Quote Of The Day

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

Friday, October 29, 2021

Zap! Got a shock. Fusebox mislabelled. #Leaveittotheprofessionalsnexttime

Thought I’d do a spot of rewiring as the lighting  dimmer was playing up. Assumed I’d turned the power off first. Wrong! Confusion over fuse box labelling. Handling live wires! ⚡️ Got a slight tingling but luckily not a bad shock. 😳 Lighting fixed now though! πŸ’‘  …and fuse box correctly labelled #Leaveittotheprofessionalsnexttime 




Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Members, Darling, Members…

So, at the London Coliseum on Saturday night Paul and I found ourselves in the Members Room. Of course we did!










Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Satyagraha @ London Coliseum...

Last Saturday night Paul and I went to the Philip Glass opera Satyagraha performed at the English National Opera's home of the London Coliseum in the glitzy West End.

It was as fantastic and moving as it was the four previous times I had seen it.

It was brilliantly hypnotic. Jaw-droppingly wonderful. In has to be in the top ten best things I've seen on stage.

The opera is in three acts for orchestra, chorus and soloists. It was composed by Glass, with a libretto by Glass and Constance de Jong. It's loosely based on the life of Mohandas Gandhi. The term satyagraha is the philosophy and practice of nonviolent resistance developed by Gandhi himself.

Act I. Tolstoy
On the Kuru Field of Justice
Tolstoy Farm (1910)
The Vow (1906)

Act II. Tagore
Confrontation and Rescue (1896)
Indian Opinion (1906)
Protest (1908)

Act III. King
New Castle March (1913)

Philip Glass's music is simply glorious: those repetitive patternings shifting and shining with ingenious rhythmic and melodic ideas, interlocking, overlapping, yet ever calm. But it was the staging that made the night so wonderful. So enchanting.

The original director of the piece was Phelim McDermott (Shockheaded Peter) and Julian Crouch is the associate director and set designer. Boy, did they do an amazing job. The revival director is Peter Relton and he has recreated McDermott's magic.

All three acts take place within an arc-like wall of curving corrugated iron. Within the slow waves of music and human movement, an ensemble of acrobats and puppeteers conjure miracle after miracle. Newsprint looms large: there is a ubiquitous whispering of newspaper as sheets are shifted, read (the founding of Indian Opinion was central to Gandhi’s work) — and then, almost imperceptibly, formed into gigantic papier-mΓ’chΓ© puppet-figures of gods, beasts and politicians.

High in the iron wall, windows disclose the three iconic figures who watch over the three acts: Tolstoy, Tagore and Martin Luther King.

The beauty of the sung Sanskrit is bewitching: sober sepia projections of key passages replace supertitles; but verbal comprehension isn’t really the point. Although it would be inappropriate to single out individual performances in a work that has so little to do with conventional operatic glory, Sean Panikkar’s central performance as Gandhi is a masterpiece of compelling clarity and absorption. Conductor Carolyn Kuan demands a special mention too.

As the last act unfolds, the great wall buckles and disintegrates, leaving a miming silhouette of the preaching King high on his plinth, and the diminutive figure of Gandhi below, singing a simple rising scale — no fewer than thirty times.

Stand out moments of the night for me were:

- the amazing floating coat hangers and the equally amazing floating lights lifted up high above the stage
- the weaving and crumpling up of a huge web of Sellotape to produce at first a barrier, then a giant puppet man then an image of Gandhi himself
- the long newspaper streams across the stage that became first another barrier, then wings for Gandhi and then again sky-high banners for projecting words all in one fluid motion.

Image after image is etched indelibly on the memory, in its masterly fusion of the aural and the visual. If you ever get a chance - go see.

Monday, October 25, 2021

Ol’ Blue Eyes Is Back…

Yesterday Stu and I went to see Dune at the Vue in glitzy Islington. We loved it. Much better than the David Lynch 1984 version. It takes it’s time (a good thing) and obviously director Villeneurve is a fan of the book as it is pretty damned faithful to it. Fingers crossed the world wide market supports it and he get green-lit to make Part 2. 

 



Friday, October 22, 2021

East is East @ Lyttelton Theatre...

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

Based on Ayub Khan-Din's original play at the Royal Court Theatre in 1997 and then on the film in 1999 East is East is a comedy-drama set in Salford, Greater Manchester in 1971.

The action takes place in a mixed-ethnicity household that is headed by Pakistani father George Khan (Tony Jayawardena) aided by an English mother, Ella (the wonderful Sophie Stanton).

Despite moving to the UK as an Indian citizen (12 years before Partition) George expects his family to follow Pakistani ways, but his seven children, who were born and grew up in Britain, increasingly see themselves as British and reject Pakistani customs of dress, food, religion, and living in general, leading to a rise in tensions and conflicts in the whole family.

It's a very funny play and while exploring multiculturalism in the early 1970s still resonates today.

Recommended.

Thursday, October 21, 2021

Erasure @ O2 Arena...

Last Sunday night Stuart, Tim, Andy, Ange, Kev and I (along with the world and his husband) went to see the magnificent Erasure perform at The O2 Arena in London's glitzy North Greenwich.




Ostensibly to promote their new album The Neon the marvellous duo of Andy Bell and Vince Clark put on a great show, as ever, for a very enthusiastic crowd.
 
Andy bounded on to the stage dressed in a blue corset while Vince wore a simple suit.
 
For the next 1 hour 45 minutes we were treated to all the hits and more - along with some fan-voted favourites and four tracks from said new album.



 
The Neon is Erasure's 18th album and is a return to form with lots of banging tunes well-suited to a largely standing venue when people really just wanted to dance, dance, dance baby.  
 
Whenever another high-tempo hit came on the place erupted again in a sea of cheers, dancing and singing. And the hits kept on coming. It was perhaps the biggest karaoke venue in town.
 
For the encore the boys were joined on stage by an all-female choir: Funky Voices




 
Even as the last notes of A Little Respect died away the crowd kept singing it all the way out of the venue, along the street and down onto the Jubilee Line. There is a lot of love out there for these boys.
 
The full set-list was
 
Intro: Joe 90 Theme
Chorus
Hey Now (Think I Got a Feeling)
Fill Us With Fire
Sacred
The Circus
Who Needs Love Like That
Nerves of Steel
Blue Savannah
Chains of Love
Turns the Love to Anger
Careful What I Try To Do
Sometimes
Save Me Darling
Shot A Satellite
Love to Hate You
Love Is a Stranger (Eurythmics cover)
Drama!
Always
Stop!
Push Me Shove Me
Victim of Love
 
Encore:
Oh l'amour (with Funky Voices)
A Little Respect (with Funky Voices)




 

Wednesday, October 20, 2021

The Mirror and The Light @ Gielgud Theatre...

Last Friday night Stuart and I went to see the thrilling stage finale to Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall trilogy, The Mirror and The Light, at the Gielgud Theatre in London's glitzy West End.

The trilogy tells the story of the rise and fall of Thomas Cromwell, Henry VIII’s chief fixer, who rose from poverty to become one of the most powerful men in English history. The Mirror and The Light very much concerns itself with the fall!

Adapted by Hilary Mantel herself and Ben Miles (who plays Cromwell) condensing the 900-plus page into a tight two-and-a-half-hour show can't have been easy.

We get a lot of Henry VIII's (Nathaniel Parker) troubled love life: the aftermath of Anne Boleyn’s execution, his brief happy marriage to Jane Seymour (Olivia Marcus); his briefer, much less happy marriage Anna of Cleves (Rosanna Adams). We see Thomas Cromwell (Ben Miles) bring about a reconciliation with the king’s fanatical daughter, Mary (Melissa Allan). And, of course, there’s the fallout from Henry’s schism with the church and dissolution of the monasteries, who leads to a revolt in the North.

Ultimately unable to negotiate Henry’s capricious whims though Cromwell is admitted to the Tower of London on charges of treason and heresy. Squaring up to his enemies - mainly Norfolk (Nicholas Woodeson) who is desperate to take the country back to the way it used to be - Cromwell is increasingly haunted by the ghosts of the friends he tried and failed to save, notably his mentor Cardinal Wolsely (Tony Turner). Cromwell, despite being a shifty political operator, is finally out of his depth.

For us the audience, the end, when it comes, is a bit of an anti-climax though - having been so heavily foreshadowed.

The play is less of a tragedy and more of a funny political thriller. And, yes, there are parallels with Brexit too - self-interested English politicians tearing up the status quo without much idea of what they’re doing has a clear resonance.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

Dad…

Our family friend Doreen painted a picture of Dad for my 60th.  I got it framed.  Love it. 




Monday, October 18, 2021

The Shark is Broken @ Ambassadors Theatre...

Last Thursday night Stuart and I went to see The Shark is Broken at the Ambassadors Theatre in London’s glitzy West End.

The premise is brilliant.

Cape Cod, 1974: shooting on Steven Spielberg’s ‘Jaws’ has stalled. The film’s lead actors – Robert Shaw, Roy Schneider and Richard Dreyfuss – are stuck on a boat, at the mercy of foul weather and a faulty mechanical co-star ‘Bruce’. Awash with alcohol and ambition, three hammered, heady sharks start to bare their teeth…

We had waited nearly two years to see the show after its rave reviews in Edinburgh. And it was worth the wait. The show was great, the script was very funny, and the three actors (Ian Shaw as Robert Shaw, Demetri Goritsas as Roy Scheider, Liam Murray Scott as Richard Dreyfuss) held the audience’s attention for an hour and a half with no interval. Special mention to Ian Shaw though ; his portrayal of his father Robert Shaw is spot on. The set is superb as well.

That said, it’s not really for the casually interested - but being a huge fan since release in 1975 and sucking up the various legends and tails (tales?) that is ‘Jaws’ I was amongst equally enthusiastic fans. There was a hubbub like a school nativity before the start. Not sure what the few children thought (bit sweary) and it’s hardly The Film That Goes Wrong but the rest of a full house clearly loved it. Fair to say they could do with a bigger theatre.


Friday, October 15, 2021

Thursday, October 14, 2021

Love and Other Acts of Violence @ Donmar Warehouse...

Last week Stuart and I went to see Cordelia Lynn’s new play Love and Other Acts of Violence at the Donmar Warehouse in London's glitzy Covent Garden.

Starting out as a two-hander on a bare stage with no scenery the play tells the story of the rise of Nazi Germany through the prism of an educated pair who are falling in love as around them the world turns to chaos.

She (Abigail Weinstock) is a young Jewish physicist initially in denial of what is happening around them - despite her grandmother's similar experiences in the past - and he (Richard Katz) is a left-wing poet ready to protest as each little freedom is taken away. They find it ironic and almost funny. They don't quite believe it - at first.

Their relationship is fractious, passionate, and very real. But as society splinters around them, the couple's struggle to survive erupts into violence both within their home and beyond.

Jarringly, the action then suddenly changes and jumps into the past - to the previously hinted at grandmother's own experiences of antisemitism. A full set descends onto the stage from above and a full cast of characters play out an horrific scene of family home invasion and bloody murder. It's a shocking watch.

Elayce Ismail directs the cast of Weinstock and Katz. All are excellent.

The night starts as a subversive and intimate love story about inheritance and the cycles of politics and history. But it soon descends into a very real story of just fucking horrible being Jewish must have been not only during the Nazi rise to power but for years and years before. Chilling.

Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Long(ish) Covid?

4 months since Covid but I dont know if I have some mild form of “long covid” or not but my sense of taste hasn't really returned and I am getting really tired in the afternoons and sleep much longer at night than even I did.  Hopefully it's just post-viral fatigue and will gradually go.

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Monday, October 11, 2021

I Love The NHS….

On Sunday morning I was still coughing badly. 7 days now. But as it was a Sunday, what to do? So I called the local pharmacy at 10am and they put me onto iHub - the Islington out of hours GP service. iHub were fab, a GP called me straight back and said I needed some cough mixture (how 1970s!) and some antibiotics and he was sending an E-prescription to my local pharmacy (via The Spine) as we spoke and if I pop down there right now I can pick both meds up. 
He paused and then said, “Whatsmore, I can see you have just celebrated turning 60 so it will all be free of charge for you today! Call me later if you feel any worse”
I do love our NHS. 
I was ill, it was out of hours yet… -> free consultation and free meds in minutes.

Friday, October 08, 2021

White Noise @_bridgetheatre - Be entertained, be challenged and, yes, be made to feel uncomfortable. Go see. Review ->>>

Last night Stuart and I went to see Suzan-Lori Parks's provocative, soul-searching, free-floating play about race; White Noise at The Bridge Theatre in London's glitzy London Bridge Quarter.

The venue sent us a content guidance before we went. Please note this play contains:
- Depictions of slavery and racial violence
- Discussions of racism and racial injustice
- Multiple gunshots
- Strobe lighting and haze throughout

They got that right!

Parks introduces us to four thirty-somethings; Leo (Ken Nwosu), Misha (Faith Omole), Ralph (James Corrigan) and Dawn (Helena Wilson) who have been inseparable since college. They were even in a band together.

We like these people. They are nice. A sort of Millennial Friends with lots of joking around. Making their way together in the Big City, they are what Americans call 'liberal', open-minded and socially aware. Misha is building her brand by live-streaming her broadly satirical one-woman talk show, "Ask a Black.”; Ralph is waiting for tenure at his university, and as a lawyer, Dawn spends her days fighting for social justice. Leo would be a talented visual artist – if only he could sleep. As best friends and lovers, confident in their woke-ness, their connection with each other is stronger than anything else – until, that is, Leo is assaulted by the police in a racially motivated incident. Shaken to the core, he brings to the close-knit group an extreme proposition.

Theatre goers wary of spoilers should look away now. ***Spoilers ahead!***

Consumed by anger with the racist police, Leo directs his rage at Ralph, challenging his white friend to pay off Leo’s student loans to rent him as his personal slave for 40 days. Leo jokes, at least as a slave he'll feel protected by his master. He says he feels like a slave sometimes anyway. And it might just help him understand his roots better and maybe even cure his insomnia.

Leo's three friends initially are appalled. But he gradually talks them round. Eventually they agree. Ralf will be Leo's master for 40 days. They all sign a contract.

Things starts off all very light-heartedly. Lots of knowing, post-modern play-acting. Although we as the audience squirm, the characters seem to be having fun with it.

However, the friends soon sink deeper and deeper into their master/slave roles. As a joke Ralf gets Leo to wear an antique slave collar — heavy, metal, aged, ugly, hurtful. It is genuinely shocking to watch.

Predictably relationships sour. As time goes by, the joking turns to awkwardness. The awkwardness to resentment. The resentment to anger. The anger to hate. The hate to violence. Yoda said it best.

At the end the woman behind us was calling out to the actors in fear, “Nooo!” The lady opposite us had her hands in front of her face.

Directed by Polly Findlay the play with its close relationships and casual couplings feels natural and unforced. But it's the content had us on the edges of our seats throughout despite its 160 mins running time. Frank discussions about race from all perspectives can and should make you feel uncomfortable. And Parks pulls no punches.

So, if you want to be entertained, to be challenged and, yes, to feel uncomfortable I don't think there is a better more vital place to go at the moment than The Bridge Theatre.

Thursday, October 07, 2021

Wake Up Call…

I asked the receptionist at my hotel if I could get a wake-up call.
They said "Your best years are slipping away from you. You drink too much. What are you doing with your life?" 

Wednesday, October 06, 2021

The Midnight Bell @ Sadler’s Wells Theatre...

Last night Stuart and I went to see Matthew Bourne’s new dance show The Midnight Bell at The Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London's glitzy Islington.

Exploring the seedy under-belly of 1930s London life where ordinary people emerge from cheap boarding houses nightly to pour out their passions, hopes and dreams in the pubs and bars of fog-bound Soho and Fitzrovia, The Midnight Bell is a dark, fluid and compelling show. The wonderful use of music from the period and the amazing dancers make it all look so effortless.

The Midnight Bell is based on the novels of Patrick Hamilton, author of Hangover Square and 20,000 Streets Under the Sky, as well as the plays Rope and Gas Light (which both famously became films). Disfigured in a car accident, Hamilton spend years drinking in Soho pubs and obsessed with a young sex worker, a storyline mirrored in the book that gave Bourne’s show its title. His books tell stories borne out of years of social interactions with the working man and woman at his favourite location - the London Pub.

Ten dancers. Five couples. All looking for love. "The relationships don’t all turn out well but it’s a world that’s believable," says Bourne. Regret, fumbling, and a hint of mystery. We loved it.

Monday, October 04, 2021

Brighton 0-0 Arsenal... Away Day fun.

We had a lovely away on Saturday by the seaside watching Arsenal take on Brighton. Sadly not a brilliant result but we had a fun time.






Friday, October 01, 2021

No Time to Die : a 3* Bond - Spoiler free comments ...

The good stuff...
Lots of call backs to previous Bond films
Lots of twists
Q is now a major character
Good actors in it
It's good to have Bond films back (i.e. action, car chases, shooting)

The bad stuff...
Way, way too long (it could have lost an hour and been better for that)
The plot was lame / confusing
The script was tepid
The jokes didn't land
The baddie wasn't 'bad' enough - and there were too many of them
Bourne and Mission Impossible films do it all so much better these days
Dan Craig looks his age
Twice I actually said to myself "what the fuck!" at some stupid plot point
It's a sort of mid-range Bond film in the Pierce Brosnan era.
Nothing like as good as Skyfall (high watermark Craig era).