Saturday, December 27, 2008

Scenes from shopping on Shaftsbury Avenue

Dead bird on a wire...

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Scenes from Waterloo station

Under the clock...

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Thursday, December 25, 2008

Scenes from the Midnight Eucharist Christmas Eve

At St Pauls Cathedral... Contrary to what the camera captures the view was not that bad...

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Saturday, December 20, 2008

Scenes from the backstage...

Waiting for the act two call...

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Hot News this week in London...


Fears Grow For Doctor Who, originally uploaded by LinkMachineGo.

Not only has David Tennant missed his star turn in Hamlet due to a back injury, he may not be able to finish that silly TV show... Oh the humanity...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Life in London: Grandpa dies in Brisbane

In a week of final rehearsals for a sellout Christmas Concert, loads of Christmas parties and the odd bit of theatre, I received word from Australia that my grandfather (Pa) passed away. He was getting ready to go out on Saturday night when it happened. At 86 he was still was able to go out with my grandmother to a local football club, have a bottle of wine, a meal and a gamble and get home at a rather late hour... All of which sounded awfully sensible to me.

It is always an experience being 10,000 miles away from the rest of your family, but apart from the people around me (you know who you are), what keeps me upbeat is thinking of his sense of humour and his knack of winding people up. I would like to think that I carry on this tradition. When someone says they didn't sleep well last night, I reply, "Well I slept well. I had a clear conscience". Thanks for that one Pa. It gets a reaction every time...

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Theatre: In A Dark Dark House



I had been warned that In A Dark Dark House, currently playing at the Almeida Theatre is a disturbing sort of show. So I figured it was only fitting to be the final show for Adrian to see before he left the UK. I had been in a rehearsal all day and was a little exhausted after that, and Adrian was returning from a few days in Manchester, so something interesting and a little controversial by Neil LaBute was bound to keep us interested.

While we waiting for the show to start we could at least take in the fantastic production design. The Almeida always seem to create the most fantastic realistic looking gardens and grasses and this was no exception.

After a slow start, the play really started to unfold, somewhat sneakily, into another realm... Which also included a mini-golf course. This is a play about sexual abuse and two brothers reliving their unhappy childhood. But it was told from an interesting perspective and there are such terrific performances it is worth catching. All told was it disturbing? Well, only if you are disturbed by human behaviour...

Theatre: Wig Out



When friends visit from Australia I find that I see a lot more musicals in the West End. Adrian was in town from Melbourne this week and as a fan of musical theatre I knew that at some stage this week it would end up like this. And it did. I ended up seeing Avenue Q (which in its third year is still fun, but a little lacklustre and the Tuesday evening performance this week had some pretty poor puppeteering), and Zorro (enjoyable sort of panto with the music of the Gypsy Kings and well-shaved gypsies). Bearing this in mind, I was determined to mix it up a little as well. So last weekend I took Adrian to the Royal Court's production of Wig Out by Tarell Alvin McCraney. This is an entertaining and slick production. While music features prominently in the story about competing drag houses in New York, it is no musical.

It seems that for the characters in this play, the motivation for doing drag was that their grandmother wore a wig. Who knew that grandmother's could cause such an impression? By intermission Adrian declared was impressed by its high wig factor. Normally only period dramas would have such an endless parade of cast members in wigs, but we can thank our grandmothers for giving us drag dramas.

While the story at this point did tend to go on a bit (too much exposition), the performances and production were great. The second half was even better and moved much more quickly. Certainly a different sort of play to see over the Christmas period. It runs until 10 January and good discounts are available to see the show from various places.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Theatre: A Little Night Music



I was a bit worried about seeing A Little Night Music on Sunday. Well, the last time I went to see a Trevor Nunn show it all ended in disaster (although I ended up with seats with lots of space around me). This time at least I was certain that the material he had to work with was much better. But still, I was a little bit worried. It was less to do with the show and more to do with the company I was with. After having lunch with the Whingers, John and a few others, our party of ten to see it was in a very silly mood.

The two bottles of non-cheap red wine consumed over lunch may have had something to do with it. There was so much banter that anything was a target and everything was hilarious. The production team sat in the row in front of us, taking notes using pens and little notepads looking like they were waiters. John suggested we ask Trevor to take our order for a couple of lattes for the interval. Yes, it was set to be a silly afternoon.

Fortunately all the banter stopped when the lights went up. Well the lights went up in the row in front of us anyway. The note taking continued under the glow of pen lights and mobile phones. It took a while for the stage lights to go up. I think they did not go up until about the third number and it was hard to make out who anybody was until then. Still there was so much to enjoy about this show; the excellent cast, the brisk pacing and the great story.

I had not seen a production of A Little Night Music before but was familiar with the score. I also knew the film Smiles Of A Summer Night on which the musical is loosely based upon. Smiles Of A Summer Night is an Ingmar Bergman film, but is not a bleak film about death (like many of his films) but a very funny comedy. The book and score of A Little Night Music is just as witty and incisive. So it was great to see this production bring out the fact that at its heart this show is a sexy comedy.

There are some wonderful singers in this cast and they all kept the show real while managing the right balance of laughs and pathos. Some in our party had reservations about Maureen Lipmann playing Mme Armfeldt but I figured the role called for a touch of channelling Margaret Thatcher with a bit of Miss Havisham. But particular credit has to go to Hannah Waddingham in the central role of Desiree. Judi Dench played it in the last London production, but by giving this role to Waddingham (who is in her early thirties and looks stunning even eating a bag of crisps), the show makes a lot more sense and gives added power to the story. It was also nice to see Jessie Buckley, runner up in the TV show I'd Do Anything to find the next Nancy for the upcoming West End revival of Oliver! playing the role of the young virgin wife Anne as well.

All told this show looked and sounded fantastic. I would challenge anyone not to enjoy the closing number of Act 1, "A Weekend In The Country". It is helped by the small confines of the Chocolate Factory and the extra intimacy it provides. You know you are seeing the real thing as you are so close to the performers as they deftly handle very tricky music. The production design was another added bonus. A real treat and one not to miss. Press night was 3 December and it will run until March at the Chocolate Factory. Beg, borrow or steal (if the Sondheimistas snatch them all up) to get a ticket while the nights are long... It is worth it...

Overheard in Sainsburys

Woman on mobile: And yeah well then I says to him, I says to him... I think he was right outtaorda... I think he was right outtaorda... And then I says to him, I says to him... He's a bully...

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Scenes from a new terror threat to London


Picture 615, originally uploaded by Paul-in-London.

Reports are surfacing that the retail downturn in London may be attributable to the threat of freaky giant snowmen attacking shoppers on Carnaby Street...

Theatre: The Walworth Farce



I wasn't that keen on The Walworth Farce after I saw it on Thursday evening. Maybe it was that after seeing Changeling at the cinemas already I had seen enough weird stuff for a week. But then after a few days it still lingers in the mind. And over the course of the weekend I saw enough weird stuff to make me wonder whether the characters in this show really were that bonkers.

The play begins with a father and his three grown up sons putting on a play for themselves in the living room of their run down council flat in Walworth. It is a little weird seeing the usual National Theatre audience types watching characters in a place set two stops on the tube away. It is two separate worlds. With my view over the stalls I could see that there were a few there to see the play who were on dates. As the play develops and a stranger interrupts their world, it becomes quite clear that it isn't a play you should take your date to.

The clever thing about the play is that the story unfolds within the play the three main characters put on. While it may not be a laugh out loud show (as it is way too creepy for that), it is still interesting enough to catch. It's current run has finished at the National Theatre.

Theatre scenes 2: Blowing Whistles

What did they do to poor teddy? Note the large window too... It's very Clapham North...


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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Theatre: Blowing Whistles


source:www.blowingwhistles.co.uk

I had not planned to see Blowing Whistles which finished this week, but an acquaintance had his date bail on him and I was called in as backup... While waiting for a very long time in the cold while the Leicester Square theatre got the place ready (the previous show didn't finish until the scheduled starting time for Blowing Whistles - 9.15pm), all was revealed. After innocently asking, "So who stood you up tonight?" I heard a great story about a date ambivalent about gay plays and the scene. I wondered whether part of the problem was that they had both seen In a Dark Dark House the night before and date was now seeking therapy... Who knows with the gays these days? Maybe the guy was too assimilated to see a gay play. Anyway he bailed and everyone else my acquaintance asked was busy... Except for me...

While we were waiting in the cold it was an opportune time for taking photos of the long line of mostly gay men waiting for the theatre to open... And to text mates who had seen the show to check which side was the best side to view the full-frontal nudity. Actually in the end it didn't matter as we practically second row centre and could see quite enough of everything... And besides I much prefered the acting talents of Paul Keating... Particularly when he was in pants...

All told the play by Matthew Todd is very witty and incisive, and very well acted. It looks set to have a life of its own now as gay Doll's House. And I couldn't help but see paraellels with an ex who seemed a lot like Stuart Lang's character... which gave (at least for me) the right amount of creepiness to feel my skin crawl throughout key scenes in the second act.

Finally there were the little touches that I particularly liked. It felt like it was set around the corner from where I lived given the references to Clapham North, the high street and The Sewers. And (ahem) having been in a place or two around that area, it made me wonder (purely based on the size of the window in the set) whether the characters lived on Landor Road... I can't recall being at the theatre where a play could speak to you so much... Now if only I could work out what it all meant... I might take coffee in Clapham tomorrow to think about it further...

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

with pizza in SW2

As if any excuse is needed to go to Franco Manca for lunch... Although Grant wanted to catch up before he headed back to oz (one of the pizzas was his)...

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Thursday, November 20, 2008

Theatre: Imagine This

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Imagine This... A show with its own serviettes...

Tonight was the first night after press night for Imagine This at the New London Theatre and I decided that I would introduce my musical-loathing friend Lorna to it. Well, a musical about a theatre troupe in a Warsaw ghetto circa 1942 is different, so I was thinking she might be up for something a little gritty and a little less gooey gowns and showgirls. Or at least perhaps something akin to Life is Beautiful meets Fiddler on the Roof.

Press night Wednesday may have been buzzing but on Thursday there was a distinct sense that the audience was a bit thin on the ground. It's a pity as it is a great new show. The story is about a theatre troupe in the ghetto performing a musical based on the story of Masada. Things get interesting when a member of the resistance has to hide within the troupe and peform a lead role. And there begins the play within a play, with both commenting on the past and the present.

A lot of very predictable debate appeared in the Guardian and The Times about whether it trivialises the holocaust, as if there is only one way to treat history like this: traditional music and minor key harshness (whatever the hell that is). While it isn't a perfect show, this view misses the point of the second act entirely where things really get interesting and it feels almost is like a morality play. The show was also criticised for its upbeat ending, but I thought it was ambiguous enough to not suggest any particular outcome other than death being preferable to enslavement...

Ok so it isn't a light bit of entertainment... But it is still a musical and that calls for music that is emotional, likeable characters, tension and drama, and a great cast. Unlike many new shows that have opened in London (not based on a movie or a jukebox collection), this show has all these things. And the structure of the play within a play while very simple, was also very well done. Leila Benn Harris and Peter Polycarpou were particularly good in their lead roles.

At intermission I mentioned to Lorna that the couple who walked by us looked like they weren't coming back for the second act. "You know, people who walk out of the theatre and don't come back at intermission," she commented, "really should take a good look at themselves and think maybe they should stop going to the theatre!"Maybe she had a point, but I made a mental note not to introduce her to the Whingers. Of course, Lorna never had to sit through the second act of Gone With the Wind... Nobody should ever have to suffer that much...

I did warn her that in the second act it would all end in tears, but we were both glad we stayed and it is a memorable and moving musical experience... Whatever the future has in store for the show, it is worth catching... Discounted tickets are available too...

Scenes from Waterloo

The Italian rugby team is here...

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Sunday, November 16, 2008

Movies: W



It was funny to see at the end of Oliver Stone's movie about the failure known as George W Bush's Presidency the words "the end". Bush is still in office, but the movie serves as a comforting reminder that not only is he a lame duck, but that the end of a weird eight years is nigh...

It also is a reminder about the collective administrative and leadership failure over eight years. Iraq is at the forefront here but any number of the administration's policies could have been used. The movie portrays Bush as a likeable guy in a struggle for approval from his father. Unlike previous Stone biographies, you don't really care whether this is accurate as there is too much pleasure to derive from the knowledge that this analysis is bound to piss off the Bush family...

Josh Brolin is great in the title role, but it is a pity that the other actors seem to be more playing dress up than developing characterisation. And what is going on with Jeffrey Wright's eyebrows? I didn't know Colin Powell used tweezers? We also don't get much insight as to why he was popular and won two elections... I guess it probably serves as a reminder that it is entirely plausible given the options the American people would not hesitate in electing a likeable but stupid guy again in future... Now there's a happy thought...

Theatre: Blood Brothers



I mentioned earlier this year to Grant and a few others in the chorus, that I had not seen Willy Russell's musical, Blood Brothers. The reaction to this statement was like one of those scenes in a movie... You know like in a western, when a stranger walks into a bar and the music stops, people gasp, and everyone looks up and stares... I was committing musical heresy apparently, even if a show about two guys who turn out to be brothers and then die wasn't high on my list of things to see...

Well Grant was determined to rectify this oversight, so on Friday I found myself at the Phoenix Theatre where this show has been playing for a very long time... Blood Brothers tells the rather melodramatic story of two twins separated at birth. They grow up only knowing each other as friends and one goes to Oxbridge and becomes a Councillor, while the other goes mad (some may be confused about whether there is much of a contrast here). Eventually thanks to the love of a girl and shoes on a table (lucky it wasn't wire hangers), it all ends in tears.

I was told that I would be a hard man to not to be upset by the ending. Well throughout the show I was upset by loads of things such as the lack of characterisation, the entire role of the narrator and his dirty shoes (a downside of sitting too close to the stage) and the constant spelling out in big letters the class differences (which is done a lot better in Billy Elliot). But what saves this show is the central character of the mother Mrs Johnstone.

Grant was disappointed that one of the Nolan sisters wasn't performing as Mrs Johnstone, since over the years I think every single one of them has played this role. But we got something far better. We got last years X Factor finalist Niki Evans. Evans came fourth in the show last year. She seems so perfect for this role and gave this show the lift it needed. Evans own story as told on X-Factor last year was emotional enough. She was working as a dinner lady before going on the show last year. But it is not just her story and her pitch-perfect singing that makes her interesting. It was also her ability to deliver the most incredibly emotional performance, that had the audience on its feet cheering her at the end. Here's hoping that we see more of her on stage in the future, as she was nothing short of sensational.

It is always possible to get good discounts to the show, and the show is worth catching while Evans is in the run... Even the most jaded theatre-goer would be hard not to be impressed by this turn...Then again I am always a sucker for stunt casting...

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Hot news this week in London...


parking row turns ugly, originally uploaded by Yersinia.

Don't mess with Sevenoaks drivers...

Opera: Aida and For You

The weekend before last turned out to be a bit of an opera fest. I went with Patrick on Saturday night to see Aida at the ENO as he liked a bit of grand spectacle on a Saturday night. That Saturday was so cold and wet I had not dared venture out all day so going to see this rather brightly coloured production of the show certainly felt like a sensible antidote to such a grey day... This production was first staged last year and while the directorial choices are not to everyone's taste I thought it was interesting enough... It runs until later this month... I am trying to get Patrick to write an opera blog as he has far more witty lines about Opera productions than I do as I suspect he has seen every opera staged in London over the last twenty or so years... He has only just got an MP3 player though so the blogging concept might be a bit too new media for him right now but we can only hope as opera writing needs some laughs...

Anyway not content with just Aida on Saturday, on Sunday I found myself at the Lindbury Studio at the Royal Opera House watching the new opera For You by Michael Berkeley and Ian McEwan with some boys from the chorus. Patrick warned me the night before that the opera was a bit like an episode of Midsomer Murders without the trashy ITV commercials... And with a mostly difficult score by Berkeley...

Still, anyone that can get high notes from "general anaesthetic!" in the libretto certainly can do a few tricks... And the scene of the big soprano humping the lead and then putting on her knickers in full view of the stalls (we were in the circle) certainly left an impression on me... The other guys with me had trouble staying awake watching this show as they didn't care for the characters, the plot, the libretto or the music. But on the whole I didn't mind it. If only the surtitles could be seen from the upper level... Next time I will bring my opera glasses...

Thursday, November 06, 2008

On Clapham Common

A mass gathering to see the fireworks go off on Wednesday evening... Well... The free show always packs the punters in... Mad scenes of people on the surrounding streets ensued...

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Scenes from rehearsals Tuesday...

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Saturday, November 01, 2008

Hot news this week in London...


BBC In Sex Prank Apology, originally uploaded by LinkMachineGo.

Everyone loves a beat up... Just the thing to take your mind off the economy tanking, poor leadership and the like...

Theatre: Piaf



The dazzling and brilliantly acted Piaf is now playing at the Vaudeville Theatre after its sellout run at the Donmar Warehouse. It looks great, the songs are great and the performances by everyone including Elena Roger are sensational. Roger may not look like Piaf (hey, who would want to?) but she manages to channel Piaf when she sings that it is a thrill watch. The men in the cast are also quite (phwoaaar!) fit as well which was a little surprising. Many of them could easily play Clark Kent if they were ever going to revive that Superman musical. Obvious in Piaf's day it was important for her men to take their vitamins. Maybe that is why they were such bad drivers... That's all the good stuff about this production...

Now I was supposed to see Piaf back in July with the Whingers, however on that day I was hurling my guts up. After seeing this gritty production where people have sex on the cobblestones (owch) you just want to go into all these gory details. Pam Gems has reworked her original 1978 text for this production which has seen some scenes such as Piaf urinating on stage cut. Still, there are enough utterances of "fuck" and "cunt" to keep reminding you Piaf was a whore from the gutter. Each time a filthy word was said I could hear two little old ladies behind squeal and wheeze. It can be a cruel show... Not just on Piaf but the audience too! But what was worse was that despite all the reworking of this play... It still sucks. Episodic and full of dull dialogue it left me torn between liking the show on the strength of the performances to loathing it due to the script. There were also loads of tricks to jazz up and improve the pacing with lighting and sound effects... But in the end it is a bit hard to hide the fact the story is a dog...

Then again the strong point of this piece has never been the story but always the performance of the actor playing Piaf. It's just to bad that the recent La Vie en Rose managed to show Piaf's life was more than just a series of car accidents and morphine hits. I guess you can't have everything... Still worth checking out and it runs through to January...

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Movies: Burn After Reading


Sunday evening I caught the Coen Brother's latest film Burn After Reading. For me it was a great film where cock-ups and sex rather than conspiracy drives the world. Some people leaving the Barbican afterwards were commenting that "it was just farce"... As if that should be a problem with the film... Well I guess these are serious times we are living in but they are also f***ed up enough as well to appreciate a laugh... Particularly when there is a potty mouthed John Malkovich on screen...

Frances McDormand's attempts to get automated voice recognition service of her health insurer to understand her voice reminded me of my attempts to pay my EDF energy bill. In the end I gave up speaking the commands to it and made up my own less than complimentary ones. I always enjoy the parallels with real life. Of course the film wasn't all the real deal... She worked in a gym where all the instructors were over 40... What gym would ever do that???

Hot news this week in London


Another inflated story, originally uploaded by tonypraxis.

Well... Nobody is buying 'em... Nice fashion shoot in the background too...

Overheard at the gym Sunday

Man #1: But what about (whisper whisper)?
Man #2: No that's beef bourguignon...
Man #1: But then isn't that (whisper whisper)...
Man #2: No that's stew and it's much more watery...
Man #1: Oh I thought it was stringy...

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Scenes from the British Museum Saturday

Hmm... Nice golden ass...

Saturday at the British Museum

A little bit autumn...

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Monday, October 20, 2008

Scenes from the back row rehearsal

The last two weeks the LGMC has been rehearsing at a school at the Barbican which what it lacks for space to socialise it makes up for convenience of getting home afterwards... While we have been busy beavering away at rehearsals the shows have been selling well... So much so that there is now a Saturday matinee on sale now...

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Monday, October 13, 2008

Irony in London


Fitness First, originally uploaded by Sim Dawdler.

Scenes at the Serpentine

Taking in Frank Gehry's pavilion on a rather sunny day that felt like summer's last gasp... This pavilion is Gehry's first project in England and it will open to the public for another week...

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Theatre: Two Gentlemen of Verona


source:http://www.newstatesman.com

It was a long and fascinating story as to why I found myself at the Barbican Friday evening to see Nos do Morro's production of Shakespeare's Two Gentlemen of Verona. For the purposes of the blog I can attribute it to Dame Fortune and the fact that when I saw AfroReggae with Felicity she had a go at all those white men in the audience trying to dance which turned out to be a source of cheap laughs. After reading my blog, Paul suggested I should go and see this production. I should point out that Paul is another Paul and I am not writing about myself in the third person. It's not that kind of blog...

Anyway, Nos do Morro's production of Two Gentlemen of Verona is a real treat and full of so much energy that you can't help but like it. It is in Portuguese as well which means that I had no idea what they were saying (and the surtitles weren't a direct translation but rather the original Shakespeare text). But I wasn't going to let it bother me like it did in AfroReggae so I just ignored the surtitles after a while. It goes to show that you don't need language to understand passion and energy and excitement. Besides being Shakespeare, you know there is going to be mistaken identity, a woman dressed as a man, a comical subplot, maybe an attempted rape but all gets resolved rather quickly at the end for the better... So it is easy enough to work out where things are going...

This production relies on the actors to create not only the characters but set the scene and this is done with some simple but effective colourful materials and some strategically-placed hands over bare breasts... Traditional Brazilian music featured throughout. By the end of it you felt like it was as much a workout as it was a dramatic performance...

Of course, if you are familiar with Portuguese you are probably going to enjoy it even more (and laugh at the right spots with the jokes as many in the audience were able to do when I was there). But there was a lot to enjoy even without that. The story behind the company is extraordinary enough, but the performances and interpretation of this piece is well worth the effort. It runs until the end of this week.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Scenes on Clapham High Street Saturday

A sure sign the economy is tanking... You can get a table at lunchtime at Breads Etcetera... Without waiting 15 minutes... Now I have never seen that before... The coffee and food is great and so is the view usually (except when I was taking the pictures at this point, what was I thinking?)...

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Monday, October 06, 2008

Scenes from a Rehearsal

The view from the back row... Again...

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Technology: iPhone



I now have an iPhone which means that I can take more photos like this and in a very obvious way. No more sneaking a photo when people aren't looking. Taking a photo with the iPhone is a very obvious act... Still the best thing about it everyone is telling me is that they can see me at a party and then go home and see themselves on the internet... Well that's web 2.0 for you. One can take a photo and upload it via Posterous, Pixelpipe or Shozu so fast that you can totally disturb your friends and unnerve acquaintances...

Of course I will miss my Nokia n95. Sure it was even slower than the iPhone and had a rubbish web browser, awful mp3 player and did odd things with your contacts, calendar and task list, but over my last 18 month contract we learned to get along... After using it for a week I think the iPhone has an average phone, average camera, but an amazing browser and is afterall an iPod mp3 player... It could be the begining of a blurred but beautiful friendship...

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Comedy: Tina C Tick My Box


source: http://www.tinac.net/

Not content to see just one show this week at the Leicester Square Theatre, on Wednesday night I was back there with Richard to see Tina C's show Tick My Box. Having seen Dina Martina with Richard, I think he is becoming my drag act buddy. Well since neither of us are English we don't get so uptight about seeing men dressed up as women as much as some of the young gays on the scene seem to do... Anyway Richard is a bit of a Tina C fan and couldn't believe that as a gay man in London I had not seen her show before. Fortunately for me rather than suggest I should have my pink card revoked, he got me a ticket to her show.

The premise of this show is that Tina C - a self declared country music icon - is running for President of the United States of America and is after your vote. She isn't red (Republican) and she isn't blue (Democrat) but purple, and she want's everyone to vote purple. Hmmm... Sprinkled through the act are a smattering of songs about voting and ticking her box.

Having consumed a few sensible drinks and getting immersed talking to Richard about the US elections and whether Sarah Palin was a drag for the republican ticket, by the time Tina appeared on stage I was in the mood for this sort of show. Sitting so close it was easy to be distracted by Tina's legs. They were incredible. She must work out a lot. Her hair was fantastic too and her character was so sweet it was easy to fall in love with her... Even if she was a white trash redneck. Oh and the act of course was funny and just the sort of thing you need in a late evening show too...

Tina C is played by Christopher Green who also is a ginger and among his many talents has another character called Ida Barr... While Tina is a bit country Ida is a bit music hall... I'm sure Richard will soon fix that... Afterall, that's what drag act buddies are for...

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Hot news this week in London


Global Warming meets Toxic Debt, originally uploaded by Andy Beez.

This time Literally... Well at least the Circle Line will be chilled...

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Comedy: The Kransky Sisters


The Kransky Sisters tea towel, originally uploaded by Paul-in-London.

I went to see the Kransky Sisters Tuesday evening at the Leicester Square theatre and all I got was a lousy tea towel. Well actually... Being a boy from Brisbane I couldn't resist the cultural references. I'm sure growing up I saw that sign countless times on those long (and driving anywhere in Brisbane was long) family drives to dams. Of course you don't have to be from Brisbane to get their weird act, it only helps at the margins... Such as I saw the show with Stephen who is from Glasgow, and I had to explain that it was Wivenhoe Dam not Wife and Hoe Dam. He's going to Australia in a few weeks for a holiday so I figured the Kransky's were a good way to get him used to the place.

The Kransky's act starts with a montage of photos to take the audience on a journey to the place where they are from... Esk to be precisely (which is best described as a few hours west of Brisbane rather than a leisurly drive from the city centre). I had been there so the photos were not necessary, but they paint a vivid picture: steaks that cover a plate, dust, shops with unusual signs, more dust, dead kangaroos and still more dust. The Kransky Sisters then appear on stage and tell their story how they are sisters who listen to the wireless and hear popular music. Using a reed keyboard, musical saw, tuba and guitar they perform their interpretations of these songs.

I first saw the Kransky's back in Brisbane in 2002 and thought they were fantastic then and they have got better and weirder since. They are wonderful characters full of disturbing traits (including long silent pauses and creepy stares at men they fancy in the audience) that will surely remind you of your great aunt... Or maybe that is just if your great aunt is from South East Queensland. Of course they are also great musicians and singers too and their hilarious show is running through to October 12 before they head off to Europe. Not to be missed if you like that creepy sort of thing... It's worth staying to get a tea towell signed too... If you can handle their act up close... Just don't mention you're from Brisbane...

From a safe distance, more of their act can be seen on Youtube:

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Music: Favelization



It had been a while since I had been to the theatre, and so Felicity and I caught Afroreggae's Favelization concert at the Barbican on Thursday evening. Afroreggae have played at the Barbican a few times over the past few years, but this is the first time I caught them. Afroreggae began in Brazil in the shantytowns (favelas) and the music is a fusion of reggae, hip hop, soul, pop and latin rhythms. In addition to this the music also is a call to action about many of the injustices in the world, particularly among the world's poor and disenfranchised.

Of course being in Portugeuse this was lost on me. I checked with Felicity and she was a little rusty on it too. I guess most of the audience may have been in the same boat. While there were projections that accompanied the show the rapid fire words deserved to be comprehended. So after making a mental note to add language course to my new years resolutions, I could sit back and enjoy the concert. It was interesting that despite the music being a protest and a call for social change, there was also a message of hope and optimism about life.

The performances themselves were so full of life and engaging that it was easy to get into the groove of it all. The audience was soon on their feet dancing too, particularly when they did a set of classic soul and disco songs such as "Sexual Healing". Looking at those around us, Felicity made some comment about white men and their inability to dance (and she was right as some were absolute shockers) so I didn't dare get up. I just grooved with shoulders and hands and that seemed acceptable.

There is another element to the work of AfroReggae which is using their art for social change and to combat problems in deprived areas. The Barbican have been working with AfroReggae with schools in the East End and the concert culminated in a performance with young people from these schools. It was inspiring stuff... And definitely food for thought... An album of their music is available as well.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Hot news this week in London


doggers delight, originally uploaded by red5standingby.

A local candidate is even promising to arrive on scene and disrupt the goings on... Ron Davies should have thought about that as an excuse rather than badgers...

Rehearsals: week three

Rehearsals for the Christmas concert were progressing as normal as could be expected and then Sasha whipped out his fish...

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Thursday, September 18, 2008

Hot news this week in London...


Shockwaves Rock Shares, originally uploaded by LinkMachineGo.

Keep on rockin'...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Theatre: 365



I wasn't quite sure what to expect from seeing 365. It played at the Edinburgh Festival to some very positive reviews, but a two hour play about children in care taking their first steps to independence seemed like an unusual way to spend a Saturday evening at the theatre. Since it was based in Scotland I dragged fellow chorister Stephen to see it since he was from Glasgow and I figured he could help with the translation (well of the accents anyway). I was hoping I would get away with nudging him and asking from time to time "Wha-did-he-say? Wha-did-he-say??" This sort of worked...

The play unfolds telling the stories of a group of children who pass through a "practice flat" as they gain their first steps to living independently and... adulthood. There is much scope for dream-like sequences, music and movement and these appear throughout and help make what could be a depressing subject a little more insightful and dare I say it... Even entertaining.

While at nearly two hours it felt a little long, overall the play was curiously enjoyable if quirky at times. I wasn't always engaged by the large cast of characters and it wasn't just because of their accents, but perhaps a deliberate attempt at realism. I could live with this, but even in this fractured state I couldn't help but think some of the stories within the play felt like they could have taken more time to unfold, while others could have done with a trim. It runs until the end of next week at the Lyric Hammersmith, a cultural oasis in the motorway wasteland otherwise known as Hammersmith. Well at least the pizza at the theatre wasn't too bad, but after the show Stephen and I couldn't get out of there fast enough to get a drink in a decent part of town. Well after all this realism we needed a drink so we settled for Soho. After an evening's entertainment about children in care being offered stolen dildos, and charlie hardly seemed like a big deal...

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Idle Banter in Soho Saturday

Man #1: How much is he selling it for?
Paul: I think he said £20...
Man #2: Will he throw in lube for free?
Paul: Only if you want his spit...

Monday, September 08, 2008

Rehearsals: The view from the back

The first rehearsals for the London Gay Men's Chorus started Monday evening... And it was a packed house... The concerts are at Cadogan Hall on December 19 and 20.

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Saturday, September 06, 2008

Hot news this week in London...

Holy W7 Batman...