Friday, June 23, 2006

An afternoon in Nicosia and a cultural evening

It started when we learned that the Bristol Old Vic theatre school were doing a tour in Cyprus, showing Shakespeare's 'As you like it'. Their Larnaka performance is this Saturday, at Theatre Antidote and we would love to have gone to see it. However we had already booked with our church house group to go to Kourium, to see - oddly enough - Shakespeare's 'Midsummer Nights' Dream' on Saturday night.

But, since there was a Thursday night performance of 'As you like it' in Nicosia, we decided to go to that. Tim likes Shakespeare but hasn't seen many live performances (well, neither have we...), the Old Vic company have a great reputation, and Richard and Tim wanted to visit a couple of other places in Nicosia anyway. The prices weren't even particularly high. So after lunch yesterday, we filled up with petrol and drove to Nicosia.

The car air-conditioning is just about working, but it's not very effective and I was partially in the sun all the way, so it's a good thing that it only takes about 40 minutes to get to the outskirts. We wanted to look in the Super Home Centre store first and reckoned it was big enough that it would probably be open all day, rather than closing for a couple of hours over lunchtime for siesta, as most shops do. Sure enough, it was open so we spent half an hour wandering round. Unfortunately there's something about the lighting in that shop that makes me feel queasy after more than about twenty minutes, so we didn't hang around.

We were hoping they might have some good beds - we've promised Tim a new bed when we move house -but the choice was limited. Nor did they have any bookcases other than veneered plastic-looking ones, and rattan - attractive, but not very big, and the cats love to sharpen their claws on rattan. They didn't have any widescreen TVs, and their general choice of kitchen appliances etc was slightly worse than those in Larnaka. Nor did they have any curtains. We did see some quite nice rugs that were machine washable, and may consider those when we've actually moved, but we didn't buy anything.

Then we went across the car park to another store called Mega-Mart, which turned out to be not very mega at all, although quite interesting. It had an eclectic mixture of ornaments, lighting and furniture, plus kitchen bits and pieces, crockery, and so on. There were some very attractive country style wooden bookcases, but the prices were unbelievably high.

Tim wanted to visit a couple of music shops, as we're considering getting an electronic piano rather than buying the piano we've currently borrowed. He would really like something at concert pitch and has been impressed with some electronic pianos recently. They'll never be quite as nice as a good quality real piano, but then we don't want to pay several thousand pounds! His keyboard is actually good enough for him to do future exams on (it's a full keyboard, fully weighted, touch sensitive, etc) but that's going to live in the 'studio' room in our guest flat, and we'd like a piano of some sort in our main living room. Behringer are apparently bringing out a new electronic piano in a couple of months, which is excellent value, and has an action which Tim particularly likes. However as it's new, he doesn't know what it will sound like or whether he will like the feel of it, so he's considering other options too.

We hunted for the Kawai shop in vain. The address was from a three-year-old Yellow Pages, so perhaps they've moved. We did find Nakas, [NB most of their web-site doesn't work in Firefox, unfortunately] but they were closed for siesta, re-opening at 4pm, and it was only quarter to four when we arrived. We didn't plan to sit around outside in the excessive heat (despite Nicosia being distinctly less humid than Larnaka, it's usually even hotter) so we went on to look for the Mitsubishi showroom to check what they had second-hand, since Richard's looking for a four-wheel drive car to use for work, and also to have a rather better vehicle than our current 17-year-old Lancer.

By then I had already had enough of shopping, so I stayed in the car and read - thankfully I had remembered to pick up the book I was currently reading - while Richard and Tim had a look at what was available. They were pleasantly surprised to find prices much better than they had expected, although there isn't a huge choice of used cars. Once we've moved and settled in to our new house, they may return for a test-drive.

We returned to Nakas, and Tim tried out their least expensive Clavinovas, but wasn't impressed. The better specification ones cost several thousand, so we're not considering those.

Since we still had plenty of time, Richard suggested we look at one of the new indoor shopping centres. After some driving around (Nicosia is a sprawling city, very confusing for visitors) we found it. It looked just like a British indoor shopping centre, even down to a multi-storey car park. Rather a good idea in Cyprus since it meant the car was parked out of the sun! There was a big Orphanides there, where we bought some juice and water, although as it was all on one floor it seemed huge. I prefer the Orphanides in Larnaka where there are three storeys.

Most of the other shops in the centre seemed like typical shopping centre places... SockShop, various small clothing boutiques, a stationer, and so on. Boring. Next-door to Orphanides there was a home furnishings shop, but I couldn't face another shop by that stage. Richard loves shopping even when not planning to buy things (I know this is supposed to be a female trait, but in our family it's the other way around) so he wandered around that, while I sat on a convenient bench and read some more.

The only two places to eat in the centre were McDonalds (which we never go to - ugh) and Pizza Hut, which was tempting - but as Tim is not eating any dairy products, that was no good. So we left and drove for half an hour (how can any city be so huge?!) and found a Goody's. Richard and Tim had club sandwiches with chips (Tim carefully removing his slices of cheese) and I was pleased to find there was a salad bar, so I had a large bowlful with quite a variety including an excellent tuna/pasta salad.

Then we drove to the Russian Cultural Centre, which we found very easily as it's marked on the map, after slight confusion when we saw that it's Greek name was the Russian Political Centre. There was a large foyer with a lot of paintings on the walls and some comfortable chairs. The doors to the theatre opened at 8pm and we were glad to be early, as it meant we could get good seats near the centre. By 8.30, it was pretty full and it only started about five minutes late - not bad for Cyprus!

There was a minimalist set, no backdrop and no curtains at the front of the stage. Twelve actors were involved, most of them taking more than one part. We were entranced almost immediately, and very much enjoyed it. The seats were nowhere near as comfortable as those in Antidote Theatre, but there was a break of about half an hour in the middle, when about half the audience rushed outside to smoke! We were horrified when we first came to Cyprus, to realise how prevalent cigarettes are, but at least they're now banned inside theatres and cinemas.

The second act didn't begin until about ten o'clock, by which time I was pretty tired - I usually get up about 6am, and am NOT a night-owl - but I managed to stay awake. I was somewhat irritated by two people behimd me who started chewing gum during the second act... a disgusting habit, with loud chomping and smacking of lips. So rude in a theatre! I thought it must be teenage boys, and was quite shocked when the play ended, and the house lights came up, to realise it was two nice-looking American ladies who must have been in their sixties! However by covering one of my ears I managed to block out most of the chewing noises and concentrate on the play, which continued to be excellent, including some very well-performed songs and a couple of short basic dance routines.

All in all, highly recommended. There's only one more performance in Cyprus (the one at Theatre Antidote on Saturday) but they may be touring elsewhere. Advance booking recommended.

By the time the play had finished, it was 11.15pm and I was nearly asleep on my feet. I sat in the back of the car and must have dropped off almost at once, since it felt to me as if the journey home took no more than ten minutes!

It occurs to us that we've been out more in the evenings in the past week than we have for many months. Youth group variety night last Friday, music school concert last Saturday, Famagusta service on Sunday, theatre in Nicosia last night, and theatre in Kourium (just beyond Limassol) on Saturday. When we arrived back, Sophia greeted us very noisily, informing us in no uncertain terms that she was NOT impressed at our being out so often, or so late!

1 comment:

Lindy Kingsley said...

As you like it was fab wasn't it. We had the good fortune to see them at Curium, and I have been singing their praises all week.

We missed the Amateur Midsummer Nights Dream.....but having heard reports that is probably not a bad thing:)