Quote Of The Day

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

Saturday, April 29, 2023

Goodbye Dominic Raab. 2 As and a B. And good riddance.

I can’t let a recent political event pass without some comment. And it concerns the recent forehead-throbbing arrogant arse-wipe that is Dominic Raab and his ‘reluctant’ resignation after a full six months of investigation into bullying his staff. Yes, there was that much evidence against him. 

Consequences aren’t meant to come for men like you, are they, Dominic Raab?

I think can spot a bully a mile off. So when I first heard that there were ‘at least’ twenty-four separate civil servants involved in complaints against Raab my Spidey sense was tingling. 

We’ve all heard those words before you see, ‘I’m robust’,  ‘honest to a fault’, ‘a perfectionist with high standards,’ words that anyone who’s ever worked under a bully know are code for. 

Well, the investigation report is out now. And it makes for some pretty damning reading. 

Oh and Rishi Sunak ‘doesn’t recognise the characterisation’ of you as a raging bully, once again displaying just how hopelessly beyond the concerns of mere mortals his obscene wealth put him. 

Of course Sunak wouldn’t recognise the suffering of a few lowly civil servants. They’re downstairs people, aren’t they Sunak?

We really are at the fag end of this miserable government, pinwheeling from one pathetic scandal to another. 

Sunak is utterly trapped by his own spinelessness, knowing full well as he attempts to wiggle free that his authority is an illusion. It’s out of sheer desperation that he’s cleaving to embarrassing figures like Raab and Braverman; nasty, stunted little people who would be political deadwood in an administration with any genuine claim to ethical standards of any description.

Sunak’s not a leader and nor is he a man of principle and conviction. He’s a charlatan with no vision or legitimacy, forced by virtue of his own tenuous grip on power to let every scandal play out torturously in the press before he can even think about acting to resolve them. The threat of rebellion looms over him constantly, rendering him utterly impotent to punish even the most brazen misconduct. Just like Zahawi, Dominic Raab is a man without contrition, defiant until the very end.

The irony here is that the playground bully has gone and the hopeless weakling is left standing. 

Goodbye Dominic Raab. 2 As and a B. And good riddance.

Friday, April 28, 2023

F*cking Men "packed with dramatic irony, sexy, mildly titillating, sweet, insightful, risque but never coarse" @WaterlooEast @AlexJBritt @Charliecondou

Last night Steve and I went to the Waterloo East Theatre in glitzy Waterloo to see Joe DiPietro’s gay play F*cking Men. Actually, it's called Fucking Men but the posters were being a little coy.
This is an American story of hunger and desire introducing us to the (sex)lives of ten gay men who were all related to each other by sex. It is a loose adaptation of the 19th century play La Ronde in which pairings of characters are featured in scenes preceding and succeeding sexual encounters.
Hustler A meets squaddie B, squaddie B meets tutor C, tutor C meets student D, student D meets teacher E, teacher E lives with banker F, banker F meets porn star G, porn star G meets playwright H, playwright H meets movie star I, actor I meets TV interviewer J and TV interviewer J meets the original hustler A to complete the circle. 
A circle of jerks. A jerk circle. All well-rounded characters. Told with a ring of truth. (Ok, enough with the hoop metaphor already).
The characters are all played by Alex Britt, Charlie Condou, Derek Mitchell, and Stanton Plummer-Cambridge - all of whom are outstanding. 
The play was packed with dramatic irony, sexy, mildly titillating, sweet, insightful, risque but never coarse. The mainly gay audience found themselves reflected up on the stage in numerous scenes.
Updated for 2023 since its first version in 2009 it is now more explicit about biphobia, ageing, consent, being gay in the armed forces, and why there are still no "butt-f**king action heroes" on the Hollywood A-list.
As one character ponders in this version, is it even OK to say ‘gay’ anymore or should it be ‘queer’? Pornhub was in its infancy back in 2009 and there was no OnlyFans. Or vaping or Prep or #MeToo, all of which DiPietro weaves into the new script.
And it's very funny too. 
"I hate how I look when I am rimming," squeals a pornstar when his trick finds a clip of him on the internet. "I’m not gay, I’m in the army," says a first-timer squaddie with no hint of irony.
Actually, it was nice to go see a gay play which a) is funny, b) nobody dies, and c) the characters weren't punished for having sex.
So if you like your plays off-West End and off colour then this is the one for you. Unapologetically frank and ferociously funny
My favourite character was the plainly autobiographical obscure playwright (Mitchell) talking about his own gay play within his own gay play. Barfing at the mere mention of Broadway he intones, "My artistic ambition is to be CANCELLED!".
No such fate awaits DiPietro, whose work remains as vital and thought-provoking as ever.

Thursday, April 27, 2023

Dancing at Lughnasa... "Siobhán McSweeney puts in a star comedic turn and the dancing scene as hinted at in the title is raw, urgent, and fabulous" @NationalTheatre @NationalTheatre @siobhni

Last Friday night Stuart and I went to see a revival of Dancing at Lughnasa, the 1990 memory play by Brian Friel at the Olivier Theatre on London's glitzy South Bank.
Set in rural County Donegal in Ulster in August 1936 just outside the fictional town of Ballybeg the action, such that it is, takes place in to the small cottage.
It is a play told from the point of view of the adult Michael Evans (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor), the narrator. He recounts the summer in his aunts' cottage when he was seven years old at the time of Lughnasa (the pagan harvest festival.)
In the cottage live the five Mundy sisters (Kate, Maggie, Agnes, Rosie, and Christina), all unmarried. The oldest, Kate (Justine Mitchell), is a school teacher, the only one with a well-paid job. Agnes (Louisa Harland) and Rose (Bláithín Mac Gabhann) knit gloves to be sold in town, thereby earning a little extra money for the household. They also help Maggie (Siobhán McSweeney) to keep house. Maggie (Siobhán McSweeney) and Michael's mother Christina (Alison Oliver) have no income at all. Michael is seven years old and plays in and around the cottage.
Into this idyll comes Jack (Ardal O'Hanlon) back from Africa and Michael wayward father Gerry (Tom Riley).
Directed by Josie Rourke the play is lovely to watch and the women all give great performances. But for my taste it was all too gentle. It is all shamelessly sentimental and lacking in anything but simple sisterly bickering around the kitchen sink. And me, I prefer my kitchen sinks to have a bit more drama surrounding them. 
That said, Siobhán McSweeney puts in a star comedic turn and the dancing scene as hinted at in the title is raw, urgent, and fabulous.

Wednesday, April 26, 2023

U18 Arsenal 1 - 5 U18 West Ham : FA Youth Cup Final

A rather disappointing result at the Emirates last night at the FA Youth Cup Final.

West Ham youngsters came from a goal down to beat Arsenal 5-1 and win the Cup for the first time since 1999.

Omari Benjamin gave Jack Wilshire's Gunners an early lead, but a magnificent George Earthy strike into the top corner pulled West Ham level.

Callum Marshall converted Gideon Kodua's fizzing cross to complete the turnaround, before captain Kodua's sensational lob over Noah Cooper made it 3-1 before the break.

Kaelan Casey nodded home Ollie Scarles' cross to make it 4-1 with 12 minutes remaining, and Josh Briggs completed the scoring in front of 34,124 fans at Emirates Stadium.

Arsenal, aiming to lift the trophy for the first time since 2009, applied heavy pressure early in the second half without managing to carve out any meaningful opportunities to reduce the deficit.

Amario Cozier-Duberry hit the side-netting not long after half-time, before Michal Rosiak had a powerful effort saved by Hammers goalkeeper Mason Terry.

Tuesday, April 25, 2023

Self Tape... "Batten patently has an amazing body - and we do see a lot of it on stage - but perhaps the play itself is not quite so revealing." @kingsheadthtr @kingsheadtheatre

Last night Stuart and I went to see Self Tape, another show in A Queer Interrogation, a season curated by Tom Ratcliffe for The Takeover at the King's Head Theatre in London's glitzy Islington.
Self Tape is a monodrama written and performed by Michael Batten, and directed by Scott Le Crass. Batten plays super-buff Jonas, a jobbing-actor and council-estate boy 'done good'. Only the acting work is in short supply despite our hero submitting endless auditions for plays and adverts online. We, the audience, watch him record these short auditions with lots of funny asides from Jonas as what he really thinks about the products. 
We also see that to make ends meet Jonas works as a webcam 'model' (i.e. online sex-worker.) He gets his kit off and has sex for online payments. He keeps this cyber-sex side-hustle secret from his husband Kieran (who we never see) though but is the risk of exposure worth it?  As Jonas gets more deeply involved with one particular punter (Neil Burgess in a pre-recorded role) things start to take a turn for the sour. And things start to go off the rails when an attack from an unknown source looks to jeopardise his budding acting career.   
Written during lockdown, a period that saw an big rise in the camming industry, the piece attempts to hold a mirror up to contemporary society and explore modern relationships; in-person & virtual, aiming to break the manifold taboos of sex-work.
Batten patently has an amazing body - and we do see a lot of it on stage - but perhaps the play itself is not quite so revealing. The motivations get a little lost in the cyberspace and plot holes are just a little too numerous to count. That said, a few technical hiccups aside, it was good show. But with a little more work it could be a great one.


Monday, April 24, 2023

Tony! [The Tony Blair Rock Opera] @ Leicester Square Theatre "very witty, very silly and very funny show. It walks that delicate line between 'laugh-at' / 'laugh-with' brilliantly" @lsqtheatre @HarryHill @composersbrown Full review->

Yesterday afternoon Andy, Kevin, Stuart and I went to see Harry Hill & Steve Brown’s Tony! [The Tony Blair Rock Opera] at the Leicester Square Theatre in London's glitzy West End.
Akin to the equally fabulous Margaret Thatcher : Queen of Soho, it was a very witty, very silly and very funny show. By the end our faces were aching from laughter.
A spoof of musicals as much as a satire of politicians, political life and popularism, packed with joyfully withering mirth, Harry Hill's manic humour sweeps you along. It's a sort of Spitting Image but funnier.
The show is ostensibly a reckless reappraisal of the life of former Ugly Rumours front man and Britain’s first pop Prime Minister Tony Blair. The story of how one man went from peace-loving, long-haired hippy and would-be pop star to warmongering multimillionaire in just a couple of decades.
A hilarious tragedy of political intrigue, religion, power, and romance that plays fast and loose with the facts, owing as much to Citizen Kane as it does to The Marx Brothers - Karl and Groucho that is!
Throw in a stellar cast of larger-than-life characters - Jack Whittle is brilliant as Tony Blair, Howard Samuels a riot as Peter Mandelson, Tori Burgess great as Cherie Blair, Phil Sealey hilarious as Gordon Brown, Martin Johnston spot-on as Neil Kinnock, Rosie Strobel fabulous as John Prescott, Sally Cheng brilliant  as Robin Cook, Emma Jay Thomas great as Princess Diana and William Hazell keeping it all together as on-stage cover. Throw in Alastair Campbell, Osama bin Laden, George W Bush, Saddam Hussein and you’ve got one hell of a weapon of mass distraction! It’s Yes, Minister meets The Rocky Horror Show! and a musical like no other.
It walks that delicate line between 'laugh-at' / 'laugh-with' brilliantly.
Fans of Tony Blair will perhaps love him slightly less.
Foes of Tony Blair will perhaps loathe him even more.
Cynics will just laugh their socks off.
The conclusions of the show?
True Blair started four wars, bombed a country to bits on a false narrative but his lasting - and some might argue equally damaging legacy - was to start the recent run of popularist politicians the have gone on to wreak political and societal havoc around the world. Blair was just the first of many terrible, terrible leaders. You get the politicians you deserve, and the world is run by arseholes.
It was the finale that made this rather depressing conclusion sound.... very, very funny.
Go see.


Sunday, April 23, 2023

The Scarlet Pimpernel…

Fabulous to see Roger tread the boards last night in the musical The Scarlet Pimpernel in glitzy Potters Bar. 

Great music and singing, fabulous costumes, and spirited choreography. 

I laughed a few times. Not least when the French baddy commands his soldiers to investigate a fire outside. “It’s outside in the alley. Allez!”

And later, when dressed as brightly coloured gaily perfumed ninnies our group of heroes exit the royal ball to what sounded like, “Come on girls! Let’s all get in the closet!”

Great fun.

Friday, April 21, 2023

Newsies "Memorable dancing, forgettable show" @troubtheatres @troubadourwpark @newsies_uk

Yesterday afternoon I went to see Disney's Newsies, a lacklustre musical at the Troubadour Wembley Park Theatre in London's glitzy HA9.
It's soon to close, having not really made much of an impact in the past six months. And I can see why; memorable dancing, forgettable show.
It's a new immersive in the round production directed and choreographed by the fantastic Matt Cole - for which he recently won a Best Theatre Choreographer award. And I can see why. The dancing is jaw-dropping. It's just you come out humming the programme.
The film back in 1992 starring a teenage Christian Bale was a flop too.
The plot, such that it is, is about newspaper boys (and they were usually boys) going on strike in 1899 New York when evil publisher Joseph Pulitzer implements a plan to increase profits by raising the price newsies pay for the papers they sell.
The boys unionise, go on strike, win, and all live happily ever after. There. You don't need to bother going to see it now.
Harvey Fierstein wrote the book, Alan Menken the score, and Jack Feldman the lyrics. They have all done better. Way better.
Avoid and save yourself the yawns.

Thursday, April 20, 2023

The Secret Life of Bees "a joyful, meaningful, and passionate musical. We simply loved it." @AlmeidaTheatre

Last Friday night Stuart and I went to see the musical The Secret Life of Bees at the Almeida Theatre in London's glitzy Islington.

Back in 2015, Lynn Nottage's play Sweat at the Donmar, was a cutting examination of class, economic strife, and forgotten industrial towns in the US that spoke volumes about, and had many parallels to, modern Britain. Here Nottage has brought that deep understanding of all things social and political to a musical adaptation of Su Monk Kidd’s novel The Secret Life of Bees.

A small-minded, racist South Carolina town in 1964 sees white teenager Lily (Eleanor Worthington-Cox) and her black maid Rosaleen (Abiona Omonua) runaway from violence and oppression to seek refuge in a private community of honey-making worshipers of a black Madonna. The women working there have agency and run a successful business - yet know to keep themselves to themselves. Lily isn't so street-wise however and things soon spiral out of control when she is caught in a car with black youth Zachary by the police. The couple had just been delivering honey to the local store but the racist police beat Zachary up and then imprison him. Soon Lily's evil Dad tracks her down too and her past catches up with her.

That said, the play isn't really about Lily, it's about Rosaleen and the other black women. There is growing political awareness of these women that runs through the play. Their personal as well as socio-political challenges are very raw as they confront the deeply embedded and systemic racism in American society. This is no more evident than when Rosaleen is attacked as she tries to express her enfranchisement and Sign My Name. The right to vote has only just been extended to women like Rosaleen.

Duncan Sheik's music is funk, gospel, folksy rock with a hint of blues - and it's glorious. Susan Birkenhead's lyrics are powerful, delightful, and incredibly moving. I was brought to tears on more than one occasion. The vocal performances including Rachel John, Danielle Fiamanya, Ava Brennan are outstanding, along with excellent support from Noah Thomas and Tarinn Callender.

The source material for The Secret Life of Bees may have a perhaps straight-forward plot and at times rather limited character development but Nottage, Sheikh and Birkenhead have done much to bring this story to life. They have grounded the action within a power civil rights framework. The music brings a real soulful and impassioned perspective in this approach that builds audience engagement. Whitney White’s production for the Almeida has its moments of sentiment but it is never a passive experience, ultimately delivering a hopeful and meaningful night.

We simply loved it.

Rapture "a queer and chaotic story set in contemporary East London" @kingsheadtheatre @KingsHeadThtr

Last night Stuart and I went to see Rapture - a queer and chaotic story set in contemporary East London - at The Kings Head Theatre in London's glitzy Islington.

Written and directed by Sophie Leydon and fresh from VAULT Festival the show stars clued-up, kinky and queer Rosy (Lynne Jefferies), Tommy (Bryan Moriarty) and Kit (Pete MacHale).

Forming a chosen family, Tommy is a hard bar-manager trying to live his best life whilst polyamorous partner-and-girlfriend Kit and Rosy struggle with their intersectional S&M relationship.

A frenetic, colourful vision of life in the capital's hedonistic fast-lane, Rapture explores the emotional fallout when harm is perpetuated from inside the LGBTQIA+ community.

The warning on the ticket perhaps says it best; "Contains strong language, sexual assault, substance use, addiction, mental illness, suicidal ideation, mis-gendering, dead-naming, bereavement & grief." Oh, and there is an Intimacy Coordinator.

We enjoyed it. Mostly. But at times it was hard to follow the cross-talking, the slang, the modern social currency, and the frenetic pace. But then it probably wasn't aimed middle-aged dinosaurs like us!

Wednesday, April 19, 2023

Yakiniku Like!

What a great find. Cook your own meat. Tasty! Quick! Value! And tasted great.

Great night out with Darce. Yakiniku Like! followed by The Village, Halfway to Heaven, and The Retro Bar. 

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

West Ham 2 - 2 Arsenal - Fantastic away day, miserable result....

It was a fantastic away day at the London Stadium. Sadly from being 2 - 0 up we threw it away and ended up drawing 2 - 2.  Hey ho.  We went for beers afterwards in Hackney Wick which helped salve the disappointment.

Monday, April 17, 2023

Fabulous afternoon at Duckie last Saturday afternoon…

Last Saturday afternoon Andrew, Stuart and I went to Duckie in glitzy Vauxhall. Great music. Outrageous acts. And silly badge making using cutting out clips from magazines. It got a bit rude though! 😉