“Rich in love” – Wild, By Cheryl Strayed.

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“Fuck you!”

Don’t stop reading! Not just yet. I promise I’m not swearing just for the sake of being rude. Now, imagine. The sun, shining brightly. Hot on your skin. The wind, brushing your cheeks softly. The mountains around you, majestic. Nothing but nature. It is beautiful. It makes you feel a bit dizzy. You forget how to breathe.

Paradise.

But wait. Your feet hurt. Your legs hurt. Your back hurts. You’ve been walking for so long to get there. Your shoes are like a furnace of hell. Your lungs are about to explode. You’re thirsty. So thirsty. But you can’t drink too much. You have to spare the water for later. And the food. At this point, any kind of decent food is but a fading memory. Let’s not even talk about hygiene. You reek. And you know it.

And you’ve been carrying so many things. Your backpack is too big for you. You can barely get up with it, let alone walk. When was the last time you used binoculars anyway? But that’s not the hardest thing you have to carry. The hardest thing is your mind. Memories are circling into your brain and there is just no way you can get them out. You’re all alone. With your mistakes. Your regrets. Pictures of your loved ones dancing in front of your eyes, so far away. And it’s all been building up inside you for hours, days, months. Maybe even years. Until it’s become this knot, right under your diaphragm. This knot that stops your breath sometimes, without a warning. It could be in the supermarket, watching a family buy a cake. Or at work because someone is laughing.

But now, at the top of this mountain, the knot is in your throat. And it won’t get out. You’re in pain, and this gorgeous, powerful nature is crushing you. You stop. You give up for just a second. Or maybe for the day. You look around. You love what you see as much as you hate it. You have to sit down. Your feet are killing you. You take off your shoes only to realize your feet are bleeding.

And one of your shoes falls. It falls, and falls, and falls away. Lost. You’re stunned. Not quite believing that it actually happened. How stupid would that be? But it did. And the knot finally breaks in your throat. You SCREAM!!!

This isn’t exactly how Wild begins. But it’s close enough to get you in the mood.

Have you ever been hiking? I have. Lots of times, with my family. I like to walk for hours, barely saying a word. Sometimes my head is empty, just taking in the magnificence of nature, sometimes it’s buzzing with stories and possibilities. With just enough of my family’s presence to make me feel at home.

Every once in a while, my grandfather will stop us and point towards the horizon.

“Look!” He’ll say, his hawk eyes surely having spotted a deer, a fox, an eagle, or maybe even a marmot.

“Where? I can’t see!!!”

“Shhh! You’ll make it run away!”

My little brother would usually complain for about five seconds before being shushed by one of the grown-ups. It’s our well known routine. It’s always made me smile.

Wild was both so close to what I’ve experienced and so far away that it kept me fascinated for the entire duration of the movie.

Starting with Cheryl Strayed’s (Reese Witherspoon) backpack. Twice as big as she is. Three times heavier. A ridiculous aberration, leading to a lot of writhing to simply manage to lift it. Yet familiar. The result of a lot of “What ifs”. And in the back of my mind, always, the fond voice of my grandfather, half exasperated, half amused, talking to my grandmother:

“What are you doing? … No, the only scenario where we’d need that much food would be during the apocalypse… Well I’m the one carrying the bag and I say we leave the tabbouleh here… Yes I know you made it yourself but we’ll have it tonight.”

It’s a human thing to pack too much when leaving for some unknown adventure. Things that we never use suddenly appear as essential despite, or because of, the 0.01 percent chance that we may need them.

Then there’s the heroin’s relation to her mother. She says it herself: “My mother was the love of my life”. Losing her broke her like nothing else did. And her distress hit me like a high speed train. Would I ever survive if my mother were to die so suddenly? Would I lose my sanity? It would break me. And once I’ve established that, how can I possibly judge Cheryl Strayed for all the mistakes she’s made because of this loss?

Because this is what this movie is really about: how a young, smart, gentle woman spiraled out of control after her mother passed away. And how she decided to say stop, and the only way she found to get her life back, somehow, was to leave, far away, alone, for an impossible journey. Would I have the courage to do that? I don’t know.

If I did though, I would probably talk to myself life she does, swear a lot, like she does, tell myself I can give up every two seconds, like she does. Cry and smile, be afraid and angry and happy…

I wish I could say I’d manage to turn my life around in the end, like she did, but that would be incredibly presumptuous, and maybe even insulting to the incredible strength it took her to do so.

More than just a movie about some girl doing a trek, Wild takes you on a journey full of love, of happiness and of despair, drowning you into some of the worst aspects of life, where there’s sex and drugs, but no rock n’ roll. All of it wrapped into the most beautiful landscapes you could possibly imagine.

I have tried to give you a glimpse of how I felt upon watching this movie. There is a lot more I could say, but where would be the fun for you. I suggest you book two hours of your time and let yourself be swept away by this true masterpiece.

And remember: “Fear begets fear. Power begets power.” (Cheryl Strayed)

Urinetown, the musical.

A bad title, that could kill a show pretty good…

But not Urinetown. I have seen the show twice, and twice I got out of the theatre with an indelible smile on my face. Not that the theme itself is particularly happy.

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Water shortage. People having to save every single penny for the right to pee. And a handful of disgustingly rich men and women exploiting the rest of the world. Not exactly a world anyone would want to live in. Quite far from the american dream. And yet the end always comes too quickly.

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It starts with the narrator, Officer Lockstock (Jonathan Slinger) and Little Sally (Karis Jack). The two of them create a great connexion with the audience, with a magnetism and a humor that immediately draws everyone’s attention. Welcome to Urinetown, The Musical!

“It’s kind of a mythical place, you understand. A bad place. A place you won’t see until Act Two.”

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And we are dragged into the world of Bobby Strong and Hope Cladwell. Helplessly in love, ready to change the world. Ready to listen to their hearts. dancing and singing all along. And these songs… The lyrics themselves will crack you up. But if that’s not enough, rest assured the candid interpretation, as if some disney fairy tail had just turned incredibly wrong, and all the small hilarious details will. The range of expressions expressed by the actors are to die for. The entire show is a brilliant caricature, an anti-musical definitely worth saving your pennies for.

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Warning : You will be unable to refrain from singing things like “Don’t be the bunny” for a couple of days after seeing the show. I recommend that you stay away from work and important people until the side effects wear off a bit.

  Alixia Buffiere.

Shakespeare In Love at the Noël Coward Theatre

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« Shall I compare… Something, something, something. »

The famous Sonnet 18 is far from written when the play begins, and Shakespeare isn’t quite at his best, to put it mildly. It doesn’t take 10 seconds for the audience to burst out laughing.

The best word I can find to describe Lee Hall’s adaptation is « invigorating ». Forget about work, the lack of sleep, or anything that might be weighing on you ; it will all be chased away by the incredible energy of the cast, the magnificence of the costumes, and the talent of the musicians.

The love between Will Shakespeare and Viola de Lesseps is sweet, strong, a bit naive and profoundly amusing. Sure to remind some of us of our first brave, shy and a bit ridiculous approaches with a delighting cheerfulness.

The friendship between Shakespeare and Marlowe, the way Will both envies Kit’s success and needs his help explores the legend of these two renowned poets and their mysterious histories. The play takes us in a world of men, ruled by a Queen. Where a woman has the right to marry, and nothing else. Where actors and poets are nothing but a business product. History and reality closely entangled with a good dose of humor.

As for the cast himself, I wouldn’t know where to start. With Tom Bateman’s ease to dance through Shakespeare’s emotions ? With Lucy Briggs-Owen’s (Viola) laugh and passion ? With David Oakes’ (Marlowe) witty lines and amused grin who made someone in the audience screaming « What ?! » at the announcement of his death (having everybody laughing for 5 good minutes in the middle of a tragic scene)? Or perhaps with Colin Ryan’s constant hilarious presence, or Doug Rao’s great arrogance as Ned Alleyn.
Or I could tell you about the riddicule Mr Henslowe played by the great Paul Chahidi. Or about the Queen, or the nurse, or Alistair Petrie, or…

Capture d’écran 2014-11-29 à 14.54.07Well, I could probably go on like that for quite some time. Here’s what you really need to know about Shakespeare In Love the play : it’s a brilliant comedy, with love, sword fighting, Shakespeare, Marlowe and, most importantly, a bit with a dog…

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Alixia Buffiere.

Great Britain at the National Theatre

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“We think so you don’t have to”

           It’s almost hard to see it as a play and not as our dayly life. The stage set itself could hardly be more modern, buzzing with breaking news. The focus is drawn to Paige Britain’s harsh and dark humor from the very beginning. Laughters raise throughout the entire play, making you feel as light as a feather, giggling at the Ô so british sarcasm of the characters, or at their ridiculous behavior.

           However, you might soon find yourself blushing as Britain’s tabloïd exposes your demand for scandal. « We go out and destroy other people’s lives on your behalf » as they put it. Here, the truth doesn’t mater anymore. The Story, with a capital « S » does. And suddenly the Queen is… Well, spoilers. I’ll let you find that out. 

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           Corruption is the mighty spider that made it’s web into every layer of the british system. Journalists conspire with politicians, policemen find themselves breaking the law to get their own moment of glory. And internet soon gets the best out of the absurd.

            The cast plays brilliantly, the satire is well written and Billie Piper makes a devilishly brilliant News Editor who would almost make you forget about the lives she’s ripping apart. Almost…

            While the play might be a bit long, three hours isn’t nothing after all, it is definitely a great way to enjoy your Saturday, or any other evening, for that matter. You have until August the 23rd!

Lots of love! Xx

Alixia Buffiere.

Watching Chef at Everyman Cinema.

“I get to touch people’s life with what I do. And I love it.”

When you walk into @Everymancinema in Belsize Park, you walk into a delicious cocktail of charm, elegance, and cosiness.You pick a drink (a very nice glass of Merlot for me, but that’s just personal taste) and you sit down in one of the marvelous armchairs of the room, with pillows everywhere, making you feel like you’re at home, curled up on your couch. And if you add a great movie, it just becomes heaven on Earth. As it turned out, #Chef is more than great. It’s funny, beautiful, and it fills you with joy and tenderness. It also makes you want to run to the nearest restaurant and eat everything on the menu.

As @Jon_Favreau’s character evolves, he takes us through his journey across the United States, painting the portrait of this touching Chef de cuisine with humor and genius. Every line is a blast, and every meal makes you hungrier and hungrier. From Miami to New Orleans, there isn’t one second where you want to leave “El Jefe”‘s truck behind. You just sit back, and enjoy the complicity of the characters. Their joys, and their sorrows.

It feels like real life. This extra-busy/stressed dad always at work, recently divorced, who barely knows his son anymore, and who learns at his expense how Twitter and the social networks can be just as much a curse as a blessing. The whole story sets in reality. In this world where the slightest thing can go viral. A world where internet rules us and the way we experience life. A world that our kids learn to master sooner and sooner. And it’s indeed “El Jefe”‘s son, played by the young @EmjayAnthony (And yes, this little guy managed to get my eyes a bit wet. Just a tiny bit. Hum… Congratulations kido), who saves the day.

All in all, #Chef is the movie that will brighten your day, remind you of what love really is and make you laugh out loud (no matter how much you might be trying to refrain yourself). It fully deserves all the success that it’s already been getting. Brilliantly played and orchestrated by the entire team. Not only do I recommend you to go see it, but I’m already thinking of going back to watch it again.

Lots of love ! Xx

Alixia Buffiere.

Coriolanus at the Donmar Warehouse

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First things first, I must say that the Donmar Warehouse is probably one of my favorite places in London. With only 250 seats, it creates an intimacy that I haven’t been able to find in any other theatre. You’re not only seeing the play, you become a part of it. And Coriolanus is no exception. Josie Rourke exploits the space brilliantly, with simple chairs and a ladder. The sound effects resonate against the close walls, echoing in your chest, making your heart beat faster.

We first meet with the young Martius. Painting on the ground and playing to be a soldier. The night I was in he was played by the young and adorable Thomas Harrison. I must take a few seconds of your time to congratulate him and wish him all the luck in the world for whatever the future might have for him.

Then we meet the citizens and their rage. Rochenda Sandall gives an impressively aggressive performance, ax in hand, as she threatens the noble Menenius. Mark Gatiss (Menenius) is utterly funny as he relates his story about the belly, and the chemistry between him and Rochanda Sandall works perfectly on stage.

The steady pace keeps us breathless and fascinated. Tom Hiddleston makes his entrance, as a true warrior, a lethal General. There is nothing polite or courteous about him anymore as he fully becomes the noble Caius Martius, ready for the war against the Volscians. A true warrior indeed, supported by his mother and missed by his wife. Deborah Findlay being monumental as Volumnia. Fierce and noble. In front her, Marius is nothing but a little boy again. From this, it results some highly amusing scenes, as when the newly called Coriolanus answers his mother “Well I will do it!” as if he’d been asked to tidy up his room for the third time.
Sure enough, Mrs Findlay’s Volumnia is a bit crazy. As the tribunes (Helen Schlesinger & Elliot Levey) would put it : “They say she’s mad”. But she’s also a loving mother, which makes her both funny and respectable. In comparison, Virgilia, played by Birgitte Hjort Sørensen, is a living personification of pain, fear and sorrow. I cannot even begin to imagine how hard it must be to be in such a state for almost three hours, sometimes twice a day. The young actress also manages to give Virgilia some rather impressive excesses of strength, showing us all the extend of her talent.
As the story progresses, blood flourishes everywhere. The fight between Coriolanus and Titus Aufidius still resonates in my ears, so close. If i shut my eyes, i can still see the wounds on Tom Hiddleston’s arm and shoulder; looking so real thanks to the makeup team. Hiddleston gives us an outstanding performance. And the chemistry between him and Hadley Fraser (Aufidius) is a true revelation.

The scene of the shower on stage is incredibly excruciating to watch as Martius’s whole body shakes painfully. His disdain towards the people and later towards the very people who supported him is fully expressed in his furious eyes. Eyes which will even release some heartbreaking tears as Deborah Findlay falls to her knees to implore his grace. The tragedy is then at its highest. There is no more humor in Mark Gatiss’s eyes as Menenius is dismissed on a terse “Away”. All is lost in tears as Cominius, interpreted by Peter de Jersey, falls to the ground, shot down by his sorrow.

The play ends the way it started : with a breathless audience. The standing ovation is immediate as the cast stands on stage, smiling. They were all, without any exception, astonishing. We came in with some expectations, and came out with stars in our eyes. In the end, that’s all there is to say…

Alixia Buffière.

Henry V at the Noël Coward Theatre

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Before we even discuss of the play, I must write about the theatre itself. From the outside, the white columns and the bright lights attract the eyes like a butterfly to an enchanted flower. People are stopping in the middle of the street just to look at it. Intrigued. As you’re presenting your ticket to the employe at the entrance, you find yourself already smiling.

Inside, the magic continues. Everything looks positively ancient. The staff is lovely, smiling, and makes you feel immediately at home. The cold outside is quickly forgotten, lost in the warm red, enveloping you like the most comfortable blanket. You’re not in a theatre, you are in a palace.

And soon, you realise that all this has become a part of the play’s soul itself. Brace yourself, you’re about to meet the King. Henry V.

Ashley Zhangazha is the first to appear on the the old wooden stage… Dressed up like a regular bloke from the XXIst century. Jeans, t-shirt and backpack. Making your brain go like “What’s going on??”. He is, I must say, the perfect modern touch of the play, contrasting so greatly with everything else that he ends up being, in fact, essential.

And then of course, Henry V, played by the well known Jude Law, makes his entrance. Sitting on his throne, discussing England’s business. He is soon interrupted by the french herald Montjoy, brilliantly played by Prasanna Puwanarajah, bringing with him the Dauphin’s insults. At this moment, we get the first glimpse of the conflicted personality of this Henry V. As he’s obviously sincerely trying his best, and succeeding, to keep a straight face, we can already feel his rage boiling underneath his skin, running through his blood.

And of course, I can hardly write about Montjoy and Henry V without mentioning Exeter, played by the excellent James Laurenson. The king’s uncle, and his messenger, always so calm and sarcastic in comparison to his noble nephew, is definitely one of my favorite characters, even though not the main one.

But then there’s also Kate. The gorgeous, prude and naive young princess of France, played by Jessie Buckley, always closely followed by Noma Dumezweni. I must admit, as a french girl, I couldn’t wait to see these two. And I must say, they exceeded all my expectations. It is not often that i get to laugh the way I did thanks to them. I was amazed by their almost flawless french accent, and delighted by their caricature (but is it really?) of what us “frenchies” sound like when we try to speak english. Thus, they showed us, with Jude Law, the most imperfect yet brilliant way to court I had ever seen.

I also have to say that there could be no Henry V without the outrageous Pistol, played by Ron Cook, and his friends Bardolf (Jason Baughan) and Nym, played by Norman Bowman. Pistol’s costume is rather… Interesting. But I won’t say more about it, hoping that you will get to see it yourself. You should also know that Norman Bowman also plays Williams, the soldier who finds himself into a rather difficult position after defying the king himself to a duel without knowing who he’s talking to. And, to put it simply, it’s a blast to see him and Jude Law on stage together.

Michael Grandage once more offers us an exceptional moment out of time with the help of the great James Bierman and the most wonderful cast one could ever dream of. This is the play that almost made me forget my own nationality, because that’s how great it was. Enjoy!

Alixia Buffière.

P.S : On a more personal note, I want to thank (again) James Laurenson, James Bierman, and Norman Bowman for being so incredibly nice (and talented). Yes, the world deserves to know. Cheers!!