Shakespeare Improv

A few words in praise of The Improvised Shakespeare Company, who I saw at the iO Theatre. As the name suggests, they begin by taking a suggestion from the audience for the title of a lost play (last night we were treated to No Diggity) and then improvise the whole thing in Shakespearian style. This includes a prologue and plenty of iambic pentameter, but also everyone’s favourite staples of royal plotting, gender swapping, a suspiciously convenient tendency for characters to hide behind curtains in order to overhear important plot points and – of course – lots of gory deaths at the end.

Incredible stuff. I laughed out loud, all the way through, especially as the characters really took shape and the plot came together.

Fair warning: if you come to visit me, it is very likely that I will drag you to see this.

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Rollercoasters: I will always love you

Just home from Six Flags, a US chain of theme parks with one place not far from Chicago, which I had suggested as a great option for a work team outing. It turned out to be perfect timing, too, because this was also Jill’s last week at Groupon, and I can’t think of a better way to say goodbye than riding a load of rollercoasters together. (My favourite was Goliath, for the record.) I have always been spoilt in loving the people that I work with, but it must make all the difference in the world.

Team photo (Robert, Jill, Katie, me)

Team photo (Robert, Jill, Katie, me)

This week I also returned to Second City, making good on my vow from my first visit. This time we saw the main stage show – and each consumed a pitcher-worth of cocktails – which is an excellent recipe for any evening.

On Saturday I also made it to the Chicago Botanic Garden with Randi, It was a pretty British-style trip, actually: catch a train to somewhere with a tea room, and pretend you haven’t noticed that it’s just started raining. But I’m very glad I remembered the suggestion to go, because it was beautiful, and just a really lovely place to wander about. (I can’t say the same for the patch of suburbia around it, which makes crossing the road feel like an expedition through an alien landscape. Love the city, hate the strip mall.)

Botanic Garden

Botanic Garden

In other news:

  • I now have a rudimentary understanding of the rules of American football.
  • In return, I have begun to indoctrinate newbies into the wonder of Doctor Who.
  • UK timezones worked in my favour for once when it came to the Scottish referendum, because by the time I went to bed the result was pretty clear. Which was a relief, I’ll admit, but it’s pretty exciting that there’s still a head of steam for further devolution and constitutional reform. I hope both sides can end up feeling like winners in the end.

Helipad, Scotland and some wall decoration

Well, I came back from Malaysia, obviously. But not before a lovely evening up on Helipad with Zee and Ellen, which – as its name suggests –  is a bar sitting atop a skyscraper. It’s remarkably calm up there, which is probably just as well because I could imagine a rowdier crowd occasionally bumping people off the edge.

Helipad

Helipad

Back in ‘merica, I hit another milestone of cultural acclimatisation by whacking my first birthday piñata, plus a bunch of other fun meetings and gatherings. (Which included a pool party. I mean seriously, a pool party? My life is absurd.) I also saw Guardians of the Galaxy. Which was OK, I guess, though I wasn’t sure exactly what it was aiming at. (How funny is this supposed to be exactly?) And I have to admit, after X Men: Days of Future Past on the plane back, I am ready for my next film to be something a little grittier. Y’know – the moody existentialist broodings of a failed artist, in French – or something like that. Never thought I’d be asking for that.

I’ve also been wandering around feeling a little sad about Scotland. On the one hand, a peaceful referendum on self-determination is pretty much a miracle of democracy: this doesn’t happen very often, and something to feel proud of. But at the same time, I share the same apprehensions of lots of other English people for entirely selfish reasons. Scotland is great, and often wiser than its southern neighbour, and would be perfectly fine as an independent country within the EU. The fear is what kind of conservative backlash this may trigger in the rest of the UK. We’ll find out next week, I suppose!

In the meantime, and on a cheerier note, I finally got some photos on my wall up. There are lots of important people missing, but everyone here is loved:

Memories from home

Memories from home