Celia and I went to see the much-heralded (by other people) Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont, the other night. A load of old sentimental cobblers, and even Celia said it was a 'chick flick.' It was enjoyable, but improbable, relying almost entirely on the central performance by Joan Plowright, who does 'old' very well - possibly because she now is old. The relationship between her and the young man who takes on the role of her interim grandson isn't a difficulty, but it's always sweet and light; there's no difficulties in it. And everybody, even the nasty people, fall in love with Mrs Palfrey - though it seems she'd prefer they didn't, as she wants some privacy, and to just be herself, not someone's wife, or mother, or daughter. The young man, Rupert Friend, has the unenviable task of being nice all the time. He manages it okay, but it's not very interesting, and there are some scenes where you think: he's going to have to break out of this or go crazy!
It would be nice to go to something that required the brain to do a bit of work - not that I want to sit through something like Dogville every week - but something that isn't about just straightforward people being nice to each other. Isn't it absurd, that the most enjoyable dramas are ones in which people aren't being nice to each other? The Varsity has just presented Hecuba at the Mary Hopewell Theatre this week: by all accounts as gloomy and miserable a piece as you'd want to see. Yet I bet the 17 people who attended went home thinking they'd caught up with something that was worth their while getting out to.