Quote Of The Day

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

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

The Art of Banksy…

Last Friday afternoon Stuart and I went to see The Art of Banksy exhibition in London's glitzy West End.

The showcase features original and authenticated works associated with, arguably, the most intriguing and talked-about artist in modern history. Prints, canvasses, screen-prints, sculptures, unique works and limited-edition pieces mainly dated between the years 1997 to 2008, the show covers the period which resulted in Banksy’s most recognisable and well-known works. "Girl and Balloon", "Flower Thrower" and "Rude Copper" alongside some of Banksy’s lesser known masterpieces.

Banksy is of course most infamous for his outdoor art which can be found in streets all around the world. Banksy’s indoor pieces - original and unique works on canvas, wood and paper - have been less exposed and are also on display at this exhibition.

It's not cheap to get in - so if you just want to save some money - yet see the images - take a look below. It’s what Banksy would have wanted. The show is unendorsed.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Van Gogh Alive…

Last Saturday morning Stuart and I went to see Van Gogh Alive immersive exhibition in London's glitzy Kensington Gardens.
Consisting of large screens displaying the life and works of Vincent Van Gogh the show was fun enough... But not as good at the other truly immersive Van Gogh experience coming to Commercial St soon (which we saw in York last autumn)
Go and see that other one.

Monday, June 28, 2021

In The Heights...

Last Saturday night Stuart and I went to see In The Heights in London's glitzy Angel Vue Cinema.

Lin-Manuel Miranda can do no wrong these days and this will certainly add to his reputation as writer, producer, singer and actor in and of musicals.

With echoes of the musical Rent and Hair the action, singing and dancing all take place within New York's Latino community. Hot summer days, blackouts, life on the street - it's a heady mix of the trials and tribulations of living in an American city.

Anthony Ramos is the film's star (as Usnavi de la Vega) and his broad infectious smile won us over within minutes.

The set musical pieces are all glorious; the pool-based Busby Berkeley number, the nail shop, the subway dancing, and the dancing up the side of the building being particular stand-outs. The acting is good, the dancing spot on, the songs are all winners, and the singing is great.

We came out of the auditorium grinning from ear to ear and didn't seem to have noticed the 2h 23 m running time. 8/10.

Friday, June 25, 2021

After Life @ Dorfman Theatre...

Last night Stuart and I went to see Jack Thorne’s stunning version of Hirokazu Kore-eda’s magical realist film After Life at Dorfman Theatre on London's glitzy South Bank.

The action is set in a small, mid-20th century bureaucratic waiting room between life and death. The room is floor-to-ceiling filing cabinets, angle-poised lamps, and office furniture.

Every Monday, a group of recently deceased people check-in for one week: they are the guided. They have that week to identify their happiest memory, after which the officials, (the guides) must design and stage those memories. In this way, the souls will be able to re-experience this moment for eternity, forgetting the rest of their life.

The show initially asks the question: if you could spend eternity with just one precious memory, what would it be?

The conflict, and so the drama, of the play comes from the struggles the guided have in choosing (and reliving) what they think might be happy memories. Honesty and truth can be hard to face when you don't know what 'happy' means. And then there are the murky thoughts of murderers and the unloved.

In the development phase of the film, the Kore-eda interviewed more than five hundred people from disparate social backgrounds, asking them to tell him about their memories and choose the single one they would keep. Kore-eda was "intrigued by how often people chose upsetting experiences".

And so we find in Thorne’s version too as the guided grapple with this impossible question while being encouraged by the enigmatic officials.

Eventually, when chosen, each memory is altered in some way by the guided. An alteration that people often do when they reply on recall. Here the memories are subjectively revised, enhanced and reinterpreted before being finally staged and recreated. These memories are not fixed. They are form of therapy for each character.

Directed by Jeremy Herrin, designed by Bunny Christie and co-produced by Headlong and starring Olatunji Ayofe, Nino Furuhata, Danielle Henry, Maddie Holliday, Togo Igawa, Anoushka Lucas, Kevin McMonagle, Jack James Ryan, Simon Startin, Luke Thallon, June Watson and Millicent Wong.

We loved it. It was thought provoking, dreamy, funny, and cleverly staged. And the finale, as the memories are all recreated on stage, brought tears to my eyes. Ironically for a play about death, it is magically life-affirming.

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Doctor Who: Time Fracture…

**No Spoilers**  **Well, maybe a few small ones***
Last Saturday night Stuart and I went to the 'ground-breaking Immersive Theatrical Adventure' (it says here) Doctor Who: Time Fracture in London's glitzy Davis Street.
A bit silly, somewhat messy, and quite chaotic, Doctor Who: Time Fracture starts from the moment we had your temperature taken outside UNIT HQ. UNIT (Unified Intelligence Taskforce) soldiers were there to greet us before we were ushered inside and given a briefing by their boss. We were volunteers, recommended by The Doctor, who have come to save all of Time and Space. A bomb has been dropped during the Blitz in 1942 and it has created a fracture in time, which we are here to investigate and, hopefully, fix. We then stepped out of the briefing room and into the beating, beeping, and whirring heart of UNIT's mission control centre where the 'fun' started.
What followed over the next two hours was lots of running around, being shouted at by men in white lab coats, a few Daleks bumping about, and being ushered into and out of a series of admittedly very impressively constructed Doctor Who sets/worlds. 
The production values are high, I'll give it that, but the narrative less so. We had no idea hwat was going on. And inevitably due to the nature of immersive theatre, it is impossible to see everything, so we were left with the feeling "what did I miss?" There are 13 sets: the only ones we glimpsed were the Alien Marketplace, Elizabeth I's Court, Da Vinci's room, Shakespeare's room, Torchwood lab (both Victorian and modern), and the Cybermen's icy tomb. Each set (and within those sets) were multiple tasks to complete. The tasks generally came to nought though as they seemed to just be ways to pass the time.
Equally frustrating to not see it all, we were unable to roam around so had to follow whichever random staffer grabbed us.
Luckily for us our little group of four were grabbed by a woman in fatigues and assigned as archaeologists tasked with finding certain alien artefacts. This involved some bartering with a bar tender, a bit of hunting through a broken washing machine, and negotiating a trade with pig-man wheeler-dealer Brolls (played by Maxwell Tyler). Once we obtained all the artefacts that allowed us to enter a hidden place no one else did - and release a Doctor Who foe that ended up invading all the other scenes. Opps.
There is a much needed 30 minute mid-show interval with a bar, toilets and cabaret (with stunning voices of a Silurian and a Crespallion.)
The story then continues through a dark corridor where we meet some other enemies of The Doctor in a genuinely terrifying encounter, and then we arrive at the National Gallery, in front of the painting Gallifrey Falls No More, before being thrust into the heart of a Time Lord debate, where the whole story comes to a head. 
With cameos from well-known aliens, and even more well known faces and voices, this production is a treat for any Whovian. However whilst the story might be clever and interesting, it gets lost and becomes confusing and muddled. Paired with a sound design that favours atmospherics over dialogue and you end up with significant moments becoming a struggle to understand what the hell is going on. 
As the show reaches its extended climax (on a well-known planet), the narrative becomes only slightly clearer. A fun night out but I can only give it 3/5. Fun to spot the DW Easter Eggs but it is all a bit of a mess. It needs much more focus.

Tuesday, June 22, 2021

No Strings Attached @ Kings Head Theatre …

Last Friday night Stuart and I went to the Kings Head Theatre in glitzy Islington to see Charles Entsie’s sexy two-hander No Strings Attached. 
Two men (simply called Man and Boy) have just had sex in car. In a car park. And we pick up the ‘action’ in the awkward moments afterwards. Usual protocol at this point would dictate that they part ways. But they don’t.
Things start off slow as the characters try to work each other out whilst keeping their cards very close to their chests but as the play rolls along and the tension ramps up they start to lower their guard. Yet are either of them really truthful with the other? It is clear why Charles’ script won the Adrian Pagan Award for New Writing. It is a terrific achievement for a new writer to have a dramatic piece of dialogue that hits so many beats whilst never dropping the atmosphere for a second.
Shak Benjamin, as Boy, is mesmerising to watch. He plays Boy with the edge of a guy from the ‘hood and from the streets. We can truly see every thought that crosses his mind, and in the moments where he lets his vulnerability slip we can see how afraid he is and the actions that those emotions lead him to.
Razak Osman completes the cast as Man. Emotionally, Razak has further to go and he really pulls it off. Wanting to share his life outside of his car with Boy, while being careful to not reveal too much, the conflict inside Razak is clear to see. The chemistry between the two performers was electric and it was impossible to look away – even when the characters are distracted by noises from outside the safety of their car our eyes were glued, through the windscreen, to the pair inside.
On the face of it the play should be a simple production to mount as it only requires two actors. However, the difficulty arises when you realise nearly the entire show takes place inside a car. Logistically this would normally present a challenge, yet the creative team did a fabulous job in creating a makeshift car out of scaffolding which was affixed with headlights, exhaust, reclining car seats, opening doors and much more. The fact they had all these working parts surrounding their actors while keeping the performers visible is a testament to the work that went into this production so a massive congratulations should go to set designer Sorcha Corcoran and lighting designer and production manager Richard Lambert for the impressive staging.
Well done to all involved.


Thursday, June 17, 2021

Day 13 : Coastal Path : Kingswear -> Brownstone -> Coleton Fishacre…

Today we took the stunning costal path from Kingswear, Brownstone, and on to D’Oyly Carte’s beautiful house and gardens at Coleton Fishacre.

Wednesday, June 16, 2021

Day 12 : Trail to Greenway (Agatha Christie’s house)…

Today we walked the lush woodland trail up the river Dart to Greenway, Agatha Christie’s house. With a few stops for sustenance on the way.

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Day 11 : Dartmouth Ferries, Steam Trains and Paddlesteamers…

We had a super day yesterday messing about in ferry boats, taking a steam train to Paighton, and a paddle-steamer out into the English Channel.