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Bear with me: Stitches @TheHopeTheatre

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What if your teddy bear could talk? My ten-year-old self would think that to be excellent. My more recent self would think it was a high-concept buddy movie with Mark Wahlberg. But in Stictches, Jonathan Blakeley's monologue, which he has written and performed, traces the life of his beloved Chloe, from when she was first given to him by her grandmother, wrapped with a red ribbon. It becomes a story not just about a cute bear (or maybe that should be rough, shaggy-looking bear given the performer’s appearance) observing life but an exploration of life and all of its stages. It's currently playing at the Hope Theatre .  The bear is not warm and fuzzy; he is a bit of a character and tough-talking, but also a bit anxious about being accepted and then discarded as nothing. But he is there to bear witness as she navigates the complicated facets of growing up and having a life. Ultimately, the bear has to deal with being consigned to a box with her other memories until circumstances

Art: Rubens

One thing I didn't miss was the National Gallery latest blockbuster Rubens – A master in the making. I caught it yesterday evening. It is a collection of his earliest works and a great show indicating how his style developed and evolved. There are some very dramatic paintings including the recently discovered "lost Rubens" that sold for £45million in 2001. The way the paintings are displayed is a tad shambolic and suggests they were a little rushed in putting it all together but it was a great early evening diversion.

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