Archive for the ‘Theatre’ Category

Hamlet – Almeida Theatre (20 March 2017)

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This is wonderful

And, not something I want to see at the Globe


Written by Tony Kiernan

21 March 2017 at 3:59 pm

Posted in London, Theatre

An Inspector Calls – The Playhouse Theatre (10 March 2017)

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Never seen or read this before. Dunno why. It’s obviously a damn good play. Odd decision in this production to invert the stranger-invasion trope to pulling people out of the drawing room to the world rather than bringing the world in. This type of piece doesn’t need meddled with

Written by Tony Kiernan

11 March 2017 at 11:46 am

Posted in London, Theatre

1984 – Playhouse Theatre (11 October 2016)

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Winston Smith has come unstuck in time.

Great ideas. Bad adaptation. You would really need to be familair with the text to even follow this

Or, is it because I am that I’m not ‘getting it’?

Written by Tony Kiernan

12 October 2016 at 9:45 am

Posted in London, Theatre

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The Merchant of Venice – The Globe (10 October 2016)

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Another day, another one of Shakespeare’s problematic texts at The Globe. Or, is it these days? Well, yes. It is. But, I don’t think anyone would even attempt a ‘straight’ take on this these days. Simply play Shylock the villain because he’s jewish. As a result, pretty much everyone lese in this seems like a complete git for pretty much all of it. (The director here even neatly adds a running joke about the women shunning the converted Jessica.)

Or would it be damning with faint praise this wonderfully nuanced take on this piece of anti-Semitism to not acknowledge the skill with which its handled? Perhaps even more deftly than the excellent Shrew earlier this year. And, done in proper hose. No fancy schmancy modern dress nonsense going on here.

My first time seeing Jonathan Pryce on the stage. You know what, he’s really very good. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what he’s doing that the others aren’t but you can see it. Majestic to behold.

Written by Tony Kiernan

11 October 2016 at 9:15 am

Posted in London, Shakespeare, Theatre

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August Support

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Desert Rats – The Arts Theatre (1 August 2016)

Studio theatre! I think this play is positioned somewhere between Mamet and McDonagh (Martin). I say ‘think’ because, although there seems to be definite styled/measured rhythm to the dialogue, no-one seems to have pointed this out to the cast. So, I don’t really feel I can comment on whether this was any good. At least textually. I am,however, a darned-sight sure it could’ve been a much better production.

It’s like watching someone do a cover version of a song that neither of you know. “I’m sure this shouldn’t go like that…”

Finding Dory

If you shall just a kids film by the amount of it that’s just in there for woooooooooo-3d!!! purpose, this gets about a 3.75/5. Which is a damn fine score. Just, too long and too much woooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.

Star Trek Beyond

Better than the last one. The bickering Bones and Spock stuff are good. It does kinda suffer from current 3D necessities of swirly pointy

Suicide Squad

The trailers were excellent. Watch those. The movie in your head is better than this. No, seriously it is.

The Shallows

Good jumpy, tense, sharky, b-movie tosh. 90 minutes BANG!

The greatest part of this is no exposition. We don’t need to be told about sharks. The heavy lifting was done by Spielberg. Part of the economic genius here. We only have to have THAT shot from below while someone paddles a surfboard for our tension to start to rise. Smart.

Jason Bourne

The Bourne franchise continues its fine tradition of diminishing returns. I must watch the first again some day.

Sunny Afternoon – Harold Pinter Theatre (8 August 2016)

Jukebox musical that actually tells the story of the band (The Kinks). Kind of. Who cares? The tunes are amazing and the dance routines tops. It left me finally getting round to listening to The Village Green Preservation Society. Which is also boss.

White – The Lexington (19 August 2016)

The Low Miffs were a spectacular Marxist-cabaret band. They wrote soaring, complex and clever tunes. Kassidy were a lumpy mess that aspired to the Counting-Crows definition of meaningful. For some reason, the remnants of both bands have for together to form White (dreadful name).

Yeah, everyone’s probably right; one-to-watch. They deliver an 80s inflected disco stomp type thing. Which often hits great heights. And, sometimes shows a tendency towards feet of clay ad gets all a bit U2. When it does work, it’s the conflict that’s part of the charm. They just need to reign in some of the workmanlike elements.

Annabella’s Bow Wow Wow/Ed Tudorpole – The Garage (20 August 2016)

Beginning to think I recognise half the audience at any ‘old punks’ gig in London these days. I’m sure I’m even on nodding terms with a few. Saw Ed Tudorpole at the Wickerman last time I went and thoroughly enjoyed him. So made the effort to get to this ludicrously early gig (10pm curfew) and catch him. Glad I did. Still entertaining. Still made me want to dig out the guitar. And Swords of a Thousand Men is still Swords of a Thousand Men, so all is well with the world.

I think there may be another touring band with some young upstart on vocals hence the need to define which version of the band this is. Although, why anyone would want to see a version that didn’t include Ms Lewin is beyond me. Her band of jobbing musos do a fairly sturdy job or approximating the sound. But, it’s her presence that adds all the fun to the proceedings. A good night, and home in bed by 11. Result!

Written by Tony Kiernan

01 September 2016 at 12:01 am

Posted in Film, Gigs, London, Music, Theatre

Tell me July

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Elvis & Nixon

Michael Shannon is great in this. Very few people can walk that line of damaged and psychotic without getting cartoony. Except, he’s not really Elvis.

Spacey is also excellent as Tricky. But, ultimately this says little about either man. Or the times. Or our times. And, isn’t funny enough to just be a ceraaaazy story you just won’t believe actually happened.

Diverting enough, though.

Penguin Cafe – Barbican (2 July 2016)

Love, love, love, love, love….

I believe this body of work will continue to grow in stature. It should be regarded shoulder-to-shoulder with Britten in the pantheon of British 20th century composers.

The Bookhouse Boys – The Moth Club (8 July 2016)

Never heard these guys before. Their’s is a sub-Devotchka, mariachi-lite kinda rock. It has some really great moments. Most of which when the singer-bloke isn’t singing. The audience of their fans are so excited that they’re playing again for the first time in years that they can’t keep their traps shut. necessitating a steady push closer to the stage to drown them out. Seems the Moth Club pa is not up to this task.

The Taming of the Shrew – Shakespeare’s Globe (9 July 2016)

Second visit. Groundling, where I belong. Again, questions of adaptation are foremost in my mind. In discussion with one of my theatrical chums, he summed up with the question of should this venue be a museum or a challenging theatre space. I must admit, I kinda lean towards the former. When you can go see the bard on motorbikes in a condemned chemical plant and weekend, it’d be nice to have somewhere that you could get a solid, traditional, take guaranteed.

Director Caroline Byrne, does not agree. Setting her version ‘on the eve’ of the Easter uprising, gives it a Peaky Blinders (actually, more O’Casey – but I’s trying to be relevant) aesthetic. Although, she does also manage to be redolent of Beckett (at his Marxist best) and The Quiet Man. (I don’t know enough about Joyce, but I’m sure he’s in there too.) In the Q&A that followed it was explained that following the rising, there was a declaration of equality of all Irish men and woman. (Something the members of the cast found still debatable.) So, the setting is theoretically the last days of the old patriarchy.

Soliloquy’s are delivered as laments. There’s some huge knock-about business. (In the Q&A one pompous ass asks if it was the director’s intention to drown out the text with such business.) But, ultimately, the strength of this production lies in how it handles the problems we should have with the text in this day and age. Instead of being beaten in to starry-eyed adoration as the text, Katherina finishes this version broken and abused. Giving her final speech from the perspective of goods and chattels, rendering the declaration of her husband as lord, life, keeper, head and sovereign a hollow bitter victory. It’s really nicely handled.

Pretty damn good production. I’m still not sure it’s what I want from the Globe.

Molly’s Plan

Either I’m getting old or this isn’t as painfully cute and smug as it really does appear to be. Great performances and a good few laughs. I enjoyed.

Although, will somebody think of the children!!

The Neon Bible

Latest NWR (as he appears to be known these days) movie is your usual tale of the vacuity of the modelling world and how it’s what’s on the inside that really matters.

I’m really not certain about it. Not sure if the style does win out over its lack of substance. However, it does have Keanu in it. And, we like him

Macbeth – Shakespeare’s Globe (19 July 2016)

Even the presence of the ever fragrant Tara Fitzgerald cannot save this blustering, shouty, grab-bag of ideas production. Meh.

Stalking the Boogeyman – Southwark Playhouse (21 July 2016)

Check me out and my regular theatre going!

Stalking the Boogeyman is an adaptation of a This American Life story, apparently. Which makes perfect sense. It has all the hallmarks of a one-acter from them. This is a good studio-theatre production. Intense and quite moving.

DOA – New Cross Inn (23 July 2016)

How many songs about World War III should your band have? Answer: n + 1, where n is the number you already have.

Great show. Awesome crowd. Cool night all in. AND, they finished with Full Metal Jack-off.


Yeah. Alright. Made me laugh quite a bit. Not as bad as could be feared, but not as astounding as could be hoped. Annoyingly, all the good Kate McKinnon bits were in the trailer.

Tempting Failure Day#5 – Hackney Showroom (25 July 2016)

Art happening type stuff. And of course, you just had to be there…

Oblivians – The Dome, Tufnell Park (27 July 2016)

Seems wrong to complain about the sound for a band as garagey. But, the kick-drum is stupid. And, I’m sure it’s not intentional. Despite that, this is an object lesson in what real elemental rock should be like. It’s pigging awsome.

Drummer Jack Oblivian gets a shot on the guitar for a good 15 minutes or so. Seems he’s a better player than the other two. So, it all starts to get a bit too swampy-blues; a bit too musical. Then he goes back where he belongs and it’s back to the primitive all the way.


Odd. Funny. Greek. Yup, think that covers it

Shilpa Ray – The Social (29 July 2013)

I’ve been keeping an eye out for Ms Ray hitting the UK since reading Mishka Shubaly‘s Beat The Devil in which he describes a rock-n-roll ball-of-fury and force-of-nature. Got to be worth a watch.

And, she’s good. What she’s doing now isn’t 100 miles from the stuff BTD were doing (in fact I recognise some tunes, so definitely doing stuff from previous bands). Of course, now seems like it could be the time for that (ie, the time of Calvi, Barnett, Olsen et al). It’s good. But, not amazing. Everything has that quality of being very nearly something else you just can’t put your finger on. It’s good. I’d see her again. It just doesn’t blow my socks off. Or even live up to the few scraps from previous ‘bands’ (some of which turns up tonight) I’ve listened to previously.

White Heath – George Tavern (30 July 2013)

Still looking a little uncomfortable in this new line-up. Still blummin’ majestic at points. Still convinced they’re going to be massive (in some way)

Written by Tony Kiernan

04 August 2016 at 12:01 am

Posted in 2016, Film, Gigs, London, Music, Theatre

June to lack of interest, July has been cancelled

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Robert Forster – Islington Assembly Rooms (1 June 2016)

Full band set this time. Some really brilliant stuff in there. When he encores Cattle and Cane, there isn’t a dry eye in the house

The Daughter

Aussie adaptation of Ibsen. The usual powerful men and their fragile egos shafting everything up for the women.

Rather dreamily put together. Maybe losing that as it hurtles towards the inevitable melodrama at the end. But it kept me with it all the way

Despite some of the most hilarious relapsing-drunk acting for some time

Blindness/Deux Furiesses – The Lexington (5 June 2016)

Album launch from the band whose name translates as 2 Angry Birds*.  And, they own it.  Best sound I’ve experienced in this venue.  Best performance I’ve seen of these songs.  Exemplary.

This will be Blindness‘ last ever gig. A lot of people seem sad about this. I can’t work out why.

Woolf/Teenage Caveman – DIY Space for London (10 JUne 2016)

Another day another album launch. The inclusion of Trash Kit on this bill is what sealed it for me. So, of course, someone changes the bill and I get there just as they finish.

Which means I get to see Teenage Caveman, who invariably are the band I miss due to their place on the bill. Slightly jaggy post-Evol punk. Will be intending to make the effort to catch them next time.

Saw about two songs by Woolf last year. Was intrigued. Which is mainly why this gig was on my radar. They were worth noting.

Album only on vinyl, so didn’t bother with it.

The Nice Guys

Alright, quite fun. It’s no Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Actually, it’s no Last Boy Scout either. Nor, The Long Kiss Goodnight. Or Lethal Weapon. Even Last Action Hero. It is better than Iron Man 3 though.

Richard Herring: Happy, Now? – Leicester Square Theatre (12 JUne 2016)

X-Men: Apocalypse

Seriously, how big must be the trucks that deliver the money to Lawrence and Fassbender’s gaffs? It certainly can’t be incriminating photos.

A View From Islington North – The Arts Theatre (15 June 2016)

A portmanteau play. 5 political satires from, well, the usual suspects really. None of them at the top of their game. This was half price offer. And, I’m genuinely thinking even then it was too dear.

Mark Ravenhill’s unsurprisingly sweary opening piece is about the best on offer here. Despite not really fulfilling the promise and having to crowbar some uncomfortable half-baked themes int it to get a conclusion, it makes you think this is going to be at worst an evening of interesting ideas.

By the time it gets to David Hare‘s 6th form fantasy of Gideon Osborne meeting his idol Randy Ayn. It’s embarrassing. Everyone involved should really take a good look at themselves.

The Supersuckers – O2 Islington Academy (17 June 2016)

Back on the road after Eddie Spaghetti‘s cancer. It’s a country set. I’m guessing because his voice isn’t back to full strength. But, it’s good to see him and know he’ll be back fully rocking next time. (Although, I am not sure about that new guitarist.)

Warcraft: The Beginning

Better than it has any right to be, really. More fun than the X-men film

The Secret Life of Pets

More fun than either of them. Another smashing kids movie. With the added bonus of a new Minions short beforehand.

When Marnie Was Here

Last ever Ghibli movie (boo!). It’s based on a book of the type the BBC used to put on all the time for kids and we were forced to watch because there were only three channels. (Yes! 3!! One more than two, and still less than 4!! You lot don’t know your born.) Except, it’s dead good. Hope it’s not really their last

Tale of Tales

Not really anything it should be. Neither dreamy or disturbing enough. But, glad I saw it.

Shows that Vincent Cassell has an excellent sense of comic timing, though.

Rick Redbeard – Awake Unto

More upbeat and poppier second offering. Just more upbeat. Damn fine, though

*I am so getting my arse kicked

Written by Tony Kiernan

01 July 2016 at 12:26 am

Posted in Film, Gigs, London, Music, Records, Theatre