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Bear with me: Stitches @TheHopeTheatre

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

Concert: Follies

Sunday evening I caught the Starlight Foundation's Charity Concert of Follies. Some jaded theatregoers had warned me over the weekend it would be a bit dire with its stunning array of B-list stars front lining it, but actually it was quite entertaining. There was something perversely amusing watching the punters in the packed-out Palladium go ape over a series of world famous (well, world famous in Britain) ladies in the 55 plus age bracket. Most I didn't recognise.

The show lends itself well to a concert version, as (much as I expected) while the music is great, the story is dire. Two hours of two couples - middle-class, middle-aged has-beens - bickering does not make a night of entertainment, even if that is the point. As a concert version it feels easier to ignore the story. But fortunately the piece has , and with the full orchestra on stage and even the odd cameo by ITV newsreader Sir Trevor McDonald...

Even sitting in the cheap seats it was a lot of fun, although I didn't hang around for the charity plug at the end of the evening... I had seen enough. Besides the people sitting either side of me seemed to both have a bad case of halitosis... Talk about that ticket being a false economy...

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