Friday, May 04, 2007

Scenes from SW4 Friday 21:52

The time has come to leave SW4. This weekend I move north... Well, at least to SW9. I say goodbye to Jesus and the other iconography that adorns my London flatshare... Actually with half his head missing, Jesus looks worse than a Chelsea fan flying back from a match in Liverpool...

Over and out from SW4...

(Little) Theatre: Copacobana

Thursday night (rather than packing) I went to Putney to see the PLOS (that's Putney Light Opera Society) production of Copacabana. Well, I nearly didn't get in as it was sold out. Fortunately thanks to the rather efficient house manager seats were found. Upon getting inside it was immediately clear why the show was a sellout. With 36 people on stage (plus band but they were hidden) even if everyone only sold two tickets the theatre was bound to fill up.

As for the show Copacabana. Well the book is so bad that it takes on charm of its own. Based rather loosely on Barry Manilow's song (and co-written by him), the show is padded out with melodrama, bad gags and at least two reprises of the song Sweet Heaven so it was stuck in my head. The actors didn't take all this too seriously and neither did the audience. At one point we all hissed the villain. It seemed so right... The leads were great although at times it was Piccadilly Circus on stage there...

Anyway, the Putney Arts Centre turned out to be a pretty good place to spend an evening... And the wine is cheap there too...

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Scenes from Waterloo Bridge Tuesday 23:42

31 sculptures of artist Anthony Gormley go up over the city... Somewhat confronting... Although perhaps not as daunting as trying to navigate Oxford St to see Kate Moss at Topshop...

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Overheard on Borough High Street

Man 1: It is hard running with this thing in my front...
Man 2: Yeah and I'm cold...
Man 1: Lets run on the spot...
Man 2: Good idea...

Scenes from a church steps in Borough Saturday 19.52

Cantaloupe

Scenes from Tate Saturday 15:40


Despite the warm sunny weather, hundreds of people still flocked to the Tate for the last weekend of the Hogarth exhibition. Warm sweaty (and sometimes a little smelly) bodies huddled close to take in the fine drawings, bringing suffering for art to a whole new dimension... Faces visiting the exhibition looked like some of the post-coital faces painted by Hogarth but it was probably just the hot weather and not something sordid going on in the members' lounge...

Monday, April 23, 2007

Scenes from Waterloo Station Sunday 16:07

I have no idea what they were doing here at Waterloo Station, but it did look rather impressive...

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Partying and whinging



Create Your Own
Photos from the West End Whingers

After a long day rehearsing for upcoming concerts with the London Gay Men's Chorus in deepest darkest N15 (that's a long way from Clapham), I went back to civilisation and the West End to a party thrown by the West End Whingers. The Whingers first noticed my blog after my account of watching Cabaret last year. There was mutual agreement that the show was rubbish despite all the critics going ga-ga over it (and the fact that it is still playing). Well anyway their blog is definitely a must read before a night out at the theatre.

The party brought bloggers, along with wannabe whingers, fans, friends, miscellaneous people from the theatre business, and a dame or two. In fact we all had name tags to describe who we were and what we were doing there. In writing out my tag and putting the word "blogger" I realised it was the first time I identified myself as one. I never identified with that group before. Nevertheless I have been blogging since 2002 so it is probably time that I come out of blogging closet.

Anyway the photos above (not taken by me as they are in focus) capture some of the spirit of the evening. I think after checking my behind is featured in a shot with Paul Keating (the actor in the fantastic revival of Little Shop of Horrors not the former Australian Prime Minister) and a shot of my nose. Oh and it was good to see Andrew and Phil without their masks (or hands up in front of the camera)... Great night guys...

Theatre: Dying For It


Liz White and Tom Brooke in Dying For It

In a week of playing theatre catch-up, Friday night I managed to catch Dying For It which is based upon Nikolai Erdman’s once-banned satirical comedy The Suicide. It is a sort of silly story about a man who is propelled into celebrity for announcing he was going to kill himself and pokes fun of all sorts of people in society - particularly post-revolutionary Russian society but I was wondering whether there are any analogies for Islington society as well... I thought there were a number of similarities - artists, the intelligentsia, officials, ideologues, pragmatists, sex workers, unemployed - you get 'em all there...

It is always fun to watch a silly play with a silly person. And that I did by seeing it with An. An loves farces and I think I have seen more farces with him than anybody else and so we were able to laugh out loud at double entendres about socialistic uprisings and sex and the like. Actually we do that anyway (the double entendres not the socialism) so going to a play full of it was as good an excuse as any.

All told the play was great with some very witty lines. The cast were all excellent and particularly Brooke (as Semyon) who played dead so wonderfully well. The set also was also the usual fabulous Almeida standard and added to the lunacy. And you can't have a farce without some door slamming and running up and down stairs so the set worked very well for that...

Oh and there was a great scene about learning to play a tuba. After much struggle (as they are not cheap and he is unemployed) Semyon finally gets a tuba, only to discover that he also needs a piano to help with learning musical scales. Chatting after the play to a flautist he also mentioned that he recently bought a piano to help with his scales. And there I was thinking that was funny. Those woodwind and brass players must have a hell of a time...

Scenes from the Victoria line Saturday 17.28


After a long day of rehearsals for the upcoming LGMC concert Bad Boys, one's feet were a tad exhausted... Oh and this marks the first photo posted using the Nokia N95 camera... Hmmm

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Film: The Lives of Others


Ulrich Muhe in Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's "The Lives of Others." Photo by Hagen Keller (image from film)

I caught The Lives of Others this week. Set in the early eighties, it is a creepy drama-meets-thriller about a Stasi operative who spies on a famous writer for reasons that are less to do with state security and more to do with a woman and a jealous rival.

The movie beautifully recreates the banality and subtle horror of a totalitarian regime before its fall. You get a sense that Formica has never been photographed so lovely. The story unfolds like a thriller but it is a little more than that, and its interest in human frailty is really what makes it stand out.

Seeing it with M, I had to explain the history of East Germany as much as possible without annoying the other cinema-goers so it does help to have some understanding about post-war Germany before seeing it... And there I was thinking that everyone had seen Gotcha! so that would explain enough... Anyway a great film not to be missed...

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Theatre: Porgy and Bess



I finally got to the theatre this month and saw Porgy and Bess - the musical... As somebody who had appeared in an all-white chorus of a concert production of Porgy and Bess back in Australia ten years back (don't ask) I was very familiar with the piece and curious to see how it was translated from opera to musical. The short answer is that it doesn't translate very well.

Of course there were moments that worked well, particularly the numbers that are not operatic anyway. The plot was also a lot easier to follow without all those recitatives getting in the way too. But all told the production seemed to be missing a lot of drama and tension the opera has. Also while the soloists "jazzed it up" the chorus still sounded like an opera chorus, which gave it the feel of one of those period musicals rather than something new and different.

In a way Porgy and Bess is already a musical (albeit a four hour sung-through one). Most productions in the past have made cuts to the original material to make it a more manageable and economical fare. But this one assumes that Gershwin's music can be distilled into a series of songs with "naturalistic scenes" (whatever the hell that is) in between. It doesn't work.

I am not sure that the rest of the audience objected. Polite applause ensued throughout the evening, but I suspect this rowdy group of pensioners chomping on their crisps and slurping their ice-creams probably hadn't seen the real thing before. Watching it with F we both agreed we enjoyed it but we both thought it didn't fly - even after a few interval drinks. Actually, the prices of drinks at the Savoy does encourage responsible drinking anyway...

That is not to say that the cast were great. Although some seemed to think they were on television rather than on stage, the large ensemble managed to pull out the stops when they were required. It is hard not to enjoy watching any interpretation of "Summertime", "It ain't necessarily so" or "I love's you Porgy". What has been left of Gershwin's music can still be savoured and enjoyed...

But a pity that they didn't have the real thing to work with, rather than a silly forgettable bastardisation of it... Apparently it is going to Broadway which is why it is closing soon. I have no idea why.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Scenes from Jubilee Bridge Sunday 18:38

Matching pastels and thongs on the bridge to the South Bank...

Well, after an afternoon of people watching on Green Park (a popular thing to do when the weather is fabulous) it seemed silly to stop...

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Bar bitches...

Saturday night we checked out the latest new bar in Soho - Profile - which is a real venue for the online Gaydar brand. The venue certainly has had a bit of money thrown in it and there is loads of orange decor and mirrors. Alas it was too popular on Saturday night and with the odd bar layouts it took forever to get a drink. Maybe it was all the minor celebrities there that caused all the fuss... I am not sure who they were but I was informed they were lurking about amongst the rest of the non-entities...

Anyway a novel thing about the bar (apart from the free internet access) is a text messaging system where you can send text messages to a series of screens across the venue. Apparently irony is lacking with whoever approves these messages. My text "Ad is a cocksucker" was not posted on the grounds that it was rude and offensive. A couple celebrating their civil partnership engagement and looking for a spit roast in a local hotel did however make the grade. Well maybe they were looking for one Soho's finest rotisseries... Who can tell these days?

Scenes from Gielgud Theatre stage door Saturday 22:19

Stage door Johnnies (and Jills) waiting for Harry Potter to appear from Equus...

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Overheard at the gym Friday

Dude 1: You know, she's pretty lucky having you... Living where she does in the middle of nowhere... Surrounded by sheep and cows...
Dude 2: Yeaaaah....
Dude 1: Like, who else would go out with her?

Monday, April 09, 2007

Overheard on the Tube Monday night...

Guy: You fancied that guy didn't ya?
Girl: Gehorf he was all o' twenty
Guy: Didn't ya! didn't ya!
Girl (looking in Paul's direction): Shh I think that guy over there can hear us...

Scenes from the Royal Academy Monday 15:20

Great views, great location... Probably a bit drafty... I wonder if the RA would consider renting out their Jericho installation...

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Scenes from a deli in SW4 Sunday 14:56


DSC04795, originally uploaded by Paul-in-London.

We have big butter in Clapham...

Movies: Sunshine


Murphy looking all wistful...

With all the flat hunting that has been taking up my time in the past few weeks I have not had the chance to see any theatre. Such a shame as everytime I write something about the theatre I get at least an extra person reading this site. And I have been informed that my site ranks up there on Google when you type in Elaine Paige's Tits so that gives me good theatre cred surely...

Anyway, I did manage to catch the film Sunshine on Saturday. It is part 2001 A Space Odyssey, part Alien and part Stargate. But anyway, Cillian Murphy even looks a bit like Sigourney Weaver (and conjures up a little of Jaye Davidson as Ra in Stargate too).

The plot involves a mission to restore the dying sun. It starts off slowly and maintains this pace throughout. Some people have told me they felt the film was boring, pretentious rubbish but anything that plays homage to 2001, while throwing in some strange weirdo alien being that has had a bit too much sun can't be all that bad. There are some nice themes of morality and religion that play here as well...

I could have done with less fight scenes and a little more ambiguity. Although the ending with its shaky camera and distorted effects is so ambiguous I took to guessing how it actually ended... Hmm maybe I should go to the theatre. At least you can see what is happening there...

Scenes from The Green Clerkenwell Friday 15:07


DSC04765, originally uploaded by Paul-in-London.
Good Friday and good weather...

Scenes from a street in SW8 Tuesday 17:38



One of the joys of checking out new properties (as I will be shortly moving) is finding strange and interesting new streets, full of rubbish and debris... I passed on the property in this street... The search continues...

Film: Wrestling with Angels


Tony Kushner and composer Jeanine Tesori

Earlier this week I caught the documentary Wrestling With Angels which was a brilliant snapshot of the life of one of America's great living playwrights and liberal political activists. It captures the period of Kushner's life from September 11 2001 through to the presidential elections in 2004. During this period it traces the filming of his major work Angels in America (by HBO), a book with Maurice Sendak, an opera and the musical Caroline, Or Change. The film ends with Kushner's attempts on election day to ensure that people get to the polling both.

You leave the movie with a sense of wanting to go out and do something to change the world. Although given the outcome of the 2004 election, you are inclined to wonder what is the point... Definitely the best movie I caught at the film festival. One to look out for on the film festival circuit...

Bartalk...

Paul: Eww, that man with the beard who keeps smiling at you has missing teeth...
Adam: That's okay, I quite like gummy bears...