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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: Nine

Back in London, a good cure for jet-lag is a movie... Although watching the movie musical Nine was probably not the best option... Only curiosity to see if it would get any worse kept me awake. The fatal flaw of this movie is to cast Daniel Day Lewis - a creepy actor at the best of times (as the above interview junket for the film shows) - in a role that required the audience to have some element of sympathy for him. It also doesn't help that in between the musical numbers there is some absolutely dire dialogue mostly set in hotel rooms spoken by actors with outraaaaeegeeshly leeedicrious accents. Best (or should that be worst) is Nicole Kidman's which varies from eeetaylian to okker Aussie mid sentence. It was hilarious even if her screen time was brief.

There are some nice numbers sung by women in various types of pantyhose but after the best number in the movie - A Call From the Vatican - you feel like you could be Penelope Cruz's gynaecologist. Director Rob Marshall managed to strip any sense of sexiness out of Chicago and he again does it with Nine. Even worse is that he allows Sophia Loren (in what could be her swan song) to look like a drag queen. Judi Dench's character has been relegated to costume designer, singing a French song with an English accent or having to speak some pretty cringeworthy dialogue. Other cast members come of slightly better, although here's hoping that no future musicals have songs with lyrics that use "neo-realism"...

A pity really as it probably could have been a better film, even if the show it is based on isn't much of a story it has some great set piece numbers (many of which have been cut for the film or rewritten). Going by the box office takings it will disappear shortly. Go if your curious, or stuck for a decent film at the cinema that isn't a a 3D James Cameron epic... Otherwise look for it on bit torrent...

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