Saturday, April 29, 2006

Scenes from Soho Square Saturday 19.23


Scenes from Soho Square Saturday 19.23
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

Sitting...

Friday, April 28, 2006

Any excuse for Tom Cruise photo


DSC00604
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

Everytime I mention the words "Tom Cruise" on this blog traffic to my site jumps a bit. So in a desperate attempt to drive more traffic to my site, I am including my Tom Cruise photo from Tuesday evening at Leicester Square. Tom is there... Can you see him (get out your glasses)?

I did get within five metres of him. But as I said before I didn't have my water pistol on me so I wasn't going to take a photo...

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Theatre: Tom and just Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?

How close did I get to Tom Cruise on Tuesday? Well close enough to see that he really is short. Oh and he has great hair. Getting cheap tickets at Leicester Square I had my back mostly turned on him as while it is great he mingles with the fans for hours, star worship isn't my thing… Unless it is Kathleen Turner… Turner and Bill Irwin have reprised their Broadway roles in Edward Albee's modern (now slightly revised) classic "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?" It is about to close after a few months running in the West End and it was well worth seeing.

Turner may not have the looks (or the voice) she once had but she still has got something. Even with her foghorn voice she still managed to fill the stage. So much so you almost forget that there are only four actors that make up the cast in this. Irwin complimented Turner in his subtle and sly delivery.

There is so much fun to be had in watching this show about a sparring marital couple that even if it is a little overlong at three hours (and you wish they would get on with it and smash a few plates or something), you can't say that you weren't fascinated by the whole ordeal. Maybe it has been a while since I have seen the film or read the play, but this version made it very clear Martha invited the young professor and his wife around at 2am so she could fuck the young man. There is probably a central message in their about relationships but I was happy to let it serve as a warning to husbands everywhere when their wife suggests having a party at 2am…

Theatre: Burn not chatroom then citizenship...

Monday night I forgot I was at the National Theatre again to see "Burn, Chatroom and Citizenship" – three new one-act plays. Except that they only perform two and I was stuck with "Burn" during the first half. It was a bit of a bore, although had some nice commentary about social workers and car stealing. The second half was "Citizenship" and it was much more lively and funnier (no surprise when it was written by Mark Ravenhill of "Shopping and Fucking" fame). The tale about a boy who sees a girl and gets her pregnant while looking for a gay relationship was pretty funny. The characters and dialogue were fantastic (even if the plot was a bit suspect)…

The crowd was a very young crowd as these performances were originally performed at the NT last year by school children, and they all have yoof feemes and all that… So once you got past the audience belching and laughing at the wrong parts it was a good night out…  

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Scenes from Leicester Square Tuesday


Scenes from Leicester Square Tuesday
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

Trying to get cheap ticks to Kathleen Turner's performance in "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" I run into Tom Cruise worship. I got within 5 metres of him but was too busy purchasing theatre tickets to notice how small he really is... Besides I didn't have my water pistol on me...

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Scenes from SW4 Saturday 19:46


Scenes from SW4 Saturday 19:46
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

It wasn't all grey this weekend. Saturday was mild and sunny. The trees now

have greenery on them too...

Theatre in progress: The Menu

Friday night I caught a "work in progress" at the National Theatre called "The Menu". It is what they are referring to as a scratch performance where in essence they are workshopping a new piece but with an audience. There were enough disclaimers to lower anybody's expectations about what we were about to see but in essence it wasn't that bad. Sure the production was unfinished and there were enough subplots to drive anyone crazy (and some scenes didn't make any sense) but there is the potential there in this play set in the not too distant future Britain, where suicide bombings and lack of liberty are the norm. I thought the satire on the future (newsflash: Prince Harry was reprimanded today for wearing a fake Muslim beard) worked better than the love triangle between the three leads, but others with me went along with it all.

I enticed people to come to it on the premise that it could be the next masterpiece to come out of the National. I don't think we saw the beginnings of Chekhov on Friday night but it could have been a whole lot worse…

Scenes from Clapham Sunday 14.32


Scenes from Clapham Sunday 14.32
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

Just what the hell are they doing to the place??

Scenes from Soho Sunday 00.27


Scenes from Soho Sunday 00.27
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

Waiting to get inside The Ghetto. It was some wait... Inside it was one of those bars where anything seemed to go... For instance, there were two lesbians getting it on in one corner leaving nothing to the immagination. They were doing it with enough vigour to suggest they had had a few vitamins over the course of the evening. Outside it may have been mild weather but inside it was rather hot. All that cigarette smoke and dancing no doubt contributed to the hot steamy atmosphere... Banal eighties, nineties and naughties music seemed to be the order of the day as well...

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Friday, April 21, 2006

Scenes from Covent Garden 16.49


Scenes from Covent Garden 16.49
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

Shorts Gardens WC2

Theatre: Musical of Musicals

Tuesday night I caught The Musical of Musicals which is playing at the Sound Theatre (part of that Swiss Building where those hideous chiming things happen on the hour in Leicester Square). I understand that at some point the building will be demolished, which will be a victory for decent architecture. Having said all that, the theatre is not a bad space. Even better was this production.

If you like your musical theatre (and hey who doesn't as what's there not to like??) then this show offers the same story about a girl who can't pay the rent, in the five different styles: Rodgers and Hammerstein, Sondheim, Jerry Hermann, Andrew Lloyd Webber and Kander and Ebb.

The great thing about the show is even if the in-jokes sail over your head, the songs and the performances were good enough to stand on their own. While the Lloyd Webber segment managed to show how much the composer loves / copies / borrows from other composers, my favourite was the Kander and Ebb segment where everyone spoke in a foreign language and had dirty sex (a la Cabaret, Chicago, Kiss of the Spiderwoman).

Jerry Hermann's parody seemed particularly apt after seeing his show "Mack and Mabel"… Now there's a composer who writes for dopey showgirls in gooey gowns… It reinforced that making your cast look less glamorous by playing their own instruments is probably not a good idea in a Hermann show.

It finishes this week and deserves to have another run…

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Scenes for Easter


Scenes for Easter
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

As a tribute for Easter I thought I would highlight some of the religious iconography that pervades the house that I reside in. This one particularly takes my fancy as it is truly a shocker. This crucafix is damaged hence why there is a little bit of a lean to one side of it. One wonders what mini-skip this was rescued out of. Then again, my flat-mate is not the only Londoner who decorates using other people's garbage... It's a Londonthing...

Friday, April 14, 2006

Music: Gergiev's grunting Shostakovich

Last night I caught part of the Shostakovich Symphony cycle, Symphony 1 and 14, that the LSO is performing with conductor Valery Gergiev. Gergiev becomes the LSO's chief conductor next year (when Sir Colin Davis becomes the President)

Anyway, Symphony No 1 is quite accessible and full of loud explosions and power and vigour so it is easy to like. The orchestra obviously had loads of fun playing it.

Given my location in the cheap seats (front row to the side) as the performance was a sellout, I not only had a curious view of the backs of the string section, but also I heard what sounded like strange grunting sounds. At first I thought it was the conductor but then surely not. But throughout the four movements of the First Symphony I could hear it. Was it the bowing of the strings? Well the acoustic from my seat was giving me an interesting flavour of the performance so that was a distinct possibility.

When it came to the second half with the much more subdued Symphony No 14 again I could hear the grunting. Combined with Soprano soloist Olga Sergeeva's dire dress that should have stayed in the alien costume collection from BBC's Dr Who series it was hard to appreciate the music.

The grunting was coming from Gergiev, and so there is a lesson there for seeing future performances with the LSO's next chief conductor: don't sit in the cheap seats unless you like a grunt with your classical music. Further back you might not hear it.  

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Bird Flu


Bird Flu
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

The country hasn't completely panicked since some dead bird washed up against the shore in Scotland. Here's the secret line of defence...

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Theatre: Mack & Mabel

Tuesday evening I caught Mack and Mabel at the Criterion Theatre. The production was from the same team at the Watermill Theatre who brought the pared-down version of Sweeney Todd I caught in 2004 (that is now playing on Broadway). This version uses the same techniques (so the actors play the musical instruments as well) and stars David Soul and Janie Dee.

The musical was a flop when it was first produced in 1974. The music and lyrics in this show by Jerry Herman are probably the most memorable thing with songs including "I won't send roses", "Time heals everything" and "Look what happened to Mabel". Even in a pared-down version with the singers belting out the numbers and then blowing a tuba or playing the violin, the songs still were great.

Less so was the chemistry between the two leads. At intermission there was a consensus that there wasn't much chemistry between Soul and Dee. There was a bit of bitchiness that Dee (who I saw last year in a cabaret performance at the Shaw Theatre) was too old for the role as well. I figured that because I was in third row I didn't benefit from more blurry vision of further back. I did think that Dee was sounding a little huskier than normal and perhaps the wintry weather that has come back for April had given her a frog in her throat. On the plus side, for "Time heals everything" in the second act, her husky voice gave the song a club-like sound, which I thought was a nice touch… By the time the curtain came down, everyone seemed fairly pleased with the show, although not everybody was perhaps ready to write home about it…

Scenes from Trafalgar Square Tuesday


Scenes from Trafalgar Square Tuesday
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

For the first time ever, Nelson's column is covered in scaffolding as part of the regular cleaning that takes place once every 20 years...

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Theatre: Waiting for Godot

Caught "Waiting for Godot" at the Barbican today which is part of a festival to commemorate Beckett's centennary. Sitting through the second act it occurred to me how brilliant Beckett is. It is a great play about the passage of time. In a week when time passed rather quickly and mediocrity seemed to be quite prominent within it, it was also good therapy. I'm not sure if the play is meant to be therapy, but it worked for me.

The cast were terrific and the it looks like it will be a great run. Some of the other works (including a performance by John Hurt) is totally sold out so this festival is a bit of a must see at the moment in London...

Scenes from the Barbican Sunday


Scenes from the Barbican Sunday
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

After "Waiting for Godot" there was waiting in the foyer for free entertainment in the form of a Brazilian band as part of the Tropicalia festival...

Still more scenes from Oxford Saturday..


Still more scenes from Oxford Saturday..
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

Late night at one of the bars there still was time for more photos on the blog (although it was a bit hard to focus the darn camera phone). Alcohol is a popular pasttime in Oxford. There is at least two bars for every student...

Saturday, April 08, 2006

Scenes from an Oxford pub


Scenes from an Oxford pub
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

At 7.6% alc vol. Old Rosie comes up with the goods!

Scenes from Oxford Saturday


Scenes from Oxford Saturday
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

Black face Morris dancing is strangely popular in Oxford...

Scenes from travelling to Oxford


Scenes from travelling to Oxford
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

Travel tip: pick the silent car when travelling standard class so you dont have to listen some fat bastard talking on his mobile about his lunch date in Slough...

Monday, April 03, 2006

A brief brush with politics...

Today while crossing the street I was stopped by police who were escorting a large black Jag and a Range Rover down the street. It was Tony Blair's entourage returning after a function nearby where he was urging people to get out to vote...
 
The messages from the PM have been drowned out lately by speculation as to when he will be going however...

Music: Schubert and Bartok with the LSO

Sunday evening I caught the LSO perform a Bartok and Schubert program, and it was fantastic.  Pianist Piotr Anderszewski was particularly engaging during the Bartok Piano Concerto No 3. There was something about his performance that was so entertaining and enthralling (and it wasn't just to do with his looks - although I texted a few people afterwards commenting less on the style of his performance and more on his appearance - but I digress)...
 
After interval the orchestra again came up with the goods performing the Schubert Symphony No 9. Piotr may not have been in it at that point but it was still a great night and a terrific programme.

Scenes from SW4 Sunday 13:17


Scenes from SW4 Sunday 13:17
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

Blue skies after a rainshower...

Scenes from a hamburger restaurant Saturday 20:12


Scenes from a hamburger restaurant Saturday 20:12
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

Gour(fucking)met hamburger restaurants have flourished in London. No longer is the burger associated with stale wet slop served up by Macdonalds... Its all organic, grass-fed beef and doesn't have the levels of trans fatty acids that most fast food joints offer. And the amazing thing is that it isn'tthat much more than what the fast food chains charge...

Scenes from the NFT Southbank Saturday 18:13


Scenes from the NFT Southbank Saturday 18:13
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

In between movies there is plenty of time (and good weather) for the punters

to have a drink...

Film: Troubled teens

Saturday I caught a series of shorts about troubled teens at the London Gay and Lesbian film festival. Who knew there was so much angst out there among teens?

 

Later that evening I was with a few friends who told me that they were not really into the film fest. I couldn't understand this especially given the quality of the shorts that I saw on Saturday. They may have been your typical boy is friends with a boy and one boy is a little bit gay and so one day the other boy jerks him off and now they don't talk to each other stories, but it is all in the acting and direction…