tiles, stained glass and wooden staircases juxtaposed with contemporary furnishings.
Bold colourfully designed bedrooms and suites are draped in velvet with bespoke decor and artwork by Scottish company Timorous Beasties, while vinyl records of Manchester’s famous bands from the Stone Roses to Oasis can be played on a turntable. Guests can take use of the in room yoga mat, the complimentary tuck box and many bathrooms boast a classic roll top bathtub.
Relax over a drink or Afternoon tea in The Winter Garden, an interior glasshouse blossoming with plants and trees and wine and dine at The Refuge by Volta. The Refuge Bar and Dining Room is a vast but elegant space of interconnecting salons where on a Friday night the lounge area was buzzing with happy drinkers and around the corner, the fabulous Restaurant with well designed, comfy banquette seating and half moon booths.
An innovative menu of Soul Food for sharing is neatly divided into Meat, Seafood, On the Side and Vegetables, inspired around the global travels by the DJ -Restaurateurs, Justin Crawford and Luke Cowdrey.
First of all it’s time for finely crafted cocktails – the Drinks list is most enticing with a celebration of gin and modern twists on the classics. Like a revamped French 75, is ‘Glamour of Manchester’:– Malfy rose gin, lemon, hibiscus syrup, Champagne. There’s an innovative selection of spirits especially speciality gins for the perfect serve such as Aviation, Gin Mare, Malfy Rosa, Monkey 47 and Ramsbury Single Estate Gin.
My Gin Martini was a masterclass of the art which hit the spot with lip smacking delight. Across the table, June selected The Queen’s Peach – Spiced rum, peach, lime, mint with a splash of prosecco – for a refreshing taste of the Caribbean.
Advised to select four to five dishes for two, we chose the ras-el-hanout scented chicken, salt cod croquettes with tartare aioli, tenderstem broccoli, chargrilled cauliflower and chickpea daal, for an eclectic Middle Eastern, Asia and Spanish culinary journey. The vegetables were perfectly cooked almost al dente and the creamy daal in coconut milk was mixed with apricots and dates. For dessert, a sticky toffee pudding was the perfect finale to a superlative meal. Hospitality by Jake and James was exemplary.
As well as sipping a delicious Sartori Pinot Grigio, the wine list tours the world to France, Spain, South Africa, Australia and Lebanon. With DJs in charge of the ambience, you can expect a lively vibe with a soothing, sassy mix of jazz, swing, funk, soul and house.
Experience the magic of Manchester this Christmas at the Kimpton Clocktower. Treat yourself to a stay in one of the gorgeously styled rooms or suites and enjoy a three course Christmas Day lunch with a glass of fizz and festive snacks in The Refuge, breakfast each day is included and chill out for a leisurely 3pm checkout on departure.
Hope this all whets your appetite to plan a magical, cultural and shopping trip to Manchester soon.
Links to help you research your visit.
Waitress: a feel-good, feminist, rom-com musical as sweet as American blueberry pie @ Opera House, Manchester (and on tour).
This popular and very successful stage musical is based on the 2007 movie, Waitress which was selected for Sundance Festival, became a box office hit, making nearly $22 million on a $1.5 million-dollar budget.
Written and directed by Adrienne Shelly, it tells the classic American tale of Jenna, a small- town girl who works in a diner but has big dreams for the future.
When producers Barry and Fran Weissler saw Waitress, they knew it would make a great Broadway show: “I saw the movie and thought, ‘This is heart-wrenching, touching and funny. An all-female creative team behind the book, music and director led to four Tony nominations including Best Musical, Best Original Score and Best Actress. It then played in London for a year until forced to close in March 2020 for lockdown.
Bouncing back again, the UK tour stars Lucie Jones, Sandra Marvin and Evelyn Hoskins who reprise their West End roles. The realistic stage set depicts the colourful Joe’s Diner with counter, stools, tables, booths, blackboard menu, and outside, a panoramic rural scene of telegraph poles against a blue sky.
The show kicks off in a colourful, rousing manner with a medley of songs, as we are introduced to the terrific trio of waitresses, Cal, the diner manager and old Joe, the owner, who loves to try the speciality dish of the day. Jenna is a talented baker devising her own Couch Potato and Polka Dot Peach Pies. She plans to enter a local Pie contest with the chance to win $25,000 which would solve her financial worries and escape her domineering husband Earl.
Jenna, Becky and Dawn are close workmates and loyal friends, offering advice on life, love, romance and marriage, woman to woman. With her vivacious, sunny pesonality, Becky cheers the girls up, boosting their confidence. Petite, with a high pitched girly voice, the cookie, cute Dawn is rather naive but keen to find a man on a dating site. She just needs to find someone who likes History’s Mysteries on TV.
The song lyrics drive the storyline along such as the upbeat, What Baking Can Do in which Jenna remembers how she made cakes with her mother, who encouraged her to do well in pursuit of happiness.
So with flour on my hands
I’ll show them all how
Goddamn happy I am
Sugar, butter, flour ..
Jenna cracks eggs into a bowl, sifts flour and rolls out pastry dough while she acts and sings, all at the same time with neat, multi-tasking talent.
Another passionate song, A Soft Place to Land, sung in perfect harmony by the three girls, relates how they are all determined to change their lives for the better.
The arrival of a new doctor in town quickly sparks an immediate romantic interest although unfortunately he is married. And so is she. Think ‘Brief Encounter’. She seduces him with delicious cakes and as the intimate scenes with Dr. Pomatter (Matt Jay-Willis) are often in slow motion in a shimmering light – is this really happening or a fantasy of her imagination.?
The topical narrative centres around Jenna who smiles happily, serving cakes in Joe’s diner, hiding the dark secret of Earl’s bossy, bullying behaviour at home. She is vulnerable, lost and afraid but has a strong-minded spirit illustrated in a beautiful ballad, She Used to be Mine: Lucie Jones is a true opera diva, showing off her soaring vocal range and deep emotion, enhanced with an echo effect.
If I’m honest I know I would give it all back
For a chance to start over
And rewrite an ending or two
For the girl that I knew.
Sassy, smart and soulful, Waitress is a feel good, feminist, musical comedy with strong, dramatic punch. Fine characterisation, sharp dialogue, charming songs, witty lyrics and moments of LOL hilarity, it all flows along to the lively score performed on stage by the six piece band. Slick choreography too for the ensemble numbers with high flying pies galore.
Imagine The Great British Bake Off as a musical: expect a sweet and savoury dish, a chunk of cheesy romance and a sprinkling of hot spice, the recipe for a perfectly baked show as delicious as American blueberry pie. No wonder there was a standing ovation at the Opera House, Manchester.
Opera House, Manchester 8 – 20 November, 2021
For a pre-theatre supper, Bill’s Spinningfields is warmly recommended. Just a two minute walk from the Opera House
Waitress on tour: https://www.waitressthemusical.co.uk/
‘Evocative Skies’ magical vistas from beach scenes to city panoramas – an exhibition by Jamie Primrose @ Dundas Street Gallery
Since 2003, Jamie Primrose has presented artwork at over forty solo exhibitions, specialising in city, land and seascapes from Scotland to the South of France. This new showcase focuses on the dramatic beauty of skyscapes along the East Lothian coastline and across Edinburgh.
The ‘Evocative Skies‘ exhibition is well laid out following a geographical route from the sandy beaches of North Berwick to Tyninghame and Yellowcraig, around the gallery to the rolling hills, high spires and streets of the Capital.
The introduction to ‘Evocative Skies,” describes the artistic theme:
‘The transient nature of light onto water and land to create luminosity and atmosphere, the dream-like quality of glorious streams of light reflecting onto the sea and iridescent sands; these sweeping cloudscapes depict the ever-changing play of light above sparkling, tranquil shores’.
The glowing, glimmering luminosity of fading sun is clearly illustrated in Late Afternoon looking towards Cove, in which the viewer feels they are standing on the sand to observe the immensity of the clear blue sky. This impressionistic scene is captured in striated layers where the sea meets the sand, and a line of white cloud hovering over the distant hills.
The iconic pudding shape of the bird sanctuary takes centre stage in Looking towards Bass Rock from North Berwick Beach, given a perfect perspective between the lapping waves on the beach and mauve-tinted clouds; a realistic sense of a brisk breeze whipping up over the sea and sky too.
Another majestic view of the craggy island in Clouds passing over North Berwick depicting a more blustery day. Again, the sky takes prominence, spanning over two thirds of the painting, with just a slither of sea on the edge of the sandy beach.
The Stevenson lighthouse on the island of Fidra is the focal point of Reflections on Yellowcraig Beach. Robert Louis Stevenson (who spent holidays in North Berwick), is said to have been inspired by the rocky shape of Fidra for his map of ‘Treasure Island’.
This is such an evocative and tranquil study of Yellowcraig beach after the tide has ebbed away leaving glistening wet sand with slender shards of sunlight below the billowing cloud.
The fading light at dusk is captured with such a delicate, pale palette in Tyninghame Reflections – the thick brush strokes sweep a soft dusty pink across the sky reflected with an impressionistic flourish on the waves and shoreline. Such an atmospheric, contemplative composition.
This is almost reminiscent of the artist’s previous abstract landscapes such as Tierra de La Luz (Costa Rica, 2003). The translucent sheen of blue, indigo and tangerine, with Rothko-esque expressionism, depict the horizon over the sea at sunset with stunning simplicity.
Perhaps, Jamie Primrose might be inspired to experiment again with his earlier, masterly artisic style to express these seascapes in similar abstract mode and manner, through blocks of pure colour, shape and light.
There’s an almost photographic perspective snapped in Shimmering light over Edinburgh from Longniddry, looking across the Firth of Forth. There’s a painterly pattern here: the foreground stretch of rocky beach is echoed in the long, low lying dark cloud, and also in the distance, the rolling mound of hills in a shadowy silhouette.
A seasonal, gold tinted cityscape is portrayed in Autumnal drama over the city from Blackford Hill, one of Primrose’s ambitious, signature, panoramic views with such architectural detail of the city skyline. The afterglow of sunset is sinking towards the west, turning the sky a shimmering salmon pink across the flow and flurry of clouds.
Around the gallery is a diverse range of other iconic skyscape views of Edinburgh, depicted from dawn to dusk – Duddingston Loch, from Calton Hill, the Castle and around the Old Town.
Limited Edition Prints
As well as over fifty original oil paintings on show, there’s also a selection of exclusive, limited edition prints: East Lothian beaches, Arthur’s Seat, city sunset skylines, colourful Old Town scenes, and more.
‘Evocative Skies’ paintings by Jamie Primrose
Magical vistas in East Lothian & Edinburgh
The Dundas Street Gallery, 6a Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ
Friday 5th – Saturday 13th November 2021
Open daily, 11am – 6pm. Saturday 13th November, 11am – 5pm (last day)
View the ‘Evocative Skies’ collection of original oil paintings online:
Limited Edition Prints:
East Lothian seascapes: http://shop.jamieprimrose.com/shop/3/12/index.htm
Vibrant sunsets: http://shop.jamieprimrose.com/shop/2/26/index.htm
The 29th French Film Festival is on the road – 30+ movies across 30+ cinemas around the UK from Aberdeen to Belfast and Plymouth
The French Film Festival is back, running from 3 November to 12 December 2021, offering another fabulous programme of new and classic movies screened in cinemas throughout the UK and on line.
“Bienvenue! We’re overjoyed to welcome back our faithful audiences to one of the most diverse line-ups, from award-winners to new talent. Thanks to our partner cinemas for showing enthusiasm and ingenuity and our sponsors for their unwavering support. Vive le cinéma! -Bon Festival.”
Richard Mowe, Director FFF UK
The FFF UK is the only festival dedicated to French and Francophone cinema in all its diversity, variety and vitality. This is a brief overview of a few highlights in the programme which will delight all movie fans who adore the intimate, dramatic mood and elegant style of French movies.
Deception (Tromperie), based on the novel by Philip Roth, relates the story of an American writer also called Philip (Denis Podalydès), who is working on a new book in London. Here he meets and becomes romantically involved with a married English woman, (Léa Seydoux), while his wife is back home. But is this literary affair real or a figment of the author’s imagination ?
In 1789, before the Revolution in rural France, fine cuisine was exclusive to the aristocrats. Delicious (Délicieux) is about the fine art of gastronomy. When a talented cook called Manceron, (Grégory Gadebois) serves one of his invented dishes at a dinner hosted by Duke of Chamfort, he is dismissed. Moving to work at a country inn, he is inspired to develop his creative passion for food to become a renowned chef. Bon Appetit!.
Starring the inimitable Catherine Deneuve, Peaceful (De son Vivant) is about a son in denial over a serious illness while his mother faces the truth. A real-life cancer specialist, Dr Gabriel Sara is cast as Dr Eddé, expressing genuine, personal empathy as a medical and spiritual advisor.
Inspired by true events, The Big Hit (Un Triomphe) is a comic drama about an out of work actor who gives drama lessons to high security prisoners, hoping to inspire them to perform a production of Samuel Becket’s Waiting for Godot. ‘The outcome is worth the wait, a naturalistic, well-balanced, satisfying social drama,’ says one critic.
In Promises, (Les Promesses) Isabelle Huppert portrays an ambitious Mayor of a Parisian suburb towards the end of her second and, expected, final term of office. Working with her Chief of staff, their mission is to secure a financial subsidy to save Les Benardins, an apartment complex from increasing urban decay. A power-grabbing, political game of chess ensues.
A neglected, feminist classic, Olivia, (1951), adapted from Dorothy Bussy’s autobiographical tale, captures the awakening passions of an English girl at a finishing school near Paris. The rather naive Olivia develops an infatuation for the headmistress, Mlle. Julie, sparking obsessive, jealous feelings in another teacher. ‘Gothic atmosphere, unspoken desire.…a landmark of lesbian representation.’
With perfect topicality in the race to save the planet, Hello World! (Bonjour le monde!) is a whimsical animated study of a fragile ecosystem. Papier-mâché puppets with a colourfully painted backdrop depict the life and natural habitats of a pike, beaver, bat, salamander, turtle, dragonfly and birds.
This charming film will appeal to all ages and is also part of the educational programme for children, L‘école du cinema.
As always in the FFF programme, there’s a selection of Short Cuts, mini-movies of between 8 and 24 minutes.
A special double bill features a mini-musical, Belle Étoile about a Vietnamese woman who has arrived in France to be married but her life turns upside down.
This is partnered with a vintage thriller, The Sleeping Car Murders (Compartiment Tuers 1965), starring Yves Montand as a detective in charge of finding a killer on a train, akin to Murder on the Orient Express.
After the welcome innovation and popular success of screening FFF movies @ home during lockdown, there’s a choice of nine films to watch from the comfort of your own sofa.
Another crime drama in The Enemy (L’Ennemi) follows the investigation when a politician is charged with killing his wife.
A classic from 1961, Vivre sa Vie, directed by Luc Godard, features his cinematic muse, Anna Karina as Nana, an aspiring actress who has a different role in real life, a lady of the night.
Thrillers, romance, wartime drama, politics, animation, documentaries – take your pick of the 29th FFF programme.
Browse the full selection of films, list of cinemas and screening dates on the website: frenchfilmfestival.org.uk
Converge – a masterly, moody, creative collaboration by four Scottish landscape artists at the Dundas Street Gallery.
Converge: ‘to come together and unite in a common interest.’
Sarah Anderson, Kirstin Heggie, Gill Knight and Fee Dickson Reid share a passion for capturing of Scotland’s natural beauty from the Lowlands to the Outer Hebrides in their own distinctive, dramatic mode, mood and manner.
Sarah Anderson grew up in Galloway surrounded by countryside and coastline: My inspiration is derived from the Scottish landscape to reflect the dramatic effects of weather … and envelop the viewer in the prevailing atmosphere.
Paintings based on a recent summer holiday to Isle of Harris are expressed with a vividly, exuberant colour palette in majestic panoramic scenes.
With the dark, thundery clouds, Approaching Rain, Scarista is mesmerising with its expanse of inky blueness, a glimmer of sun shining on the beach where the sand meets the lapping waves and the sea touches the sky.
This is akin to a Rothko-esque abstract in its bold geometric blocks of colour: the slither of turquoise water is renowned on this west coast and on summer days the white sand beaches evoke a tropical island.
Likewise, Scotland meets the Caribbean in The Colours of Harris in a more representative scene of the striated layers of sand, sea with flecks of surf, distant hills and flurry of clouds. The stylised structure of the composition is stunning with an expressive use of shape, light and movement.
“Composition is the art of arranging in a decorative manner the elements at the painter’s command to express his feelings.” – Henri Matisse
With an element of Van Gogh’s impressionistic ‘Pine Trees against an Evening Sky,’ the delicate patterning and halo of gold in Glentress Forest Light draws the viewer into the scene as the eye follows the winding path through the winter trees bathed in dappled sunlight.
Kirstin Heggie also specialises in semi-abstract landscapes, ‘building up many layers of texture and colour, adding and subtracting paint using brushes, twigs and offcuts of wood. It is often a messy process!’
This method of collage painting is most effective in Tonnan Mara, (from the Gaelic: surging waves of the sea), a most atmospheric composition with thick, criss-crossing crusts of paint reflecting the elemental force of the treacherous waves and pitch black sky.
A calmer seascape in Pure Morning captured with delicate minimalism in soft shades of white, azur and grey streaks, with an almost invisible divide between sea and sky. Pure indeed in the subtle, smooth blend of blue-green tones and texture.
Against a rust-red crimson valley, a copse of three Skinny Trees stand out in the barren, sun-scorched landscape – almost desert like with a feeling of strong heat. There’s a hidden narrative here on place and time which creates a most enigmatic and melancholic image, like a painterly poem.
Working in oils, acrylic and mixed media, Gill Knight describes her abstract and semi-abstract work as “dark, moody, atmospheric and emotional.”
Capturing the season with an impressionistic flourish, Autumn Tide features a wild swirl of threatening rain cloud brightened with a flash of sun on the water. With the focus on the sky, the smudged brushstrokes and cool colour palette of grey and blue, depict the luminous effect of shifting weather.
The same masterly technique is shown in Autumn Sky, the amazing contrast of light and shade with glistening shards of red and yellow – perhaps rocks and seaweed – on the shore.
‘To thole the winter’s sleety dribble, An cranreuch cauld!’
This line from ‘To a Mouse’ comes to mind when viewing Rain at Newhaven, such a drenching downpour in a dark night with hopefully no lost sailors out at sea due to the lighthouse guiding boats back to harbour.
The storm has passed over in Solace to depict a languid moment of peace and solitude – no wonder standing on a beach looking out into an almost natural ‘emptiness’, is so good for the soul.
Fee Dickson Reid first studied architecture before concentrating as an artist from 2009. Based in East Lothian, the subjects here range from boat yards and harbours to craggy rocks and beach scenes.
‘Sea, sky, sand is what I am drawn to paint big atmospheric pieces filled with light and often a sense of peace. The sea is a huge part of my life and my work. I live by it, I swim in it no matter what the season, and I paint it. It’s very much my muse’.
Fee Dickson Reid
Dramatic views from around North Berwick are prominent such as Lamb from West Bay – a simple line drawing yet with such detail, the curved sweep of the shoreline stretches out to the rocky islet on the horizon.
Here too is the bird sanctuary of the Bass Rock, its iconic pudding shape looming out of the night sky, so finely delineated as monochrome sketch. Her artistic technique is based on a blend of charcoal, ink, gesso, water and white pencil on Fabriano paper to create tone and texture.
Colour is also vanquished in Black and White Beach to produce such an evocative mood through lapping waves and flurry of clouds with such a sense of movement.
As we enjoy the golden days of Autumn, the ‘Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,’ here’s a sunny splatter of seasonal colour in A Garden of Birch, in fruity shades of tangerine, orange, lime green and plum around this rural scene.
This creative collaboration is a masterly showcase of how the Scottish land and seashore can be conveyed with such a variety of expression from natural representation to the abstract purity of colour and light.
Dundas Street Gallery
6 Dundas Street, Edinburgh EH3 6HZ
27 October to 1st November
Open daily 10am – 6pm. Monday 1st 10am – 4pm.