Archive | January, 2018

January 23rd.

23 Jan

Ok. If anyone tried to call me last evening or this morning I have tied up on both phones, literally been ‘helping the police with their enquiries’.
I had a call last night from two DCs who said they were from Hammersmith Police Station. They said my credit cards had been cloned and they told me the numbers on the cards. The call went on for about half an hour and I realised after a while that there was something strange about them. When we had a Hampstead Police Station, the guys were really friendly and chatty so I didn’t suspect anything with these except their diction was not as clear which I thought was a bit of a handicap for someone in their job. THEN –
They asked me to meet them at Charing Cross Station that night to take some Euros out of my account. Euros? I said ;You’re having a laugh and they said no, it was very important. I logged on to my bank account and found there was nothing untoward. I told them so. The told me that there was a spy at Lloyds Bank who was giving out secret information. I said there was no way I was going to go out at night. But they were very insistent – so was I. When they gave up on me they said they would call me this morning at 9.30.
So, I rang Lloyds Bank and told them all about it and they told me I should inform the met police immediately. I rang 101 and I used the mobile, keeping the bank on the land line. So I spoke to the Met and they were very interested. I told them that the guys were calling me the next morning at nine thirty and so they said there would be two police arriving at my address at nine o’clock. We had a password. Very cops and robbers.! .
In the meantime I got the bank to cancel my cards and send new ones and rang them again this morning to speak to a different person in order to check that this had happened.
Two jolly policemen arrived this morning and got all the details. It was good fun and they left after 9.30 cos the bloke hadn’t rung. He did rung just after they left the house. I chatted sweetly to him for a while in order to waste his time a little. He said I really had to go to the Bank this morning. then I told him that the policemen who came were very charming. – as if he had sent them. Of course he hung up immediately. I ran out and caught the two police guys who were sitting out side in their vehicle and told them what had happened. They were disappointed that they hadn’t had a chance to talk to the scammer. They rang me again from Kentish Town police station and gave me some more private codes to use while the investigation was going on.
Anyway I have no credit cards at the moment and my account has been blocked. Luckily I have lots of food and a small amount of cash to see me through. They have promised I shall get everything sorted by Friday.
I hope they catch those men. I thought it as well to tell you about it in case you have a similar call. Apparently they do this a lot. Impersonating a police officer is a serious crime and they need to be caught.🦋

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natural duty

23 Jan

At the Vaults – theatre well named The Pit, it is as bleak and comfortless as an air raid shelter and we sit on wooden benches expecting to hear the noises of war. But into this gloom ridden venue there enters a beautiful woman in a gorgeous dress of silver and sequins singing ‘I cant give you anything but love’ a perfect beginning to the kind of act she would have done for the soldiers during the war. Into the darkness a touch of glamour which was so needed

Exquisitely beautiful, intelligent, heartbreakingly tender, and full of anger about what has happened to her native Germany. Marlene’s story is like no other. She had been picked at an audition to play Blue Angel in the film . She gives a very funny impression of her audition, singing in a small high voice ‘You’re the cream in my coffee’ Never remembering more than the first few lines and repeating them over and over again. . Nevertheless she got the part, the film was a huge success, and she was soon on her way to Hollywood and eventually she chose to become and American citizen.

There are many jokes and funny scenes in this piece, but the actor brings out the tragedy of war in songs like Pete Seeger's 'Where have all the flowers gone' . She went out to fight with the GIs, energising and comforting them with her performances.

This is Marlene's story told by an incredibly talented young man who seems to have entered the heart of the Hollywood Icon. She was known mostly for her cabaret stylish ness and her recorded songs like 'Look Me Over Closely'. She is the master of jokey sex, known for years as The Glamorous Grandma having attained that stature in her early forties ,and lauded by people like Noel Coward and Cole Porter for her continuing youthful appearance.

But the glamorous image was, as she explains, something to please the people and had nothing to do with the reality of her personality. She is passionate, angry about the terrible waste of young men and she is funny, a typical German housewife, sweeping the stage so as not to dirty her pretty dress.

Peter Groom is a brilliant actor - this is no drag act, this is a real character performance. There is no condescension to womankind. He and his co writer Olivier Gully are privileged entrants into the soul of a legend. Bethany Pitts directs perfectly
.
The show is an experience and great to see a man playing a woman with the deepest respect, sympathy and feeling instead of as a joke.

It is only sixty minutes long and is absolutely riveting.

EAST

18 Jan

EAST *****
By Steven Berkoff
At the Kings Head Theatre
East is Berkoff’s classic play which first brought him to the consciousness of British theatregoers. It is a series of sketches about a white working class family and friends in the years between the second world war and the seventies when it was written. But this is a period piece which has enormous relevance today.
Bawdy, visceral and eventually heart breaking it is a stunning palate of characters who would all love to leave their somewhat Victorian life in the East End.
It begins with the five characters dressed in ambiguous period styles sitting in a row. They sing ‘My old Man said “follow the Van”’ a Music Hall comic song that deals secretly with the tragedy of homelessness and helps set up the hidden unhappiness of the characters. They cannot even sing together – all starting to sing at different stages in the song making a cacophony of sound.
Carol Arnopp, the musical director and piano player has chosen the music well. The war is still in the memories of the older characters. ‘There ‘ll; always be an England’ plays as the background of Dad’s angry speech as he rages against ‘stinking long nosed kikes’ in typical racist manner from one whose hero is Oswald Moseley.
Behind the unromantic love scenes, she is playing ‘If you were the only girl in the world’ for lovely Sylv being treated as a disposable sex object and Mum who longs for romance rather than with a belching farting husband in bed each night. Debra Penny as Mum tells us of her hilarious, secret affair with a stranger in a cinema. Sylv – beautifully and robustly played by Boadicea Ricketts, sings of her longing to be a bloke and have the kind of freedom that a man enjoys.
Les (Jack Condon) works in a shop selling cheap shirts and he treats both the shirts and the customers who buy them with equal loathing. He longs to have an experience with a girl who is not a slapper – like the one he meets on the 38 bus, but he hasn’t got the right verbals to chat her up. (He went to the British Museum but thought the Elgin marbles too heavy to half inch). Mike, played by James Craze is always ready to pull anything that comes along and longs for a Harley Davidson – his favourite sexual symbol.
The thing that stands out from the usual gritty East Enders type is the dialogue. Using Shakespearean rhyme – and many quotes from the Bard along with Cockney rhyming slang and a forest of four letter words, the lines work perfectly in accord with each other.
Jessica Lazar has directed her players so well. They have no inhibitions, some of the scenes are played in mime and even the scene where they clean away the rubbish, sweeping the floor and moving the furniture is absolutely fascinating to watch.
But it is the Berkoff style dialogue which exalts the play and elevates it into something rich and strange, poetic and utterly beautiful.

SIX

16 Jan

SIX ****
BY Toby Marlow and Lucy Moss
This terrific Feminist Rock musical is simply six girls with stunning voices singing about their characters. The ex wives of Henry 8th.
The show begins as each girl introduces herself with
Divorced, Beheaded, Died
Divorced, Beheaded, Survived.
These are strong women – just as they wouldn’t have been when they were under the thumb of the Gross Monarch. They all protest that he loved them – except of course for Ann of Cleves who he divorced as soon as he met her because she didn’t resemble the picture that Holbein had painted of her. But the part gives the super wonderful Genesis Lynea an enormous opportunity to set the world on fire with her great numbers. First of all The Germanic House of Holbein and then her big solo I’m the Queen of the Castle as she makes a happy life for herself without the love of the ‘Dirty Rascal’ as she calls His Majesty.
All the girls have super voices and all have a chance to shine. Renee Lamb sets the ball rolling as Catherine of Aragon who put up with all his mistresses until Anne Boleyn (Christina Modestou) who Henry married after that first divorce. Boleyn was probably the most famous of his wives but she could not produce a son and became number two ex wife when she was beheaded. ‘What is the cure for a broken heart?’ was the question ‘A severed head ‘ is the answer. Jayne Seymour (Natalie Paris) with whom he had a loving relationship – she got a ballad to sing – but she managed to produced a son, but dies in the process. Anne of Cleves came next, but she was unsuitable as her face didn’t fit. Katherine Howard was vry young and the King was pretty old and diseased. No wonder she looked elsewhere and got the chop. It was up to Catherine Parr (Izuka Hoyle) to be his final Queen and she stuck it out until he died and she survived.
The music by George Styles is a great part of the show and the girls all in modern dress sand up a storm. Lotte Wakeham as director and Cressida Carre as Choreography work the cast well. And they are highly musical.
My problem with the show is the sound in the Arts Theatre, which is not kind to the dialogue which I believe is quite witty, but is not heard very well at the back of the stalls. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I had been in a better position.
Apart from this, the girls don’t put a foot wrong. They deliver the Politics and the History Lesson with equal energy and the show is greeted with screams of delight by the mostly youthful audience.

HEARTBREAK HOUSE

12 Jan

Heartbreak House
By George Bernard Shaw
At the Union Theatre
Shaw calls this one of his Political Plays inspired by the works of the Russian dramatists. Heartbreak House represents the mood of Europe at the beginning of World War One. Captain Shotover, (James Horne) is a cantankerous owner of a large house which he has somehow remodelled into the bridge of a ship. He considers himself an inventor, is currently working on an antidote to Dynamite and keeps a load of it in a shed in his garden.
The Bohemian Aristocracy, who are living a life of indolence on money they don’t have to work for, indulge themselves in literature, the Arts and flirtations. The house is full of utterly charming people including Shotover’s daughter Hesione Hushabye (Helen Anker) who has invited to supper a young girl, Ellie (Lianne Harvey) who wants to marry Mangan (JP Turner), an elderly Industrialist. Hesione wants to dissuade the girl in her mercenary ambitions and even seems a little relieved when the girl admits her passion for Hesione’s own husband Hector. She explains that Ellie’s love for Hector is a waste of time. Hector (Mat Betteridge) is the kind of man who has to fascinate every woman he meets He is already flirting with her sister Ariadne who arrives with her dozy and ineffectual husband Lord Randal Utterwood. The final two members of the party are Ellie’s Dad who seems completely at home in the surroundings and a typical Shavian burglar.
My feeling about Phil Wilmott’s production is that the comedy in Act one is not exploited nearly enough. There is a lot of fun, many witty lines that somehow get overlooked. The actors seem a little too intense as if they have a foreknowledge of disaster. They should have no idea of what is going to happen to their cosy world. The second act is like a different play, as we start tomeet the characters individually and things happen. There is a charming scene between Shotover and Ellie which is played with sincerity. After this scene the whole cast seemed to settle down and act two works like a dream.
A fascinating play especially considering the political situations in which we find ourselves today.

BANANA MAN

3 Jan

BANANA MAN
Book music and lyrics by Leon Parris
The Banana man is the latest and most powerful but terminally stupid Superhero of all time. His alter ego is teenager, Eric Wimp who, though a brilliant scholar, is, like all clever kids, a timorous victim of all the bullies at school. Despite the bananas printed on his underpants, Eric has really no idea is that all he has to do is to eat a banana to effect his metamorphosis as a Superhero in order to save the world from Dastardly villains like Doctor Gloom and General Blight and the Mad Magician.
The two vilest of villains Gloom and Blight are the first to appear, Gloom disguised as a dustbin and Blight as a red post box. It is in these guises that they begin to formulate their evil plan to disrupt the good citizens of Acacia Road.
The cast in this show really enjoy themselves and Marc Pickering who plays Gloom rather like Karl Marx and Carl Mulllaney as Blight give extra special comedy performances. Their disguises are ridiculous. Gloom wears an enormous coat made of leaves and deceives successfully as a bush whereas Blight carries in front of him a life size cardboard cut- out nude from a health and efficiency magazine.
Mark Newnham is loveable as the poor beleaguered Eric and his lady love Fiona – a would be news reporter is funny and beautifully sung by Emma Ralston. Mrs Wimp, Eric’s mother who plies her son with imaginatively devised sandwiches is played by Lizzie Hills last seen at this venue in The Toxic Avenger. Jodi Jacobs plays Eric’s friend The Crow – the speaking Bird!! A very special mention for the light footed and horizontally unchallenged Chief O’Reilly played by TJ Lloyd. An ensemble is made up with Chris McGuigan, Amy Perry and Brian Gilligan who play all the rest.
But towering over them all in his blue and yellow superhero costume is Matthew McKenna a crazy satirical recreation of every daft Superhero we have ever seen..
This show is literally a giggle a minute, with great production values, Mark Perry directs, with Mike Leopold as designer and Mal Hall as musical director.
This is a brilliant fun production – gently leading us out of the pantomime season into something for slightly more grown up children. Unlike the aforesaid pantos, It manages to be a totally clean show and a wonderful sendup of all those Superheroes we read about in the Beano and Dandy.