Feb 24, 2007

In praise of camp.

Just happened to catch (lie. My significant other strong-armed me into watching (lie. I was happy to watch it)) the beginning of one of ITV's most recent shameless bandwagon-jumping exercises - Dancing on Ice - where various B-list soap actors, has-been pop stars and faintly-embarassed sportsmen are hauled forth from the Gladiator pit in which I'm convinced they keep these people, in order to dance... on ice. A sensation, as you can imagine.

Anyway, the opening of this weeks fiasco was a performance by Take That accompanied by Torville and Dean ice dancing around them. I think it was the point at which Mark Owen stood on top of Gary Barlow's white piano alongside Jane Torville, while Jason Orange and Christopher Dean sunk to their knees and gripped each other's hands emphatically that I realised that this was the gayest spectacle ever to not include Liza Minelli or Elton John. Another plaudit to hang on the broad creative shoulders of ITV.

In all honesty, if more TV had this sense of cheeky glamour - we'd all be richer for it.

Feb 23, 2007

A Voyage

Without giving too much away I would recommend that anyone reading this who finds themselves in the London area take a little trip out to Cheshire street in Shoreditch (just off Brick Lane). From the Brick Lane end, keep walking down the street until you come to a rather tatter black on white sign on your right hand side that states 'hotel' and has a telephone number underneath it. Ring on the buzzer and wait to be let in.

What awaits you is a haunting, enigmatic experience with a particularly magical heart if you (literally) dig deep enough. The elephant in the room writ large.

If all this sounds a little vague and mysterious, that is precisely the point.

Feb 22, 2007


For those with an interest in my unconscious, a series of dreams that I have tentatively titled 'Andy re-imagines average films' continued last night with a new version of The China Syndrome, a film I saw the end of over four years ago and had to find the title of this morning by wikipedia-ing the films of Jack Lemon.

In all honesty despite the title I have given this series of dreams, The China Syndrome a rather spiffy film about a possible meltdown in an American nuclear plant, and amazingly the Three Mile Island scare occured only 12 days after the film was released. You just can't buy that kind of publicity. As for my version of this late 70s political thriller, it was reasonably faithful to the original, with Jack Lemon taking a leading role, though for some reason my unconscious saw it as necessary to tag on a rather gruitous and unpleasant revenge sequence at the end - pandering to the teenage market no doubt.

This particular series of dreams was instigated about about a fortnight ago by my utterly prosaic recreation of the underwhelming mid-nineties sequel The Mighty Ducks 2.

Although I do find it somewhat alarming that my sleeping brain seems to have turned into Channel 5 I am nonetheless intruiged. Clearly our generation, or maybe just me, spend so long watching films, television, theatre etc that we've unconsciously become observers even in our own imagination. Either that or revolution is trying to warn me of an impending Nuclear catastrophe when a stray duck flies into the reactor at the Sizewell B.

Feb 20, 2007

Seven Sins

On monday night I had the absolute pleasure of spending a couple of hours watching and discussing (in equal measure) a staged reading of 7 (or should that be Se7en...) short plays, each dealing with one of the seven deadly sins, and each written by a different writer (including the delightful Ben Yeoh - who it is always nice to see).

Despite the utterly tepid atmosphere in the sinister white room we were gathered in at the top of the Soho Theatre and the propensity of the air conditioning unit to give an attention-seeking judder just as each of the ten minute pieces got going, it was a fascinating evening.

As I believe someone on the night pointed out the best plays were those where the writers had taken what this fairly formulaic concept as merely a jumping off point for a clever, exciting, and utterly unique series of explorations. The director had managed, by hook or by crook, to get a wonderfully contradictory and diverse muddle of writers involved whose contrary styles complemented each other beautifully. Each sin in turn became an intruiging opportunity to see a talented young playwright grappling with an all-too-familiar topic.

It reminded me of a similar evening at the BAC (now a step closer to securing its ticket on the subsidy bandwagon for a few more years - for some interesting thoughts on this see Chris Goode's typically detailed post on the subject) in which a series of groups tackled the subject of the Fire of London in a pick and mix of weird, wonderful and utterly rubbish pieces. The sense of fun and adventure (with just a light seasoning of quiet rivalry) that such gloriously silly and ambitious projects foster is always infectious.

I believe the plan is for this seven deadly sin project to go through some more development and then be performed as a whole piece. Keep your eyes peeled for it - the quality of a lot of the writing makes it a worthwhile spot.

And for those of you not wondering I think if I had had the choice I personally would have plumped for Pride as I feel that it alone has been to a large degree co-opted by the forces of good, while for the most part (and despite the best attempts of a few lecherous Monarchs) our morals have remained depressingly tepid. Speaking of which - did you realise that for each of the Sins there was a corresponding Virtue?

Sin Virtue
Lust (inappropriate desire) Chastity (purity)
Gluttony (over-indulgence) Temperance (self-restraint)
Greed (avarice) Generosity (vigilance)
Sloth (laziness) Zeal (enthusiasm)
Wrath (anger) Patience (composure)
Envy (jealousy) Charity (giving)
Pride (vanity) Humility (humbleness)

Don't here so much about those, do we? I would imagine its because chastity, temeperance, generosity, zeal, patience, charity and humility would make an utterly, utterly dull piece of collaborative theatre/critically acclaimed late nineties noir thriller. "Restraint is the keystone of the seven holy virtues" - no wonder the devil has all the best songs...

The Return.

And with more of a whimper than a bang, I return, having been gone some time.

I am, it must be said, even by the theatre communities languid standards, a hopeless blogger, posts coming with what can only be described as Vashti Bunyan-like regularity. Forgive me. From now on I will be posting on a very regular basis, even if there is very little to say. I swear by almighty god that be it the last thing I do I shall turn this blog around and where once there was the sporadic and diverting there shall be the regular and tedious - I promise you, this geyser shall become a canal.