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You can’t stop the boats: Sorry We Didn’t Die At Sea @ParkTheatre

Sorry We Didn’t Die At Sea by Italian playwright Emanuele Aldrovandi and translated by Marco Young, has made a topical return to London at the Park Theatre after playing earlier this summer at the Seven Dials Playhouse. In a week when leaders and leaders in waiting were talking about illegal immigration, it seemed like a topical choice . It also has one hell of an evocative title. The piece opens with Adriano Celantano’s Prisencolinensinainciusol , which sets the scene for what we are about to see. After all, a song about communication barriers seems perfect for a play about people trafficking and illegal immigration. One side doesn’t understand why they happen, and the other still comes regardless of the latest government announcement / slogan .  However, the twist here is that the crossing is undertaken the other way. People are fleeing Europe instead of escaping war or poverty in Africa or the Middle East. It’s set sometime in the not-too-distant future. There is a crisis causing p

Music meaning and laughs: Tiffany Graves in the house

Closing out the season of Cabaret at Lauderdale House on Highgate Hill, Tiffany Graves delivered a memorably funny and high spirited show last Sunday. Lauderdale House is a former private home that has been transformed into an arts and education centre and has been running Sunday afternoon events for some time.

Graves delivered a wonderfully comedic and powerful collection of songs that she felt reflected her career, her friends and her relationships, which was at times hilarious enough to forget about the miserable weather outside.
It was a particular treat to see her renditions of comics songs including My Simple Christmas Wish (rich, famous and powerful) and If You've Got It, Flaunt It from The Producers. She knows how to get the most out of the songs she chose - musically and comically.  She even made a point of highlighting that she was wearing the same dress as the brochure (depicted above). It is a shame that there are not more opportunities to see Ms Graves perform or sing in London (I was lucky to see her perform in Sweet Charity a few years ago when she was understudy) and there appears to be no recordings available of her performances... For now.

It was a particularly cold and chilly day in London and Highgate Hill looked like a winter wonderland. An inch of snow dusted the grounds of the Lauderdale House making everything seem so lovely that you almost forgot the bitter arctic winds blowing.

The series of cabaret concerts here are very generously presented. Hosted by Broadway and West End actress Valerie Cutko (who could be fun enough to have her own show), she also sings a few numbers. Then there is a support act  and then the main act. Young Howard Jenkins's performance in the first half of the afternoon was entertaining enough although he was on better ground with his parody of being an usher at The Phantom of the Opera and his song Thick Skin than some of his other choices. It probably isn't a good idea to close your set with Once Before I Go from The Boy From Oz ... It feels to me too much like a song that is best sung by an old gay man about to die.

While you may enjoy a long afternoon of cabaret,  perhaps a tighter format with the support acts limited to a few numbers would help those who don't live near Highgate get home at a sensible time. It might also help to keep the cafe downstairs open at least until interval. Locals won't be so bothered by this of course...

The cabaret season has finished for now but there are a range of other concerts planned over the summer that are worth a look. There is also an appeal for funds for much needed works to the building, parts of which date back to 1582. Check their website for what is coming up and look for the return of the Cabaret in October.

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