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...