Bit of a Les Mis fan me……and this must be my seventh visit to this amazing musical. As I said in my opening post, Les Mis is a marmite musical and I am definitely a lover not a hater. In my mind it never disappoints and this performance was no different. The hardest part was not to sing-along out loud or I would not have been popular with the rest of the audience! The music and words are so powerful and with a lot more people being familiar with the story following the recent BBC drama, now is definitely the time to give it a go. I have stood at the back on a student stand by ticket, I have sat at the front of the gods, at the back of the stalls and in the dress circle slips but next time I think I’m going to treat myself to one of the best seats in the house. Yes I will be back!
Hosting a great cast and starring Gillian Anderson and Lily James, this Ivo van Hove directed play, adapted from the 1950’s film, displayed the directors trademark use of camera’s back stage, enabling live feed displayed on screens showing what was happening “meanwhile”, while front of stage took on the task of unwrapping this psychological thriller. Gillian Anderson held the stage with her performance and fitted very well into the role of theatrical megastar, moving with airs and grace when in the public eye but drowning her woes with alcohol and portraying a very convincing drunk when the realities of aging began to fill her mind. Lily James fitted her role with beautiful innocence disguising the darker motive of her character and changing her performance accordingly as the play progressed. The play did not have an interval, allowing tension to build without interruption. However this is where this play let me down, the atmosphere and tension that could be built on the big screen did not transfer to the stage. At times this play seemed slow and did not manage to make me feel emphany or like or dislike any character. It told a story but did not create a drama. A good night out at the theatre with friends as always but not a play that I would rush back to see.
Performed as part of a day conference on Autism, which had a heavy influence on the mental health of young people with ASD, this short play written by Mandi Chivasa (seen here on the left of the photo) addressed the very difficult issues of the effects of depression and social anxiety that so often effect the lives of young people today. The title “Morph” describes the changes that some young people experience as they move from childhood to adulthood but more importantly how this is not always a smooth ride and how the mental health of many young people has a massive impact on this journey. We saw how hard it can be for families to understand the struggles young people are experiencing and the importance of the support of friendships. Beautifully acted and incorporating some song and dance, this short drama flowed seeminglessly and despite only lasting maybe fifteen minutes, told the story with impact and was very thought provoking. The performance was followed by a question and answer session and all four performers raised the bar even higher by their articulate, mature and analytical responses to all questions asked and showed the audience that they were not just performing lines given to them, but really believed and understood the importance of the message that they were relaying. These are impressive young people and if they are a representation of many young people in Britain today I think our future is in safe hands.
Not the usual football stadium for me to visit or the usual south (Pride of South London……..SE25!) however an excuse needed for a night out with friends took us to Under The Bridge, below Chelsea FC Stanford Bridge Football stadium, to see a breakaway band from the former Beautiful South in the form of The South. Firstly the venue was an intimate place with excellent sound quality and reasonably priced bars. The floor space was on two levels with minimal seating but a good view for all. The venue was comfortably packed but an atmosphere can only be created by the energy of the people and unfortunately as the band took to the stage, the people remained cautious and restrained! The South were very good with both vocalists having excellent voices and the musicians very accomplished. But it did at times feel like we were watching the evening entertainment on a cruise ship (never been on a cruise but you know what I mean!) with no disrespect to The South, but because of the continued apathy of the crowd. As the set went on and old favourites from The Beauitful South’s back catalogue were performed, people did start moving and a grooving and the astmosphere began to rise. All in all a nice little venue and with the right crowd or maybe as a dance venue this could offer a good night out. We did have a good time as a night out is really judged on who you spend it with and mention must be made to the pub cat we met when we stopped for a bite to eat at The Chelsea Pensioner on the way to the club…….hence the photo of Mr Mackay above.
Another first…..first trip to the Old Vic in Waterloo. An iconic theatre undergoing a complete refurbishment which is going to be stunning. Outside has a presence that invites you in and inside, this theatre is a perfect size and gives the theatre goer a fab view where ever you are seated. And so to the play, The American Clock, an Arthur Miller play so I was expecting something a bit heavy. The story of the Wall Street crash in 1929, this play was a good education about the American depression brought on, as usual, by greed. I know I promised no spoilers but in this instance I do need to point out that the main family in this tale are played first by white actors, then Asian and finally by black actors. It is important to know this as otherwise it would be rather confusing? I am assuming this is to illustrate that when the crash happened, all people were effected deeply regardless of race. This is only my assumption……to be honest it didn’t add anything to the story and if I hadn’t read up before hand, could have proved very confusing. The play was well acted with the occasional bit of singing and a little bit of dancing thrown in at random times, which did work well as it gave the play a quirky edge. The second half plunged the characters into greater doom and gloom but really showed how rock bottom life could become. However the end of the play then felt really rushed and a bit “and then this happened the end!” which was a shame as up until the end, the play was interesting and enjoyable. I can certainly tick Old Vic off my list of theatres to visit and I will definitely look out in the future to return to this rather lovely London landmark.
Situated a stones throw away from Liverpool Street Station, The London Steakhouse restaurant sits perfectly in it’s large basement home. Booked for a meal deal……..a cocktail of your choice plus three courses was only £25 per head!!! What a bargain. We started off the evening with a very yummy cocktail of vodka and passion fruit. A starter of freshly pickled beetroot and delicious goats cheese, a main of confit duck with new potatoes, salad and creamy egg plus creamed spinage on the side, followed by stick toffee pudding which smelt amazing, so much so I tucked in before I had remembered to take a photo to share…..hence the rather destroyed pudding in the photo above!!!!! Lively atmosphere and friendly staff gave this restaurant a really good vibe. The City of London can be a bit quiet at weekends but on a Friday night it is still buzzing, so combined with a drink or two at a local pub, a meal at the London Steakhouse was a great way to round off the evening.
I have seen the Kaiser Chiefs on a couple of occasions but only as part of a bigger line up, but each time they have put on a great, energetic show. So the chance to see them at the Brixton Academy, my favourite venue of choice, seemed an opportunity not to miss. Part of the O2 family, the Academy was once an old cinema. It is therefore perfect for standing crowds as the sloping floor ensures a good view whatever your height. The addition of spilt beer over the evening as people carry more than they can manage through the crowd, has the added bonus of sticking you to the floor, so even if you have tired legs, you conveniently remain upright!!! The Kaiser Chiefs did not disappoint. Their front man, Ricky Wilson, covers every inch of the stage with endless energy. To be honest I wouldn’t know who any of the other members are as every time I have seen them, due to his great presence on the stage and his rapport with the audience, you don’t tend to concentrate on the band around him. However they all deserve credit as they play a seamless set and are high quality musicians. What I like about the Kaisers is their indie rock style that produces excellent anthems to sing along with and jump and chant but all the songs are very different and therefore instantly recognisable within the first few bars. This tour mixes those old favourites with new material from their seventh album. If you love an expensive light show, you won’t get one with the Kaisers, as they opted instead for numerous confetti canons! These, however, had the desired effect of adding a festival atmosphere to an already bouncing crowd. All in all a good night out!