Friday, 28 February 2014

'...Let Us Sit Upon The Ground...'


Well, it's not been a year yet since my last post, which is an achievement!  I really have been intending to write shorter posts more frequently, rather than waiting for long periods and writing veritable essays, so hopefully from now on I can make this happen.

The most important thing going on at the moment is taking time out and considering a career change - there's so much information out there, I'm feeling quite bewildered at the moment.  There are some options that I'm thinking about, so watch this space...

'Richard II' was absolutely brilliant, as I knew it would be - I still can't believe I was lucky enough to be able to see it three times in total.  I loved going back to Stratford-Upon-Avon so much - I can't believe it had been five years since I was last there to see 'Hamlet', but I will be making every effort to try and go back there a lot more from now on.  This is going to sound strange, but every time I'm there, I feel really at peace, and I can't explain why - I first went there over the August bank holiday weekend, and then again in October and November, and we were really lucky with the weather!

David was completely mesmerising - there'd been so much fuss made in the press beforehand over his hair extensions, which I thought was completely unnecessary - when you saw the full costume, they absolutely made sense in terms of the character and the portrayal he was aiming for, and as the months passed, it got to the stage where I almost couldn't imagine him without them.  I hadn't seen 'The Hollow Crown' and Ben Whishaw's version beforehand, and I'm very glad, as for me, David's performance should be the definitive one.  He managed to make an initially unsympathetic character very real and frail and human - as the play progresses and his power is gradually stripped away, he becomes more and more vulnerable, and by the time you come to the final scene in the prison, your heart really goes out to him.  

'I hath wasted time, and now doth time waste me...' [Act V Scene V]

My favourite scene is probably Act III Scene II, when Richard realises the enormity of his actions and the consequences that now follow - it shows off David's incredible emotional range perfectly.

'...For God's sake, let us sit upon the ground,
And tell sad stories of the death of kings...' [Act III Scene II]

After seeing the play for the first time, I was lucky enough to be able to tell David at the stage door how amazing he was, and for him to sign my programme - he thanked me and thanked me for coming, which meant so much to me.  After seeing it again in November, I was so lucky to be able to have my photo taken with him - I was so nervous and could barely get the words out to ask him, but he said, 'Sure, if you can get near enough!'  There were quite a few people in front of me, and I didn't think he'd have time to wait for them to move over.  I would have completely understood if he'd had to go, but he kept looking across at me whilst he was signing to show that he hadn't forgotten - he really is the kindest and loveliest man in the world!

With huge thanks again to the fabulous Jill Coleman for being the official photographer, this is the result - I've been over the moon ever since!

The play got better and better every time I saw it, and I found myself being able to pick up on the nuances and changes each time.  It was so exciting to see it at the Barbican - I'd grown up hearing about it and wanted to see a play there for years, although it was a place nothing like I'd expected.  I love going to London, too - that's another place I'd like to visit more often in the future.  As ever, thanks again to Katherine for being such a great companion and tour guide!

Well, now it's time to set off on my next adventure, and I promise that I really won't take quite so long to write again (famous last words)...!

See you soon,


Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Sorry It's Been So Long...

Hello everyone!

This is terrible - can it really be nearly eighteen months since I last posted?!

The only excuse I can offer is that unfortunately real life has been getting in the way rather a lot recently, although I realise that I'm probably not the only person to say that...

The funny thing is, looking back at all the things I hoped would happen in 2012, I'm pleased to say that most of them actually happened!  Not sure if it'll work again, but here goes...

In 2013, I hope to: go to the theatre and cinema more often; visit London again; see David on stage again; have a holiday by the sea; and see David at another convention.

Of course, this is a bit of a cheat, as I've already managed to get tickets to see David in 'Richard II' at both the RSC and the Barbican (although technically that's not until 2014) - as for another convention, I'll have to wait and see, although I think he might be a bit busy this year..

As for 2012, the highlights by a long way were going to London to see the pilot run-through for the 'Comedy World Cup' in September, and then meeting David again at 'Midnight' in December - I've been meaning to write up proper detailed accounts of these for ages, and I promise I'll do it soon, but I'm afraid they'll have to wait for another day.

I can say that meeting David again was absolutely amazing - in my wildest dreams, I never even thought that I'd be lucky enough to meet him once, but twice!  And I even managed to pluck up the courage to shake his hand, too!

It looks like 2013 is going to be a David-filled year - we've already had the brilliant 'Spies Of Warsaw', we're halfway-through the gripping 'Broadchurch', then it's 'The Politician's Husband' and then back to the stage for 'Richard II' - not to mention the fantastic news that the Doctor will be back for the 50th anniversary in November - I can't wait!!

Anyway, instead of the daft excuses, I really am going to make sure it's not another year or more before I write again - I mean it this time!



Sunday, 1 January 2012

Happy New Year!

Hello everyone!

I know I promised I'd post more often, but real life has gotten in the way recently...

I just wanted to wish you all a very Happy New Year - as you know, 2011 was absolutely amazing, thanks in no small part to a certain tall, skinny Scottish bloke - so here's to 2012!

I always make a point of never making any New Year's resolutions, but I'm hoping to go to the theatre and cinema more often this year - apart from 'Much Ado', my other theatrical highlight of 2011 was seeing a production of 'Anthony & Cleopatra' by the Creation Theatre Company on the roof of the Said Business School in Oxford, which was absolutely brilliant! It was a real challenge to see a Shakespeare play I knew nothing about, and like 'Much Ado', it had been transferred to a more modern setting, which worked really well!

I'm also hoping to visit London again - I so enjoyed being there for 'Much Ado', and what with the build-up to the Olympics starting now, it's a really exciting time for our capital!

Obviously I would love to see David in another play sometime soon, and it would be fantastic if he appeared at another convention - I'm looking forward to hearing what new projects he has coming up this year.

And as it's a new year, here's a new David photo (from 'Love Life'):

Anyway, again I promise not to leave it quite so long before my next update - in the meantime, I hope you're all well and happy and had a lovely Christmas and New Year!



Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Dreams Really CAN Come True - Never Stop Believing!

Hello everyone

I'm SO sorry it's been so long since my last update - what can I say, in the words of John Lennon, 'life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans'.  Reading my last post again, I was blissfully unaware of what was going to happen - I could never have predicted it in a million years, but it just goes to show that you must NEVER stop believing, and don't take any notice of anyone who tells you not to follow your dreams, because you never know what's coming next...!

I'd better do this in chronological order, so I'll start with London and 'Much Ado'.  The big day finally dawned, and I was off into Oxford at the crack of sparrows to pick up the coach.  That all went according to plan, and I was in London by 10:30.  I hadn't been there for years, and certainly never on my own before.  I've always really liked London - now I've experienced the coach journey, I'm hoping to go more often.

I met Katherine at 10:30, and she'd planned a whole day of sight-seeing before the performance started at 14:30, so I had a fantastic time seeing all the places I either hadn't seen for years or not at all.  I would have loved to have gone on the London Eye too, but sadly we didn't have time during this trip.  I'm not sure if I have a favourite landmark, but I've always liked Big Ben and Trafalgar Square.

After lunch (not that I was able to eat very much), it was finally time to head over to Wyndham's.  The nerves had really kicked in by this point, but I felt better when we met up with my lovely tweeps, Jill, Wend, Lisa, Wendy and Linda outside.  When we finally got to our seats, we couldn't believe how close we were - row D might as well have been the front row!

And as for the play, well, what can I say?!  It was absolutely brilliant!  I held my breath waiting for David to make his entrance, and then we heard the golf buggy horn and he came careering onto the stage - I think everyone was cheering!  There had been some disquiet in the press about the change of setting to 1980s Gibraltar, but I thought it worked really well.  I particularly liked the used of 80s music - all the songs on the soundtrack sounded slightly similar to well-known songs of the time, the best one of course being 'Sigh No More' (especially the version that David and Catherine sing).  David's performance was incredible, as I knew he would be - the gulling scene was by far my favourite - I've never heard an audience laugh so much, and I'll never forget the sight of him in that Superman t-shirt, denim shorts, and covered in white paint, as long as I live!  Catherine was hilarious, but my only criticism would be that she didn't really convey the inner sadness of Beatrice's character - like Chandler in 'Friends', she used her quick wit to keep people at a distance, because she had no family of her own.  I was quite surprised that the most serious scenes were all played for laughs, in particular where Don Pedro asks Beatrice if she will accept him as a husband - I didn't agree with it being played for laughs, but then it all depends on the director's vision for the production.

After three curtain calls (and every single one getting a standing ovation), we dashed outside as fast as we could to the stage door.  As I'd expected, the crowd was at least eight deep by the time we got there, so there was no chance of getting near enough to speak to David.  I managed to get some photos by just putting my camera arm in the air and pressing the shutter repeatedly, but none of them are really good enough to post here.  It was nice to hear David chatting with the people who were near enough, though - everyone was saying how much they'd enjoyed the play, and he was thanking them and being his usual sweet, polite self.

With thanks to Katherine, here's a photo of me and some of my Twitter ladies:

(L-R: me, Wend, Lisa, Wendy C, Jill, Linda)
Even though I wasn't expecting to be able to speak to David, I couldn't help feeling deflated as I went home.  Little did I know what was going to happen next...

02 September - David was doing another co-hosting slot with Christian O'Connell on his Absolute Radio Breakfast Show, and luckily I was on a fortnight's holiday, so I could listen to the whole show for a change!  One of the OC's regular features is the Concierge Service, where listeners can ask to be phoned at a certain time and reminded to do something important.  This time, he announced that David would be doing it, so I decided to have a go, never expecting in a million years that anything would come of it.  Initially I asked if he'd wish me a happy birthday for the 4th, but since I was going to one of my semi-regular osteopath appointments that morning, I asked if he'd remind me to set off in time.  I asked for him to call me at 08:25, and waited very nervously as the time drew nearer...

When it got to 08:40, I was sure that they'd decided to pick someone else, but suddenly the OC said that they were about to call someone that they should have called fifteen minutes earlier.  I was still convinced that it couldn't possibly be me - and then, the phone began to ring...

I was having such terrible palpitations by this point, it was all I could to do switch off my radio and pick up the phone - and then, I heard that sweet Scottish voice that I've listened to for so many years say, 'Hello, is that Zoe Brown...?'

I won't write out a transcript, but if anyone does want to hear it, the link is here:

To cut a long story short, I just about managed to hold it together long enough to have a coherent conversation with him, and it was just wonderful - he was so lovely and kind, and was genuinely concerned that I had to see an osteopath in the first place, bless him!  I don't think I've ever heard my name mentioned so many times in the space of a few minutes, either - I'd always wondered what my name would sound like if he said it, and at last I found out!  

It really was the best birthday present I've ever had - they only called three people during the show (including Wendy C!), and they must have had thousands of requests - I still can't believe they picked me, even now!

Of course, the best was still to come - but I had no idea at the time...

The next day, I went to see 'Fright Night' - I'd told David that I was going, and I was determined to see it as many times as I could during my holiday, as I wanted to try and help bump up the takings as much as I could.  Considering the disappointing reviews it had received, I thought it was a really good film - I admit that I probably wouldn't have seen it if it hadn't been for David, as I'm not really a horror fan, but it was more comedic than I was expecting.  I thought Anton Yelchin and Christopher Mintz-Plasse were really good, but I did keep looking at my watch, waiting for Peter Vincent to arrive.  When he did, he certainly didn't disappoint...

I know I'm biased, but David really was the best character in the entire movie, and worth the price of admission alone - Peter Vincent was a brilliant character, who could have easily become a caricature, but thanks to David's amazing acting skill, we were able to see that he was a tortured soul with a tragic past, who found redemption by helping Charley Brewster to defeat Jerry, the vampire-next-door.  I'm still hoping that there could one day be a sequel, or even a prequel, as Peter's backstory deserves to be explored further.
One thing I will get on my soapbox about - if I had £1 for every time I read a review saying that David was trying to be like Russell Brand, I would have been a millionaire by now!  He was NOTHING like him at all - I agree, he did have a passing resemblance to him in the stage costume, but he only wore it for about five minutes in total, and he certainly didn't act like him or sound like him!  I think Russell seems to have cornered the market in men who have long dark hair, beards, and wear very tight trousers...

Anyway, after the phone call, I obviously still hoped that one day I could meet David in person, but I never thought it would happen - how wrong I was...
It was announced that David would be making his first convention appearance at the Entertainment Media Show (EMS) at Earls Court in London on 02 October - as it was a Sunday, I wasn't sure I could get there and back when I had to go to work the next day, but when Jill offered to give me a lift from Oxford (thank you thank you thank you again!), I knew I had to go, in case I never got the chance again, so I booked my photo shoot and decided to queue for an autograph on the day.

Again, I had serious palpitations for the whole day beforehand - on the Sunday, I woke up at 04:30 and couldn't get back to sleep!  I was in Oxford at 08:00 and Jill and Gail picked me up at 09:00 - we were at Earls Court just after 10:00.  Even though I'd seen David in person in two plays already, I'd never seen him close-up before, and when we first saw him walk past us, I thought I was going to keel over on the spot - again, I know I'm biased, and I can't help gushing, but he really is so beautiful!  I know people don't tend to describe men as being beautiful, but it's the only word that ever comes to my mind whenever I see him, because he just is - both inside and out.  I really don't know how else to describe it, but he seemed to have a sparkle or an aura that shone all around him - of course he's a human being just like the rest of us, but he really does have something extra-special that I've never noticed with anyone else before.

At last, the time came for my photo - I've always thought the phrase 'my knees turned to jelly' was a cliche, but I actually experienced it for myself twice that day.  I walked over to stand next to him, and he looked down and beamed at me and said 'Hello'!  I just about managed to say 'Hello David', then he put his arm around me - I put mine around his waist (I can still remember the feel of his silk shirt and the warmth of his back), the photographer said 'Smile!', and it was all over.  I made sure I thanked him before I walked away - I never usually look that good in photos, but I have to say, the result was so much better than I was expecting:
I was already having one of the best days of my life - it was great to watch everyone's reactions once they'd met him, and I really enjoyed seeing all the people who'd come in costume, particularly Matt Holden as Benedick from 'Much Ado' - David was very impressed!

(L-R: Jill, Matt, me)

And then it was time for my autograph - we weren't allowed to start a conversation with David during the photos, as they had so many to get through, but we could talk to him whilst he was signing.  All I wanted to do was to thank him again for phoning me, even though I really didn't think he'd remember me - he's such a busy man, and he meets so many people, I really wasn't expecting it.  You could take along anything (within reason) that you wanted him to sign, or choose one of the supplied photos, so I decided to take along my copy of 'Much Ado'.

It was my turn - I walked over and one of the crew members passed him my book (they'd asked if I wanted it signed on the front cover or inside, but I was too busy rehearsing what I was going to say - eventually I managed to say that I'd like it signed on the cover).  David looked up, smiled, and said 'Hello!' again - I said 'hello' back, and then:

'David, I don't know if you remember me, but you phoned me when you were on Absolute Radio last month, and I just wanted to say thank you again.'

He'd been gazing intently at me the whole time I was speaking, so I got the full-on 'listening face', as we tweeps like to call it - he then said, 'Oh, which call were you?'.  I told him my name and as soon as I mentioned the osteopath, he immediately said 'Oh, how's your back?' again!  I was a bit bowled over by this point, so I explained that it's really my shoulder that gives me trouble - he then looked really concerned, bless him!  I thanked him again, and he said 'listen, if I were an osteopath, then I'd deserve the thanks!'  

(Incidentally, the shoulder that's been playing up is the one he's touching in the photo - and it hasn't ached at all since I saw him!  He really does have the magic touch!)

I trailed off a bit after that - he'd carried on signing for other people whilst he was talking to me, and I wish now that I'd thought of something Shakespearean to talk about as well, but in the end I said 'thank you for doing this' (I think I meant EMS, rather than signing my book), and he said 'You're welcome - nice to see you', as I left...

And that was it - without doubt one of the best days of my life so far!  I'd do it all again tomorrow if I could - I really hope that David does another convention in the not-too-distant future, and also another play - again, it's where he truly belongs!

I'm sorry that this post is so long, but the last few months have been amazing - if you'd told me last New Year that all these things were going to happen, I'd never have believed you!  In the words of Journey, 'Don't Stop Believing' - never give up on your dreams, because if it can happen to me, it can happen to anyone!

I'd like to finish by saying a big thank-you to Katherine for putting up with me at both 'Much Ado' and 'Hamlet', to Jill for being my designated driver and also for keeping me company at EMS (and Gail too), and also to all my lovely friends, both Twitter and non-Twitter, for all your support and all your kind words - it really means a lot!

I promise I won't leave it so long until I post again...



Sunday, 24 July 2011

'The best laid schemes...'

Hello everyone

Well, this is it - less than a week to ago until 'Much Ado About Nothing' (or 5 days, 17 hours and 46 minutes at the time of writing this)!  I can't believe it's come round so quickly - it was back in January that I made the mad scramble to try and get tickets, and now here we are coming up to the end of July, and the big day is nearly here...

I just wish I wasn't so nervous - I really don't know what's the matter with me!  I keep telling myself that once I actually arrive in London, I'll be OK, but I have to say, I think it's the prospect of being in the presence of my hero that's really making me go weak at the knees - I was nervous when I went to the RSC for 'Hamlet' (can't believe it was three years ago now), but I don't think I was as bad as this.

I can only think it's the proximity - I was up on the second level at the RSC, and all I can really remember is staring at the back of his head when he first appeared and thinking, 'I've watched you on TV and in the cinema, and you're here in the same room as me!  I didn't imagine you after all!'  The one thing I can still remember as clearly as if it was yesterday is when he took the curtain call - he came on last after everyone else, and the applause and cheering was deafening - I think we nearly took the roof off at one point!  And he beamed back at us with the most beautiful smile, and I thought then, 'This is it - this is where you belong - on the stage.  This is where you're at home'.

And now, on Saturday, I'm going to be only four rows away, and it's no good, I'm trembling at the prospect!  I've read so many wonderful reviews and accounts from people who've been, and at last I'm going to see what they've seen for myself.

My outfit is ready, my tickets bought and maps printed, so here goes!  My next post will be a full and detailed account, hopefully with photos... *crosses fingers*

Anyway, I thought I'd leave you with an example of what I'll be gazing at on Saturday, plus, as a special treat, David in his leather trousers from 'Fright Night', just for my lovely fellow DT ladies!

Wish me luck! :)

All the best,


Sunday, 17 July 2011

'Allow myself to introduce... myself.'

Hello everyone

Well, after much procrastinating, I've finally got round to setting up a blog of my own!  However, I've been reading such brilliant blogs by other people, I know I've got a hard act to follow - just hope this doesn't disappoint!

I suppose I should start by saying a bit about myself - I'm Zoe, I'm 31, and I live in Oxfordshire in the UK.  I have a degree in English & History, and I work in administration for a medical communications company.  I'm on both Twitter and Facebook, if anyone would like to follow!

I'm interested in lots of different things - I like to go to the cinema, although I must confess I've been meaning to go again for some time now and haven't got round to it; I love music - I'll listen to just about anything - my iPod contains everything from Muse to Lady Gaga to Queen to Bellowhead and The Darkness!  I watch far too much TV, I freely admit, but again I'm happy to try any new programmes that interest me - I especially love dramas, whether they be period or modern.

I'd love to go to the theatre more often - living out in the countryside unfortunately makes this a bit difficult, but I particularly want to see more Shakespeare on stage.  I am a self-confessed Shakespeare geek - I'll happily sit and read the plays in my spare time, and am trying to convert all those people who say that they hated studying it at school.  Once you've seen it performed, you can completely understand why he was our greatest playwright - even if you don't understand everything that he's saying, it's always possible to follow most of it, and the words run together so well, they almost have a song-like quality to me.  In my opinion, I think that every school pupil should have the opportunity to see at least one Shakespeare play performed on stage, so they can truly appreciate it.

Of course, I now have to mention someone who is very special and important to me, as everyone who knows me who is reading this will tell you, and that is David Tennant.  I hesitate to use the word 'fan', as it does unfortunately have some negative connotations, but I've been an admirer of both his work and of him as a person for quite a few years now, and I truly believe that not only is he the best British actor of his generation, but also a genuinely kind, thoughtful, generous and lovely person, as well as being very handsome (which goes without saying!).  I've been lucky enough to see him perform on stage, as Hamlet for the RSC in 2008, and am very excited to be seeing him and Catherine Tate in 'Much Ado About Nothing' in two weeks' time.  As marvellous as he is on television and film, when you see him on the stage, you can see that this is where he's happiest and most at home, and I urge anyone who has only ever seen him on screen to try and see him on stage, if you can, and then you will see and understand what an incredible talent he has.  His energy is amazing, and he interacts with the audience in a way that makes you feel as though he's speaking directly to you.  When he takes the curtain calls, he beams at you with such a beautiful smile, it's infectious, and you can't help being caught up in his happiness and smiling too.

I promise I'll try not to ramble about David too much, but I will do some 'Tennant Time' posts every so often.  I've made such lovely friends on Twitter and Facebook and also on the DT Forum, who all appreciate him as much as I do, and it's great to be able talk about him with other like-minded people.  I'd like to take this opportunity to apologise to all my friends for all the times I've rambled on about him too much - thank you for your patience!  What can I say - I've learned that in this life, everyone has something, whether it be a person, or a sports team, or a band, that is their favourite, and it would be a very boring world if we all liked the same things!

One thing I should say - I will never post anything or make any comments about David's private life here.  I know how important his privacy is to him, and I've always been very impressed that, in this age of 'celebrity', where we're told everything about everyone, whether we want to hear it or not, David has always kept his private life private, and I will respect his wishes.

Well, I think that's just about enough for the moment!  I'll try and check in whenever I can, and will of course be posting a full account of my adventures in London - hopefully with some photos too!

All the best,