May. 2nd, 2017

wildeabandon: Comedy tragedy masks (drama)
I spend much of the weekend in Manchester with the delightful Nathan. On Friday evening we went for Japanese food at Shoryu, one of the better chains, and then a drink at a bar called The Alchemist. It was rather loud, but I suspect that’s hard to avoid on a Friday night, and how much it bothered me is just a sign that I’m getting old. They did have a decent range of non/low-alcohol cocktails though - I had a “mini-Negroni”, which came fizzing and bubbling, and tasted good as well as being theatrically fun. I’m not the greatest fan of the classic Negroni, as I like my drinks bitter, but not that bitter, but as this version was obviously restricted by the very low alcohol requirement to only having a hint of Campari, it managed to have all the interesting notes without too much of the mouth puckering aftertaste.

On Saturday we had a lovely breakfast - the black pudding and to a lesser extent the other pig products weren’t as good as we get at home, but there were pancakes and poached eggs which we don’t usually get, so it roughly balanced out. We went to the Museum of Science and Industry, where we got to ride on a replica of the first ever passenger steam train, which was rather jolly. There was a lot of the museum that we didn’t have time for, so it’s definitely one for a revisit.

We then went to The French, for Nathan’s first ever tasting menu, which he charmingly described as ‘like a culinary theme park for grown-ups’. Tasting menus, introducing people to new experiences, and Nathan are three of my favourite things, so I was pretty much bound to enjoy myself, but it was also a rather good example of the genre. My favourite course was the cod, which was cooked sous vide to absolute perfection, and served with a rich brown butter and shrimp sauce, with plenty of lemon cutting through, and thick but tender asparagus chargrilled and then unfussily left well alone. Honourable mention also goes to the beer bread and whipped beef fat butter, which managed to serve the function of both butter and marmite in one.

In the evening we met up with Nathan’s new partner, who seemed extremely charming and friendly and interesting, and most importantly, doesn’t object to me making out with his boyfriend. The three of us went for a light dinner, and then to see “Wonderland! The Musical”, as we’re all fans of Alice in Wonderland adaptations. But maybe not this one. There were a handful of decent songs by minor characters, and a fantastic costume for the Mad Hatter, but that’s about all there was to recommend it. The majority of the music was derivative and badly sung, and the sound tech had the levels all wrong so you couldn’t hear the lyrics. The story was saccharine and obvious, and they introduced a completely unnecessary romantic subplot. The leads were utterly unlikable as written, and poorly acted to boot. If you want an interesting musical version of Alice, then I’d instead hope for a revival of Damon Albarn’s wonder.land.

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Sebastian

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