Friday, July 04, 2008
Regency Delights at the V and A
The V&A held a Regency evening on 13th June and I went along, notebook at the ready - but not, alas, in full costume as some of the visitors did.
There was drama and violence with experts from the Royal Armouries at Leeds reconstructing duels and demonstrating the use of the single stick and quarter staff, using the space of the central courtyard to great effect. Having learned all about "Angelo's deception", a lethally effective move, I'm now looking for an opportunity to incorporate it into a fight scene in The Piratical Miss Ravenhurst. Afterwards we were able to handle genuine small swords and everyone was amazed at how light they were.
As a little refined relief from all this aggression we repaired to an elegant drawing room for parlour games. I can now play hazard and loo and have mastered the rules of teetotum, a game of such mind-numbing simplicity that it was a favourite amongst ladies who needed all their attention for gossip and watching the passing scene.
Rather more challenging was the dancing lesson. An elegant couple demonstrated the minuet, using an amazing amount of space in the process, then taught the entire audience - over 100 people - a round dance called La Pistole which involved pretending to shoot one's partner at regular intervals. I suspect that is going to make an appearance in the work in progress as well.
And finally, still fanning ourselves, we were taken on a guided tour of some of the Regency collections. I will certainly be making a return visit to the V&A to spend more time gazing at gorgeous gowns and completely over the top Classical ornamentation on everything from tea cups to bookcases.