Quote Of The Day

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

Friday, July 29, 2022

A Royal Day Out @ Buckingham Palace... Review ->

Yesterday Stuart and I went on a glitzy Royal Day Out snooping around glitzy Buckingham Palace in London's glitzy West End.
In our ongoing task of 'being a tourist in your own town' we knew we were going to eventually have to take the regal plunge.
The Summer Opening of Buckingham Palace is an annual event that normally attracts swarms of tourists - mainly foreigners, but lots of Brits too - to the Queen's big house.
And you know what? It was OK. A bit pricey. A bit of a bun fight. We were herded like sheep. But it was fun.
First up was The Queen's Gallery. The current exhibition is Japan: Courts and Culture, featuring some of the most significant examples of Japanese art and design from the Royal Collection. There were some nice pieces for sure.  Especially the armoury.
Then we visited The Royal Mews, which is probably one of the finest working stables in existence and responsible for all road travel arrangements for The Queen and members of the Royal Family. We saw some historic coaches and carriages, some cars, the new and very glitzy Diamond Jubilee State Coach, and of course the big old glitzy Gold State Coach.
Finally, we visited the magnificently glitzy State Rooms in Buckingham Palace itself. Used by The Queen for ceremonial occasions and official entertaining, each room is furnished with many of the treasures from the Royal Collection, including paintings by Rembrandt and Rubens; sculpture by Canova; and some of the finest English and French furniture in the world. 
The special display was the Platinum Jubilee: The Queen's Accession featuring the first official portraits of the young Queen and items of personal jewellery. Glitzy. Very glitzy.
Our day ended with a walk through the famous Buckingham Palace Garden, with splendid views of the Palace and the famous lake.
We were a bit glitzed out by the end.

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Opening Ceremony of the London Olympics 2012…

10 years ago yesterday Stuart and I were lucky enough to go to the Opening Ceremony of the London Olympics 2012.  It was utterly amazing. Probably the most exciting thing we had ever seen. Like Playschool on acid. 

Friday, July 22, 2022

Jack Absolute Flies Again @ Olivier Theatre “Flatulence will get you nowhere”. Review->

Last night Stuart and I went to see Richard Bean's rip-roaring 1940s-set new play Jack Absolute Flies Again - his take on Sheridan's 1775 play The Rivals - at the Olivier Theatre on London's glitzy South Bank.
Starring Laurie Davidson as air pilot Jack Absolute the story of A loves B, B loves C, C loves themselves is set on an RAF requisitioned country house during World War II.
The script is very funny - all jolly hockey-sticks but with a modern post-modern twist. It strays into panto every now and again - but who doesn't like a good panto?
The plot is silly but engaging with an ending of bitter-sweetness.
The object of Jack's love is Lydia played by Natalie Simpson. Simpson is a delight, showing great comic timing. Hunky mechanic Dudley Scunthorpe is played by hunky Strictly winner Kelvin Fletcher.  Fletcher, along with the rest of the cast, even gets to dance too.
Both however are outflanked by scene stealing performances from Kerry Howard as Lucy, the unreliable go-betweening maid, and by Caroline Quentin's gloriously mis-speaking Mrs Malaprop.
Indeed, Quentin is given all the best lines:
Flatulence will get you nowhere. 
You’ve found the trellis where I’ve been training my climbing clitoris. 
I feel like a character from The Cunt of Monte Crisco. 
Carpe diem. Seize the carpet. 
etc. etc.
Well, worth a trip to the theatre alone. We laughed all the way through.

Thursday, July 21, 2022

101 Dalmatians @OpenAirTheatre "it gives me great pleasure to write... a great piece of new British musical theatre! A joy. Utter Dalmatian"... #DouglasHodge @KateFleetwood @TobyOlie #101Dalmatians Review ->

Last night Roger and I went to see new musical 101 Dalmatians at the Regents Park Open Air Theatre in London's glitzy Regents Park.
And as if to over-egg the puppy packed park-based pudding still further, the action is itself set in Regents Park.
First off, let me say it was a great show. In fact, a great piece of new British musical theatre. And it gives me great pleasure to write those words. It's not playing to the tourist crowd per se; the songs and the jokes are very British; the set-up, manners and politeness are all delightfully British; and Cruella De Vil is played to the max in a devilishly evil Essex accent.
And let's face it, it's Kate Fleetwood's fabulous Cruella De Vil we have come to see. The show wasn't quite the same whenever she was absent from the stage!
That said, Timothy Sheader's whole direction and Colin Richmond's set design is very clever and never nothing but diverting. 101 dogs do appear - not only dalmatians - all inventively magicked up as a variety of puppets - some with solo performers, some with two. Full marks to puppetry design and direction by Toby Olié.
The songs were fab too. Some gloriously topical - the song about turning criminal was laugh out loud funny. Round of applause to Douglas Hodge for the music and lyrics, the book by Johnny McKnight from a stage adaptation by Zinnie Harris. 
Yes, the show was not without its small faults - but these were mainly technical as the show is still in previews. The sound balance isn't quite right so we can't quite catch all the plainly witty lyrics and some of the dance scenes look rather crowded.  But these are only very minor quibbles.
Congratulations especially to Pongo (head Ben Thompson, voice Danny Collins) and Perdi (head Yana Penrose, voice Emma Lucia) and all the rest of the cast. 
And last but not least, for it is a musical after all, big ups to Tarek Merchant as Musical Director, and to Sarah Travis as Musical Supervisor and Orchestrator.
A joy.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

Prom 7: Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas @ Royal Albert Hall "Containing what many believe to be one of the greatest English songs ever"... Review ->

Last night Paul, Helen, Trevor and I went to listen to David Bates and the La Nuova Musica choir perform Henry Purcell’s monumental work, the Baroque opera Dido and Aeneas as part of the 2022 Proms at the Royal Albert Hall in London's glitzy South Kensington.
Containing what many believe to be one of the greatest English songs ever created, Dido and Aeneas was written almost 340 years ago making it one of the earliest known English operas. It recounts the love of Dido, Queen of Carthage, for the Trojan hero Aeneas, and her despair when he abandons her.
The performance was excellent. Alice Coote as Dido was outstanding, James Newby as Aeneas was first class, Gemma Summerfield as Belinda was powerful, and the La Nuova Musica choir sung their hearts out.
However, the night was rather stolen by the three semi-naked sailors. Nicky Spence, Luke Cartwright, and Owen Morris performed the dance of Purcell's The Sailors' Dance to the choreography of Beyoncé's Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It). Fabulously funny.
Another highlight for me was the rousing "So Fair the Game, So Rich the Sport."  Love that tune.
Other notable parts were sung by Madeleine Shaw as Sorceress, Nardus Williams as Second Woman, Tim Mead as Spirit, Helen Charlston as First Witch, and Martha McLorinan as Second Witch
The ever-talented David Bates not only conducted the piece but also played the harpsichord. Clever chap.
Oh , and that greatest English song (covered by Alison Moyet, Annie Lennox, Justin Vivien Bond et al)?
Dido sings it as her last dying aria, "When I Am Laid in Earth", also known as "Dido's Lament."
It's a corker I can tell you.
Dido's Lament 
Thy hand, Belinda, darkness shades me,
On thy bosom let me rest,
More I would, but Death invades me;
Death is now a welcome guest.
When I am laid, am laid in earth,
May my wrongs create
No trouble, no trouble in thy breast;
Remember me, remember me, but ah! forget my fate.
Remember me, but ah! forget my fate.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Book launch: Love from the Pink Palace: Memories of Love, Loss and Cabaret through the AIDS Crisis @TheRVT @THTorguk : Review ->

Last night Darren, Stuart and I went down to the Royal Vauxhall Tavern in glitzy Vauxhall to attend Jill Nalder's launch of her book Love from the Pink Palace: Memories of Love, Loss and Cabaret through the AIDS Crisis.
Made famous by It's a Sin, Jill's book was a labour of love.
Partly as a fundraiser for THT, the night started off as an interview / Q&A with Jill. Then things moved on to a full-on musical theatre cabaret by the WestEnders performing songs from Les Misérables, Dreamgirls, Evita, Phantom of the Opera and much else besides. The night ended with a book signing - all the books being bought from a Gays The Word concession stand.
For those of you perhaps not familiar with her story, when Jill Nalder arrived at drama school in London in the early 1980s, she was ready for her life to begin. With her band of best friends - of which many were young, talented gay men with big dreams of their own - she grabbed London by the horns: partying with drag queens at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, hosting cabarets at her glamorous flat, flitting across town to any jobs she could get.
But soon rumours were spreading from America about a frightening illness being dubbed the 'gay flu', and Jill and her friends now found their formerly carefree existence under threat.
In this moving memoir, Jill tells the true story of her and her friends' lives during the AIDS crisis - juggling a busy West End career while campaigning for AIDS awareness and research, educating herself and caring for the sick. Most of all, she shines a light on those who were stigmatised and shamed, and remembers those brave and beautiful boys who were lost too soon.