The next stop was Somerset House for the Byzantine exhibition.
St Mary Le Strand House
George III statue
Edmond J Safra fountain court
Long way down - they weren't kidding when they said not to sit or place stuff on the balustrade because of the sheer drop.
Jets varying their height
The Road to Byzantium was the third exhibition I visited on Tuesday not to allow photography (which explains the lack of pictures). I guess I was just unlucky.
The exhibition was in the Hermitage Rooms. Presumably this is where The State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg sends its scraps to be displayed every now and then.
Many of the rooms in the Byzantine exhibition were strange. There were slots in the windowsill from which cold air was blowing - the air-conditioning. However, in between some of the windows there were also wooden cabinets from which hot air was blowing (heaters). Maybe Somerset House is too rich already.
I was wondering why there was a red-figure hydria from 500 BC attributed to the Berlin painter. It turns out that the Berlin painter is so named for he is "best known as the decorator of an amphora now in Berlin". Uhh.
In the room with stuff from the Yuz-Oha (Oba?) Barrow, there was an interesting lekaniswes (?) (lidded bowl) and pelikes (two-handled jar) which were decorated in the red figure style, but had white daubed on them to accent some of the decoration. "one details in gilded clay relief" <- Stuff I scribbled but have no idea how to decipher now
There was an intaglio from 50 BC with Isis breastfeeding Horus. The audioguide said it was a mdoel for early Christian scenes of the Virgin and Christ-child. Oh no, demonic imitation! The exhibition also talked about how early Christians could enjoy pagan stories and appreciate the morals they had without believing in them (which explains Classical imagery on luxury items from the Byzantine era).
There was a very interesting statuette of Dionysius (2nd-3rd century AD) with a 8th-9th century inscription of Pslam 29:3 and crosses monogrammed into it. The pagan god of wine was used to store holy water!
The thesis of the exhibition was the classical motifs and naturalism did not disappear with the transition to Byzantium but survived in the luxury arts (silver and gold) till even the 12th (or 13th, I forget) century. This may be true, but the quality was much reduced, the works were uglier and crummier and most importantly more stilted and less realistic.
The audioguide said that the best works, during the medieval era, were constantly compared favourably to Pheidias. Presumably this was because the Hermitage sent them their scraps, since I'd seen a copy of Phideias' statue (THE statue) in the National Archaeological Museum, and even this was unfit to be placed in the same display cabinet as the best works in the exhibition. The Veroli casket was remarkable though.
William Gladstone statue, St Clement Dames
After this I met up with Yifan and friends, having left them after a brief goedemorgen at the Michelangelo exhibition. Unfortunately I spent almost 3 minutes on the phone with him before he decided to come and pick me, so my prepaid credit was almost totally blown.
Dinner was at Fire & Stone, a pizza restaurant with excellent and cheap pizza. For £7,95 I got a sizeable "New York" pizza with "Crispy oven roasted smoked bacon, mozzarella, Fire & Stone's tomato sauce, garlic & rosemary roast potatoes, caramelized onion jam, topped with sour cream and smoked paprika". If at all possible, it tasted even better than it sounds. There was a sneaky "optional 12.5%" service charge, but I didn't begrudge them that, since even then it was cheap.
After that, we went to watch Avenue Q.
I had to pay £1 for the cloakroom. Gah. I should've remembered I had a seat in a funky configuration, and could've dumped my bag on the space beside me. Oddly enough, there were separate cloakrooms for males and females, and the male cloakroom was past one of the ticket inspection area, so I had to show my ticket, deposit my bag and then walk across the entrance hall to get to my seat, showing my ticket again in the mean time.
- Christmas Eve is from the original Broadway cast
- They changed Gary Coleman into a guy! It's not as effective since Gary Coleman has a short stature and is supposed (I imagine) to have a high voice (confirmed by these ringtones which imitate him)
- They hid the band/orchestra behind the windows of the streets. At first I thought they used a minus-1 tape, but then they need to time the music properly to accommodate laughs
- Pollacks were changed to French ("Those French people are such assholes")
- Christmas Eve sings 'Tried to work in Chinese Restaurant' instead of 'Korean Deli'
- Instead of being embarrassed about what he did after sending Kate the e-card, Princeton nods his head vigorously with his mouth open
- Lucy headlines in Eurodisney instead of Celebration, Florida and London instead of Bangkok
- I think the Long Island Iced Tea was changed to an absinthe
- Christmas Eve's wedding outfit is something an Ah Beng would design - lots of flashing lights and colourful boxes
- They removed the line "I fucked you" from the dialogue before 'There's a fine, fine line'
- I think they're trying too hard to sound like the original Broadway cast
- It was damn hot in the theatre. I think they were trying to sell more ice cream and drinks.
- They added a song about Nicky taking his time in the toilet, played at the end of the interval
- Princeton no longer resists when Brian tries to drag him out of his apartment
- Someone said that Brits don't know what a "TA" is, yet people laughed at "or fuck my TA"
- During the Money Song they actually had people going out among the audience asking for money. I wonder if anyone gave anything. Now I know what the people listed as "Swing" do.
- The mottos of the Monstersorri school are 'In Fuzz Fidelis' and 'Magnum Cum Louder'
- Everyone applauds when Rod comes out of the closet instead of staying silent
- What one review said is correct. The conclusion ('For now') is somewhat awakward and very unsatisfying. It doesn't solve the question of 'Purpose' but just puts it off till another day. I think comedy, existentialism or best of all, existential nihilism would be more in the spirit of the show.
After the show we had some time before our bus left for Cambridge. Brazil won so this Latino looking girl in a Brazil shirt flashed twice.
"The world's not so rigid anymore" - T-mobile flext ad. Unfortunately this plan has a 18 month minimum contract. So much for flexibility.