Guest blogger Joe Alessi writes from the road as he plays Albert in the Australian tour of Brief Encounter.
Blog Five - Venus, Breakfast and The Ying and the Yang of Adelaide.
We are Kneehigh and I've got a point to prove to comrade Steph our Company Manager but more on that later.
One of the most remarkable things i have noticed about living in Australia so far is the completely different celestial hemisphere ie. when you look up at the night sky you see a completely different set of constellations that are never visible in the Northern hemisphere. In Australia you will never see the 'Plough' ('Big Dipper'), the Northern 'Pole Star', which has guided mariners for centuries, 'Canis Major' and Minor (the 'Great Bear' and 'Little Bear') 'Cassiopeia', and the vast array of other celestial landmarks familiar to European astronomers since antiquity. Instead you will see the 'Southern Cross' and many other different constellations. (I wonder if i can get a stargazing 'app' for my smartphone? I'm sure there are many..) The other evening when we were invited for drinks by the river by the CEO of State Theatre, Rob Brookman, the sun was setting and it seemed as if Nature had dragged her brush across a pallette of blues, reds, oranges and yellows to create that indefinable colour you see in that time just when the sun disappears over the horizon, i looked up and saw the planet Venus shining so brightly I thought it was a UFO, it was spectacular, like a glittering, sultry, crazy diamond. I gave her a wink and raised a glass to her. Shine on.
The second thing is about the plug hole theory; (yes, i'm going back to that again) i've done a bit of research via my good friend, Sevan Stefan who before becoming an actor studied physics at university and it is true! Stay with me on this, due to the fact that as you stand and look down past your feet towards the centre of the earth, you are in fact standing upon a colossal spherical object rotating clockwise with respect to the solar system, whereas in Europe that same sphere is rotating anti-clockwise; that is why in Australia the sun passes overhead due North at midday (rather than South as in Europe) I guess Australian estate agents advertise properties with "a lovely North-facing garden". Anyway, to return to plug holes, this reverse rotation in the Southern Hemisphere means that in perfect laboratory conditions, in a sink or basin that is perfectly circular and with water that is perfectly still to begin with, if you pull out a plug right bang in the centre of this circular basin, the water will in fact start to swirl in an anti-clockwise direction, whereas in the same perfect conditions in the Northern Hemisphere, it will swirl anticlockwise. The problem is that the effect is so subtle that a myriad of other variables, like a slight bias in the shape of the sink, a slight bias in the position of the plug hole, or a slight movement in the water to begin with will completely override the subtle rotation. OK, physics lesson over. (put that in your book, Steph Curtis!)
So last Sunday, before rehearsal, i decided to give Adelaide an opportunity to show me what it had to offer in terms of a Sunday breakfast. Having trudged around town looking for a cooked breakfast (having piously eaten muesli all week, i thought i deserved some filthy artery cloggage) I was disappointed to find everywhere resolutely closed, I decided to look on the internet and found a place in the coastal town of Glenelg, called, 'Grind It'. I hopped on a tram & twenty minutes later a very lovely waitress with a bewitching smile and a haircut reminiscent of Jean Seberg in A Bout de Souffle ushered me to a my table and I'm happy to report that it was very very good (unlike Glenelg itself.. bit of a 'resort' to put it mildly) Serious coffee, not in the least bit bitter and Eggs Benedict with a side order of hash fried potatoes. We've yet to have a bad coffee in Adelaide, Australians take their coffee very seriously, Melbourne in particular apparently has it down to a perfect science and it's indicative that we haven't seen a single Starbucks yet. The Eggs Benedict was as perfect as one could wish for: two perfectly poached eggs, the wobbly yolks a deep, dark yellow, sat atop hand cut slices of ham and Turkish bread and all generously blanketed by home made lemon Hollandaise. Afterwards i decided to have a stroll around Glenelg and its beach and i came to the conclusion that Glenelg is bloody horrible, one of our Adeladian cast members, Kate Cheel had warned us. The whole place reeks of cooking oil, kebabs and doughnuts, not that i'm averse to the odd kebab and doughnut every now and then, they have their place but this was Sunday morning and Sunday mornings, in terms of breakfast, are blessed and one should endevour to raise the bar. McDonald's, Nandos and Subway are also the order of the day here as well as pubs, bars, more pubs and more bars, I try and imagine what it must be like on a Friday and Saturday night and I'm reminded of the final line in Apocalypse Now: "The horror.. the horror." Thank God for Grind It, a veritable oasis in a sea of excrement.
Monday was our day off and after I'd paid a visit to a very fashionable opticians I'd heard about specialising in vintage frames and ordering a beautiful pair of black framed ones, the price of which caused the little finger of my left hand to twitch uncontrollably, thankfully my hand was in my pocket and the sales woman hadn't noticed, outwardly I was like James Bond ordering a Martini. Luckily I'd brought my tortoiseshell glasses so they could copy my prescription and having paid the bill, without blinking, I headed off to meet up with Annette McLaughlin for lunch. We ate at a restaurant called East Terrace Continental on the East of the city centre where the modern financial buildings and shopping malls give way to parks and Victorian architecture. After lunch (steak burger for me, scrambled eggs, smoked salmon & asparagus on toast for Nettsy) we wandered around the area, now if Glenelg was Adelaide's Ying then this part of town was definitely it's Yang: colonial architecture, botanical gardens, huge Victorian terraces, museums, university and parks, lots of little parks, beautifully maintained and manicured, we strolled around these parks for most of the afternoon reminiscing about our show, how long we'd been involved with it and the various lovely people who've dipped in and out along the way and it's been some way and I think Nettsy and me have a fair few shows under our belt having seen much of the UK with it, San Francisco, Brooklyn, Minneapolis, Broadway and now Australia. Not so much of a Brief Encounter for us.
First preview tomorrow, Adelaide, you are in for a treat.
Love, light, peace and respect