Friday, June 30, 2006

You can be as bland as you want when you're a West End show...

The theatre reviews for Avenue Q have been surprisingly tepid. Basically the papers seem to be saying that the show lacks balls and compare it unfavourably to Jerry Springer The Opera. I thought this was interesting as after seeing the show a few weeks back I found myself discussing the merits of Jerry Springer The Opera with one of the creators. He was under the impression that the show was shit. I did suggest he take a look at the show (which is on DVD) and see for himself...

Theatre: Fool For Love

Tonight I caught Fool For Love which is a play Sam Shepard wrote in the 1980s. It is a very compact play that lasted less than ninety minutes and where the main characters – played by Juliette Lewis and Martin Henderson - air some family issues. Shepard's themes are always the same but the way they are written are so entertaining and engaging.

Juliette Lewis, known more for her rock singing than her movie roles nowadays, seemed to be a little off tonight. Maybe there have been too much throaty singing of late which was a pity as you got the impression she thought she was projecting.

The Apollo Theatre isn't the most pleasant of theatres to be in on a warm evening. The seats are too small and the air conditioning is non-existent. There was also a series of unnecessary delays to pick up tickets and curtain-up was fifteen minutes late. Part of the problem I observed was that the agent to one of the cast members was trying to pick up a comp seat and figured that he was important enough to make twenty other people wait, particularly as he started to engage in theatre banter with the house manager and blocked access to the box office windows. As I was next in line a gentle shove was required from me to move the asshole on…

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Scenes from Covent Garden Tuesday 19:50


Scenes from Covent Garden Tuesday 19:50
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

Despite the overwhelming popularity of mobile phones, phone boxes persist in London as a place where you can smoke your crack pipe in peace or where purveyors of erotic women can advertise their wares...

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Lexicography - word of the day

A book is now being kept about words that I use. Apparently they are not used by everybody so I thought I might add some of these to the blog on a regular basis. One that I heard on television tonight was:

Furkid – a pet that is a substitute for a child. Usually furry with four legs. Hmm I know a few people with furkids…

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Scenes from Soho Saturday 23:58


Late Night Soho
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

What London nightlife is really about... Waiting in a very long line to get in anywhere...

Exhibition: Michelangelo Drawings


British Museum
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

I found myself at the British Museum at 10pm Saturday evening (finally) catching the phenomenally successful exhibition of 90 or so of the drawings Michelangelo made in his lifetime. Studies for his painting of the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel were a significant part of the exhibition. The exhibition brought together three separate collections and provided a rare insight into the great artist.

To cope with demand the Museum remained open until midnight every Saturday in June. It was great idea to see it late as there weren't the tourists or the pushy pensioners who must have all been in bed by then. Pushy pensioners are a problem at every exhibition. I guess they figure they survived the war so they are not going to let some thirty-something block their view so they prod you and push you until you get out of their way. It was still crowded but it was a much more considerate crowd. Here's hoping they continue to do this for future blockbuster shows.

The exhibition finishes today and was completely sold out. The book accompanying the exhibition however is excellent and an electronic version is on the site.

Scenes from SW4 Saturday 21:10


SW4 Dusk
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

Dusk over the neighbourhood...

Scenes from SW4: Abbeville Road Fete Saturday 13:10



The annual summer fete was a time for people to enjoy the sun and meet the neighbours. The streets were closed around Abbeville Road and there were the usual stalls and family events.

And speaking of neighbours, a conversation I overheard went something like this:
Lady with children (to two scruffy-looking men with beers): Excuse me do you live in the flat upstairs from us?
Scruffy Man #1: Uh yeah...
Lady with children: Um you were a bit noisy last night, is it possible to keep the noise down?
Scruffy Man #2: Uh sorry yeah there were all these people that just came over for like a party and it sorta got outta hand...

And there is an insight into part of the demographic make up of the little part of Clapham that I live in: Bugaboo parents and scruffy types... Incidentally I only knew what a Bugaboo was after my sister got one. Only then did I realise that all these parents in my street with these prams bearing the same distinctive logo on them were not part of a cult... Or maybe they are??

Friday, June 23, 2006

Theatre: Evita

There is something about the audience at Evita, the new version of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical hit from 30 years ago which reminded me of the audience at a dreadful Elaine Paige concert I happened to see in 2004. There was a certain age and a certain style about the people. They didn't look like they were regular theatre goers but they would go to this. I wondered where the hell they bussed this audience in from. I am not exactly a fan of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musicals (nor Elaine Paige) so it did dawn on me what the hell I was doing at this show. Well it probably was the promise that it was to be a new look at a (tired, dated, sanctimonious) old show.

As for what was new in this show… Well there were new orchestrations, but for the most part they sounded more like the ring tones on my mobile phone. Unusually for a Lloyd Webber show, the set didn't fly in or out in spectacular fashion or be projected oddly (although there was one exception for Don't Cry For Me Argentina the balcony started to extend out for some sort of dramatic effect that I didn't quite understand the point of). These were all good things.

This new production also got something else right. Amongst some of the most hideous music ever to be inflicted on an audience in a popular musical and some very scary dancing involving soldiers prancing about, there were the three leads. These were Elena Roger (Evita), Philip Quast (Peron) and Matt Rawle (Che), and they could all act, dance and sing.

Actually Roger, a lovely petite Argentine actress couldn't hit the screechy bizarre high notes that the role calls for but she gave such a star performance that it was easy to overlook this. Some of the other audience members were not so forgiving and during the interval were hissing to each other "Oh she's not as good as Elaine!" The chemistry between her and Quast was pretty good as well, even if he was twice her size.

I had been forewarned that Rawle lacked the charisma for such a key role as Che. But I thought he was not bad. Part of the problem with him however was that he was made to look like some Arts undergraduate in between lectures bumming about. Thirty years ago the audiences may have been dull enough not to know who Che Guevara was, but the production could have taken some cues from the V&A exhibition which highlights what a dominating figure Che now is in pop culture, and fashioned him to suit this. But at least Rawle could sing and do it rather well.

So it was a night of great actors in a not-so-great show. A show also written in a time when subtlety was not in fashion. Tim Rice's lyrics seemed to constantly use naughty words such as "bitch" and "slut" and "tarts" just in case you missed the previous song which also underlined that Eva Peron slept her way to the top.

If you do find yourself at the Adelphi over the summer, I would advise that a good stiff drink in the interval will help enjoy the second half of the show. After all Evita will die before the curtain comes down, but it will feel like an awful long time for that to happen. I lost interest after the money rolling in or out song and was just hoping she would DIE! Unfortunately before she does die there are too many prancing soldiers and banal songs to endure it sober. One can only hope that Roger, Quast and Rawle do more work in the West End in future however, just not in Evita. It should be remembered as a Madonna movie, not a revival…

Scenes from the Strand Thursday 21:49


Scenes from the Strand Thursday 21:49
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

I survived Evita. Did you?

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Scenes from Covent Garden Monday 21:44


Scenes from Covent Garden Monday 21:44
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

Scaffolding amongst the window shopping...

Crap design in London


Crap design in London
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

The votes are in for the most hated buildings and public spaces in London, but surely the Charing Cross station subways would also have to rank high in the lousy public space stakes? Orange and brown tiles and the smell of piss pervade throughout...

Monday, June 19, 2006

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Scenes from Angel Sunday 13:32


Scenes from Angel Sunday 13:32
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

Smoke 'em...

Scenes from Covent Garden Saturday 21:24


Scenes from Covent Garden Saturday 21:24
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

A haze across the city from the Royal Opera House balcony with the market below in view...

I Was at the Opera House to see two short operas Duke Bluebeard's Castle and Erwartung (by Bartók and Schoenberg respectively), which as to be expected was a great production beautifully performed and sung.

Bluebeard's Castle struck me as a polygamists opera but there were so many pschchological layers to the opera such as "why this woman would be interested in some grumpy old man with a mouldy castle?" to keep you on the edge of your seat. Erwartung which was nicely linked through set design and costumes was more one woman's battle with her mind. It wasn't really my cup of tea. At 45 minutes however it didn't really matter...

All the opera talk this weekend has been on the Royal Opera's new production of Tosca, which is the first new production they have mounted since Maria Callas was performing in 1960s. It opened this week and was to be the performance people would talk about for years with a star turn by Angela Gheorghiu. It wasn't to be. While Bryn Tyrfel (also appearing) was fabulous the general feeling was that Georghiou's voice is not hefty enough for the role.

Even worse is her acting. The papers were too polite to call it as it is but I gather most of the time she waves her arms about like an old drag queen in a silent movie. I am going on the night she isn't appearing so I wonder if I will be missing anything...

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Music: Those crazy chicks...

The Dixie Chicks are on BBC TV tonight. They are keen to plug it as the scene of the crime, but all controversy aside their new album Taking the Long Way (which is on my iPOD) has some pretty darn good songs on it. Here's hoping they keep writing about themselves, being themselves and just writin'…  

The album really deals about their experiences post 2003 when in an off-hand statement at a London concert they told the crowd they were ashamed to be from the same state of the US as George W Bush. That apparently is disrespecting the President as he was just about to commit troops to the war in Iraq. Every country has its sacred cows, but this album is full of little "fuck yous" to their fans who used to have them with Reba McEntire on their CD changer. Combined with great melodies, great voices who could ask for anything more?

Interestingly they are not the only ones disrespecting the President nowadays. Pink has a great song on her latest album Dear Mr President. The protest song is alive and well in 2006.

Btw since when has the act of showing disrespect been allowed to be called disrespecting?

Friday, June 16, 2006

News: Underground rubbish

Today was one of those days when I had to be at Cannon Street in the City by 9am, so when the tube went tits up and I was still in Clapham, it made for an interesting day transferring from bus to tube to tube to get there. I did make it just in time, but it could have been worse as some people were stuck underground for over two hours. Current travel tip for London is to allow for an hour and a half getting anywhere at the moment…

Scenes from outside the Cambridge Theatre Covent Garden Friday 17:07


Scenes from outside the Cambridge Theatre Covent Garden Friday 17:07
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

One last look at NYC

One last look at NYC from the Wintergarden

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Scenes from London Bridge Tube Thursday 18:42


Scenes from London Bridge Tube Thursday 18:42
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

Waiting for the next southbound Northern Line tube. Severe delays as to be expected nowadays...

Scenes from London Bridge Thursday 18:22


Scenes from London Bridge Thursday 18:22
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

Scenes from Liverpool St Station Thursday 17:35


Scenes from Liverpool St Station Thursday 17:35
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

Watching England beat Trinidad and Tobago... At this stage no goals but plenty of beer... While I didn't watch the game you could tell how well England was doing by the silence. If there was a roar that dropped off instantly you knew there was a near-miss. A roar that continues means there was a goal... England are now through to the next round.

Interestingly at a hardware store the other day I was offered one of those flags for cars for free. I told the lady behind the counter I would be just fine without one...

Scenes from the City, Thursday 17:05


Scenes from the City, Thursday 17:05
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

The streets were empty but the pubs were full...

Scenes from Noel Coward Theatre Wednesday 22:29


Scenes from Noel Coward Theatre Wednesday 22:29
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

Trekkie Monster and actor Simon Lipkin post Avenue Q tonight. It is still in preview until the end of the month but if the audience reaction is as strong as it was tonight for the show, then Avenue Q surely will be around for a while in the West End. A great show with an amazing amount of energy where twenty somethings (some real, some puppets) sing about life lessons such as "What do you do with a B.A. in English?" and "The Internet is for Porn". The latter song is where we meet Trekkie Monster...

Of course humourous songs aside, this show has a real story and a lot of heart. It is warm and fuzzy on so many levels. If the Muppets grew up (and were not sanitised when Disney bought them out) then they would be doing shows like this. A show for the Miss Piggy generation if there ever was one...

Scenes from Liverpool St Tuesday 17:51


Scenes from Liverpool St Tuesday 17:51
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

Rush hour home...

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Scenes from Clapham Common Sunday 18:27


Scenes from Clapham Common Sunday 18:27
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

Love on the common... Even in this heat and with the shopping...

Scenes from Clapham Common Sunday 18:21


Scenes from Clapham Common Sunday 18:21
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

That lovely light effect is the smog hanging over the city. Nevertheless as temperatures hovered near 30 this afternoon, the punters flocked to the Common thinking it was a lovely day for fresh air... Across London high moderate levels of ozone were measured and it is expected to get worse over the next few days...

One last look back at New York

There is just one more thing I will mention about my trip to New York. It involves an exotic dancer and getting lost in the East Village until the wee hours of the morning. Of course no illegal substances were consumed. Read on…

Scenes from N1 Saturday 19:10


Scenes from N1 Saturday 19:10
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

Post match patriotism flying from a Georgian Terrace.

Scenes from N1 Saturday 15:16


Scenes from N1 Saturday 15:16
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

It is going to be a quiet month if England do as well as expected in the World Cup. England's first match yesterday afternoon against Paraguay emptied the streets and filled the pubs. It also closed shops (such as this one). I was in a pub where the match was only on a 42" CRT television set so it wasn't quite such a focus of attention (a true sports pub should have nothing smaller than a standard issue plasma television nowadays)...

Interestingly England's performance yesterday wasn't as crash hot as everyone was expecting. Their victory (thanks to an own goal by Paraguay) wasn't really celebrated on the streets of London. The reaction was more like relief... Assuming the team picks up their game, it is going to be a long month...

Scenes from SW4 Saturday 13:43


Scenes from SW4 Saturday 13:43
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

If you drive a really crap-looking car in London, then the chances are that you will have St George flags protruding from the back windows of it to show your support for England in the World Cup.

The flags are sold everywhere and are really cheap. This makes up for the extra £10-20 you are likely to spend on fuel consumption due to their drag if you have them up for the entire duration of the cup.

To be fair to England supporters, now that the cup has started other flags have appeared as well. On Friday I saw a Merc sporting both English and Mexican flags...

Friday, June 09, 2006

Scenes from the V&A Museum Wednesday 17:32


Scenes from the V&A Museum Wednesday 17:32
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

If there is something Londoners love, it is boring looking chairs on display in a museum as part of a justification of modernism. Politics, design and cheap mass production all combined made up for an incredibly dreary and mind-numbing exhibition. Nevertheless the punters are flocking to it, as afterall why wouldn't you pay big money to see a chair like this?

Much more interesting (and quicker to get through) was an exhibition on Che Guevara based around his iconic photograph taken by Alberto Díaz Korda on March 5, 1960. It is considered to be the most reproduced image in the history of photographs and whether or not it is true, it has become a symbol of pop culture. The original photo (and contact sheet) is on display along with the countless t-shirts, posters, ice cream wrappers, handbags, album covers that either used the image or were inspired from it. What is it about that scruffy-looking revolutionary turned Minister of Cuban government that captures the punter's imagination?

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Theatre: The Drowsy Chaperone (in New York)

Another postcard from NY… This time a review of The Drowsy Chaperone...

Scenes from Soho Sunday 19:23


Scenes from Soho Sunday 19:23
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

All the sun and drink was a bit too much for some who had to take a quiet nap on Old Compton Street. He was just resting. Paramedics helped him to his feet shortly afterwards...

Scenes from Clapham South Sunday 15:21


Scenes from Clapham South Sunday 15:21
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

This weekend was one of those glorious sunny days that we have had so many of in 2006. Before this weekend May 4 was warm and sunny and that was a Thursday. So everyone was on the common wearing as little as possible.

Scenes from the tube Saturday 00:37


Scenes from the tube Saturday 00:37
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

Waiting for the last southbound Northern Line... It was 20 minutes late...

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Scenes from Tate Britain (late at Tate) Friday 19:43


Scenes from Tate Britain (late at Tate) Friday 19:43
Originally uploaded by Pauly_.

A (un)fashion show and cheap alcohol got the punters in... There is too much art in London to see on a weekend that is glorious and sunny (like today) so Late at Tate is a good way to it out, and be under the influence of something as well...

Thursday, June 01, 2006

How to get on Broadway...

Another day another postcard update from New York. This time it's how to make an appearance on a Broadway stage. First of all, you buy a ticket to the 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee musical. It is worth it…