Friday, July 27, 2012
Of course there are loads of other Cultural Olympiad events, but in a city so full of it, here is one cultural event you could experience in the comfort of your own bed...
Whether it is a bicycle bell, a ringtone, an alarm clock or a church bell... Get ready to ring it for three minutes. Don't ask why. It is just culture... And you can say you took part in the big boing...
Tuesday, July 17, 2012
Opening night of Verdi's Otello at the Royal Opera House was a thrilling affair. Passion, rage and jealousy explode from this piece from the start. Conductor Antonio Pappano makes the most of both the drama and tenderness of the piece as it ebbs and flows. One moment of intensity and emotion gives way to another so delicate and light.
Aleksandrs Antonenko is terrific in the title role as the doomed hero and strikes the right balance and tone between tenderness and fury that makes the drama coherent and believable. There was some fine music making between him and Anja Harteros, who plays Desmemona his wife, as they move from a delicate love duet towards a darker sinister end. It is hard to believe that within two hours they sing about love and then damnation, but here they are complimentary.
Lucio Gallo was sublime as the evil Iago who orchestrates it all. At the curtain it was hard to tell whether cheering or hissing at his evil brilliance would have been more appropriate. Of course being an opera and not panto one did plump for the former.
The production is wonderful and elegant with its renaissance inspired set. With beautiful music and fast-paced drama, it adds up to a night to remember at the opera. It is possibly more fun than Shakespeare's original; even if it does all end in tears...
Otello is part of the World Shakespeare Festival which itself is part of the London 2012 Festival. The latter has seen slightly more unmissable events than a normal London summer embarrassment of cultural riches. It runs until 24 July... And is sold out so you will have to conspire to get tickets... Or alternatively live vicariously through the social media raves...
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
Dandy Dick is a mild Victorian farce that is full of energy and wit that you can't help but have a very civilised time. It was written in 1887 by Sir Arthur Wing Pinero and cheap laughs and farce are a priority over satire of witty observations. But it so well-acted and pulled off so stylishly that it is hard not to like, particularly in Richmond Theatre.
It is the fist major revival for forty years and tells the story of a the Very Reverend Augustin Jedd, who after a visit from his gambling mad and horsey sister, risks everything at the races. Cue the shenanigans of mistaken identity, runaway horses, romantic intrigue and mystery. There are some wonderful lines about horse meat that obviously had a more innocent meaning at the time they were written, but viewed from the present day conjure up a variety of interpretations. We weren't the only ones thinking this as one lady in front turned around at the interval and informed us that we had her sense of humour.
The production stars Patricia Hodge and Nicholas Le Prevost. They are supported by a rather talented ensemble that can sing, play music and keep things moving quickly.
This is the inaugural production of Theatre Royal Brighton Productions, under the artistic direction of Christopher Luscombe. The team are off to a good start. It's at Richmond this week and continues the national tour over the summer.
The Boo with @Johnnyfoxlondon follows, which muses about Victorian sensibilities, Pinero versus his contemporaries, and standing in a muddy field opposite the theatre...
Tonight is the last chance to see Berlioz's Les Troyens at The Royal Opera. It is an event: an epic opera with some grand spectacle to match. However at nearly six hours (including two half hour intervals) you do need arrive prepared, which includes familiarising oneself with Berlioz's music. The piece is full of rousing choruses and delicate moments, but as a drama that hangs together like other Romantic operas it is not easy to take in at first listen.
David McVicar's production makes things a little easier to appreciate with the spectacle and astonishing set designs by Es Devlin. Brush up on your Berlioz late Romantic period, refresh your knowledge of Virgil's Aeneid and go along for the ride... It may not come around too soon again...
Tuesday, July 10, 2012
Designing 007, Fifty Years of Bond Style commemorates the designs, fashion and brouhaha that goes with the worlds most successful movie franchise. It is currently at the Barbican before touring the world, and I suspect that other venues will do it more justice than the three confusing rooms of the Barbican; with each less successful than the previous. You receive a stamp for each room and if you manage to find everything you should get a reward. The second area is a showcase for the styles created for Bond villains but all the pieces are behind glass boxes that all look alike and face different directions. You will find the bathrooms before finding all the boxes. And in the third room it is unfortunate that the centrepiece is the ice hotel that looked cheap in the film Die Another Day let alone up close. It is a film in the franchise best remembered for the worst CGI in film history. Given the room also includes a large screen showing edited highlights from it, you will not want to stay long.
Overall the exhibition is a mix of set designs, scripts, notes, interviews and fashion. And it is the fashion from the films that makes for most interesting part of the exhibition. The collection of suits and outfits worn by Bond and other characters highlight the trends and trendsetting nature of the films. It also is an insight in to how collaboration with directors, designers and actors created some unforgettable images, such as Ursula Andress in a white bikini that was roughly put together to flatter her frame. And those swimming trunks worn by Daniel Craig in Casino Royale, which were inspired by a less revealing pair Sean Connery wore in Thunderball. The latter have been recreated for the exhibition.
With gadgets, suits, outrageous dresses and spectacular set designs, there is something here for film geeks, Bond fans and people mildly interested in the enduring series. If you can find it all... It runs until early September and then will tour the world... Expect queues to see it...
Monday, July 09, 2012
Saturday night's performance had quite a few hen nights in the audience and this definitely is a show for girls who have had too much to drink and want to see full frontal nudity in a mildly artistic environment. Although the best pieces are when they are just performing rather than trying to be derivative Australian stereotypes. An act to watch and one to see before success makes the act a bit more polished and a little less vulgar... After this week Briefs tours Cardiff, Salford and Edinburgh...
The boo including the filthy @johnnyfoxlondon follows:
Friday, July 06, 2012
For a dynamic modern-looking building, it seemed like a rather pompous sort of opening for The Shard on Thursday evening. Anyone hoping for a repeat of Deadmau5 at the Millbank Tower would have felt it was a letdown.
Still it was a night out with a bit a colour and light so people crowded the bridges near it to see it. Whether the Shard becomes a great building or a great carbuncle is hard to say at this point in its history, but it is certainly something you can't miss on the London skyline now, and one that makes you look at it with some sense of awe. Looking at it up close it appears surprisingly delicate and accommodating to its neighbours around London Bridge. It is open to the public early next year...
In Birthday, currently playing at the Royal Court, Stephen Mangan plays a man who is pregnant. While this unlikely scenario could lead to a rather dubious evening of entertainment (does anyone remember the film Junior?), Joe Penhall's play presents it in such a way that it all seems so plausible and understandable... And best of all it is hilarious.
The audience on Wednesday night were in stitches throughout this show, including at some rather squeamish scenes of a medical nature that had some men in the audience wincing.
As Ed, the expectant father, Stephen Mangan keeps the audience on side as a slightly loveable modern man while still being a rather disagreeable patient who hurls abuse at staff and his wife. And he has an impressive hairy belly and set of saggy tits. His wife, played by Lisa Dillon is a career woman who can't have another baby. While they wait for hospital staff who are busy with more important patients, the stage is set for some terrific banter.
While the role and gender reversals provide some of the humour, there are also subtle digs at relationships, health care provision, liberal values and other modern trivialities. You soon become aware of the various levels the show is working on and it isn't just all about KY lube and an impressive belly prosthetics. Put it on your plan of shows to see this summer. It runs until 4 August.