Plum Viewing

Welcome to the latest edition of Plum Viewing, my weekly round-up of arts and culture to enjoy online.

Well everyone, it’s Plum Viewing: The Saturday edition! I hope everyone had a fabulous week. Let me apologize for not sharing Plum with you last week and leaving you to entertain yourselves and for being late this week. Alas, it was another crazy week.

And on that note, the bad news for this week is that I don’t have a lot of things to entertain you (I really did try!)

So, this week’s picks are a combination of recommendations of things to enjoy online and in-person and binge-worthy TV to help break-up the long nights.

With that, here are this week’s picks:

Starting on Feb 15, the Montreal Symphony Orchestra is back with a season of six beautiful concerts to be enjoyed online.

We start with two of Wagner’s works followed by Brahms’ Fourth Symphony. This is followed by From the Moldau to the Balkans: Slavic Accents with the celebrated Xian Zhang conducting. And, we finish with two Russian concertos featuring pianist Daniil Trifonov as a soloist and Bruckner’s Symphony no. 7. Enchanting indeed!

Just over a week ago, Stratford Festival announced its 2022 season (actually, it was on Groundhog Day, a very clever move on behalf of the team!)

The season has so many gems to get us excited, including two world premieres: Every Little Nookie, by Sunny Drake, directed by Ted Witzel and Hamlet-911, by Canadian treasure Ann-Marie MacDonald, directed by the uber talented Alisa Palmer

And, while you’re checking out the new season, it’s also a great time to revisit Stratford Festival’s StratAtHome. $10 per month gets you access to their vast archive, where I have personally spent many an hour. My new favourite obsession is their Making the Season series. Start with “Making the Season: Wardrobe” and learn all about how the costumes come together. Just fascinating!

Like the Stratford Festival, the National Arts Centre continues to also do heroic work to keep us entertained online. There are many things from which to choose but I was particularly taken with this performance. It runs just over eight minutes and it’s truly captivating. Enjoy!

For readers in Toronto, you have a few more days to see this exhibit, Fragment of Epic Memory at the AGO. This is the first exhibition organized by the AGO’s new Department of Arts of Global Africa and the Diaspora. Here’s the description: “It blends historical and contemporary narratives, presenting more than 200 photographs, alongside paintings, sculpture, and video works by modern and contemporary Caribbean artists that show how the region’s histories are constantly revisited and reimagined through artistic production over time.” The exhibit also features new work by Sandra Brewster, who is an artist I have been following and admiring for some time. Her work is just memorizing. The exhibit runs until Feb 21 and you can learn more and book tickets here.

Okay, now we can move to binge worthy TV. We have ALL been indulging on ALL the streaming services over the past two years, so we may as well share recommendations — the good, the bad and the well, really?

Like everyone I know, I hate watched “And just like that” and my god, did I ever hate watch it. I could write an entire Plum Viewing on Miranda alone….but I digress…

So, here is a list of shows Mr. Fairs and I actually enjoyed. Do with this as you wish (and don’t judge us…not too much anyway!)

To start, Line of Duty on BBC. Here’s the premise: It’s a British police drama that follows a group of officers at Britain’s Anti-Corruption Unit 12 (AC-12). Over six seasons, we follow three main characters, DS Steve Arnott (Martin Compston), DC Kate Fleming (Vicky McClure) and everyone’s favourite Superintendent Ted Hastings (Adrian Dunbar) as they uncover corruption within the fictional Central Police Force. Cleverly, each season is connected but you can also watch the seasons separately and still follow along and enjoy. Honestly, it’s worth watching for nothing else than Hastings’ one-liners. Here’s a taste of what you can look forward to: Quote, “Jesus, Mary and Joseph and the wee donkey.” I mean?!

Next, we have Good Omens. Mr. Fairs and I stumbled on this series and I can honestly say it is among the most clever and strangest shows I’ve watched in a very long time. Here’s the premise: “it is a fantasy comedy series created and written by Neil Gaiman, based on his and Terry Pratchett’s 1990 novel of the same name. Like the novel, the series features various Christian themes and figures, and follows various characters all trying to either encourage or prevent the coming of an imminent Armageddon. Michael Sheen and David Tennant are Aziraphale and Crowley respectively, an angel and a demon whose 6,000-year-old side-transcending bond becomes a key element in the conflict. Jon Hamm is the Angel Gabriel (yep!) and Frances McDormand as the voice of God (of course). There is truly nothing to not love. And, if you don’t trust me (which hey, I get!),here are a couple of reviews to back me up: Here’s what the Guardian had to say and Empire.

And, on Apple TV, we have The Afterparty, a modern ‘whodunit’ starring the absolutely hilarious Tiffany Haddish. The series takes place at a high school reunion after party with each episode offering “a different character’s perspective” of what happened that night. It is SO funny and the whole cast is clearly having the time of their lives. Highly recommend!

And, to end, here is a documentary that should be required watching for everyone. It’s Sir David Attenborough, a man we truly do not deserve, and it’s called The Year the Earth Changed. This is a hopeful tale of how, if we’re willing to make small changes, there is a way for us and nature to co-exist. My goodness, it is just one hour of joy, hope and very cute penguins. There is really nothing else to say!

Enjoy and see you next week!

And, an ask: While we’re enjoying these wonderful performances, let’s remember that for the arts organizations producing this incredible content, this is their livelihood; not a hobby. If we can, now is our time to continue to support our incredible arts community!

And, if you’d like to receive Plum Viewing weekly, send me a note at maggiefairs@gmail.com and I will add you to my mailing list.

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