Private Eye started a few weeks after I was born. Take a look at every Private Eye cover since 1961.
Thursday, September 30, 2021
Wednesday, September 29, 2021
Ok, Ok, a bit more.
The Prince of Egypt is based upon the 1998 animated musical drama film produced by DreamWorks. The story is the biblical tale of Moses (Luke Brady) and Rameses (Liam Tamne), the Egyptian plagues, how the Jews were led out of Egypt through the Red Sea. The telling of the tale was naff though. The main leads sang well but the staging was a bit 'Eurovision Half-time Act'. The bikini-clad dancers were very 1980s, the acting a bit 'end of term school play', and the songs forgettable. Jesus Christ Superstar it ain't.
Nice to see the boys though.
Tuesday, September 28, 2021
Monday, September 27, 2021
Sunday started off with a spontaneous rendition of Happy Birthday to You when I arrived at Block 6 at the Emirates Stadium and then concluded with 3-1 win at the North London Derby. Perfect day.
Sunday, September 26, 2021
Saturday, September 25, 2021
Friday, September 24, 2021
Featuring music and lyrics by Cole Porter and a book by Guy Bolton and PG Wodehouse, Anything Goes is set aboard an ocean liner crossing the Atlantic from New York to London. Much nonsense happens aboard but it's not the plot we were there to see; it was the breath-taking musical numbers.
If you like your musical theatre pre-Golden Age (and we do) then this is the show for you. It was a toe-tapping, jazz-handed, tap dancing tour de force. We laughed, we clapped, we sung along.
The 15-minute end of act one finale with the whole cast tap-dancing like crazy to Anything Goes is one of the most wonderful things I have seen on stage in many a year. Wow! Just 'wow'!
Director-cum-choreographer Kathleen Marshall delivers big time.
But the night doesn't just go to Ms Marshall, but also to Sutton Foster, who reprises her Broadway role as nightclub singer Reno Sweeney 10 years after winning the Leading Actress in a Musical Tony for her performance. We were on our feet.
Thursday, September 23, 2021
Wednesday, September 22, 2021
Deftly directed by Rebecca Taichman, Indecent is a heady mix of theatre, music (a small live klezmer band), and singing and an eloquent yet poignant love letter to Yiddish Theatre in general. It explores censorship, sexuality, and a divided community surrounding Sholem Asch's (in)famous play 'God of Vengeance'.
The crux of the early part of Indecent is censorship and how Jews might criticise themselves without ‘fuelling the fire of anti-Semitism’. Of course, the holocaust looms large over the play, but how could it not when making a play about Jewish lesbians in Poland in the nineteen twenties and thirties.
Indecent follows the story of the debut performance of ‘God of Vengeance’ and the theatre troupe’s travels across Europe and then to America. Controversy is never far away, which when produced on Broadway in 1923 caused the cast of the original production to be arrested on the grounds of obscenity. Is it a seminal work of Jewish culture or an act of traitorous libel?
Whatever your view of ‘God of Vengeance’, Indecent is a beautiful play, about a play, and it certainly resonates for now.
Tuesday, September 21, 2021
Directed by Miranda Cromwell, a radical retelling of the horrors of black British history, the play is packed with stories jumping as it does from the present day to the past and back again.
The present-day features actors rehearsing a film called The Ghost Ship about the Zong massacre of enslaved Africans in 1781. The past revolves around a family that has lived through slavery into abolition.
Back in the past again we see JMW Turner paint his The Slave Ship as well has a present meditation on that very painting - an atrocity hidden in plain sight.
There is an avalanche of plotlines, and ideas; detailed stories, and stories about stories. The slave trade, its abolition, debates on the politics of storytelling, the injustice of underrepresentation, Turner’s life, his politics, and remembering – or sometimes forgetting – black trauma in the present day.
It's a swirling haunting play made all the more important by the Black creatives who tell their own stories without deferring to a white gaze.
We loved it.
Monday, September 20, 2021
Performing the entire Kate Bush album Never Forever (40th anniversary delayed by a year due to Covid) along with another bunch of hits, rarities and fan favourites - it was another great spine-tingling show from Cloudbusting.
Friday, September 17, 2021
Last Sunday afternoon Stuart and I took a look around the Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art in London's glitzy Islington.
The tour was guided and free, being part of the annual Open House Architectural series. The house was beautiful and there were some interesting pieces but perhaps not quite the must-see pull of say John Soane's.
Thursday, September 16, 2021
Fever Pitch @TheHopeTheatre : Great show. Great performances. Go see! @JackTrueman14 @SorchaCorcoran1 @KennedyBloomer
"When you’re in love nothing else matters. You become obsessed. But it can get pretty tricky if that obsessive love is directed towards eleven men wearing the same shirt and running around like idiots for ninety minutes every Saturday."
Based the Nick Hornby book of the same name the play is an exhilarating, moving and brutally funny look at that obsessive love of football that will appeal to all football fans - and all football haters - alike!
Fever Pitch charts over two decades of 'Nick' and his total and utter passion for Arsenal Football Club; what it means to be a fanatic, what that passion means for everyone in our lives who isn't, the exhilaration, the all-encompassing moments of joys, and the totally debilitating and soul-destroying lows.
Nick is played by recent graduate Jack Trueman, making his stage debut, and he exhibits moments of pure brilliance; he is funny, compelling and very, very watchable.
The rest of the cast Ashley Gerlach, Gabrielle MacPherson, and Louise Hoare are equally excellent. Transforming as they do from friend, to family member, to girlfriend, to commentator, to opposition fan, to schoolkid... the list is endless. And they do it all with such speed and utter ease. They are an ensemble that bring the show to life.
The Hope Theatre is a relatively small space and it has been transformed cleverly with fake turf on the floor, bench seating that changes from a bed to a podium with ease, and various pictures and signs from Arsenal adoring the walls. The set design by Sorcha Corcoran is fabulous. Nick Hornby writing helps the tight space too as it is intimate, funny and very strong, and adapted here by Joel Samuels, it does a great job of turning this small room into an almost immersive piece of theatre.
Standing just few feet from you, you as an audience member get lost in the passion with which these characters speak about the football club they love. It is totally infectious.
The play doesn't shy away from the problems football faces either; not least the aggression that is all too common in football fans, the sexism towards female fans, and about the racism players face that has plagued the game for decades. This adds a layer of depth to a piece that on the surface could solely be seen as a love letter to Arsenal.
The director is Kennedy Bloomer whose tenure at the Hope Theatre was interrupted by the pandemic, making this her first and last production at the venue.
But don't just take my word for it. Fever Pitch has been nominated for three OFFIEs (Off West End Awards)
Lead Performance: Jack Trueman @JackTrueman14
Set Design: Sorcha Corcoran @SorchaCorcoran1
Director: Kennedy Bloomer @KennedyBloomer
Closes 25th Sept.
Wednesday, September 15, 2021
How did you do?
In the News
1. Rapper Drake released a new album last week, Certified Lover Boy, which british artist designed the album artwork? Damien Hurst
2. Which band have announced a new album after 40 years as well as plans to perform at concerts where they will appear via avatars? Abba
3. The era of leaded petrol is officially over, but who was the last country to stop pumping? Algeria
4. The 80 million pound renovation to big ben is almost finished, the clock face has had a spruce up to which new colour? Blue
5. After a successful campaign at the paralympics how many medals did Team GB win overall? 124 (41 golds)
1. Today marks 199 years of independence from Portugal for which country? Brazil
2. Which is the largest island in the Mediterranean? Sicily
3. Which Premiership football team plays its home games in Gunnersbury? Brentford
4. Which Norwegian town hosted the 1994 winter olympics? Lillehammer
5. Which US city was artist Andy Warhol born in? Pittsburgh
Food and Drink
1. What style of beer takes its names from a town in the Bohemia region of the Czech Republic? Pilsner
2. What name is given to the Italian pastry that consists of tube shaped shells of fried pastry dough filled with a sweet, creamy filling that usually consists of ricotta? Cannoli
3. GSM is an abbreviation given for the classic 3 grape blend in Southern French wine culture. Which grape variety is represented by S? Syrah
4. Which Asian seafood restaurant, located on the corner of Mayfair’s Berkeley Square houses the world’s largest Japanese whiskey collection? Sexy Fish
5. Perigord is a variety of what? Truffle
1. Name the German singer who appeared on 4 tracks of The Velvet Underground’s debut album. Nico (Rio)
2. Guano is an effective fertiliser produced from the accumulated excrement of seabirds and which other animals? Bats (Baby Driver)
3. Which word precedes the word Swing to denote a musical genre that blends vintage swing sounds with modern house music? Electro (The Amazing Spiderman 2)
4. “Georgia on my Mind” was a 1960 Billboard number one for which artist? Ray Charles (Ray)
5. Complete the title of the 1969 Lee Scratch Perry and The Upsetters sophomore album. Return Of….BLANK? Django (Django Unchained)
Movie Characters voiced or played by Jamie Foxx
1. Chelsea 0…..Everton 53…..Man Utd 28….Inter Milan 47….Chelsea BLANK - 1 (League goals scored by Romelu Lukaku at various clubs he has played for)
2. Team...Side….Scan….BLANK - Day (Or anything that can have the letter D in front) (A-Team, B-Side, C Scan, D Day).
3. N: Lagos….B: Mumbai….H: BLANK - Los Angeles (Nollywood - Lagos, Bollywood - Mumbai, Hollywood - Los Angeles) The nicknames for various film industry locations
4. 83.7 million - Addison Rae….108.9 million - Khabane Lame….123.6 million - BLANK - Charlie D’Amelio (Top 3 Tik Tok users in terms of followers)
5. Ammunition 10%....Pope 25%....Scooter 29%....Option BLANK - 33.3% (the percentage of each word made up of the letter O)
Science, Tech & Nature
1. What name is given to a male rabbit? Buck
2. What name is given to water that occurs in a natural environment with higher salt levels than freshwater but less than sea water? Brackish Water
3. A Hazmat suit gets its name from the combination of which 2 words? Hazardous Materials
4. What is the name of the stocks and shares Reddit community that played a major role in the Game Stop short squeeze earlier this year? Wall Street Bets
5. 3, S, X and Y are models of car produced by which manufacturer? Tesla
The Arts and Culture
1. In Texas hip hop culture, Purple Drank is a recreational drug consisting of which prescription medicine? Cough Syrup (Codeine also accepted)
2. Which British author released The Comfort Book earlier this year? Matt Haig
3. The Warehouse Project is a seasonal series of club nights that takes place in which UK city? Manchester
4. Pamela Anderson’s first 2 husbands were rock musicians - Can you name them? Tommy Lee / Kid Rock
5. Today marks the 91st birthday of American musician Sonny Rollins. What instrument is he best known for? Saxophone
1. The Tide is High - Blondie (atomic kitten)
2. Tragedy - Steps (Bee Gees)
3. Spirit in the sky - Gareth Gates
4. Baby Come Back - Pato Banton - (Equals)
5. I’ll be missing you - Puff Daddy, Faith Evans - (The Police)
Theme: All have entered the charts more than once, from different artists - covers
Tuesday, September 14, 2021
Quiz Night @HighburyL Great fun. How did we do? We came fourth! And can you guess which famous historical event we recreated in Playdoh? #QuizTeam #PubQuiz
This was our first time back in a while and we were determined to not embarrass ourselves.
We changed our team name once again - this time to ABBA-tars.
Liz was calling out the questions as usual and Andrew back spinning the tunes. It was great fun.
There were loads of inventive rounds involving eating, making stuff and guessing the intro. We downed quite a few beers, Jane bought us some pepperoni pizza (food that didn't really do us any favours in the taste round) and had a rare old time.
But how did we do? Well, we came fourth out of ten teams! 28 points. The winners got 39 points - and the £94 jackpot. Not too shabby.
Here are the questions. See how you do? If you think you can beat us (you know you can!) - come next month! Booking essential!
Oh, and what is the weird picture to the left? There was a Playdoh round. Can you guess which historical event we recreated?
Taste Test: Pringles!
1.American Hot dog
2.Bacon mac and cheese
3.Extra hot BBQ
In the News
1. Rapper Drake released a new album last week, Certified Lover Boy, which british artist designed the album artwork?
2. Which band have announced a new album after 40 years as well as plans to perform at concerts where they will appear via avatars?
3. The era of leaded petrol is officially over, but who was the last country to stop pumping?
4. The 80 million pound renovation to big ben is almost finished, the clock face has had a spruce up to which new colour?
5. After a successful campaign at the paralympics how many medals did Team GB win overall?
1. Today marks 199 years of independence from Portugal for which country?
2. Which is the largest island in the Mediterranean?
3. Which Premiership football team plays its home games in Gunnersbury?
4. Which Norwegian town hosted the 1994 winter olympics?
5. Which US city was artist Andy Warhol born in?
Food and Drink
1. What style of beer takes its names from a town in the Bohemia region of the Czech Republic?
2. What name is given to the Italian pastry that consists of tube shaped shells of fried pastry dough filled with a sweet, creamy filling that usually consists of ricotta?
3. GSM is an abbreviation given for the classic 3 grape blend in Southern French wine culture. Which grape variety is represented by S?
4. Which Asian seafood restaurant, located on the corner of Mayfair’s Berkeley Square houses the world’s largest Japanese whiskey collection?
5. Perigord is a variety of what?
1. Name the German singer who appeared on 4 tracks of The Velvet Underground’s debut album.
2. Guano is an effective fertiliser produced from the accumulated excrement of seabirds and which other animals?
3. Which word precedes the word Swing to denote a musical genre that blends vintage swing sounds with modern house music?
4. “Georgia on my Mind” was a 1960 Billboard number one for which artist?
5. Complete the title of the 1969 Lee Scratch Perry and The Upsetters sophomore album. Return Of….BLANK?
What is the connection to all the answers in this round?
Play Doh Round - (see above)
Sequence Round (fill in the BLANK:
1. Chelsea 0…..Everton 53…..Man Utd 28….Inter Milan 47….Chelsea BLANK
3. N: Lagos….B: Mumbai….H: BLANK
4. 83.7 million - Addison Rae….108.9 million - Khabane Lame….123.6 million - BLANK
5. Ammunition 10%....Pope 25%....Scooter 29%....Option BLANK
Science, Tech & Nature
1. What name is given to a male rabbit?
2. What name is given to water that occurs in a natural environment with higher salt levels than freshwater but less than sea water?
3. A Hazmat suit gets its name from the combination of which 2 words?
4. What is the name of the stocks and shares Reddit community that played a major role in the Game Stop short squeeze earlier this year?
5. 3, S, X and Y are models of car produced by which manufacturer?
The Arts and Culture
1. In Texas hip hop culture, Purple Drank is a recreational drug consisting of which prescription medicine?
2. Which British author released The Comfort Book earlier this year?
3. The Warehouse Project is a seasonal series of club nights that takes place in which UK city?
4. Pamela Anderson’s first 2 husbands were rock musicians - Can you name them?
5. Today marks the 91st birthday of American musician Sonny Rollins. What instrument is he best known for?
1. The Tide is High - Blondie
2. Tragedy - Steps
3. Spirit in the Sky - Garth Gates
4. Baby Come Back - Pato Banton
5. I’ll be Missing You - Puff Daddy, Faith Evans
What's the theme?
Monday, September 13, 2021
Friday, September 10, 2021
Welwyn Sloes... foraged, washed, stalks removed, green ones set aside to ripen, black ones in boxes to freeze. #sloegin #familyfun
Went sloe foraging with the family last Sunday in glitzy Welwyn march.
8 kgs washed, stalks removed, green ones set aside to ripen, black ones in boxes to freeze. Then they get added to the gin to infuse for 3 months. Yum.
Thursday, September 09, 2021
The hum of the audience stops abruptly as the gigantic sun which hangs over the set glares unbearably bright. Then, we are plunged into complete darkness. Once the light returns, a man buried up to his neck in sand appears on the stage and begins to hum. The audience laughs, as do we, but we cannot help but feel uneasy – the man’s face is burnt raw. The premise of Once Upon a Time in Nazi Occupied Tunisia (directed by Eleanor Rhode) walks this fine line between comedy and gravity continuously; while the consistent humorous undercutting of horror sometimes grows tiring, it also serves to masterfully expose the vicious realities which lie beneath the play.
As we walk into the theatre, the set of Once Upon a Time in Nazi Occupied Tunisia (designed by Max Johns with light by Jess Bernberg) instantaneously hits us – collectively the elements resemble a desert, complete with topographical, rolling sand dunes, a cactus, and a glaring sun beating down. When deconstructed however, the individual elements are strange but beautiful; the sand is constructed of plywood blocks, placed at different levels, and the sun is held within a metal frame.
As we move throughout the play this set is used very cleverly – it is used to set up an elegant dining room, and in the second half resembles a bathing room in a Tunisian home with a gorgeous pool refracting light out onto its surroundings. The simplicity of the set and the way it is used is great, and the soundscapes that accompany it (created by David Gregory) are immersive and rich, drawing us wholly into the world of Nazi occupied Tunisia.
The overarching plotline of the play is of four close friends in two unhappy marriages - one Jewish and one Arab, and an affair. However, writer Josh Azouz twists this narrative into something entirely unique, a love story woven into a tale of violence, hatred, and displacement. The idea of what it means to be ‘at home’ is writ small and large, as the characters approach the question of home from a domestic point of view and a global one.
The four protagonists of Faiza (Laura Hanna), Loys (Yasmin Paige), Youssef (Ethan Kai) and Victor (Pierro Niel-Mee) are all written into a complex web of relationships which we only catch a glimpse of during the play. Azouz’ script is incredibly powerful and poignant, with every sentence holding importance – one line is enough to silence the audience, just as it is enough to cause us to burst into laughter. The dialogue between the characters is also incredibly fluid, which serves to paint the characters deeply and thoughtfully. Adrian Edmondson’s ‘Grandma’, a high-ranking Nazi, is extremely funny and has the potential to be an interesting addition to the play – however, for me, after two hours of unrelenting jokes and little change in tone, I find this character the most underdeveloped of them all.
A play from the point of view of the marginalised is one that is timely and desperately needed, as many people across the world right now face losing their homes forever.
Wednesday, September 08, 2021
Starring Lesley Sharp the play is fairly faithful to the (rather tepid) Greek tragedy of Philoctetes.
Philoctetes (Sharp) has been abandoned by his pal Odysseus (Anastasia Hille) on a remote island. Only now wily old Odysseus wants old Philoctetes to help him fight in a war so he sends Neoptolemus (Gloria Obianyo), the son of the late Achilles, to lure him back.
Interestingly enough, these three men are the least interesting thing about the play. Rather it is the chorus - a wistful, long-suffering group of largely older women - that draw us in. We are not told whence they come - refugees? natives? from the Gods? - but unusually for a chorus they are all given names and personalities. Much of the play consists of their interactions, which essentially revolves around them looking out for each other as they grow older in this harsh land. Where the men broadly act from self-interest, the women are a community.
Sharp's performance was very broad - almost Cockney - which jarred a bit. And while Obianyo plays Neoptolemus as a calm, collected, but underneath it all scared young man, Hille’s gravelly-voiced Odysseus is pure cartoon villain.
An OK show, but not really a winner.
Tuesday, September 07, 2021
Starring Simon Russell Beale as the great eighteenth-century German composer Johann Sebastian Bach, Nina Raine’s play concerns the complicated father and his equally complicated family.
Bach Snr is a perfectionist. He prefers one son to the other. And his two wives are seemingly defined by their ability to childbear; they had 20 children between them - half of whom died in infancy.
Nicholas Hytner’s production is entertaining enough. The family quarrels are perhaps all too familiar. But it's perhaps all a little too cosy. 'Amadeus' it is not.
For me the highlight was Pravessh Rana playing a really weirdly and fiercely camp Frederick the Great.
Monday, September 06, 2021
Friday, September 03, 2021
It was a peaceful laying to rest of Dad’s ashes today. A lovely spot in the local cemetery, by a little tree with a little birdhouse, by a bench, on a grassy hill, all overlooking lovely Welwyn village; a place my Dad did so much for. His gravestone will be placed once the earth settles.
Tomorrow we are having a celebration party for him at the house. A bit of a shindig. Booze might be consumed. In some quantity. It’s what he would have wanted.
Thursday, September 02, 2021
We had seen the show before but here it had been expanded and extended and it was a God-damned riot! We laughed our socks off from start to finish.
The fourth wall is demolished in the opening scene and remains abolished. Rather like the GLC.
Matt Tedford plays Margaret Thatcher who stumbles into Soho on the eve of the vote for Section 28 and becomes an over-night all-singing, all dancing cabaret star. There starts a big gay odyssey about gay rights, the 80’s and disco.
As the Iron Lady herself might say, "Where there are discos, may we bring harmonies."
Tedford is as caustic as Dame Edna Everage, twice as camp and packs a mighty political punch. His side-kicks Sam Donnelly and Danny Stokes get to play everyone else in the piece - from 1980s Tory cabinet members, Churchill’s portrait, arch-enemy Jill Knight, Sex-God and punk Peter Tatchell, Jenny Lives with Eric and Martin, sleazy MPs, sleazier yuppies, Grange Hill kids, the list goes on.
One thing I did notice though - Tedford's Thatcher did look uncannily like Martin Gore of Depeche Mode!
Wednesday, September 01, 2021
Written by Kevin Elyot the play tells the story of seven gay men during, and following the effects of, the AIDS crisis. Although the crisis is not exactly what play is all about. It's a comedy - very much in the vain of Boys In The Band - the gays don't exactly hate themselves but they have a lot of shit to sort out. A lifetime of being told you're not good enough takes quite a bit of unpacking.
As a side note, the characters names are all have Elton John related names; Daniel, John, Benny, Guy, Bernie, and Reg. (Eric apparently refers to Eric Clapton.)
The elephant in the room, Reg, who most of the characters have slept with, never appears on stage. Reg is a metaphor for AIDS. A silent unseen killer. But Reg is a good shag. And had a winning smile. And flattery got him everywhere.
The play is also about longing. About unrequited love. And about disappointment. Which makes the play sound depressing which it's not; it's very funny. Oh, and there is plenty of gratuitous nudity. We laughed like drains.
Starring Stephen K Amos, Paul Keating, and a rather buff Edward M Corrie our Islingtonian neighbours Mark Gatiss was there with his husband Ian. They nodded a warm hello.