Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Theatre: Assassins



You know you can't hide your roots... I always like to say that for some reason... But Saturday evening arriving at the Landor pub er Theatre to see Assassins I felt thoroughly un-Australian. There I was dressed for a night at the theatre (albeit fringe theatre in the same street as a raid on two crack dens the night before) to be surrounded at the bar by many, many pissed Australians in thongs (the flip-flop kind), singlets and shorts as if it really was January in oz. It was no surprise that amongst all this malarkey the Fosters was flowing rather smoothly. I took solace with the fact that I was at least wearing Aussiebums even if nobody else knew that. Well that was sort of disclosed later in the evening after inviting the West End Whingers and their friends back to my flat and forgetting that I had not yet put away all the washing...

But anyway, after getting past the rowdy mob downstairs I settled in to watch the show armed with a G&T. Assassins is Sondheim's take on the men and women who have tried (and sometimes succeeded) in assassinating the President of the United States. An unusual sort of show, and was somewhat lost amongst his other shows after opening ahead of the first Gulf War and then for trying to open again in September 2001. Neither were probably the best of times for a cynical look at America. Still it is one of Sondheim's favourite shows (so he said back in 2004) and it does set out to do something interesting and different. It is the sort of show that will have you dialing up the back stories of the would-be assassins for weeks to come...

As for this production (which has now completely sold out), well I originally mistook the artwork for some sort of locomotive. But no, it was Assassins not Starlight Express I was watching... But there were plenty of times I wished they got their skates on with this production. The pacing at times was so unbearably slow. In fact slow enough to doze off... Perhaps it would have helped to have used a sound effect that sounded like a gun going off rather than a door closing?

Still when it came to the musical numbers the actors by and large were great. And for the first production of this new company, here's hoping there are many more... Just hopefully not on the evenings at the Landor when there are hoards of Aussies there downing the Fosters... After all it is a crap beer...

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Hot news this week in London


RUDE, originally uploaded by the_moog.

Not all bloggers in South West London are frightfully witty. Some are a few sandwiches short of a picnic. Perhaps even... pissweak? Never has such a piddling topic been elevated to such grand heights...

Overheard on the Number 37 Bus Friday

Old woman: It's not right...
Young woman: No it's not right...
Old woman: I said to her. No... It's just not right....

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Movies: Sweeney Todd


Sweeney Todd, originally uploaded by fairytalecinema.

Rather than wait until next Friday for it to come out, I went with Fraser and Mark to see Sweeney Todd Sunday evening in preview. Neither of them knew what to expect but felt somewhat reassured by the large number of gay men in the audience (or perhaps they were just cruising I couldn't tell once the lights went down).

Sweeney Todd is a great musical. It is so well written and a great mix of comedy and horror. I have seen it at least twice including the recent John Doyle production (which seemed to somewhat influence the above poster artwork). None of the productions I have seen however were gory enough for my taste. So I was somewhat relived to be thoroughly disturbed by the blood and gore in this show. In fact, I can't remember ever seeing such a movie when you were rooting for a serial killer to stick it to the victim one more time... Blood flies, bodies crunch, it is disgusting, but in the context it all feels so satisfying.

In adapting a musical for the movies there are some changes, but none of these are for the worse (even the lack of singing chops by the leads). In some ways a movie helps make some of the more intricate moments in the show work better. And to my surprise the Odeon theatre in West End - normally a theatre chain known for sound quality as rubbish as their popcorn and stained seats - even got the sound right and kept it good and loud and intense.
But the star of the show (alongside Johnny Depp of course) is still the music - re-orchestrated and sounding fabulous - it is a valentine to London not to miss.

Upon leaving the cinema, I was overcome with the urge to have a good hot pie, but wasn't sure where the nearest Square Pie shop was... Besides, Fraser is watching his calories and fat intake post Christmas so I settled for some gin instead. Hey, that featured prominently in the film as well (albeit without the tonic water, the ice and a slice of lime in Ku bar)...

Saturday, January 19, 2008

News in Waltham Forrest This Week


News, originally uploaded by Mr Bizzle.

Perhaps he was on a bender...

Movies: No Country For Old Men


no_country_for_old_men, originally uploaded by Sky-Hunter.

My friend Adam decided to see No Country For Old Men without me saying that watching it me would be an awful experience as I would be gasping for air and yelling out "fuck" all the time in the theatre. Well I really do get carried away with what gets put up on the big screen so I couldn't blame him. So instead I caught the film with Mandy, who doesn't mind my quirks in the theatre as much as she likes to munch on the noisiest snacks you can buy at the candy bar. Tonight it was chilli flavoured rice snacks.

Anyway, both of us had long stressful days so nothing like an intensive taught thriller about a sociopath with a cattlegun to ease your nerves... Half way through the film Mandy hissed at me to be quiet because my deep breathing was disturbing her. Mind you, she had pulled her sweater almost over her head to avoid some scenes. It wasn't that it was particularly gruesome... But it was a particularly intense night out at the movies.

By the end of it we couldn't work out what the hell had happened. But I was somewhat relieved to find that I am not alone. Actually I was confused at many parts of the film. Following the plot of a movie isn't one of my strong points and I kept getting distracted by all sorts of things including wondering what was the motivation was behind Josh Brolin's moustache. Still this is a brilliant film that had Mandy and I re-enacting the "heads or tails" scenes on our way to the bar which went something like this:
Paul: Call it! Heads or tails bitch!
Mandy: No you're gonna make the decision anyway!
Paul: Oh whatever now do you Merlot or Pinot Grigio?
Bar lady: Well actually we're out of Merlot...
Well that's fate and chance for you...

Scenes from Southwark Tube Wednesday


Source: www.luther.net.nz

Bloody tube workers with their sense of humour...












Sunday, January 13, 2008

Overheard at the gym Saturday...

Man #1: Oh I didn't realise that the gym closed at 7...
Man #2: Yeah so what are ya going to do?
Man #1: Well I need to go to the bathroom anyway so I will catch ya later...
(He walks off... The sound of a door closes is heard)
Noises then heard: Pfft! Phwt! Bbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb!

Theatre: Present Laughter

Tuesday night after digesting an unusual chicken curry meal, I was ready to see the Noël Coward play Present Laughter with Anna. We decided that rather than seeing it at the start of the run, a frightfully witty Coward play would be just the thing to keep those post-Christmas January blues away. What kept us entertained was not the acting or the witty script, but the thought that the show was going to be short. Oh how wrong we were. But we weren't the only ones. At the end of act one half the audience was in such a need of a drink they got up and headed to the exits only to be turned away... There was more to come.

It wasn't until about 9pm did we get an intermission. By that time we both realised that coffee was more important than gin to get through the remaining ninety minutes. Ah yes, we were firmly in the realms of the National Theatre where every play gets the worthy treatment... Every pause is made to last... Every unnecessary addition (such as the radio announcement of war breaking out, like what the...?) adding minutes to the run time of the show... While you certainly get your money's worth going to the National Theatre, the directors usually like to make you suffer for their art...

Still it was such an enjoyable play thanks to the great cast. They were all rather fabulous in the marathon that become this play... And even though the coffee is truly awful at the National, it did the trick in keeping one alert and laughing at all the right parts.

As for the play itself, the central message about the play seemed to be it is all fine to have sex with all your friends providing there are lots of cigarettes and gin involved. The amount of on stage smoking was enough to make one want to take it up, particularly as it started wafted into the theatre. It seemed like such a sophisticated thing to do...

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Scenes from the National Theatre Bistro

Before the theatre, one does need to get some food to eat, and the charming little food cafe at the National Theatre does a few small meals that simply taste as good as they look... It's chicken curry if you were wondering...

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Scenes from the East End Sunday


London - East End, originally uploaded by Paul-in-London.

A rather specific requirement for models in a shop window...

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Movie: I'm Not There



Since Christmas it has been a chance to drink loads of champagne, sleep in and do very little. However before the holidays came to an end I did manage to catch the Bob Dylan movie I'm Not There. The film directed by Todd Haynes uses a number of actors to depict different periods of Dylan's life. Watching it and not knowing a great deal about Dylan's life except for that period where he went electric probably doesn't help, but it is a fascinating movie that probably gets better with repeated viewings. Cate Blanchett as Jude Quinn (electric / druggy Dylan) was particularly entertaining and who would have thought her hair was a perfect match for him at that period (even if it was not a wig)?