Birthday with Dad

All the theatre I saw in 2016, ranked

(nb: most of this was written on the train on New Year’s Eve, so “last night” = Dec 30th.)

In 2016 I saw 41 plays (and three staged readings, which were interesting but it feels unfair to put in with the rest because they’re not supposed to be fully realised pieces of theatre). Drunk Theatre stalwart Louisa and I tried to clear out the bottle-ends in the booze cabinet before the New Year, and carried out the immense task of force-ranking all our 2016 plays with Post-It notes. (for the record if you are also looking to clear out your drinks bottles, the “Monkey Gland”, a 1920s? cocktail involving grenadine and absinthe, was surprisingly all right.)

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Birthday with Dad

Benito and Juliet: fascism and Shakespeare in Verona

Last month I did a talk about Romeo and Juliet, Verona, tourism and fascism at History Showoff, a fun night where a bunch of historians get up in a pub basement and have exactly nine minutes to share something interesting with the audience. Although I am not a proper historian, the organiser let me have a go anyway (thank you Steve!), and I think it went well. There’s a video on YouTube (and below), although I could only watch 30 seconds of it before turning it off, because I hate hearing my own voice!

Here’s the gist of it, adapted from my notes, though I realised while putting this together that I didn’t really keep track of citations, since I wasn’t thinking past the presentation (see again: not proper historian). So there are some parts in the talk that aren’t here (mostly jokes about TripAdvisor) and some parts here that aren’t in the talk (mostly because I was nervous and forgot).



Roman ruins in Aquileia, Italy

We mostly went to Aquileia for the name. It sounded interesting in our guidebook – the biggest site of extant Roman ruins in the world, a huge basilica with Christian paintings and Roman mosaics and (drink!) a UNESCO world heritage site – but for me it just sounded beautiful. The word “Aquileia” sounds like Roman matrons sitting by the river drinking wine and eating olives in elegant, cool togas and light sandals and gold bangles.

Aquileia was one of the biggest, richest cities in Ancient Rome and most of the Roman ruins you can see are the canal docks. The city is named after the river Aquilis, which sounds a bit redundant to me (did they just name their river “Water Thing”?) but does point to how important the river and water trade were.

We parked by the tourist information desk and picked up a free English-language map of the ruins. I also went to wee and – BE WARNED – discovered the loos were squat toilets. I overcame with great dignity (by creeping into the disabled accessible loo where they had a proper one).