Quote Of The Day

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

Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Lieutenant of Inishmore...

Last Wednesday night Stuart and I went to see jet black comedy The Lieutenant of Inishmore at the Noel Coward Theatre in London's glitzy West End.

‎Set in 1993 on the island of Inishmore Martin McDonagh's controversial yet very funny play tells the story of violent terrorist Mad Padraic, a vocal member of the Irish National Liberation Army and a man considered too unhinged for the IRA. But Padraic has a weakness. He loves his cat Wee Thomas.

Poldark's Aidan Turner plays the terrorist who we first see torturing a semi-naked, upside-down drug pusher. He has pulled out a couple of toenails and is preparing to cut off one or other of his victim's nipples. Yes, Michael Grandage's production doesn't shy aware from the visceral horror of the piece - to accompany the torturing, we have dead cats, multiple murders, blindings, shoe polish as food, and a set strewn with blood and dismembered body parts.

But it's not all gore. The comedy is as broad as it is deep - visceral even. These characters may not be the sharpest tools in the box but their humour is innate. They see the funny side of their lot. When Padraic bombs chip shops he does so because they are easy targets, "no one guards a chip shop. They're only chips, for feck's sake!". His bombs rarely go off anyway because he can't afford the good ones. "The IRA keep the best ones for themselves." Even when he loses his train of thought mid-torturing his victim quips to him, "well, it must have been a pretty slow train!"

Like Chris Morris' Four Lions, McDonagh's incompetent terrorists are daft, dangerous and very, very funny. If you like lots of blood and lots of laughs you're in for a treat.

The Turn of the Screw...

Last Tuesday night Stuart and I went to see Benjamin Britten's The Turn of the Screw at Open Air Theatre in London's glitzy Regent's Park.

Presented in association with the English National Opera The Turn of the Screw is based upon Henry James' classic horror novella and tells the story of two possessed children and their new governess. Throw in a couple of ghosts, a hatter-mad housekeeper, and the spooky rustling of the trees at the Open Air Theatre and you have the makings of a corker of a show. The setting works superbly well and you even feel a chill to the spine as you watch a battle for possession of children’s souls in the gathering dusk.

Sadly though, this is not one of Britten's greatest pieces. However, Timothy Sheader's slick direction and Soutra Gilmour’s broken greenhouse set more than make up any shortcomings.

Two casts share the roles during the week’s run. Our particular cast were excellent; Elgan Llŷr Thomas as the Prologue, Sholto McMillan and Ellie Bradbury as creepy Miles and Flora, William Morgan and Rachael Lloyd as ghostly Peter Quint and Miss Jessel, and Rhian Lois and Sarah Pring as the put-upon Governess and the housekeeper Mrs Grose.

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is fabulous @DonmarWarehouse - review ->

Last Friday night Stuart and I went to see David Harrower's new adaptation of Muriel Spark’s iconic novel The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie at the Donmar Warehouse.

At Marcia Blaine School for Girls, Miss Jean Brodie (played by the marvellous Lia Williams) presides over her ‘set’, her chosen few. In return for their absolute devotion, Miss Brodie provides an education far beyond the confines of the curriculum. And she requires - no, demands - absolute devotion from her “ghells”.

Williams is nothing short of superb. She brings the beautiful paradoxes in Brodie to joyous life - she's a snob, she's contradictory, she’s naughty, she's a fan of Mussolini, she's a mother hen, she's full of airs and graces and she is very, very funny. We delight in seeing her determination to instil a love of art and beauty in her pupils juxtapose her own desires - as she negotiates her relations with a raffish art teacher and a shy music master. She is divine yet aching to be carnal.

Williams catches perfectly Brodie’s mix of verbal precision and gestural vagueness too. When she says of her detested head teacher, “Miss Mackay thinks to intimidate me with quarter-hours”, it is in the cut-glass tones of someone who uses words as weapons.

Yet when she informs the Vaughan Williams-loving music-master, “I am very fond of The Lark Ascending”, her hands spiral upwards in loose simulation of flight. Without a trace of sentimentality, Williams brings out all the contradictions in Brodie: the fastidious aesthete who is frightened of real passion, the mutinous teacher who praises 1930s Germany and Austria as “magnificently organised”.

We learn very early on who she is betrayed by - her star pupil Sandy (Rona Morison) - whose remorseless watchfulness is at times both awful yet full of awe. Brodie might yearn to know who betrayed her - but this is less important to us – unlike her, we saw her downfall coming a long way off. All beautifully played.

Polly Findlay direction is spot on as is Lizzie Clachan’s design. The production ebbs and flows beautifully between school to convent.

Go see.

Monday, June 25, 2018

Pro-EU / Anti-Brexit March...

"Thousands" of protesters (i.e. 100,000+) were in London on Saturday, calling for a vote on any final deal seeing the UK leave the European Union.

We were among them.






Friday, June 22, 2018

The Jungle...


Last night Stuart and I went to see The Jungle at the Playhouse Theatre in London's glitzy West End.

This extraordinary play set in the Calais Jungle is vivid and complex in its portrayal of human resilience in the face of humanitarian catastrophe.

Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson’s piece, directed by Stephen Daldry and Justin Martin, transports you into the world of the camp, where a community forged from necessity shares its unimaginable stories of hope against all odds.

The Playhouse Theatre’s radical in-the-round transformation recreates the intimate staging of The Jungle and we were slightly over-awed as we took a seat at a bench and table in the vibrant and bustling Afghan Café at the heart of the Calais Jungle.

"How did you survive?” asks a young British volunteer of a refugee in the migrant camp that sprang up out of the mud like a small city near Calais. "We didn’t," comes the reply. "We are different now."

There is nothing neat and tidy about the Jungle or the way human beings behave under pressure or what motivates an individual’s actions. The emotions are always big, because the stakes are so high. The story begins at the end and then snakes back on itself, told by a 35-year-old Syrian, Salfi (Ammar Haj Ahmed), a former English literature student from Aleppo, whose quiet affability disguises his increasing desperation.

One teenager gives a demonstration of the ringtone on his phone: the melody of The White Cliffs of Dover curls across the theatre and has never sounded so melancholy.

It’s not a sophisticated piece of theatre, but it is an extraordinarily effective one.

This is not a play that judges individuals but one that holds governments to account. The British and French authorities are shown not just failing to help, but turning their backs on a humanitarian catastrophe.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

David Byrne...

Last night Stuart and I went to see the wonderful David Byrne perform his American Utopia Tour show at the Eventim Apollo in London's glitzy Hammersmith.

When you think of musical innovators many come to mind, but foremost in my mind is David Byrne. The man sure knows how to invent (and re-invent) both himself and his music. He has written rock music, indie, new wave, techno, disco, tribal, World music, ballet, film scores, and musical theatre. He has worked in film, photography, opera, fiction, and non-fiction as a singer, songwriter, musician, record producer, artist, writer, actor, and filmmaker. He has won an Oscar, a Grammy, and a Golden Globe. Basically, the boy has talent.

So it was with some excitement that we assembled at the Eventim Apollo last night for what had been billed as his most ambitious show since the amazing Stop Making Sense tour in 1984. Some boast.

Things started with a single light illuminating a table and chair with a brain on it, to the sounds of the jungle echoing around the PA system. Then Byrne took to the stage alone and the former Talking Heads man sat at the table. A frame of silver beads surrounded the stage and was slowly hoisted up – a pared-back stage set-up which would come into its own as the night progressed – as he leapt to his feet, plastic human brain in hand, addressed the crowd directly and dissected the fake organ, all to the pensive storytelling of ‘Here’. It’s a showy start, setting the tone for an evening that deconstructed the very notion of what a concert can offer.

Byrne is joined by a 12-piece live band, all of whom were barefooted, in grey suits and untethered - roaming around the stage carrying their instruments. At times stringently choreographed, and at others seemingly scurrying about the stage of their own accord, the band all wore a beaming perma-grin. They ducked in and out of that aforementioned curtain of silver beads, changing position like American football players enacting a particularly methodical play. It was a show that blurred the lines between gig and theatre, poetry and dance; a full spectrum of culture under one roof. It was all impossibly slick, no one putting a foot out of line.

In fact, each part of the show felt like an artistic piece on its own. The subtle lighting along with a stage surrounded by the cubic metallic chain curtain meant there was little need for extra visuals. Dance moves delivered by the band were the only accompaniment the music needed; each succinct and well planned movement echoing whatever sentiment the particular song was showcasing.

Of the new songs, 'I Dance Like This' was a particular highlight; with the band all laying on the floor, the piano played like a lament before the industrial noise brought the entire stage to life in a fit of strobe lights and wolf-whistles for the grey haired, mad genius of ringleader Byrne.

Pure euphoria greeted tracks like Talking Heads classic 'Slippery People', ‘Once In A Lifetime’ and ‘American Utopia’’s dancefloor-busting lead single ‘Everybody’s Coming To My House’. As the crowd threw their hands in the air and inhibitions to the sky, the band stuck to the script, swapping places and moving around the stage in ruler-straight lines.

Byrne played his role to perfection all evening with his own bizarre dance moves (none more so than when he recreated his gun-shot dance during the afore mentioned 'Once In A Lifetime') and still phenomenally powerful voice driving every song with incredible energy. Huge smiles and heartfelt thanks emanating from the stage showed how much joy he, and every band member, got out of performing this show.

In-between songs, Byrne shared anecdotes about how he campaigned to get people to vote in America and how he feels local councils and their influence is so important. All this was met with huge cheers.

As the night progressed, the set-up morphed somewhat. Jazzy Talking Heads track ‘Blind’ saw Byrne’s bandmates wheel a single, illuminated lamp to the front of the stage, which cast huge shadows of the performers on the back of the stage, creating a dizzying change in perspective.

A set-closing ‘Burning Down The House’, meanwhile, saw each outing of that anthemic titular hook paired with flashes of crimson light which flooded the stage. The band returned for the first of two encores, which ended with the stunning, percussive Talking Heads hit ‘The Great Curve’, snarling guitar solo and all. It was a moment that resulted in one of the night’s most touching breaks from the script, as Byrne’s guitarist skipped off post-solo, only to be greeted with a sneaky, congratulatory fist-bump from one of her bandmates stood at the side of the stage

Ending the evening on a more cerebral note, Byrne and band returned to the stage a second time, stood in a stony-faced straight line. “This is a song by Janelle Monae – she sung it at the Washington Women’s March,” Byrne announced, “With her blessing, we have continued to update it. Sadly, it is as relevant now as it was then. You may not know the names in this song, but Google them – you’ll soon find out very quickly.” What followed was a breath-taking rendition of Monae’s ‘Hell You Talmbout’, a drum-backed, chanted list of black Americans killed by police. It was a captivating end to a brilliant show.

The American Utopia Tour is quite simply majestic. It is slickly choreographed, crisply delivered and oozes class, with a uniqueness that only an innovator like David Byrne could bring to the stage.

Go see.

The full set-list was:-

Here
Lazy
I Zimbra (Talking Heads song)
Slippery People (Talking Heads song)
I Should Watch TV (David Byrne & St. Vincent cover)
Dog's Mind
Everybody's Coming to My House
This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody) (Talking Heads song)
Once in a Lifetime (Talking Heads song)
Doing the Right Thing
Toe Jam (Brighton Port Authority cover)
Born Under Punches (The Heat Goes On) (Talking Heads song)
I Dance Like This
Bullet
Every Day Is a Miracle
Like Humans Do
Blind (Talking Heads song)
Burning Down the House (Talking Heads song)

Encore:
Dancing Together
The Great Curve (Talking Heads song)

Encore 2:
Hell You Talmbout

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

An Octoroon - What a dynamite show! Poignant, moving, and very, very funny. #AnOctoroon @NationalTheatre

Last Friday night Stuart and I went to see An Octoroon at the Dorfman Theatre on London's glitzy South Bank.

What a dynamite show. Taking Dion Boucicault's melodramatic slavery play The Octoroon as its source material Branden Jacobs-Jenkins play satirically explores identity, race, privilege, stereotypes, diversity, colour blind-casting, gender, liberal mindedness, fairness, and cruelty. It does this with a degree of urgency, a degree of self-knowing humour, and degree of theatricality that I'd not seen on stage for quite some time.

Performed in the round, the actors played in black-face, white-face and red-face; performed music, filled the stage with water, billowed smoke, and at one point set the whole stage on fire. Oh and there was a tap-dancing rabbit too. And all this with enough fourth-wall breaking to satisfy the most 'post' of post-modernists. It was a marvel. It was Brechtian. It was messy. But it was brave and new. Poignant, moving, and very, very funny.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up...

Last Saturday afternoon Debbie, Shelly, Claire, Stuart and I went to see the new Frida Kahlo exhibition Making Her Self Up at the V & A in London's glitzy South Kensington.

What an amazing woman Frida Kahlo was; painter, poet, potter, photographer, and pioneer. Disabled by polio at 6, seriously maimed in a vehicle accident at 18, abused by her husband, she lived a bohemian life of art, politics, and passion.

The exhibition attempts to give a fresh perspective on Kahlo's compelling life story through her most intimate personal belongings. Throughout her life Kahlo fashioned her own identity and this extraordinary collection of personal artefacts and clothing belonging to this most iconic of Mexican artists goes some way to explain how she did it. Locked away for 50 years after her death, this collection has never before been exhibited outside Mexico.

Last autumn Stuart and I were lucky enough to see the original collection in Mexico City when we went to the Kahlo's Blue House (La Casa Azul) and it would be fair to say that they have brought most of the good stuff over. We get to see her photographs, her dresses, her paints, her make-up, and her poetry. It might have been nice if they had recreated part of the Blue House itself to give some context – but this is a minor quibble.

And having seen the exhibition do we get to unmask the 'real' Frida? Do we know who she is? Or does she further disappear behind her defiant façade that she created? By the time you emerge from the theatrical last room of dresses and shoes, you know for sure that you have absolutely no idea who the real Frida Kahlo was. You only know what she wanted to show: what pain looks like, what Mexico looks like, what gender looks like; what love looks like. It is her agenda, not ours.

Frida Kahlo only ever really revealed one thing to us: art - in all her guises. But in this exhibition, we have at least seen the tools - the intimate personal tools - of this amazing artist.



Friday, June 15, 2018

The Rink...

Last night Stuart and I went to see the roller-skating musical The Rink at the Southwark Playhouse in London's glitzy Elephant and Castle.

A roller-skating musical, you say? What's not to like?

The Rink is a musical with lyrics by the fabulously talented Fred Ebb and music by the equally talented John Kander - their tenth Kander and Ebb collaboration. The book was by Terrence McNally.

And you would think that with these writers on board - who had penned such sensational musicals as Cabaret and Chicago – they would know how to hit it out of the ball park every time. But getting the chemistry just right in a musical isn't perhaps as easy as it first seems.

The musical focuses on wise-cracking tough-cookie Anna (the brilliant Caroline O’Connor), the owner of a dilapidated roller skating rink on the boardwalk of a decaying American seaside resort, who has decided to sell it to developers. Complicating her plans are her prodigal hippy daughter Angel (less well cast Gemma Sutton), who returns to town seeking to reconnect with the people and places she long ago left behind. Through a series of flashbacks, revelations, and minimal forward-moving plot development, the two deal with their pasts in their attempt to reconcile and move on with their lives.

And it's this minimal forward-moving plot development that lets the piece down the most. When the show was first put on it got what is often referred to as "mixed" reviews. For mixed read savage.

In fact, the show closed early on Broadway (despite starring Liza Minnelli as Angel and Chita Rivera as Anna) barely making its money back. In the West End in 1988 it ran for just 38 performances.

In The New York Times, critic Frank Rich described the show as "turgid" and "sour," filled with "phony, at times mean-spirited content" and "empty pretensions." Of the book, he wrote, "Mr. McNally is a smart and witty playwright, but you'd never know it from this synthetic effort. His dialogue is banal, and his characters are ciphers."

Reacting to the bad reviews, the show's composer, John Kander, commented that the show "was the most complete realization" of his intentions of any production he had done. Lyricist Fred Ebb agreed, asserting that "Every single element of it was exactly as we imagined. Up there on the stage were two of my best friends, Liza and Chita. It was an overwhelming experience; and when they weren't treated well, it was as if we had gotten attacked on the street.... That show hurt me more than any show I've written.... I felt that I had let them down."

So what did we think of it? Well, it was certainly an enjoyable evening – and the show was good - but not without its failings. The performances were great and some of the songs truly fantastic. But only some of them. For every good song like Chief Cook and Bottle Washer, Don’t 'Ah Ma' Me, The Apple Doesn’t Fall (Very Far From the Tree), and What Happened to the Old Days? was a soppy meandering missed opportunity like Mrs. A, Angel’s Rink and Social Center, and Blue Crystal. Which was a shame.

The show started as a high-energy powerhouse with Caroline O’Connor commanding the stage. She had us grinning for ear to ear as she strutted around the small Southwark Playhouse stage singing of a wronged life and new found female empowerment. It was both funny and those initial songs very catchy. However once the hippy daughter Angel appeared things seemed to lose their way and by the end of Act I had taken a distinct turn downhill. That said, some of that earlier momentum was recaptured during the second half - not least when the boys donned their roller-skates and performed their show-stopping tap-routine, the fabulously campy The Rink. These gems were just too few and far between though. The plot was just going nowhere.

For a plot to work in musicals the characters have to be so brimming with emotion (joy, rage, love, distress etc.) that the only way they can express themselves is to burst into song. Sadly, this emotion just wasn't written into the book of The Rink. Roughly half the musical numbers were let down by piss-poor plotting. The characters were given no reason to sing.

So for us it was an enjoyable evening; half the songs were good, half the songs were great, but the book way too poor. Great performances though.

Oh and bizarrely two people fell asleep in the front row - auditorium too hot perhaps?

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Ann Sexton...

Last night Stuart, Darren and I went to see American soul singer Ann Sexton strut her stuff at the 229 club in London's glitzy Great Portland Street.

Ann put on a great show, her voice had lost none of it's power, and she had the moves - despite her 68 years. She recorded mainly in the 1970s with her biggest hot being "You're Gonna Miss Me" in 1973.

Her set list last night included; You're Been Gone Too Long, I'm His Wife, It's All Over But The Shouting, You've Been Going Me Wrong For Too Long, Have A Little Mercy, as well as the great You're Gonna Miss Me.

Nice to see a singer that interacts with the crowd, has a good relationship with her (very tight) band, and has a few jokes. About her man... "I did him wrong once, he did me wrong 50 times. Er-hur - that ain't right!"

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Joe vs Russian homophobia - @JoeyWh1te writes in @MetroUK about @3Lionspride @FIFAWorldCup @gaygooners

In today's Metro, Joe has written a great piece about going to the World Cup. What's more, it contains pictures of me!

https://metro.co.uk/2018/06/13/im-going-to-the-2018-world-cup-to-cheer-on-the-three-lions-and-stand-in-solidarity-with-lgbt-russians-7624891

"I’m going to the 2018 World Cup to cheer on the Three Lions and stand in solidarity with LGBT+ Russians

Thursday marks the opening game of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. England will kick off their campaign against Tunisia next Monday. And when they line up against Panama in Nizhny Novgorod on June 24, I will be one of the thousands of fans cheering on the Three Lions in the stadium, next to my friend Di. Like other England fans heading out to Russia, we have concerns around safety. But we also have an added level of concern – we’re part of Three Lions Pride, England’s LGBT+ fan group, and we’re going to be visible in a country where it is illegal to promote non-traditional sexual relationships.

LGBT+ Russians have been beaten up, imprisoned and, in Chechnya, said to be killed for being themselves. There are no openly LGBT+ male players on the elite stage in football and no openly LGBT+ officials at the World Cup. As with the domestic season, LGBT+ visibility can only come from the fans. In recent years, governing bodies such as FIFA, UEFA and the FA have understood that they need to do more to tackle homophobia, biphobia and transphobia within the game. Slowly, fans are realising that discrimination against LGBT+ people is just as unacceptable as racism, sexism and ableism. More needs to be done to tackle discrimination within the game on all fronts. While it isn’t illegal to be LGBT+ in Russia, since the introduction of the anti-propaganda law, attacks on the LGBT+ community have risen sharply and the community now face prejudice and violence on a daily basis. Russian politicians have described gay pride as ‘satantic’ and compared being gay to bestiality. There is a struggle for visibility of LGBT+ inclusion within the public sphere without falling foul of the law.

The spectacle of a World Cup, with the added safety and security it brings, has given the opportunity for fans to visibly stand in solidarity with LGBT+ Russians as well as raise the conversation about LGBT+ inclusion within sport and broader society. I’m going to the World Cup because it is the biggest competition in the world and, as a lifelong football fan, I’ve wanted to attend a World Cup for years. I remember the heartbreak as a nine-year-old when Seaman was lobbed against Brazil in 2002. I still live the pain of the penalty defeat in 2006 against Portugal, the goal that was never given in 2010 and the flop of 2014. The passion of the game is embedded in every fan, from whichever nation in the world. Football has the power to use that passion for creating social change and improving the lives of millions worldwide – standing in solidarity with LGBT+ Russians is an important part of the trip. Meetings and events are already planned, conversations are continually being had. Since news broke of the threats we have faced for daring to discuss LGBT+ equality within football, the international response and largely positive reaction has been superb – the media have begun to shine a light on the difficulties LGBT+ fans face, as well as the day-to-day reality for many LGBT+ Russians. I collected my ticket last weekend, and when I did felt an instant air of excitement with an undertone of apprehension – I’m still not sure whether I’ll be safe or whether there will be any further threats of violence against us. Regardless, come next Thursday my exams season will be over and I’ll be packing my bags for Moscow, ready to stand proud and cheer on the Three Lions."

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Translations...

Last Saturday night Stuart and I went to see Brian Friel's seminal play Translations at the Olivier Theatre in London's glitzy South Bank.

Starring Colin Morgan as Owen, Seamus O'Hara as Manus, Ciaran Hinds as Hugh, and Dermot Crowley as Jimmy Jack Cassie the play tells of the occupation of a quite Irish community by the British and their systematic renaming of Irish place names from Irish to English. There is much fun to be had as the Irish discuss philosophy in their native tongue and speak to each other in Latin while the English simply talk loudly and patronising slowly to try and be understood. Initially Captain Lancey played by Rufus Wright and Lieutenant Yolland played by Adetomiwa Edun are comic English army caricatures. But soon things take a nasty turn.

It was a good night out and Brian Friel sure knows how to write funny line to relive the political tension.


But... enjoyable though the play was - I might have a few comments to make about the narrative - the structure. (Oh dear, he's the playwright - what do I know?)

*** SPOILERS ***
After the English sapper does missing in act two it is as if we have missed out an entire set of scenes. One second he's there all loved up with his Irish girl and the next scene not only has he gone missing but there has apparently played out an extensive back story of his absence being reported to his company, a search has started, questioning has gone on, no one is talking, accusations of foul play have been levelled and the no doubt dramatic scene of his beloved finding he's gone. That is all missed out. We are straight into the "let's have the English come in hard and act like oppressive dicks and threaten to level the place."  Now I'm not saying that wouldn’t have happened but surely it wold have been more powerful to show how the initial fragile bonhomie between the Irish and English deteriorates. It would have been way more dramatic to show the uneasy trust crumble than just has it disappear in a puff of smoke. It's not so much that it's too fast a change in the action as it's a seismic one. There's more drama to be had speeding down a steep hill and crashing into a wall than falling off a cliff. Both achieve the same end but one seems like misfortune, one seems like fate. Fate is more dramatic happenstance.

And I can't help but feel the play had an ending that was too sudden. So sudden it made us look at each other in surprise. "Oh" we said. "Is that it?" We felt a bit robbed of the final show down. Where was the Irish fight back? The riposte. The cry of pain.

But as I say, he's the playwright - what do I know?!

So mild structural issues aside, we really enjoyed it.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Sometimes it’s the little things that matter. But matter they do. @spenley sporting #RainbowLaces on @BBCClick @gaygooners Thanks Spencer!

Sometimes it’s the little things that matter. But matter they do. Spencer Kelly was wearing Rainbow Laces on BBC Click's item about tech behind the World Cup in Russia. Thanks Spencer!


Friday, June 08, 2018

Brilliantly Beautiful Thing. A gay fairy tale, 25 years on still funny, poignant and power to shock and delight. #beautifulthing @abovethestag @ryan_anders95 @TheJoshuaAsare @KieranMortell @phoebevigor @KylaFrye @JOJEHARVEY

Last night Stuart and I went to see the twentieth-fifth anniversary revival of the wonderfully romantic play Beautiful Thing at the newly opened Above The Stag Theatre in London's glitzy Vauxhall.

Jonathan Harvey's tale of love blossoming between two teenage boys in a Thamesmead council block still retains all the humour and emotional clarity that it did when the original opened 25 years ago. Ste loves football. Jamie is in love with Ste. Ste gets hit by his Dad. Jamie is at odds with his Mum. But this is a fairy story in every sense so it all comes right in the end. Despite being very familiar with the story it actually made me cry. But it wasn't the love that set me off. It was the domestic violence.

So it perhaps goes without saying that I thought the acting was great, the music sublime and the production fitted the small theatre perfectly well. The first half perhaps wasn't quite as good as the second - but after the interval everything seemed to gel just perfectly. Shame about the trains running overhead every few minutes but then to be honest that's probably quite fitting for a South London housing estate!

Kyla Frye was great as overbearing mother Sandra. The two male leads, Joshua Asare and Ryan Anderson, were super as the star-crossed lovers Jamie and Ste. Phoebe Vigor was also good as Mama Cass obsessed Leah. And Kieran Mortell played Tony - possibly too handsome - to the distraction of also everything else on stage!

We had seats front, centre - so close to the action we could almost get in the bed with them.

At its heart a gay fairy tale, 25 years on it's still funny, poignant and has the power to shock and delight.

Brilliantly Beautiful Thing.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Andrei Kanchelskis vs. The Scottish Bastard...

Andrei Kanchelskis, the former Man U player, has a great story about meeting Fergie for the first time.


Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Julie @NationalTheatre - Outstanding performances by all concerned. Socially and politically pertinent - I loved it. @VanessaKirby, @EKAbrefa and @thalteixeira

Last Friday night Stuart and I went to see Julie at the Lyttelton Theatre in the Lyttelton Theatre on London's glitzy South Bank.

Based upon Miss Julie written by August Strindberg in 1888 the play caused a sensation back then as it will do now in it's modern day version. We see wild parties, drugs, sex, thumbing house music, booze, hedonism, privilege, exposure, shame, regret, tragedy and a lot of dishwashers.

Yes, the play has indeed been thoroughly modernised by Polly Stenham for the young modern audience. And it seems to have largely worked. The audience around us were dancing in their seats, gasping at the disrespect, and traumatised by the ending. Engaged throughout.

The fireworks of the hedonistic party scene contrasted perfectly with the shades of the encounters between the three principal characters - Julie (Vanessa Kirby, the daughter of the house), Jean (Eric Kofi Abrefa, her father’s valet), and in the household kitchen, domain of Kristin, the cook (Thalissa Teixeira, Jean’s fiancee).

Outstanding performances by all concerned.

Socially and politically pertinent then as now - I loved it.

Monday, June 04, 2018

England v Nigeria @FIFAWorldCup friendly @WembleyStadium Thanks @FA @PrideInFootball @3LionsPride #ThreeLions...









Great fun with the gang at the England vs Nigeria game at Wembley on Saturday night.

Thanks to the FA, 3 Lions Pride, and Pride in Football for arranging the tickets.

Guess who was waving the Rainbow Flag at the stadium? LOL






Friday, June 01, 2018

Solo : A Star Wars Story.... Cheers Chewie!

Lovely cinema, comfy seats, they don’t sell popcorn - so no annoying kids running about, chatting, or on their phones! Oh and they sell beer on a Friday morning. Cheers Chewie!

*** Mild Spoilers *** 
I enjoyed the film. Mostly. But then my expectations had been somewhat tempered by the lukewarm reviews I had read though. It certainly introduces some of the classic ideas (Mil Falcon, catch phrases etc.) 
The first act was a little uneven I thought. Too much shouting, running and dark sets. Could have been a TV show. 
The heist middle section was much better. Large big action pieces which seemed to be have copied from various recent Bond movies. Not a bad thing as it turned out. Exciting, funny and a rollercoaster. A bit like old school Star Wars. Robot L3 was an utter star.
The final third act felt a bit of an anticlimax though. Plotted rather like an Oceans 11 ending - cross, after cross after double cross.
Not sure Solo adds much to the SW universe but as I say enjoyable all the same.