Viva Las Vegas!

Last week for my 21st birthday present, my dad took myself and my brother to the US. The first half of that trip was to the insanely vibrant city of Las Vegas; which is what I’ll be writing about today!

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The Chandelier Bar

I can quite safely say that Las Vegas is the most bizarre place I have ever visited. After our 12-hour flight, we were dropped off at our hotel; The Cosmopolitan. As soon as you enter this amazing hotel, it’s like being transported into a different world; we traversed through rows of revellers trying their luck at the slots, and eventually found ourselves at the extravagant Chandelier bar. From here we could find our way to our rooms… 58 floors up in the sky, overlooking the iconic Las Vegas strip. This is not a hotel for anyone who suffers from a fear of heights, looking out over our balcony would be enough to make anyone queasy.

3345356   After we were settled in, we decided to explore the hotels on the strip. Anywhere else in the world, this would seem like a boring activity, but in Vegas each hotel has something unique and amazing inside of it. My personal favourite was The Venetian which was decorated to imitate Italy inside; complete with lovely cobbled streets, canals, and gondola rides. The ceiling is painted to look like a beautiful sunset and feels so realistic that it’s easy to forget that you’re inside until you step outside into the Nevada sunshine. After exploring a few of the sights that Vegas had to offer in what felt like a trip around Europe I had myself a well-earned bubble bath overlooking the strip and then we treated ourselves to the all-you-can-eat buffet at the Wicked Spoon (which, by the way, is awesome.)

The next day we visited the super gross but really interesting “Real 20139669_10155535520238200_1750867495945826623_nBodies” exhibit. Whilst very morbid and not for the faint-hearted, “Real Bodies” was a unique and fascinating exhibit which showcased perfectly preserved bodies in different poses- stripped of their skin and sectioned in different ways so that you could see the inner workings of the body. As horrific as it sounds, it was really well done and beautifully displayed… Perhaps the only part that caught me off guard and made me shudder was a small room shielded by a curtain that contained an intact human skin on a hanger… Gross.

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Us and Teller!

In a lighter (and far less grotesque) evening activity we also went to see Penn and Teller. I do not wish to spoil anything for anyone planning to see them but their show is an absolute MUST- especially in their own theatre at the Rio! It is very traditional, old-school magic but it is flawlessly performed and utterly breathtaking. An added bonus is that they both meet every single fan after the show and are extremely humble and welcoming, they have time for every single audience member.

There is so much that we crammed into our days in Vegas that I fear this post would get too long if I included all of it! In short, Vegas surprised me in the best way possible, and whilst there are some seedy undertones, the glitz and glam of the place overwhelms this and there is so much to do that you could never possibly be bored. I would highly recommend it as there really is no other place on Earth like Las Vegas!

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Anything goes in Vegas

The Flipside of Twelfth Night: Feste

    In my favourite of Shakespeare’s plays, Twelfth Night, I am drawn to Feste’s character. He brings a level of darkness to a generally cheerful play that celebrates misrule and folly. I enjoy the fact that the very figure of misrule, the fool, is not a typically comic character. Instead, he is one of the few characters that seems serious, presenting a sobering world-view amidst the revelry in Twelfth Night.

Feste’s songs that are peppered throughout the play appear to be happy and add a festive musicality to the action. However, when one looks closer at the lyrics they appear to be deeply melancholic. Feste’s final song stands out to me the most as it features the lyric “the rain it raineth every day” (5.1.379). It is interesting how in a play where everyone is acting foolish, the only licensed fool recognises everything will revert back to normality after the Twelfth Night festival, and thus after the events of the play. The rain will continue “every day”, and is a reminder of Feste’s unchanging position. Whilst other characters are in constant flux, moving forward and progressing, Feste is the only character who remains unaffected by the events of the play. He is a figure of stability and serves to remind the audience that despite the festivities in the play, normal life continues after; rain and all.

The rain, too, is a symbol of sorrow and is reflective of the darker aspects of the play. It seems that through life, even when times seem happy on the surface, there will always be hardships that follow. For example, the audience is encouraged to side with characters such as Maria, Toby, and Andrew as they trick and subsequently imprison Malvolio. However, much like the way that the lyricism of Feste’s song masks its melancholic undertones, the playfulness of the more likeable characters masks the truly deplorable way that they treat Malvolio.

His perceptive ability stems from being removed from the class structure within the play, and yet still being confined to it. He is separate from the power struggles and main events of the play, able to comment on the characters as an outsider with insider knowledge. He seems free of boundaries, and yet he is confined to servitude. Despite the illusion of freedom, one must remember that at the heart of his role he is in fact a member of the lower class that is mocked and made to perform foolishly for the entertainment of the ruling class in order to make a living.

When looking at Feste in such a way, his ending in Act 5 Scene 1 should be taken into consideration. The stage directions bid farewell to all but Feste, and he is left to sing his closing song. As mentioned before, this song, despite the happy ending, seems tinged with melancholy, repeating the two lines “With hey ho the wind and the rain” and “The rain it raineth every day”. The final line of the song breaks this repetition and states “and we’ll strive to please you every day.” It seems that Feste’s character is revealing a discontent at his social standing role of pleasing others every day, as he seems to gain no pleasure for himself, being the only character unpaired and left on stage. I suppose, at least, that it is a small reconciliation that he is awarded the freedom to express himself in ways that Malvolio cannot.

The dark undercurrents of such a cheerful play are what make it so interesting. It is enjoyable to watch but clear to me that those that do not conform to the overarching values and ideologies of the ruling class are mocked and alienated like Malvolio, or completely “other” like Feste.

 

Side note: I’ll be travelling to the USA in the next few days, so expect some travel posts coming up!