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Daily Check In, 5 (Us, Skellig)

The week begins! I have but one day of work (today) followed by the rest of the week off to spend some time with my other half for her birthday. There are still cards to be made and stuff to be wrapped – I have little time!

I’ve just had a frustrating night of never quite being properly asleep, bedevilled by images and configurations of floating widgets. An utter waste of lying down and closing my eyes. This sleep thing isn’t really working that well, and none of the last three nights have left me feeling remotely refreshed. On the bright side we did some cool stuff over the weekend, and I’m reminding myself to remember the good things.

Us

We caught Jordan Peele’s Us at the cinema on Thursday. It’s a very satisfying horror/thriller, with most of the scares delivered early before it settles into less immediately stressful spine tingling horror at the situation. I don’t like being made to jump – I’d much rather be left in existential terror than heart-leaping anxiety. Peele’s done a great job – Us looks beautiful, is wonderfully performed and will serve as a metaphor for almost any kind of social separation and exploitation you wish. Lupita Nyong’o and Shahadi Wright Joseph are especially terrifying and gripping to watch. The final twist is entirely what you expect, but like all good twists, is inevitable and satisfying (Peele may prove be the anti-M Night Shyamalan). I’m not entirely sure the actions of Red make sense once you’ve had the reveal, but I’m not inclined to complain. The central horror of the shadow people is delightful and their performances feature some great mime and choreography. I’m looking forward to a second watch on Netflix.

Skellig

Nottingham Playhouse does a great ‘pay what you can’ promo for many of their productions and really helps to make theatre accessible. I picked up tickets for Friday’s odd-timed five o’clock matinee. I’d never heard of the book Skellig, probably because it’s a children’s book published since I was a child, so everything was a lovely surprise. It’s a simple story of a family who move into a near-derelict new home to support their growing family. But the new baby comes too soon and is very unwell, and the 12 year-old boy, Michael, struggles to cope and when he discovers a strange man living in their garage, the family drama takes a cool magical realist twist.

The set is an incredible, deep and complex piece of theatre all on its own, with props, costumes, entrances and exits hidden in plain view and only recognised once used. They have some charming animal puppets with a pleasing low-fi vibe and clever (spoiler) wings and flight. It’s largely an ensemble piece with quick character switching, lots of well choreographed stage business and endearing stabs at Geordie accents.

It was very lovely and engrossing – the children in the audience were rapt. It’s definitely worth catching if you have an evening free and want something heartbreaking, funny, and uplifting.

Other Things

More episodes of the bonkers but fun Umbrella Academy, birthday drinks, It’s A Trap rehearsal, gift-wrapping and getting ever closer to the end of The Crippled God.

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