Thursday, 29 March 2018

Julius Caesar : Bridge Theatre London

"I live my life in the city
There’s no easy way out
The day’s moving just too fast for me”
I don’t need to consult my copy of York Notes to tell the minstrels noisily belting out songs from the small platform at the centre of the slowly filling mini coliseum aren’t strictly quoting Bill S’s work.
They are on hand to rile up the holiday crowd to welcome Caesar, rattle the teeth of the more well healed populous in the seats, segueing from the Burnage boys via Katie Perry, Survivor and Twisted Sister’s ‘We’re Not Gonna Take It’. We boo as we are scolded for celebrating Caesar and forgetting Pompey before the great man enters the area like, well, a baseball hatted demagogue we all know so well. Flags are waved, chanting erupts as the crowd parts – the first of many times during the performance that we will be gently and sometimes speedily shifted as the hydraulic floor of the theatre creates rooms and platforms.
It goes without saying that the main cast are absolutely splendid, the steely resolve of Michelle Fairley’s Cassius moulded like a film noir assassin in persuading the conflicted Ben Wishaw to join their conspiracy. Adjoa Andoh’s Casca is wonderfully sassy and witty as she schemes, giving the lines a real kick and sense of sly fun.
With the promenade setup and constant movement you are never that far from any of the action, often close enough to touch which of course gives such immediacy and urgency to the play. The transitions where major set changes are performed are done so cleverly, not just resorting to blackout but using the space and standing audience effectively. Caesar, played with superb puffed up hubris by David Calder, appears before the senate after a huge flag has swept across the head of the mob allowing a throne room to appear.
His death (spoiler alert!) heralds the appearance of one seen only of the periphery til now, Marc Antony and David Morrissey is simply captivating as he plots and wheedles his way into the trust of the conspirators only to turn and betray them. Delivering those oh so familiar lines of the funeral scene with such conviction and emotion – you can see the slight madness in his eyes and uses the crowd gathered round him like a master orator.
The war brings, noise, thunder, strobes, dust, dirt and filth raining from the ceiling with a sense of confusion and desperation as we are hurled from place to place until, as it always is with Shakespeare – nearly everyone is dead.
Nicholas Hynter has created such a wonderful piece of art that could be appreciated by absolutely anyone. It is relatable, understandable and accessible as Shakespeare should be. It’s more than flash, tricks or gimmicks – it is popular entertainment performed with imagination by world class acting and production talent.

Friday, 23 March 2018

Julien Baker - Turn Out The Lights

This album opens with creaking floorboards as the artist approaches and ends with the closing of a piano lid to signify a conclusion. It is something that very much is of a piece and hard to separate and pick out songs from the atmosphere that has been created. The opening Over Appointments encapsulates the mood, of the internal battles that rage inside – ‘Maybe it’s all gonna turn out alright And I know that it’s not, but I have to believe that it is’
If this sounds very morose, depressing and more than a little self absorbed – well perhaps it is but god it’s like a cathartic wave crashing over you, hitting you hard and leaving you beached and alone. I saw Julien supporting Belle & Sebastian, knowing nothing beforehand and was captivated by his lyrics and the simple fragility of her playing. For me this album is as moving and intimate as others I hold close like Eels ‘Electro Shock Blues’ where a painful naked honesty is at work.
I’m not sure how it reflects on me that I identify so much with the feelings of a 21 year old gay Christian woman from Memphis but so many of the thoughts expressed here are ones that have occurred to me at 3am or jar me at odd moments during the day when I am trying to forget the bad stuff. You will notice how many times I have used “me” and “I” in this review and it is because it really has got under my skin and echoes through my bones.
So you wish you could find some way to help
Don’t be so hard on myself
So why is it easy for everyone else?
I’m not always like this
There’s always tomorrow I guess
The music we hold most dear is often that which mirrors our own feelings and experiences, the artists that that give you inspiration and open up a closing door and give voice to emotions we find hard or cannot share. This album chimes with me more than perhaps it would with a more comfortable or level headed person but there are basic human truths that we all share

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

Richard Herring's Leicester Square Theatre Podcast: Brian Blessed

You often read tales of the late Robin Williams turning up at comedy clubs, going on and sucking all energy and laughs out of an audience. Well I hadn’t witnessed that first hand until last night as Brian Blessed took over Richard's podcast. Many find Blessed an annoying bore – I am so not one of them.
Of course he came on and yelled “GORDON’S ALIVE!!!!”. Of course he swore more in the first 30 seconds than the whole of the Goodfellas script. Of course he told stories you had heard before but with such enthusiasm and energy it was like it were for the first time.
His tales, whether tall or true took in Picasso, General Zhukov, Paul Robeson, Peter O Toole, John Gielgud, randy gorillas, Patrick Stewart, Huw Weldon, going to Mars, Everest, nudity, all manner of bodily functions and parts. The man in in his eighties but seemed incapable of sitting still, preferring to act out his adventures. I think Richard may have got four questions asked in 90 minutes which Brian’s publicist later told him was more than anyone else so far on the book tour. He was more than happy to sit back with the rest of us and listen to Brian hold forth on all manner of subjects, tangents being taken and dropped at an alarming rate.
His passionate zest for life and his belief in the invention and goodness of humans was my abiding memory. When he spoke softly and earnestly about his hope in eh future generations to explore, to go further than the human race has gone before it was truly inspiring and you sensed his disappointment that he would not be there to experience it first hand.
But of course he ended with an impressive rendition of Pavarotti singing ‘ O Sole Mio’ - the audience are helpless  putty in his hands, rising to give the man a standing ovation
Ken Dodd died on the day of taping this podcast and the phrases “one off/last of his generation unique talent” were used and the same will be used for Brian when he leaves us. But as the man himself said “Death! I don’t believe in it – Death, go shove it up your arse”.
Oh Pippa Evans was the guest after that and was very funny and Rich actually got to ask her some questions which she answered

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

PODCAST - GLK London Calling The World #5: Ain't No Woman Like Yours

My fifth music podcast mix type show - an all female one in celebration of International Women's Day

  • 1
    Oi Bondage Up Yours by X-Ray Spex
  • 2Agony by The Muffs
  • 3Boy What'll You Do Then? by Denise
  • 4Decepticon by Le Tigre
  • 5The Town I Live In by Jackie Lee
  • 6Don't Say Nothin Bad About My Baby by The Cookies
  • 7I Miss You by Kimya Dawson
  • 8Fire by Kimya Dawson
  • 9Dar Du Gar Lamnnar Karleken Spar by Anni Frid Lyngstad
  • 10Ca Ne Tient Pas Debout by Les Dinns
  • 11Her Jazz by Huggy Bear
  • 12What A Way To Die by The Pleasure Seekers
  • 13Cool Schmool by Bratmobile
  • 14Hey Heartbreaker by Dream Wife
    • 15Sheela Na Gig (Peel Session) by PJ Harvey
    • 16Barb Wire by Nora Dean
    • 17Pinball Number Count by The Pointer Sisters
    • 18On & On by Gladys Knight & The Pips
    • 19Confide In Me by Kylie Minogue
    • 20Some OF Your Lovin' by Dusty Springfield
    • 21Down Along The Dixie Line by Gillian Welch
    • 22For Today I Am A Boy by The Unthanks
    • 23Gotta Get Up by Annie Nilsson
    • 24I Am A Lonesome Hobo by Julie Driscoll, Brian Auger & The Trinity
    • 25Your Time Is Gonna Come by Sandie Shaw
    • 26When Nothing Meant Less by Kathryn Williams
    • 27Scattered by Astrid Williamson
    • 28Ain't No Woman by Michele Stodart
    • 29Thank You For Hearing Me by Sinead O'Connor

    GLK London Calling The World #5