Friday, May 02, 2008

Village idiot

I am scared. Very scared.

The Mayor of London will be on international display for the next four years - starting at the Closing Ceremony this summer when the Games get handed over to us.

In the red corner we have Rabid Ken squaring up against in the blue corner Buffoon Boris a man who dresses like crunchy the clown and only opens his mouth to change feet. But, still, the best of the worst is still the best.

This feels too much like London's George Bush moment to not be depressed.

If Boris wins it will only expose voter ignorance. Except that under Boris ignorance will no longer be bliss.

C'mon Ken!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Vertical Hour subverted

"We'll pay you to be quiet" said an employee of the Royal Court last night upon witnessing my depression drinking in the theatre bar after last night's performance of David Hare's 'The Vertical Hour'. But like a barracuda is to shiny objects a blogger is to threats of silence. So forgive me a few (pre press night) words on the 'The Vertical Hour': the most pretentious play to come out of the Royal Court since the last play they defecated in the name of upholding middle-class values. And I haven't even got to what I really think.

The main plotline is a posing of the personal versus the political, of how you relate your private life to what is going on around you. (Yawn, gaze at navel). The basic plot is of an American war reporter turned academic who travels to Wales with her boyfriend to visit his father. She doesn’t love Bush but supported the war, the father despises Bush and opposed it; she gets louder, he gets the good lines. You expect this tête-à-tête from Hare, who likes to keep abreast of the news and isn’t exactly shy about his lefty politics. But the casting is rubbish and the chemistry is missing. In fact, the leading woman (pictured here) is so ineffectual it’s hard to know what Hare or the director really think of the character or how she’s supposed to relate to the other people onstage.

Hare defines the 'vertical hour' as "the moment at which you are able to recognise the truth about yourself." It's just a shame the play never enjoys one of its own. Notwithstanding, my vertical hour came in the bar afterwards when I realised how pretentious and decadent theatre makes me feel uncomfortable and phoney. As if I was posing to enjoy theatre because I thought it was the right thing to do and not because I really loved it. So that's it for me and the Jerwood Theatre Downstairs. But I still enjoy the honest, authentic new writing put on Upstairs.

I wonder if Dominic Cooke sees the irony in the Royal Court's subversion of the Upstairs/Downstairs motif?

Monday, January 21, 2008

Positive thinking

Here is a hilarious clip to cheer us up on Blue turned Black Monday, or at least give us a better reason to be in tears. If we had any left. I don't know about you, but I am keeping hope alive today. For the first time in seven years when looking at the light at the end of the tunnel, I don't see a train.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Big girls don't cry

I don't know about you but I have spent a better part of this week watching the U.S. election results and drinking: the latter mainly to deal with the former. Following campaign coverage can be trying. Especially when the talking heads seem hell-bent on relying on racist and sexist sound-bites in lieu of substantive commentary.

Even The New York Times, the so-called 'newspaper of record' has jumped on the bandwagon with a headline which apparently thinks women are just "perceiving" sexism. No, you media muppets, we're seeing it. Everywhere.

But enough feministing for today. To get us through such hard times, I can't resist sharing an email exchange I had earlier today:

Sarah, friend from NYC: Since I signed up on the Obama site I've received 2 emails from him. The first was titled 'We knew it would be hard' and the second was titled 'Something Big.' I am hesitant to open these at work.

Me: I'm so posting that.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

It's been a while. I apologise and wish I had a good excuse. It's not because I have been somewhere exotic - I haven't left Central London (unless a walk through Rotherhithe counts) in weeks. I have avoided the sales unless a £3 CD spree in Fopp on Boxing Day qualifies. Okay, so I did contract that bugger of a bug that spread across town faster than Russell Brand's STDs. Bet I am now free from the Lemsip/Benylin chains. See you here tomorrow. Normal service to resume.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Much ado

There is hype and there is hysteria: one is based on promotion the other on emotion. Too often I conflate the two and end up overly excited about something that ultimately under delivers. The mismatch comes from expecting of something but forgetting to consider the capacity of what you are expecting it from (women: think Valentine's Day; men: think European Championship). But that is exactly where the fault line lies: the expectation.

This I found to be true the other night as I meandered through the back streets of Covent Garden clutching my front row ticket to the hottest show in town: Othello starring Ewan McGregor at the Donmar Warehouse. With tickets going for £1200 on Ebay, there was a palpable aura of unfettered expectation amongst the throngs overpaying for pre-show Merlot at the Donmar's bar.

With expectations suitably tempered with slugs of pre-show and interval wine, I would have to agree with today's mainstream (Times and Guardian) 4-star reviews. Ewan was a solid Iago but not as convincing at cunning malice as Matt Damon in Talented Mr.Ripley and somehow, for me, the comparison was inescapable. Ewan is also much shorter than I expected (I'd guess 5'8") which (pathetically) threw my focus from his lines to whether he was wearing lifts. Kelly Reilly as Desdemona was disappointingly weak (that's polite for crap and intensely irritating) which I should have expected having walked out of this year's Piano/Forte at the Royal Court thanks to her performance. Her 'air, hair, lair' affectations are too Keira Knightley meets Rosamund Pike to leave me feeling anything but cold.

But then there is Chiwetel Ejiofor: the sort of actor who is born, not made. If most of the audience was filled with McGregor fans, it was Ejiofor's show to steal. He is an actor who can emote from silence and his brooding presence was perfect at capturing Othello's descent into devastating jealousy. If the Donmar's staging of Othello defies one expectation it's that Chiwetel is no longer one of Britain's greatest black film stars - he is simply one of the world's great actors. And with that alone Othello exceeded all expectations.

Donmar Warehouse
Until 23 Feb 2008
Sold out; call 0870 060 6624 for returns

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Blakey poo

While Britney Spears may have been the Exciting Crazy Girl to watch last week, I personally think Amy Winehouse is loads more exciting to cyber-blog-stalk. I could sit around all day F5ing gossip pages excitedly waiting for the next Winehouse installment. However, today, I was truly disgusted with what I read about our poor wittle Amy. Doctors have apparently ordered her to cancel the rest of her UK tour and as the " intense emotional strain that Amy has been under in recent weeks" has started to "take its toll". Talk about understatement of the year. Who would disagree that Amy should be taking time off to heal (a lot of time), but Amy's personal statement of the cancellation of her tour was (how do I say this delicately?) pathetic:

“I can’t give it my all onstage without my Blake. I’m so sorry but I don’t want to do the shows half-heartedly; I love singing. My husband is everything to me and without him it’s just not the same.”

Move over Pete and Kate - the co-dependancy junkies-in-love bar has just been risen. So rather than wait for Amy to get over her precious "Blakey" I went hunting for a suitable replacement: enter Ms. Jones. No, I don't mean the other half of Me & Mr. Jones but rather the soulful voice of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, a Brooklyn-based band making a name for themselves by recreating the sound of '60s and '70s funk and soul. The rich sound might seem familiar as The Dap Kings were shipped in by Mark Ronson to give Amy Winehouse's album an authentic sound, but who needs Wino when you've got someone like Sharon Jones?