Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Mama Mia and Sway

To-day Thursday July 17th will be remembered as Mamma Mia Day. Between the mid nineteen seventies and 1982 I adored Abba, the Swedish Group Agnetha, Bjorn, Benny and Anni Frid. I have a CD and a Video of their greatest hits, enjoyed the film of their stage performance and rarely miss a programme about the group and their music. I have wanted to see the stage show although I knew little about its construction, except it was built around the 1968 film caper Buena Sierra Mrs Campbell which starred Gina Lollobrigida who is confronted with her past twenty years after the end of World War 2 when the three GI's who could be the father of her daughter return on a reunion trip.

I had forgotten this when I went to see the film Mama Mia at lunchtime today and found the theatre over half full although the film it is over a week since its opening. Given that a significant percentage of the audience were born after the group ended and their music is rarely played on the radio I was interested by what had brought them to theatre, especially as afterwards I discovered that the film has had mixed reviews. Perhaps they have seen the stage show on a visit to London or when it has been on tour. I assumed that any story was a loose framework for a celebration of the songs. I was wrong and contrary to several reviews that I have read, I thought it was a wonderful film and a great musical film which I now place alongside the Sound of Music, Cabaret, Evita, Moulin Rouge and the Phantom of the Opera. However the two best musicals I have seen on stage are Les Miserables and my favourite Miss Saigon which I saw at least three times and where in both instances I have the full show on tape and still listen from time to time on long journeys.

The story has been updated to the eighties when the music when Abba music was at its peak but the basic storyline remains that of a young woman who became a sixties hippy on a Greek Island, whose twenty year old daughter is having a formal wedding, and discovers from her mother's diary that her father could be one of three men. The weakness in the story is how after twenty years, the daughter manages to track down all three men in time for them to arrive just before her big day to enable her to work out which is her father and walk her down the aisle. Leaving this question to one side I marvelled at the way the lyrics were effectively built into the story and how the strong cast managed to combine several well acted and serious moments especially involving Pierce Brosnan and Meryl Streep with genuine humour, a sense of fun and having a party. There are 24 hits in the 108 minute film which I plan to see again and buy the DVD when it becomes available as a special offer. I might even see if I can get a special offer ticket for the London show when I am next in Town.

This morning I delayed going for a blood test in order to then do a shop, and have a sandwich lunch before the cinema visit on what has remained a poor weather day with regular drizzle and on the cold side. Unfortunately I had not read the form which I was told to take in the advisory letter and which stated that I should not eat or drink anything from 10pm the night before. The penalty is that I have to get there first thing in the morning, preferably first in the queue before 8.30 in order to get the results back in time for my health check on Monday. I will need the alarm so will do a test after the evening meal.

I did find out that the Japanese film about two brothers where one is charged with the death of a their shared love interest is called Sway. I watched the third and fourth parts of the Elizabeth Gaskell's story Wives and Daughters, another brilliant BBC adaptation along with the best of Bronte and Jane Austin. I saw the second part yesterday but missed the first.

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