Thursday, November 27, 2008

You couldn't script it....On Question Time a question was asked about legalising prostitution and in particular the bizarre idea of Home Secretary Jackie Smith that a brass' client should ask her has she been trafficked - as if she would say yes!

Douglas Alexander, Secretary for International Development said with a totally straight face that he believed the client should ask the question because it would make him have to think "long and hard".

Cue.. audience bedlam.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

*note to self - don't apply for a job at The Wonder of Woolworths*

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Only in America...

Former N Synch boyband member Joey Fantone opened the Charmin's Deluxe Public Restrooms in Times Square.

Truly... the opening of a toilet.

NOW I was getting all excited... a public lav is a hard thing to find in New York but these are only open until New Years Eve.

Do tell what they are like Dawn.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Congratulations to Margaret Tyzack and Penelope Wilton who have jointly won the Best Actress Evening Standard Theatre Award for their wonderful performances in "The Chalk Garden". They both gave performances that have stayed in my mind.

It was quite a year for the Donmar with Chiwetel Ejiofor winning the Best Actor for it's production of OTHELLO as well as Michael Grandidge winning Best Director for IVANOV, THE CHALK GARDEN and OTHELLO.

The Best Play award was won by THE PITMAN PLAYERS which I am seeing next February when it returns to the National Theatre.

Best Musical was STREET SCENE at the Young Vic. Sadly Bertolt Brecht was unable to pick up his award as he is currently dead.

Monday, November 17, 2008

For the past few days I have been suffering with a pained back toof which I suspect is a root problem as the pain has spread along my jaw. It is strange to be so encumbered - as much as I wish the pain away it has become such a part of me that I look upon it as a close companion now.

Anyways the three of us - me, Owen and my toof, went to see Boy George's end-of-tour gig at the Shaw. This is the third time we have seen him at this venue and it certainly seems to bring out the best in him as again he was in great form even if his voice was a bit strained from the tour.
He mixed up his setlist so we had 'big' songs like VICTIMS quite early on which left room for a great acoustic section which showcased UNFINISHED BUSINESS, IF I COULD FLY and the terrific addition of GENERATIONS OF LOVE. The audience were a bit rooted in their seats which was a bit odd but George was great, chatting away sharing thoughts about songs and life.

His band were again on the money thanks to his regular companions Kevan Frost on bass and John Themis on guitar. There were also excellent contributions from backing singers Lizzie Dean and 'fierce' Mary Pearce. Mary also did a special soul-church version of THREE BLIND MICE and said she would love to sing it for an "X Factor" audition just to hear Cheryl Cole say "That's difficult to sing but you did it really well". Mary's riposte would be "It ain't difficult to sing... if you can sing". Amen gurl. It's been great to see George three times this year, each time a winner.

On Sunday Owen and I went to a 3pm matinee of the Donmar production of Chekhov's IVANOV at the Wyndham Theatre which stars Kenneth Branagh and ergo, is sold out. Before going in Owen suggested I take one of the tablets he had been prescribed after his back operation to see me through the show with no pain. I should have remembered we hadn't eaten before.

About halfway through the first act I started to feel a strange pain in my back and chest, like I was sitting badly in the seat. I shifted a bit but that didn't help. I then started to have difficulty breathing. Then the cold-sweat started. Then I felt faint and vaguely sick. Yes, constant reader, I left in the interval. We made it to St. Martin's Lane where after a sandwhich, two pots of tea and a slice of strawberry cheesecake I started to feel better.

What ultimately pissed me off about my 'turn' was I was enjoying the production.


Friday, November 14, 2008

Earlier this week Owen and I had the opportunity to see the mega-hyped MONKEY: JOURNEY TO THE WEST at the specially-designed space around the back of the O2.

Now the blurb is playing up the fact that this is a unique experience that starts 90 minutes before curtain-up but my suspicions were confirmed - it's a low-tented foyer with a bar, merch stand and allegedly a restaurant space. I say allegedly as we went on press night and that area was Guest List only.
Oh and fuck you too.

I appear to be the only person who never saw the series which ran in the late 70s - I was like.. working - so I came to the story fresh. I can't say I was particularly gripped by yet another tale of a disparate group of characters taking a journey to find their destiny but then I guess the 400+ year old JOURNEY TO THE WEST might have been the inspiration for quite a few of them stories!

As the libretto is sung in Cantonese they have come up with the whizzer idea of
flashing up an English translation. Not above the stage where you might expect it.. but on two screens on either side of the stage! A particularly bad idea as it meant you had to look away from the stage to squint at the underlit text. And of course the subtitles went on the fritz during one of the scenes which afforded much tittering in the peanut gallery.

Much has been made of the spectacular nature of the show but I kinda didn't see anything I haven't seen in Cirque du Soleil to be honest. And for a hero Monkey *is* an annoying shagger. I cannot say I was particularly bothered about any of the characters to be honest.

Sounds like I am putting the blast on the whole show but luckily there was the double whammy of Jamie Hewlett's wonderful designs & filmed links - to be honest I would have been happier with the whole thing being handed over to that medium - and Damon Albarn's score which pushed the five note template into some wonderful sonic areas played by a great set of musicians. It's just a shame it's not particularly memorable. Apart from the lalalalala bit which I reckon he filched from Minnie Ripperton's "Loving You".

See it for the visuals, hear it for the score.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Although not of a military frame of mind, World War I has always been a subject that I am drawn to and more precisely, the heroic and tragic lives of the soldiers of the western front. So the marking of the 90th anniversary of the Armistice this week has been particularly poignant especially with the appearance at the Cenotaph yesterday morning of the last three surviving veterans of the conflict.

In hunting out my birth certificate a week or so ago I found it in a cache of family documents. Among them was the marriage certificate of my paternal grandparents. I discovered that John Voisey married Nora Wright in 1916 while he was serving in the army. For some unknown reason I had never figured out this family connection to the War To End All Wars. On quizzing my ma about it she said that my Gran had told her that he had been gassed on the western front and his health was affected afterwards, dying in 1932. I never talked to her or my dad about this that I can recall and am sorry about that.
The anniversary has also inspired some fine tv programmes. Ian Hislop followed up his excellent Channel Four series NOT FORGOTTEN with an interesting insight into the lives of Concientious Objectors - men and women who risked public and private disgrace by refusing to fight; there were also sympathetic and idiosyncratic profiles of Wilfred Owen by Jeremy Paxman and Vera Brittain by Jo Brand - the last one was particularly good - and the BBC also had a series of four programmes where eight 'names' discovered their own connections to the War.

The two I saw were quite moving, Natalie Cassidy discovered her grandfather had voluntereed to clear bodies off the post-war battlefields and then to clear unexploded shells and she was shocked to see this job is still going on - and still claiming lives. Dan Snow was peturbed to find that his great-grandfather Major Thomas Snow was not only responsible for the catastrophic first few days of The Somme but at the enquiry tried to shift the blame onto his subordinates. Most poignant of all were the journeys of Kirsty Wark and Rolf Harris to trace the footsteps of great-uncle & uncle only to find that both died within an arm's reach of peace. Rolf's uncle died as a result of wounds in a battle two weeks before the war ended wheras Kirsty's great-uncle died of the devastating Spanish flu epidemic 12 days after the Armistice was signed.

The stories of these men and women tested to beyond endurance at times by the events around them never fail to move me.

I am just finishing Anthony Beevor's thorough history of the Spanish Civil War - another conflict that reflects no glory - and I am hard-pressed to think of any TV series which has covered this at all. Anyone know better?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

BUT NO THEY CAN'T - not if you're gay and in California...

Californian voters appear to have voted to ban civil partnerships.. 5 months after the law was passed. This now means California joins 27 other states which ban same-sex marriages.

So there you go... maybe America hasn't changed all that much.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

To my American fellows..

I would not be so presumptious as to tell you who to vote for just as long as you do!

You don't want a spanking off of Madonna do you?