Quote Of The Day

"Victory goes to the player who makes the next-to-last mistake - Chessmaster Savielly Grigorievitch Tartakower (1887-1956)"

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Two Faults...

Stuart says I only have two faults.
1. I don't listen and... 2. Something else.

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

La Cage aux Folles [The Play] @ Park Theatre...

Last Friday night Stuart and I went to see La Cage aux Folles at the Park Theatre in London's glitzy Finsbury Park.

The adverts, the reviews and the publicity were very keen to point out to us that this was *THE PLAY* and *NOT THE MUSICAL* of La Cage aux Folles. Not that that mattered to us to be honest. The musical is great and all that but we'd be just as happy to see an English translation of a broad French gay farce as an American musical version of one.

The story is perhaps fairly well trod by now anyway. Gay couple run a drag night club, straight son of Georges (Michael Matus) wants to introduce the straight-laced parents of his fiancée, drag-artiste Albin (Paul Hunter) has to act straight, gleeful hilarity ensures.

We laughed a lot. Both the leads are well served by Simon Callow’s English translation and there is lots of fun to be had from the high camp and haute couture. Syrus Lowe steals the show as Jacob though, who is Georges and Albin's scantily clad, shrieking servant.

Dated though? Sure. Still funny? Yes. Rip-roaringly, gut-bustingly funny? Not quite. Some good moments. Some bitchy one liners. But if you do go and see it I'd strongly recommend having a few stiff ones first (<--- level of jokes in show!)

Monday, February 24, 2020

How does Batman's mum call him in for his dinner?

She doesn't because she was brutally murdered in front of her son, leading him to become a violent vigilante who believes society's problems can be solved by beating up poor people instead of alleviating poverty.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Death of England @ Dorfman Theatre...

Last night Stuart and I went to see Clint Dyer & Roy Williams new fearless one-person play about identity, race and class in Britain, Death of England at Dorfman Theatre on London's glitzy South Bank.

Oh my gosh, it was amazing. Rafe Spall is as powerful and passionate as he is explosive. He deserves every accolade going for this spit-speckled, sweat-soaked, testosterone-powered performance.

Muscular, jocular, and sweaty, Spall plays Michael, a working-class, late-30s Essex man bubbling with self-loathing. The action - and there is a lot of it - concerns the fallout from the death of his father, a racist, Brexit-loving flower seller, who collapsed during England’s World Cup semi-final defeat to Croatia a few years ago.

Death of England started life as a 10-minute micro-play commissioned by the Royal Court and the Guardian in 2014. Six years, three elections, and one referendum later, it arrives fully formed on the Dorfman stage as a fully-fledged 100-minute monologue.

Funny, moving, meta - it is a solo tour-de-force. And there’s biscuits.

Go see.



Thursday, February 20, 2020

The Musical Box: A Genesis Extravaganza - Part II...

After recent over-runs by Madge I bet the staff at The London Palladium were relieved to hear at 10:35pm last night these words from the stage, "We only have one more song to play for you." Little did they know...
 
In 2018, in an all-out performance of live visual signature stunts, a museum-worthy array of vintage instruments and a dizzying pace of hit tracks and stage rarities, Genesis tribute act The Musical Box indulged in, for the first time in its 25 year existence, an intense trip of their own imagining into the world of early Genesis. In 2020, they returned with Part II of this, their Genesis Extravaganza.
 
As the only band ever licensed and supported by Genesis and Peter Gabriel, The Musical Box took us on a journey through the dusty delights of the music of Trespass, Nursery Crime, Foxtrot, Selling England by the Pound, A Trick of the Tail and Wind & Wuthering.
 
For three hours Paul, Colin and I sat entranced. It was joyous. It was wonderful. It was prog.
 
And that last song? Supper's Ready. All 25 minutes of it. The last note of which rang out on the stroke of 11pm. Madonna would have been proud.
 
What the members of Genesis say about The Musical Box:-
"The Musical Box recreated, very accurately I must say, what Genesis was doing." – Peter Gabriel
"They’re not a tribute band, they have taken a period and are faithfully reproducing it in the same way that someone do to a theatrical production." – Phil Collins
"I cannot imagine that you could have a better tribute for any act. They not only manage to sound, but look virtually identical. It seems as though nothing is too difficult for them." – Steve Hackett
"It was better than the real thing actually. It was great, that was fantastic." – Mike Rutherford
"The guy who does Peter Gabriel is brilliant."– Tony Banks
 
The set-list was as follows:
 
Set 1:
Eleventh Earl of Mar
Dance on a Volcano
Entangled
Down and Out
...In That Quiet Earth / Robbery, Assault and Battery / Wot Gorilla?
Ripples
Los Endos
 
Set 2:
The Fountain of Salmacis
Stagnation
Can-Utility and the Coastliners
Looking for Someone
Firth of Fifth
The Cinema Show
The Musical Box
 
Encore:
Supper's Ready
a. Lover's Leap
b. The Guaranteed Eternal Sanctuary Man
c. Ikhnaton and Itsacon and Their Band of Merry Men
d. How Dare I Be So Beautiful?
e. Willow Farm
f. Apocalypse in 9/8 (Co-Starring the Delicious Talents of Gabble Ratchet)
g. As Sure as Eggs Is Eggs (Aching Men's Feet)










 

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Stone the Roses....

TOP TIP : Pub Landlords. Rid your pub of people under-45 by playing The Stone Roses debut album in full.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

The Wallace Collection Armoury...

Every now and again the Baker Street Quarter (where I work) offers a lunchtime event. Last week it was a tour of The Wallace Collection Armoury.

The Armoury comprises of nearly half of all the pieces of the entire collection - despite it being more famous for its art works.

It was a fascinating tour; rare armour (for soldiers and horses), square-barrelled matchlock muskets, flint-lock pistols, canons, maces, sabres, swords, and daggers.

And entrance is free.











Monday, February 17, 2020

Far Away @ Donmar Warehouse...

Last Thursday night Stuart and I went to see Caryl Churchill's dystopian play Far Away at the Donmar Warehouse in London's glitzy West End.

Lasting just 45 minutes it is a very short, three-act play about what might happen. To us. When everybody is at war. Even Nature. And it's fab.

In a cottage far away, a child wakes to the chilling sound of screaming. And there is blood. Who will tell her what is going on?

The child is now grown up. And she is working in a factory. Making dozens of incredible hats. But for whom?

The child has returned from being away. What does she know about the world sliding into chaos? And whose side are the elephants on?

Directed by the ever-reliable Lyndsey Turner and starring Jessica Hynes it a scary story of what the future might hold. Or indeed what might be going on right now but we turn our heads away. And of how government propaganda can make us think even Nature is against us. Fake News indeed.

Friday, February 14, 2020

Rough for Theatre II and Endgame @ Old Vic...

Last week Stuart and I went to see a double-bill of short Samuel Beckett plays at the Old Vic in London's glitzy Waterloo.

Beckett's usual preoccupation with the ever-present imminence of death casts a murky glow and existential crisis over both pieces. Sadly that glow was a tad too murky even for us.

This preoccupation with death is amplified in director Richard Jones's production - played right at the front of the Old Vic stage on Stewart Laing's sets that juts out beyond it.

However, there is also a relentless attempt to find laughs in every moment. But this is the kind of crushing humour that simply dies in your throat even if you catch its improbable drift. As a result, this is mostly a strenuous, laboured evening that feels a lot longer than it is, and is unnecessarily padded out by the inclusion of the rarely-seen Rough for Theatre II, as a curtain-raiser to the main event of Beckett's more famous Endgame.

While Beckett completists may appreciate the chance to see Rough for Theatre II, it's a teasingly pointless sketch which runs for barely twenty minutes in which two bureaucrats sit at their desks beside an open window, from which a man is supposedly poised on the brink of throwing himself to death. There's a lot of dry business with a malfunctioning desk lamp, but it hardly counts as dramatic action.

At least it had the virtue of being short. Endgame, in which a grudging servant dances attendance on his blind, chair-bound master and his elderly parents, is four times longer and even more perplexing. As a study in terrible mutual co-dependence, in a world where resources are fast receding from grocery to medical supplies, there's an advancing sense of terror. The master Hamm's parents, meanwhile, are famously occupying onstage metal dustbins, lined with sand (after the sawdust has run out) as they await certain death but are able to briefly provide each other with momentary consolation.

The luxuriously cast with star names might seduce unwary theatregoers. Daniel Radcliffe was last seen on the Old Vic stage in Stoppard's Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead in 2017, another vaudevillian double-act; if that play is dense and knowing, it doesn't require as much heavy lifting as this evening does, and Radcliffe’s Clov is embarrassingly pressed into doing a ministry of funny walks in Endgame (and some unfathomable business on descending a stepladder which is sort of funny the first time but ridiculous by the eighth). He is paired with the enigmatically creepy Alan Cumming, whose naked, hairless match-stick legged Hamm reminded me of Glenda Jackson's similar uncovering in King Lear on this stage.

There are two brilliant cameo turns from a virtually unrecognisable Jane Horrocks and Karl Johnson as Hamm's parents, but they can't save it anymore than they can save themselves.

A few people left. Many more, I suspect, wished they could have done without being noticed.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

The Vaults Festival @ Waterloo...

Last Saturday night Stuart and I went to experience three events at the annual Vaults Festival in London's glitzy Waterloo.

Lost Hours
You’re in a tight, shipping container. By yourself. In a wheelchair. It’s pitch black. With lots of smoke. And then 7 other people emerge from the gloom. Who have weird clothes, makeup and masks on. And there's music. And various LED torches. With a lot of white netting. And lots of modern interpretive dance moves. There's a complete disregard for personal body space. And a surreal dance script about Salvador Dalí and his sister. A plot about birth and death. And it's over in 15 minutes. That.




The Grim
All-female street-based immersive theatre. Set in Purgatory. Four Horse(wo)men. A quest to find a name. And a surprise hidden story of LGBT immigration.






















Frida Kahlo: Viva la Vida!
One woman show on Frida’s life. A bit weird. A bit uneven. But she sat on Stuart’s knee and called him Trotsky so my evening was complete.

The Vaults Festival is amazing. So much to do and see. A sort of Edinburgh-type arts festival but in London. Cheap too.






Wednesday, February 12, 2020

"Do You Know Your Onions?"...

Media types! Quiz Idea! A quiz called, "Do You Know Your Onions?"
Where contestants identify types of onion.
And when the questions run out the audience shouts, "That's shallot!"

#KnowYourOnions #YouHeardItHereFirst #NotAsStupidAsSomeQuizShowIdeasThatMakeItOntoBBCOnASaturdayNightYesIAmLookingAtYouChaseTheHare


Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Marc Almond with Special Guest Chris Braide @ Royal Festival Hall...

Last night Paul, I and 300 other Goths on statins went to see Marc Almond perform (with special guest Chris Braide) at the Royal Festival Hall on London's glitzy South Bank.

Promoting his latest album Chaos and a Dancing Star, Marc treated us to over three hours of music - hits old and new. He also drew heavily on tracks from 2015 album The Velvet Trail.

And as a surprise, we had Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson on flute too!

Great night.

Act 1
Black Sunrise
When the Stars Are Gone
Dust
Dreaming of Sea
Hollywood Forever
Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
Cherry Tree
Chaos
Fighting a War
Giallo

The Lord of Misrule
Witches Promise (Jethro Tull song)
Bedsitter
Slow Burn Love
The Crows Eyes Have Turned Blue

Act 2
Flames
Skin Deep
Damn You
The Pain of Never
Scar

Piano Section:
Kill and Run
Unstoppable
Torch
Black Heart
Little Rough Rhinestone
Flowered Goodbye
Winter Sun
Where The Heart Is

Embers
Minotaur
Zipped Black Leather Jacket
A Kind of Love

Encores:
Dandy In The Underworld
Children Of The Revolution
Tainted Love
Say Hello, Wave Goodbye








Monday, February 10, 2020

Michael’s 60th...

Yesterday the gang got together with Michael to help him celebrate his birthday. Ever generous, Michael bought us all dinner at The Albion as the storm raged outside. We ate, we drank, we laughed - like old friends do.













 

Friday, February 07, 2020

Finally come out of the Broom Cupboard. Well done Philip. Brave man. It can’t have been easy. A National Treasure. @Schofe

It's up to all LGBTQ people how or when or whether they come out. But when someone with a public platform comes out, it helps people who are struggling with their sexuality. 🏳️‍🌈






Thursday, February 06, 2020

Snacks on a plane...

What idiot called it an 'airline meal' instead of the genius 'snacks on a plane'?


Wednesday, February 05, 2020

The four ages of watching technological progress...

The four ages of watching technological progress:

1. Jules Verne: The future is going to be amazing.
2. HG Wells: Well, it might not be, but it could be.
3. George Orwell: Nah, it's going to be awful.
4. Douglas Adams: Yes, but we can all laugh at it.


Tuesday, February 04, 2020

The Paris Catacombs...

Last Saturday night Stuart and I ventured deep under the Parisian streets to wander through the dark and dank labyrinth that makes up the Paris Catacombs.

Many years ago - 53 million years to be exact - Paris and the surrounding area are a vast swampy plain. This lead to the formation of deep layers of sedimentation rock - rock that was quarried first as open-pits and then as underground tunnels.

Fast forward to the late 18th century and the now heavily built-up Paris had a warren of tunnels and quarries underneath it. Too many to count. There were so many tunnels in fact that there were frequent sink-hole collapses. All further extraction of rock was prohibited for safety reasons.

Coincidentally the Parisian cemeteries were over-flowing. Indeed the Saints-Innocents cemetery had to be shut down it was so full.

The solution? In 1786, benediction and consecration of the first quarry, Tombe-Issoire, lead to it becoming a municipal ossuary. So the Paris Catacombs were born.

For the next 25 years bones were transferred from parochial cemeteries all over Paris under cover of darkness to the new catacombs.
Initially the millions of exhumed skulls and bones were simply thrown into the subterranean quarries, and then later stacked into neat piles and rows by the quarry workers. Gruesome gallery after gruesome gallery soon became a tourist attraction, and now upwards of 550,000 visitors come each year.

It's a fascinating place - if a little macabre.