Sydney. So big it needs more than a few days to see more than the surface, but small enough that a few days walking will take you round most of the sights.
La Soirée was described as a modern day circus carnie troupe, and is an excuse to bring together performers who each contribute short acts. Gymnasts interspersed with novelty – like the HM queen impersonator – through Miss Behave, female sword swallower and drinks stealer, and probably my highlight, Ursula Martinez and her disappearing red handkerchief. May have involved nudity.
The studio is a small venue at the opera house, but two days later I was back for a bargain ticket to The Illusionists 2.0. Another excuse to build a composite cast, and make the most of them, with card tricks from Portugal, hypnosis from the US, tricks with weapons from Belgium and card illusions from Korea. My seat was right at the back of the concert hall, which reduced the effect of some pieces despite the big(gish) screen behind the performers, but it was pretty good, with my highlight The Warrior firing an arrow through apple and wedding ring off a woman’s head.
In the evening I saw Philomena, which is beautifully acted if low octane. My feelings were finally articulated by Steve Coogan’s character some way in; “fucking Catholics” but it was just slightly too low key to make much impact. Or I’m too inured to these sorts of stories now. The film just pushes too hard to be neutral, I think, with the cynicism of the intelligent atheist left as only a match for the “ah, but what if, right, and I believe anyway so, um, yeah, god and that” of the religious. I think they wanted to suggest both Martin Sixsmith and Philomena had learned something from each other – she that religion had served her badly, he that religion allowed her to forgive those who treated her badly. But in reality there was no great lesson, so it’s left to tell the story and that’s that.
Two cooler days in Sydney scuppered lazy beach days, so I had my lazy days wandering the city, exploring the harbour and reading in the parks instead. Lovely city; turn the wrong corner and you might be in a madding crowd, but it’s not hard to escape.
Reading: Jeff Somers, The Digital Plague, Ayn Rand, Anthem “I am just so near disgrace as that those who are put in authority over me would far rather be without me than with me.”.