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Nights and boos with @johnnyfoxlondon

Londonist head theatre critic JohnnyFox recently passed away after a short illness. Over the years we went to the theatre together. For me I was covering it for my own blog. For John it was covering it for countless online magazines and eventually Londonist.

We rarely took notes. There was one point when John tried to do that. But when he went to the bathroom, I wrote in his note pad, biscuits, milk, a tin of meat for the cat.

Instead, we would talk about the show on the way home. If we liked the show enough, we would record the banter on the Audioboo platform (as it was then called). While we assumed only my mother was listening, it was an opportunity  to explain why we liked something, without too many pauses or ums and errs.

We also travelled to Winchester and Poole to speak to young people starting out as journalists about how to make a living doing it. The point we made was that theatre journalism never made money but you should do it because you like to do it around your day job…

Virtually live @curtaincall @finborough @pbp_podcast

Virtual readings and podcasts for those in need of a theatre fix... And finding that they have more time in the evenings...

A Separate Peace

On Saturday 2 May at 7pm, David Morrissey, Denise Gough, Jenna Coleman, Ed Stoppard and Maggie Service headline Tom Stoppard’s, A Separate Peace. This is the first in a series of live-streamed virtual readings called The Remote Read.

It will raise money for creatives, stage technicians and food charities. Tickets for the live reading are available from £10.

The One Day of the Year

Alan Seymour’s play ‘One Day of the Year’ was seen at the Finborough a few years back. It takes an unflinching and honest look at the day Australians, and New Zealanders commemorate their war dead. This live reading, presented by Kathy Lette, is directed by Wayne Harrison. The Australian and New Zealand cast, including Mark Little, Kerry Fox, Daniel Monks, Celeste Dodwell and Paul Haley.

Commissioned by the Australian High Commission as part of its Anzac Day commemoration…

Support your local theatre @arcolatheatre @parktheatre @riversidelondon

As the lockdown continues and theatres look to surviving for the next three months, here are a few other theatres to support:

Arcola Theatre

Arcola Theatre - The Arcola Theatre in Dalston has been featured on Newsnight about the economic impact of Covid19 on the creative industries. It’s seeking donations safeguard its future, and you can donate directly on its website.

Park Theatre’s Park Life Fund

The Park Theatre has launched the Park Life Fund. The theatre has depleted its reserves and production fund. It estimates it needs to raise a further £100,000 to fund a three-month run-up to being able to reopen.

Riverside Studios Quiz Nights

The Riverside Studios at Hammersmith, which was just reopened following a redevelopment, will be hosting a series of quiz nights with celebrity guests and isolation-friendly prizes. The proceeds will go to ensuring the centre will be able to resume operations in the future. The first of these is on 29 April with Gyles Brandreth. Stephen Fry (13 May) and …

Online and lifelines during lockdown...

As life in London remains in a suspended state, theatres are moving online... and requesting some lifelines. Here are a few so far:

Finborough Theatre

The Finborough Theatre is updating its archive of shows over the years. And you can donate online to help keep the theatre open.

There is also Continuity, a gripping monologue about a man with a bomb, last seen in 2017 and now available to watch online.

Jermyn Street Theatre

The Jermyn Street Theatre has launched an emergency fund to keep it running. And they just recently had a burst water pipe to deal with.

Check out their twitter feed for performances as well.

Omnibus Theatre

Clapham's Omnibus Theatre Online launched with a performance of Our Day's coming-of-age comedy-drama DEM TIMES. Recorded live at King's Place for London Podcast Festival 2019. There is also a section on the website for donations.

Battersea Arts Centre

Battersea Arts Centre's groundbreaking film, Performance Live: The Way Out, is on BBC iPlayer as part…

Hitting the pause button

Life in London has taken a pause... As theatres have gone dark and we stay indoors, it makes you appreciate the open and vibrant cultural offer a place like London has. Always connected. Always something new. And going out to do something. But not for now. Now it is the time for going in... 

Going out is a trip to the supermarket to buy food for the day. It isn’t so much as stockpiling groceries as the realisation that eating three meals a day at home means you need more food. Heading outside for exercise means a walk around the block or to the nearby park. And keeping two metres away from everyone... Especially the annoying jogger who is coughing incessantly.

What lies ahead? We will find out soon.

Mostly harmless caper: Corpse! @parktheatre

In times of national crisis, there is nothing like a good old fashioned comic murder-mystery to take your mind off social distancing and voluntary isolation. Or perhaps a silly murder-mystery. And even if the story is a bit suspect, Corpse! is mostly harmless fun and staged with a lot of panache and energy by Tom York. It's currently playing at the smaller space of the Park Theatre.

Set against the backdrop of another national crisis, Edward VIII's abdication, Gerald Moon's Corpse! (complete with an exclamation point) was first seen in the early eighties. It is about two identical twins who despise each other. The oldest (by a few minutes) Evelyn, is poor and living in a squalid Soho flat. His acting career hasn't progressed much after being accused of poisoning cast members. He gets by shoplifting from Fortnum and Mason and promising favours to his lonely landlady. His younger brother Rupert is incredibly rich after inheriting the family fortune. Evelyn has decided t…

Not quite change: Not Quite Jerusalem @finborough

Has anything changed in England in the forty years since Paul Keebler’s Not Quite Jerusalem premiered at the Royal Court? A play about a country full of crap towns, no opportunities and a class divide could have been written today. It’s currently playing at the Finborough Theatre and unexpectedly has new resonance about the opportunities afforded to people in this country.

Set in 1979, the play centres around Mike, Carrie, Pete and Dave who travel to Israel to volunteer working on a kibbutz. In the pre-EasyJet revolution, that was a thing. They were expecting the trip to be full of sun, sex and beer. But they find themselves instead mucking out cow sheds and working in the sweltering heat. But Mike, a lost Cambridge dropout, fed up trying to fit in understands why he ran away from England. When he takes a liking to the straight-talking Gila who is completing her final year military service on the kibbutz, it leads to an unlikely meeting of minds across cultures.

Things come to a head…

Lock ‘em up, get ‘em out: The Special Relationship @sohotheatre

You usually expect to see the phrase “special relationship” as part of an undemanding British news article about the imaginary special connection between Britain and the United States. But the focus of this piece by Hassan Adbulrazzak is the plight of foreign nationals being deported from America after serving prison sentences. It is a misleading title. And my initial thought was, why would anyone choose to live in America? The food is terrible, healthcare expensive and you only get two weeks holiday a year. But often the people in this piece had no choice. They were born there or moved there with their parents and started a life there. And what makes this interesting is how, through verbatim interviews, the complexity and messiness of life emerges. It’s currently running at Soho Theatre.

An ensemble cast has been assembled to tell the stories of (mostly) British nationals who lived most of their lives in the United States. And how most of them through circumstances were convicted of…