Monday, March 24, 2008

Hot news this week in London...

Well London is so expensive no matter what you want to do...

Overheard in the bathroom department of Habitat Monday

Man: Oh take a look at that. Now you won't like that will you?
Woman: Oh no... No! NO!

Movies: The Orphanage



The Orphanage was a funny sort of film to be watching on Easter Sunday... A movie about dead orphans that don't seem to be dead. But since it was in Spanish it had an art house feel to what is essentially a mystery about a boy who disappears while his parents are moving in to the old orphanage his mother went to. To give away any more of the story would be to ruin the fun(?), thrills(?) of the film.

Of course, if you have seen The Others or The Sixth Sense, you will know that dead people are not to be feared as they are your friends (or at the very least they just have a few issues like the Maitlands in Beetlejuice). Bearing this in mind I didn't find it scary. But it still was a creepy way to spend a few hours in the dark... Particularly with that kid (pictured above) popping in every now and then...

Scenes from Albert Embankment Friday


210320084275, originally uploaded by Paul-in-London.

Albert Embankment is the best place where one can admire the natural beauty of London and its iconic architecture...

Friday, March 21, 2008

Music: Maria Frieman Re-Arranged


Meeting Maria Friedman, originally uploaded by Andrew Orange.

I don't normally go for photos with performers but West End Whinger Andrew made me do it since he hassled Maria Friedman enough to get her to pose for photos. Why not blind her in the process? I don't quite recall what the distraction was... Nor why I am covering my mouth...

Anyway, Maria Friedman has just started doing a concert series at the Menier Chocolate Factory through until May. Maria has been around for ages (particularly if you note her very long timeline on her website), and I had seen her in the concert version of Follies last year. But not being a Friedman devotee (or should that be groupie?), I wasn't particularly won over by the music, performance or banter of the first half of the show. I wasn't alone with this view either, since the guy next to me fell asleep.

By the second half however, the show picked up the pace and turned out to be quite a treat. Particular highlights were her picking on members from the audience while she sang "The Worst Pies in London" and "I Want to Sleep With You Now". There also was a wonderful performance of Irving Berlin's "I Got Lost In Your Arms" that had the audience on the edge of their seats. And with a terrific band, here's hoping there are more concerts here in the future. One caveat would be to make sure that any future concerts ensure that the star is more elegantly attired. The house dress and glitter potato sack with boots was a bit distracting...

This is a concert worth catching, but you will of course have to get there well ahead of its 8pm start to fight for an unnumbered seat. The couple who tried to reserve half a row with their jackets hadn't counted on seasoned chocolate factory goers such as we challenging them on that... The theatre can be such a tough place... Especially when all the guests in your party don't arrive with you...

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Overheard at the gym Monday...

Man #1: You go to Trade yesterday
Man #2: Nah. Couldn't get tickets. Went to Joiners Arms instead...
Man #1: You went to... Vaginas???
Man #2: No we didn't go there. Joiners not vaginas! Joiners Arms... It's in Shoreditch...

Monday, March 17, 2008

Scenes from Royal Festival Hall Sunday...


160320084215, originally uploaded by Paul-in-London.

Well... the best service comes from the automated ticket machines there anyway...

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Theatre: Postcards From God - The Sister Wendy Musical



Friday night I had the chance to see at Hackney Empire studio Postcards from God - The Sister Wendy Musical. Written by London Gay Men's Chorus member Marcus Reeves, it tells the story of the rise to fame of a nun - Sister Wendy Beckett - and her love of art. I pretended to recall the Sister Wendy phenomenon of the nineties when Marcus asked me at a rehearsal last year "You remember Sister Wendy?" But the reality was that the phenomena passed me by. Fortunately there is enough on Youtube to enable anyone to brush up on her life and her passion for Poussin.

The musical featuring Gay Soper in the title role as Sister Wendy Beckett covers her life from contemplative hermit to celebrity art critic. Part of the fun in watching this show is when the art she talks about comes to life. I would have preferred the focus to remain solely on Sister Wendy, Soper's terrific performance, and less of the side characters (and giving her much more to do throughout), but there are the makings of a great musical here.

The show runs until the end of the month and you can also join the Facebook groupies called Wendy's Frendies. Tickets are from £5 too... Enough to make anyone want to venture to Hackney... The bar there is great too...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Overheard at the gym Monday

Man: You know she doesn't cook... I cook... She doesn't clean... I clean... It's like I'm living with a bloke...

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Idle Sunday Bar Banter...

Grant (coughing and choking): I need burping, what is that thing they give to babies?
Paul: Breast milk?

Theatre: Make Me A Song



All I'm asking for is a tune
Something itchy to tap my toes to
Something that in late afternoon
Makes high strung boys collapse... (Make Me A Song - William Finn)


I have been familiar with the music of William Finn for a little over five years now... This is not long for a groupie, but after seeing a performance of Falsettos with the opening number "Four Jews In A Room Bitching" I knew his music was going to be my cup of tea. While the subject matter (brain tumours, Bar Mitzvahs etc) I am not always able to relate to, the themes, issues and the humour his work explores I have loved. And since my Falsettos moment, I have made a point of finding the rest of his music. This has led to me laughing out loud on the tube (always a good way to get labelled a freak) listening to Infinite Joy and relishing the chance of being a disciplined non-hammy speller on Broadway.

But the fact that his music hasn't really had a decent showing in London has always bothered me. Perhaps it is the sentiment I have heard around here that his music is regarded disparagingly as "a bit off Broadway". Then again, for a city that doesn't have such an institution to develop new work and would rather keep running revivals of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat I suppose that has to be put in perspective.

Anyway, all this can be forgiven now that Make Me A Song - a musical revue of Finn's music featuring some of West End's finest - Louise Dearman, Frances Ruffelle, Gareth Snook, Simon Thomas, Sally Ann Triplett and Ian H Watkins - is playing at the New Players Theatre. With so many fabulous songs sung by such a fabulous cast it was a real treat...

When the show is this good you could get a bit prissy about the production and hope that as the run goes on that the lighting hits the actors better, Sally Ann Triplett doesn't have to keep moving the furniture about during the number "All Fall Down", they all remember the lyrics, and Ian H gets a more flattering wardrobe. But none of it really mattered. Actually on the wardrobe point Finn was there in the audience looking very comfy in his t-shirt, trousers and crocs so maybe Ian's baggy trousers and lumpy jumper was deliberate. It was nice to see with Finn his "this is how it is" attitude in his music extends to his attire, particularly since the rest of the audience were dressed to the nines... The show runs until 6 April... Hopefully a cast album will be in the works too...

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Movies: There Will Be Blood


there-will-be-blood, originally uploaded by Daniela Tropical.

Just before I saw There Will Be Blood last Thursday, I had a conversation with a friend about him doing the right thing and dumping some guy he had been dating by telling him after dinner. He didn't take it too well, and my friend was a bit upset that he had "done the right thing" and it still didn't work out too well. I figured whether you say it with dinner or say it with a brick through the window it is still the same news. I suggested it would have been better just to cut him off and ignore him. Well that suggestion didn't go down to well. But it was a relief after watching this film to see that there were far bigger ass holes out there... Such as the character played by Daniel Day Lewis. It is nice to see such a cynical, jaded set of characters on one screen. None of the characters are doing anything unless there is something in it for them.

While that may not seem like the best way to spend three hours, and it does have long slow stretches and loads of worthy acting, watching this film was enough to realise that this movie was light years ahead of the usual crap at the cinema. And how can you resist a film with lines like (to paraphrase), "Are you the afterbirth that slid out with the rest of your mother's filth?" Now that's one to try and slip into casual conversation...

Saturday, March 01, 2008

Even hotter news this week in London

Well it is hard to get a pair of kitten heels in SW16...

Hot news this week in London...


, originally uploaded by wickedrob.

Well... For some it was the most action they had in bed in ages... I was up and didn't feel a thing...