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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

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)...

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