Time to take a world view

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - TRAVEL & INDULGENCE - GRA­HAM ERBACHER

We are now all cit­i­zens of the world and don’t we just love it. Our new-found sta­tus is ex­cit­ing in small but sig­nif­i­cant ways, such as how we watch tele­vi­sion.

Once we would wait a year af­ter over­seas screen­ings of new sea­sons of Bo­nanza and Perry Ma­son. To­day, with stream­ing and sub­scrip­tion ser­vices, we rightly ex­pect the lat­est episodes as they go to air any­where in the world. Even net­work TV has “fast-tracked” shows such as Home­land and Fargo. Knowl­edge is power. Back when, un­less it was a big event (and I mean big, like the shoot­ing of JR in Dal­las or an Alexis-Krys­tle slap-fight in Dy­nasty) we had no idea what was on its way. You could rely on a pen­friend (re­mem­ber them?) but an aero­gramme took weeks. Blog­gers to­day keep fans aware sec­ond by sec­ond.

Like­wise with shop­ping. Once, in­dulging in the fab­u­lous big brands was the pre­serve of an over­seas trip. On­line shop­ping changed that, but also in bricks and mor­tar our cap­i­tal cities now boast lux­ury bou­tique streets, and Ar­mani is not a word amiss in sub­ur­ban malls.

My favourite “world” ex­pe­ri­ence is to keep up with the best of Lon­don and New York the­atre through NT Live and The Met: Live in HD per­for­mances screened in cin­e­mas. While not strictly “live” they are cur­rent pro­duc­tions recorded flaw­lessly at a single per­for­mance. Think Ken­neth Branagh and Judi Dench in a re­mark­able The Win­ter’s Tale, James Franco and Chris O’Dowd in Of Mice and Men, Mark Strong in A View from the Bridge and Bene­dict Cum­ber­batch in Ham­let.

I have not been a life­long opera fan, I con­fess, but have en­joyed ex­pand­ing my skills set with per­for­mances from the Metropoli­tan Opera, staged on its mag­nif­i­cent five­storey prosce­nium stage in New York’s Lin­coln Cen­tre. If I lapse into a “reverie” once in a while, so what? There’s no one to gasp or prod me, and it’s at movie prices.

My “par­tic­i­pat­ing cin­ema” is the Avoca Beach Pic­ture The­atre, on the NSW cen­tral coast. We suf­fer for our art as single weekend screen­ings be­gin at 9.30am on a Satur­day. But here’s my favourite part: dur­ing in­ter­mis­sions, in­stead of step­ping out of the au­di­to­rium into the crisp night air of the north­ern hemi­sphere, here I am in de­li­cious sun­shine only a thong’s throw away from a beau­ti­ful beach. It’s biki­nis and board­ies rather than Ba­len­ci­aga and bow ties, and I rel­ish a swim af­ter the show.

So, in th­ese world-on-our-doorstep times, is there less rea­son to travel? Two words: as if. Noth­ing ex­cites me more than be­ing in a Broad­way or West End the­atre wait­ing for the cur­tain to rise (well, not lit­er­ally th­ese days), a joy born when I bought stand­ing-room tick­ets to Je­sus Christ Su­per­star on my first visit to New York in 1971. And just let me at those “global flag­ship stores”, par­tic­u­larly when they’re in festive-sea­son mode, on the great shop­ping streets of Lon­don, Paris and New York or the mar­kets of Mar­rakech and Delhi. But don’t fret, pic­ture the­atres and shop­ping malls of Aus­tralia, I’ll be back.

Su­san Kuro­sawa is on as­sign­ment.

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