Quote Of The Day

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

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Let's Cut to the Cheese...

Some of my favourite malapropisms:

Living in ivory towels
A damp squid
On tender hooks
Nipping it in the butt
A mute point
Card shark
In lame man's terms
Let's cut to the cheese
The feeble position
You're soaping wet
Dance a flamingo
Giving up the goat
Getting your nipples in a twist
Chickens coming home to roast
From tiny eggcorns mighty oaks do grow
The very pineapple of politeness
Just desserts
A germ of endearment
Sixteenth Chapel
You lead the way and we'll precede
A rolling stone gathers no moths
Flat as a parrot
Sick as a pancake
The world is your lobster
I'm not the sharpest tool in the book
An escape goat
Going off on a tandem
Keeping me in suspenders
Smoking like a trooper
If daggers could kill
In Dorset tones
I wouldn't trust him with a bargepole

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Wind Turbines?...

University Challenge:
Paxman: Who or what were created in Bristol in 1994?
Student: Wind turbines?
Paxman: Only in a manner of speaking, they were the first female clergy.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

People, Places and Things...

Last week Stuart and I went to see Jeremy Herrin's electrifying production of Duncan Macmillan's new play People, Places and Things at the Wyndham's Theatre in London's glitzy West End.

Wow! What a show!

Fresh from its transfer from the Dorfman Theatre the play stars Denise Gough as an actress, Emma, checking herself into rehab. It's a rollercoaster ride of addiction, emotions and intoxicating action. I won't give the game away but things go very wrong, very quickly. If the first step is to admit you have a problem then Emma is in trouble from the get-go.

And if Ms Gough doesn't win Best Actress and Mr Macmillan Best New Play at the Olivier's this year I'll eat my hat.

Go see.

Monday, March 28, 2016

Friday, March 25, 2016

Rainbow Theatre...

I first came to the Rainbow Theatre in Finsbury Park almost 40 years ago to see... The Darts.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

A Moveable Feast...

Why is Easter so early this year? Well, it's a moveable feast.

Last Sunday was the first full moon after the March equinox (when the Sun appears more North than South from Earth). The Sunday that follows that is therefore Easter Sunday. That means that Easter Sunday could fall as early as 22nd March and as late as 25th April.

Bonkers? Yes. Blame the First Council of Nicaea in 325. They came up with the rules.

Back in 1928 the UK brought in the Easter Act which fixed Easter Sunday in the UK as the second Sunday in April. However, the legislation has never been implemented, although it remains on the Statute book. It needed the Church's say so. The sticking point? Various Christian churches fear that if they approve it then other Christian decisions may be 'up for grabs.'

Yes, people it's 2016.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Kate Bush Covers and Samples...

A while ago I did some research and put together a list of the commercially available tracks I could find that were sampled by or covered by Kate Bush. I also tried to find all the samples of and covers of Kate Bush tracks. This is what I discovered. There are lots of covers done on talent shows but I tried to restrict it to commercial releases only where possible. Any additions suggestions are more than welcome.

Tracks sampled by Kate Bush

The Dreaming (1982) sampled ORCH5 by David Vorhaus (1982)
Hello Earth (1985) sampled Tsintskaro by Traditional Folk (1700) and STS-1 Landing by John W. Young and Robert

L. Crippen (1981)

Tracks that have sampled Kate Bush

Wuthering Heights (1977) was sampled in...
Wuthering Heights by The Good 2 Bad and Hugly (1993)
Bad Dreams by DJ Isaac (1995)
Cockney Medley by Bill Bailey (2003)
Mainstream Killah by Beatstream and Radiate feat. Mike Redman (2010)
Ca Fait Un Bail by Dabaaz and DJ Pone (2010)
Free by Natalia Kills (2011)

Don't Push Your Foot on the Heartbreak (1978) was sampled in...
Tonight by Fonky Family (2001)

Wow (1978) was sampled in...
Big Up Your Chest by Ellis Dee (1995)

L'Amour Looks Something Like You (1978) was sampled in...
El Meu Paradís by At Versaris (2009)

The Man With the Child in His Eyes (1978) was sampled in...
I Hear Him by Todd Edwards (2003)

December Will Be Magic Again (1980) was sampled in...
The Opener by Skyzoo (2009)

Army Dreamers (1980) was sampled in...
Jeg Har en Ven by Pede B (2005)
On the Grind by Supersci feat. Chords (2006)
Lovacke Price by Bolesna Braca (2006)

Babooshka (1980) was sampled in...
Pushin' by Dumbfoundead and Wax (2010)

Blow Away (1980) was sampled in...
Love and Music by Kyza (2009)

Breathing (1980) was sampled in...
Una Volta Sola by Club Dogo (2006)

Night Scented Stock (1980) was sampled in...
Les Enfants Du Paradis by Loopzone (1990)

And Dream of Sheep (1985) was sampled in...
Deeper by Rabbit in the Moon (1997)
I Wake Up by Blu Mar Ten (2003)

Cloudbusting (1985) was sampled in...
Something Good by Utah Saints (1992)
Bastard / A****** by Hard Creation (2001)
Something Good 08 by Utah Saints (2008)

Hello Earth (1985) was sampled in...
Hyperspeed (G-Force Part 2) by The Prodigy (1992)

Running Up That Hill (1985) was sampled in...
00:20 - Need You This Way by The Kleptones (2006)
Tipa by Emily Karpel (2008)
Det Bedste Til Sidst by Linda Andrews (2009)

Covers By Kate Bush

Lord of the Reedy River (1981) is a cover of Lord of the Reedy River by Donovan (1971)
Un Baiser d'Enfant (1983) is a cover of The Infant Kiss by Kate Bush (1980)
Let It Be by Ferry Aid (featuring Kate bush) (1987) is a cover of Let It Be by The Beatles (1970)
Rocket Man (1991) is a cover of Rocket Man by Elton John (1972)
Candle in the Wind (1991) is a cover of Candle in the Wind by Elton John (1973)
The Man I Love by Kate Bush and Larry Adler (1994) is a George Gershwin cover (1924)
Mná Na HÉireann (Women of Ireland) (1996) is a cover of Women of Ireland by The Chieftains (1973)
Running Up That Hill (2003) is a cover of  Running Up That Hill by Kate Bush (1985)
Sexual Healing (2005) is a cover of Sexual Healing by Marvin Gaye (1982)

Covers of Kate Bush Songs

Wuthering Heights (1977) was covered by:-
Wuthering Heights by Pat Benatar (1980)
Wuthering Heights by White Flag (1992)
Wuthering Heights by Mr Floppy (1993)
Wuthering Heights by Angra (1993)
Wuthering Heights by Kate Project (1993)
Wuthering Heights by Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain (1994)
Wuthering Heights by China Drum (1996)
Wuthering Heights by Chuck White (1997)
Wuthering Heights by Hayley Westenra (2003)
Wuthering Heights by Susan Egan (2005)
Wuthering Heights by The Puppini Sisters (2006)
Wuthering Heights by The Sweptaways (2006)

The Saxophone Song (1978) was covered by:
The Saxophone Song by Nora O'Connor (1998)

The Kick Inside (1978) was covered by:
The Kick Inside by Julie Covington (1978)
The Kick Inside by Thomas Eklund (1997)
The Kick Inside by Victoria Storm (1998)

Moving (1978) was covered by:
Moving by Alan Tignanelli (1997)

Oh England My Lionheart (1978) was covered by:
Oh England My Lionheart by John Anthony James (1997)

The Man With the Child in His Eyes (1978) was covered by:-
The Man With The Child In His Eyes by Dusty Springfield (1978)
The Man With the Child in His Eyes by Hue & Cry (1995)
The Man With The Child In His Eyes by Syd Straw (1998)
The Man with the Child in His Eyes by Maria Friedman (2006)
The Man With the Child in his Eyes by Natalie Cole (2006)
The Man With the Child in His Eyes by Tina Arena (2007)

L'Amour Looks Something Like You (1978) was covered by:
L'Amour Looks Something Like You by Shelley Doty (1997)
L'Amour Looks Something Like You by The Aluminium Group (1998)

Coffee Homeground (1978) was covered by:
Coffee Homeground by Mouse (band) (1998)

Kashka from Baghdad (1978) was covered by:
Kashka from Baghdad by Plunging Necklines (1998)

Army Dreamers (1980) was covered by:
Shem Baheven by Mazi Cohen (1987)
Army Dreamers by Mary Dillon (2010)

Babooshka (1980) was covered by:
Babooshka by Plunging Necklines (1998)

Delius (Song of Summer) (1980) was covered by:
Delius by Heavy pet (1997)
Ran Tan Waltz (1980) was covered by:
Ran Tan Waltz by Brian Wright (1997)

Breathing (1980) was covered by:
Breathing by Big City Orchestra (1987)
Breathing by E-Clypse feat. Jemma Price (1999)
Breathing by B.E.F featuring Andy Bell (2013)

Sat In Your Lap (1982) was covered by:
Sat In Your Lap by Violet (1997)

Suspended in Gaffa (1982) was covered by:
Suspended In Gaffa by Rhythm & Dreaming (1997)
Suspended in Gaffa by My Scarlet Life (1998)
Suspended in Gaffa by Ra Ra Riot (2007)

There Goes a Tenner (1982) was covered by:
There Goes a Tenner by J. Davis Trio (1998)
There Goes a Tenner by J. Davis Trio (2001)

Cloudbusting (1985) was covered by:
Cloudbusting by Two Librarians On The First Floor (1997)
Cloudbusting by Novembre (2001)
Cloudbusting by Wild Nothing (2011)

Hounds of Love (1985) was covered by:
Hounds Of Love by Moviegoers (1998)
Hounds of Love by The Futureheads (2004)
Hounds of Love by The Church (2009)

Running Up That Hill (1985) was covered by:
Running Up That Hill by Blue Pearl (1990)
Running Up That Hill by Elastic Band (1994)
Running Up That Hill by Levy 9 (1995)
Running Up That Hill by Lochinvar (1997)
Running Up That Hill by Baltimores (1998)
Running Up That Hill by Badlees (1999)
Running Up That Hill by Kiki and Herb (2000)
Running Up That Hill by Faith and the Muse (2001)
Running Up That Hill by The Baltimores (2001)
Running Up That Hill by Within Temptation (2003)
Running Up That Hill by Infusion feat. Kate Bush (2003)
Running Up That Hill by Placebo (2003)
Running Up That Hill by Danielle French (2003)
Running Up That Hill by Icon & the Black Roses (2004)
Running Up That Hill by Claudia Brucken (2005)
Running Up That Hill by Chromatics (2007)
Running Up That Hill by Club for Five (2009)
Running Up That Hill by Gregorian (2009)
Running Up That Hill by The Very Best (2011)
Running Up That Hill by Will Young (2011)
Running Up That Hill by Starlab vs Sonatron ft. Belle Erskine (2014)

Don't Give Up (1985) was covered by:
Don't Give Up by Willie Nelson and Sinéad O'Connor (1993)
Don't Give Up by Gregorian feat. Sarah Brightman (1999)
Don't Give Up by Dave Warrin feat. Jody Watley (2001)
Don't Give Up (Africa) by Alicia Keys and Bono (2005)
Don't Give Up by Herbie Hancock feat. John Legend and Pink (2010)

Mother Stands for Comfort (1985) was covered by:
Mother Stands For Comfort by Murder Of Crows (1997)
Mother Stands For Comfort by Brian Seabolt (1997)
Mother Stands for Comfort by Jane Birkin (2006)

And Dream Of Sheep (1985) was covered by:
And Dream Of Sheep by Violet (1997)
And Dream Of Sheep by Thomas Negovan (1998)

Jig of Life (1985) was covered by:
Jig of Life by Catherine Smitko (1998)

Under The Ivy (1985) was covered by:
Under The Ivy by Philip Caldwell (1997)
Under The Ivy by Tracey Thorn (2014)

Under Ice (1985) was covered by:
Under Ice by Violet (1997)

Waking The Witch (1985) was covered by:
Waking The Witch by Violet (1997)

The Morning Fog (1985) was covered by:
The Morning Fog by Particle Salad (1997)

Not This Time (1986) was covered by:
Not This Time by Tom Dunning & Your Boyfriends (1998)

This Woman's Work (1988) was covered by:
This Woman's Work by Maxwell (1997)
This Woman's Work by ACO (2001)
This Woman's Work by Greg Laswell (2009)
This Woman's Work by Gwyneth Paltrow (2011)

Reaching Out (1989) was covered by:
Reaching Out by Chris Spillios (1997)

The Sensual World (1989) was covered by:
The Sensual World by Mark Ozdoba (1997)
The Sensual World by Susan Voelz (1998)

Love and Anger (1990) was covered by:
Love And Anger by Trinkets Of Joy (1998)
Love and Anger by Nada Surf (2010)
Love and Anger by Bright Light Bright Light (2014 and 2016)

Home for Christmas (1993) was covered by:
Home for Christmas by Diamond Jim Greene (1998)

You're the One (1993) was covered by:
You're the One by Justin Roberts (1998)

Why Should I Love You? (feat. Prince) (1993) was covered by:
Why Should I Love You? (feat. Prince) by Mike Scott (1997)

Monday, March 21, 2016

The Patriotic Traitor...

Last Friday night Stuart and I went to see Jonathan Lynn's The Patriotic Traitor at the Park Theatre in London's unglitzy Finsbury Park.

The action charts the friendship-turned-enmity between Tom Conti's Philippe Pétain – the French general and hero of Verdun, who would go on to sign the infamous armistice with Nazi Germany – and Laurence Fox's ambitious Charles de Gaulle, the soldier who would rescue France and have Pétain tried for treason. It's old warfare versus modern warfare. Patriot vs Traitor. And it's a fascinating story.

The acting was top-notch and we were gripped from start to finish.

One person’s patriot is someone else’s traitor, and it’s ultimately circumstance, time and history that decides whose view wins.

Friday, March 18, 2016

If You Kiss Me, Kiss Me...

Last night Stuart and I went to see Jane Horrocks' theatre show If You Kiss Me, Kiss Me at the Young Vic in London's glitzy Waterloo.

It was a night where Ms Horrocks puts her own twist on the New Wave sounds she grew up with in the Northwest. And God I so wanted to like this show.

But what a strange, distant night it was. Mercifully it was just 60 minutes long. I can sum it up by saying it was strange mix of over-confidence in the concept but under-confidence in the execution.

So what was it? Well, it was a hybrid show - part gig, part dance piece, part theatrical mash-up - which was performed on stage by not only the lovely Jane but also a four-piece band and four jerkily energetic dancers.

As I've hinted, the show didn't really work. It fell between the three wobbly stools of being a rather insipid gig, unremarkable dance show and banal theatrical piece. Also fundamentally the thirteen or so song choices were just too obscure to be recognised by a modern diverse audience. A track-listing better suited for a Duckie night or a Retro Bar Pop Quiz perhaps? That said many of the (re)interpretations were wonderful (more on that later).

Ms Horrocks was strangely distant as a stage performer and there was virtually no audience engagement which was a real shame. The few bum notes we suffered would have been easily forgiven if she had remained true to her Debbie Harry / rock-chick platinum blonde look and aimed to get everyone on their feet in a rabble-rousing performance. But no, she just sang, shuffling around the stage a bit much as we just sat there, shuffling in our seats a bit. We even felt cheated out of being able to applaud the end of any given song as she would quickly start another. Doesn't Gig 101 teach you the rhythm is pause-applause, pause-applause, pause-applause?

The setlist was:-
Anthrax by Gang Of Four
Atrocity Exhibition and Isolation by Joy Division
Fiction Romance and What Do I Get? by Buzzcocks
Nag Nag Nag by Cabaret Voltaire
Empire State Human by The Human League
Hot On The Heels Of Love by Throbbing Gristle
My New House by Fall
Memorabilia by Soft Cell
I Know It’s Over by The Smiths
Temptation by New Order
Life Is A Pigsty by Morrissey

The three stand-out performances for me were the slowed down What Do I Get?, the epic Empire State Human and the manic Memorabilia which were worth the ticket price alone. Perhaps the reason I liked these particular performances so much though was because I liked these three particular songs so much. Which is a sad indictment on a night that had a great idea at its heart but you only liked the songs you knew. What it needed was sharper song choices (or the personal reasons behind why those thirteen were chosen) and a more personably singer to sing them.

Sorry Bubble, just an E for Effort.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Get It Wrong...

It's a bit like flying a plane. Get it right and nobody really notices. Get it wrong and everybody notices.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Akhnaten...

 Last night Stuart, Paul and I went to the English National Opera to see Philip Glass's Egyptian opera Akhnaten at the Coliseum in London's glitzy West End.

The opera is based on the life and religious convictions of the pharaoh Akhnaten and is the third of a trilogy of biographical operas, the others being Einstein on the Beach (about Albert Einstein) and Satyagraha (about Mohandas Gandhi).

These three people — Akhnaten, Einstein and Gandhi — were all driven by an inner vision which altered the age in which they lived, in particular Akhnaten in religion, Einstein in science, and Gandhi in politics.

Unlike Glass's other two operas however Akhnaten is less hardcore minimalist than Einstein and less oratorio-like then Satyagraha. Akhnaten is perhaps more accessible for the Glass virgins.

The story concerns Akhnaten attempts to convert his kingdom to monotheism using Egyptian texts of the period such as a poem of Akhnaten himself, from the Egyptian Book of the Dead.

Act 1 concerns Year 1 of Akhnaten’s reign in Thebes, Act 2 covers years 5 to 15 in Thebes and Akhnaten, and Act 3 is about year 17, his death and the present day.

The music is of course sublime and is perfectly complimented by director Phelim McDermott's production. Once again he has stepped up to the plate as have designers Tom Pye (sets) and Kevin Pollard (costumes). The lighting, the shadows, the movement, the chorus, the jugglers all contribute to the wow factor.

The trio of protagonists, Anthony Roth Costanza as Akhnaten, Emma Carrington as his wife Nefertiti and Rebecca Bottone as his mother Queen Tye, are excellent, even if Costanza’s rather shrill counter-tenor voice won’t be to everyone's taste. Though this production may not quite be the revelation that Satyagraha was (how could it?), it is still on its own terms an excellent piece of work, both theatrically and musically.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Malmö...

On Saturday morning Stuart and I took the short train journey from Copenhagen to Malmö to stay with Bryn and Andrew. The guys live in the Turning Torso which is an amazing building and the tallest in Scandinavia.

We were treated like kings - waited on hand and foot which was lovely. Not long after we arrived we took the bus into Malmö centre to visit a museum including a photo show of Swedish Dads. After that we walked around historic Malmö and visited one of the famous coffee shops for cake.

In the evening we were treated to dinner at Bastard - a rather lovely restaurant in downtown Malmö. Stuart was all for nicking one of the napkins but we managed to restrain him.

On the Sunday we were treated to a full English breakfast followed by a walk around the sea front and the beach. It's such a lovely little place. We even ventured out to the sea spa but resisted a dip.

A lovely long weekend away.







Monday, March 14, 2016

Copenhagen: First Full Day...

Stuart and I had a lovely time in Copenhagen. Bryn came to meet us at our hotel and then we walked and walked. It was rather chilly but we had great fun walking up the twisting The Round Tower, visiting the photo-opportunity that is The Little Mermaid and walking along beautiful Nyhavn. In the afternoon Andrew joined us and we visited hippy commune Christiania and walked some more. In the evening I treated us all to dinner at Fuego Dansk http://www.fuego.dk/home/#fuego for steaks which were lovely. The temperature dropped very rapidly while we were having dinner and the fog rolled in so we headed back to the Admiral Hotel for an early night.






Friday, March 11, 2016

Copenhagen: Those First Impressions...

It was a fairly smooth BA flight from Heathrow terminal 5 with just a few bumps on the way. Copenhagen Airport was quite smart and we sailed through very quickly to easily find the metro station.  We'd prepaid for two 24 hour City Passes (just turned up as a text) so we were good to go. Just 8 stops into the centre of town and a short walk and we were at the rather magnificent Admiral Hotel. It's an old converted warehouse and certainly had the wow factor. 
We'll be having breakfast in the Salt restaurant shortly and Bryn is coming over from Sweden to meet us in the hotel lobby at 10-30am for our day out in Copenhagen proper. Andrew is joining us later too. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Dildos and Doggies...

Dogs demonstrate their failure to understand phallic symbolism. Aww bless 'im, who's hungry for cock? Is it you? Yes, it is!




Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Doctor Who - Class...

As we all know by now Doctor Who will be mostly absent from our telly screens in 2016 - but word has it the new spin-off, Class, is "brilliant". Damian Kanavagh - digital controller for BBC Three says that writer Patrick Ness and producer Brian Minchin have an "amazing vision" for the series.

"I've read some of the scripts, I've met and talked to Patrick and Brian, and I think their vision for it is amazing," he said.

​Class ​will set in ​Doctor Who​'s Coal Hill School and will follow its students as they battle intergalactic monsters and other sinister villains. A sort of Sarah Jane Adventures. Which in my book is a 'very good thing.'

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

The Painkiller...

Last night Stuart and I went to see The Painkiller at The Garrick theatre in London's glitzy West End.

Hmmm.

The star voltage of Kenneth Branagh and Rob Brydon is the essential ingredient in Sean Foley's adaptation of a French farce Le Contrat by Francis Veber. Best known as the author of Le Diner de Cons, Veber specialises in creating double acts, and here two very different men in adjoining hotel bedrooms become unlikely buddies. Brydon is the "one-man natural disaster zone" Dudley, a failed photographer from Swindon who is determined to kill himself because his wife has left him for her psychiatrist. Branagh's svelte hitman Ralph has no need of anyone or anything other than an elegant suit and his rifle. When Dudley insists on involving him in his personal problems, Ralph's indifferent veneer is dented despite himself. The two begin to swap personalities, even exchanging clothes under the pressure of circumstances.

While the plot setup is cumbersome, it builds to a choreographed sequence of mistaken identities, confusion and pure slapstick, culminating in the injection of horse tranquilliser G by the psychiatrist Dent (Alex Macqueen) that transforms Ralph into a jelly-legged contortionist. Branagh staggers and spins across the stage with the ease of a rubber doll, and one with impeccable comic timing. Mind you I've seen enough people on G tp know that Branagh hadn't.

Into the mix come a policeman (Marcus Fraser) who ends up in the wardrobe before being kicked around by Ralph, then Dudley's wife Michelle (Claudie Blakley), who is beginning to have second thoughts about her hapless husband. All are observed by the mincing hotel porter, played by Mark Hadfield, whose eyebrows raise an inch higher each time he happens upon the tussling men in increasingly compromising clinches on the bed.

"This man has got loser written all over his face," says Macqueen pointing at Branagh, and it brings the house down. But gags about Ralph's thin lips and Dudley's penchant for singing Chris de Burgh's Lady in Red to his unresponsive wife are not quite sharp enough. At times the script has the dated feel of a 1970s sitcom. The physical comedy is the point, of course, and director Sean Foley delivers it unstintingly. Branagh and Foley, who are co-producers here, have collaborated successfully before on The Play What I Wrote, but it is hard not to wonder whether Brydon should have been enlisted as a co-writer and given himself some funnier lines.

Not really recommended. Unless you find French farces with people-dropping-their-trousers-for-no-reason-at-all funny. Which I do - but only when I'm drunk - which I wasn't.

Night Tube edging closer...

Night Tube edging closer... two down, two to go.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-london-35744841
RMT ✔
ASLEF ✔
TSSA
Unite

Monday, March 07, 2016

Welcome Home, Captain Fox!...

Last Friday night Stuart and I went to see Blanche Mcintyre production of Welcome Home, Captain Fox! at the Donmar Warehouse in London's glitzy West End.

Set in 1959 this is a loving homage to the golden era of the American comedy. But this particular nugget of gold doesn't so much brightly shine as mildly shimmer.

Captain Jack Fox, believed missing in action in the fields of France 15 years before, is about to be reunited with his family in The Hamptons. But is this really Jack Fox? And if it isn’t, who is this man? And why are there 22 other families so intent on claiming him as their own? And do we really care?

As a rather limp imitation of Oscar Wilde's The Importance of Being Earnest this has been produced as a fairly shallow piece of theatre. That said, there are some laughs to be had - not least after the consumption of a few glasses of wine and usually at the expense of the play's own Mrs Malapropism (Mrs Marcee Dupont-Dufort) played by Katherine Kingsley. “You do say the ‘t’!”

Welcome Home, Captain Fox! is downright silly and perhaps lost any biting social satire in it's free adaptation from the more complicated French source play Le Voyageur. A brave effort, well cast but not as funny as it should be.

Friday, March 04, 2016

The Maids...

Last night Stuart and I went to see The Maids at the Trafalgar Studios in London's glitzy West End.

Written by Jean Genet in 1947 the play, based on a true story, is a sexy, violent, profanity-ladened study of power, race and servitude. Two black maids (French, sisters and maybe lovers) play S&M games acting out the killing of their white mistress. The twist is that the maids not only want to kill their mistress, but also wish they could be her.

The play opens with them fantasising about doing both – a sort of play within the play. Claire, dressed as Mistress, is ordering Solange around. Solange, dressed as a maid, resists and insults her, then pretends to strangle her. They repeat this charade whenever the Mistress is away and the line between fantasy and reality blurring more and more each time.

When the Mistress does return she belittles them and denigrates them only inspiring the maids' hatred and love/hate fantasies all the more. It's a complicated, highly dysfunctional and toxic relationship. But how will it end?

Superstar director Jamie Lloyd has brought together a superb all-female cast of Uzo Aduba (yes, her off of Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black), Zawe Ashton (yes, her off of Channel 4’s Fresh Meat) and Laura Carmichael (yes, her off of ITV’s Downton Abbey). Lloyd's direction is excellent as ever with jolting lighting changes and energised sound-cues. Threatening dance music pounds away at times, summoning a mood of enveloping menace.

But the night goes to the three female stars who are all simply transfixing. They spar, they lunge, they attack, they spit, they swear, they act their beautiful socks off.

OK, perhaps we could have done with an interval - two solid hours on the Trafalgar Studios's seats would test the hardest of bums - but it was two hours very well spent.

Recommended.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Arsenal Woes (Again)...

Yeah, what I said yesterday but even more so.

A dire 2-1 defeat to a mediocre Swansea. I didn't join in the booing at the end of the match (that helped no-one, not least the players) but I share my fellow supporters' frustrations who did and at the end of the day how else can we express that frustration than at the game? I'm sure Mr Wenger doesn't read my blog. :-)

Maybe we should blame the mascot. Yes, let's turn on our mascot. The campaign for #GunnersaurusOut starts here!

But if we ditch Gunnersaurus who could possibly replace him? There aren't internationally renowned and talented mascots available at the drop of an over-sized red hat. We had our chance when Borussia Dortmund's Emma the Bee became briefly available last summer but isn't just typical of Arsenal that they dithered and we lost her to Man City.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Arsenal Woes...

Once again February seems to be the undoing of Arsenal's ambitions across all footballing competitions.

Losing to Barcelona 2-0 last week perhaps wasn't unexpected but losing to United at the weekend 3-2 when they are frankly a spent force at the moment was just dire.

Our team seems to have the talent - so what could possibly be going wrong? Poor choice of players? Lack of motivation? Dwindling team-spirit? All these issues are down to one man. The manager.

So Arsène - sort it out; or ship out!

This evening we play Swansea at home and they say it's going to rain. So one way or another it's going to be a stormy night in North London tonight!

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Uncle Vanya...

Last Friday night Stuart and I went to see Robert Icke's production of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya at the Almeida Theatre in London's glitzy Islington.

We loved it - marred perhaps a little bit by a broken speaker that at one point seemed to want to drown out the prose and infuriate the audience. Still, stuff happens in live theatre.

The acting was top notch with special mention needing to go to Tobias Mezies as the Doctor who at one point stripped to his pants and drunkenly danced to Iggy Pop's Lust for Life. Oh, did I mention it was an updated Anglicised version?

The slowing rotating set literally gave us a fresh perspective on the action. Although when I say action I really mean inaction.

Lasting three and half hours with three intervals it was a long show. Granted Chekhov's masterpiece is in some ways a study of boredom so we perhaps shouldn't have been surprised but boy was it a slog at times.

Still, a bit of Chekhov is good for the soul. And it prepares Stuart perfectly for our three-Chekhov's-in-one-day marathon in July.