KNICKERS KNACKERS KNOCKERS (or Othello at the National)

When I see the name Rory Kinnear…..

…….I invariable read it as Roy Kinnear…..

………who i then get mixed up with Roy Barraclough……

………..and so the only image I had in my head when approaching OTHELLO at the National Theatre was this….

my gran on the left

my gran on the left

….which really wasn’t at all helpful.

Still, while googling for this pic, I found out that Rory Kinear is actually the son of Roy Kinnear and I can now see the resemblance so I have learnt something.  And so have you…that my brain works in a very roundabout way.

This is going to be a very superficial review of OTHELLO as I’m in that sort of mood: a bullet point sort of mood.

  • Roy Kinnear, as well as looking like his dad, looks very like Ben Miller
Ben Miller, just to confuse Google Images

Ben Miller, just to confuse Google Images

  • You can’t get a bad seat at the National
  • Desdemona is a bit wet
  • Young boys will love this production as they will get a good glimpse of knickers and bum cheeks (pity I didn’t take you, Charlie!)

I never thought I’d say this but I’ve run out of bullet points after only four. I am ashamed of myself.

I had high hopes of this production. I really wanted to love it, especially as I’ve never seen OTHELLO before, but I felt a little deflated when walking out of the theatre. This is going to be a bit of a contentious view, but was Adrian Lester really up to the part?

He certainly has the stentorious voice for it and in the first half he has the presence too, but as Othello begins to wallow in the ‘green eyed custard’ (or some such) he loses his way. Admittedly, Shakespeare doesn’t help. The Moor’s fall from self-assured soldier and lover to self-consumed adolescent boy isn’t exactly even. One minute he’s all ‘I’m invincible, me’: the next ‘I just want to curl up and die…or kill Desdemona’.

By the time we get to the crucial scene, Lester, as well as Othello, has lost the plot. Or….ORRRRR….I missed something, and I’m always more than willing to admit that this may well be the case.

Les(ter)is Moor

Les(ter)is Moor

There was no coherence to his grief. I know this could be seen as a very clever acting ploy ie: there IS no coherence in grief, especially when coupled with madness and murder, but I just didn’t believe his performance. Admittedly I was being very VERY distracted by Desdemona flashing her very VERY tiny knickers while she thrashed around under her husband. I can usually ignore little distractions, but this was a bloody MASSIVE one! The kids under 15 in the audience giggled nervously: the kids over 15 did exactly the same. There was no getting around it. Imagine Lear railing against the wind with his bollocks hanging out of his loincloth. Yes, Olivia Vinall’s nether regions were THAT DISTRACTING. So you end up watching a woman being smothered to death and all you can think of is ‘I wish my bum looked like that’. Not good. And Desdemona is such a wet weekend in this production that you don’t feel as engaged as you should do in the first place. But back to basics. Set in Cyprus, in modern day battle dress (in the army and the boardroom), Hytner bows out of the National as he bowed in; with Lester in the lead. Running at 3 hours 20, this Othello jumps along. The set is all military base concrete, and bogs, and souless offices, and pin-up covered barrack rooms. People arrive to the buzz of helicopters, and guns are ubiquitous. We’re never told exactly what motivates Iago to be such a sod, apart from him thinking that Othello has been tupping his wife (played by the wonderful Lyndsey Marshal from ‘Garrow’s Law’ – which I loved!) but it’s all a bit woolly. Really, he’s just one of life’s bastards. He’s a real military lad in this production, a swaggering nasty festering piece of work, played perfectly by Kinnear who is the stand out. As to the supporting cast, I adored the Hooray Henriness of Tom Robertson’s hapless Roderigo, while Jonathan Bailey as Cassio radiated such an innocent goodness and wholesomeness that I wanted to take him home and feast on him.

OK ya

OK ya

Get in quick if you want tickets to this as the reviews have been pretty universally positive. I believe they’ve just released some more for the run’s summer continuation. I’d love to see it again, if anyone wants to take me. Go on, you know you really REALLY want to…..and we could do our own impressions of Cissie and Ada as we walked in! Now that’s my idea of fun! 



and you think we blag it!!

Overheard while waiting in the Box Office queue at the Theatre Royal Brighton yesterday, said by a smart looking woman:

Can I get a discount if I bring my rather famous friend to see Passion Play this week? *whispers* It’s Julie Walters

So I get flak from people when I ask if there are any discounts for disabled people, seeing as there are only a number of seats I can sit in comfortably in a theatre…..

….but bring along a famous, no doubt *rather rich* friend, and bob’s your sodding uncle.

So did the TheatreWallah fall for it? Course she didn’t. Although I was rather dismayed to hear her advise that she should contact the Theatre Royal Press Office to see what they could do.

Which has given me an idea…..



Orpheus (Charlie’s review)

Howdy all,

Hasn’t it been a long time since we last posted a blog?! This is because as mum explained she has had a few health issues including some fairly major operations in the past year and I have been focusing more on school and gaming and life really!

But we have returned after seeing a Little Bulb Theatre’s production of Orpheus at the Battersea Arts Centre (BAC) which was pretty good (although apparently according to mum this didn’t come across very much)!

The BAC is in the building of what used to be the old Croydon town hall which mum tells me has something to do with bees on the floor? Anyway it is currently being refurbished so there were wires dangling everywhere and it did smell of paint but that wasn’t the case once you got to the Grand Hall! From this point on the building became a 1930s music hall with what looked like a very expensive restaurant although I didn’t look at the prices! (mum: it wasn’t pricey at all you silly twerp)

There seemed to be toilets every 2 metres which I thought was strange for an old town hall and the seating wasn’t like a stereotypical theatre if you know what I mean but there were collapsible chairs up until a point where there were tables.

We got there quite early and before the auditorium was open so we decided to head back upstairs to the foyer and sit in the ‘waiting room’ as they called it. Of course we picked up some more pear juice and Ferrero Rocher on the way! When we got to the waiting room we discovered to people had stolen the comfy chairs so we sat down by a very old piano. And then it beg…..boy did I wish I had bought my earplugs! Yes that’s right, mum started playing chopsticks which would have been alright if 1) the piano was quieter and 2) she could play all of it not just half over and over again!

After about five minutes I had had enough and luckily the auditorium was open so I dragged her away from the piano and we went down the stairs. When we got in the auditorium we found two seats reserved in our name but we decided we wanted a table so ignored them and just sat where we wanted because it was choose where you sit anyway!

I sat down and got the coke out and got comfy. Then the lights went down and this lady came on and started introducing all the singers/musicians. First there were three ladies who played Double Bass, Accordion and Violin. Then came the drummer and either Oboe or Clarinet player and finally the star, Dominic Conway playing Django Reinhardt who played the guitar.

At first they just played some music and then all ran off to get ready for the first two acts of the show. To be honest I didn’t really understand the show and didn’t really find it very funny but I sort of just about grasped it. After the interval they all went back to their instruments and played some more music but this time they had a bar open and people where chatting and on their phones and it was very informal but the music was very lively and literally got my feet tapping (although that’s not hard because I am a musician myself I suppose)!

Then the atmosphere changed completely and a man came on and played the fully restored original organ. There was scary lighting and music and costumes and then a man came on and sang in a really high voice which even I have to admit stole the show! The second half was easier to understand but I still didn’t find it very funny, just slightly creepy.

Then it all finished and they came and took their bows and did a couple of curtain calls. This is when I realised that whenever the curtains closed, which was quite often for this show, they made a tap sound because they didn’t have the best of tracks to go along. Anyway we got out and took a photo of the bees in the foyer and got some fresh air. The station was only five minutes away so I said I couldn’t be assed to wait for a bus and we walked back, and then arrived on the station just as the train rolled in! It couldn’t have been more perfect apart from when we got to haywards heath we had to walk from one end of the platform to the other to get to the lift and then walk up the stairs to the car because the two disabled bays right outside the station had been taken when we arrived.

Overall I did enjoy myself and have to admit the music was brilliant, and boy was my bed nice to slip into when we got back!





Many apologies for not writing this blog for bloody ever but as usual I’ve had health problems, and Charlie’s getting older and getting interested in other things (including girlies)….

We’ve been up to bits and bobs, including going to lots of theatres (including surgical ones) and last night we had the opportunity to go to the opening night of ORPHEUS at the Battersea Arts Centre (BAC).

Never having been to BAC, I was just as interested in seeing the building as the performance, and I wasn’t disappointed. What a gem! The first thing that hits you when you enter the former Town Hall is the fantastic floor mosaic, covered with

8656692466_67f8717940_bbees. I asked what the significance was and was told tentatively that they represented the town hall workers.

Built in 1893 by Edward Mountford, BAC has had changing fortunes in the past few decades and has had to be rescued from demolition more than once, including in the 70s, that horrible ten years when we seemed to want to tear everything down and start anew with tons of concrete.

The building still has a feel of municipality about it, plus a pleasing tattiness embellished with some surprisingly opulent strokes such as the mosiacs, the late Victorian statues dotted around (complete with sellotape marks all over them), and the lovely stained glass dome.

I’ve got to admit I was captivated before the performance even began.

Themed French food was available at the bar (mostly cheese and onion soup), but as we’d won the tickets through Twitter we were treated to endless Ferrero Rocher, presumably because we were amabassadors for the play. Ho ho. Well, anyway, I ate my bodyweight in them seeing as they were there.

And so to the performance….

I’ve got to admit to not being very aquainted with the story of ORPHEUS apart from the very barest of bones, and was a bit wary when I found out that the story was mostly told through music but I needn’t have worried. All was self-explanatory.

LITTLE BULB (who are based in my old college town of Farnham) told the tale with verve and humour and an ecclectic mix of music, all rooted in 1930s France.

Eugenie Pastor hammed it up Piaf-stylee wonderfully, chansoning her way through the duel roles of nasal narrator Yvette Pepin, herself playing ingenue Eurydice, while Dominic Conway played Django Reinhardt playing Orpheus with a deadpan suaveness that had him striding purposefully across the stage when not masterfully strumming a variety of guitars.

But it was the supporting cast who almost stole the show. The Triplettes de l’Antiquite are three girlies who can really belt out a tune as well as prance about as a very effective chorus and play a startling array of instruments including, helpfully for this Gallic-flavoured outing, an accordion.

The two boys act as stage hands, musicians (drum and clarinette)and actors, and in the second act we see Tom Penn really, properly steal the show with a marvellously surprising and very tender song sung in the persona of Persephone. That such a sweet and clear voice appears from such a masculine looking bloke is the real revelation of the show and by keeping his turn to one song made it all the more effective.

I really couldn’t fault this show. Even when Pastor went a little bit off key occasionally, it only added to the charm. Oh, and I nearly forgot the other surprise of the second half: a very droll Charles, Master of the Keys, scaring us all witless with Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D Minor played on the building’s original re-furbished organ, complete with Phantom of the Opera lighting.

Little Bulb steered their way expertly through this classical story, using humour with a light brush, while never letting go of the inherent tragedy of the tale. The company have a long standing relationship with BAC and I can’t wait to see the next production from this, my new favourite theatre group in this, my new favourite London theatre.

je ne regrette rien

je ne regrette rien

Just incase you were wondering, I’ve no bloody idea what Charlie thought of it as he’s now 14 and ‘above all this’. When will he stop it. Just stop it. He’s driving me nuts….

And talking about being driven nuts, why is there always one ‘preemptive laugher’ and why do they always sit behind me? By that I mean someone who thinks something funny is about to happen so laughs BEFORE it has happened. And 95% of the time, nothing THAT funny DOES happen, so they’re left having guffawed at, at best, a minor comedy moment, at worst, a serious bit. And do they learn? Oh no they don’t.

It makes me wonder why they go to see anything at all if they think they know what’s going to happen before it happens. They may as well sit in their own living room making a little play up in their head while chortling along to it. And I wish they bloody well would….

The journey back was as easy as pie: easier if fact than going into London proper, as we only needed to walk five minutes to be back at Clapham Junction. I think we’ll certainly be back there again.

i'm 14 you know. i have a girlfriend. i'm above all this

i’m 14 you know. i have a girlfriend. i’m above all this



what we’ve been doing, just to keep up!

Hello all,

Haven’t been blogging because have been too busy, but here’s a sample of the things we’ve been up to:

==== Val and I went to the royal premiere of Disney’s AFRICAN CATS which was a marvellously dull film which was a little livened up by WILLIAM & KATE being there. We sat in the front row and they were a few rows behind. Val won this one so much kudos and thanks to her!

Actually, the most excitement was provided by a mouse. But I shall let Val tell THAT story herself!

==== It’s been a week of trotting round the GLOBEfor me. It was a place of mystery to me last week but has been a home from home this. I’ve seen Measure for Measure in Russian and Cymbeline in Urba Arabic (i think). Tomorrow is Richard II in Palestinian, and Sunday is Othello in Hip Hop (apparently that’s another language!)

I have sat in the Gentlemen’s Box throughout so have had a good bit of room to stretch out. It’s been lovely to just sit back and let it all wash over me, not understanding a word….

=== Last week we went to a preview of TOP HAT which was very feelgood but did feel a touch provincial in it’s leading man, lighting and sets. Still enjoyed it though. I mean, how can you not with such wonderful numbers….

=== Speaking of which, I managed to win some front row tix to SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN so we went to see it agsin. ‘I know we won’t enjoy it as much as the first time,’ said Pessimistic Charlie, channeling Grandma, but it turned out we enjoyed it MORE second time around. And there’s not many shows you can say that about.

=== This morning we had a much needed lie in…or rather, I did. Charlie apparently woke up with the usual alarm and spent the morning reading. At four we set off for the Lyric Hammersmith. At 7.40pm we arrived at the Lyric Hammersmith, after a signal failure on the tube and a very long bus journey. Five minutes to spare. Phew.

We saw THE CHAIR PLAYS by EDWARD BOND. Well, we saw the first of three. We sat through one but therealised that if we sat through the next we’d be hard pushed to get our train. So after watching 55 mins of theatre we headed home. Was it worth it? Only just. I was pretty baffled by it. I really tried to see some meaning in it but if there was any it was pretty well hidden. Having said that, we sat in the front row of a studio style set up so the actors were practically sitting on our laps so we couldn’t really fail to be thrilled by that.

We also had the very playwright, BOND himself, sitting at the next table along from us in the cafe at the interval….which made me feel all the more guilty for missing the second half….

That’s a little taster of what we’ve been up to. Oh, Val and I also mixed with many a Page 3 girl at the premiere and after party of ‘STRIPPERS V WEREWOLVES’ and they turned out to be a very lovely, friendly bunch indeed!

I could go on, but I need some kip. Tomorrow it’s back to the GLOBE for that Dick II and then a lecture and performance at the BRITISH LIBRARY on how Shakespeare’s work would have been pronounced contemporarily….and we’re equally busy on Saturday and Sunday.

I sure as hell am making the most of my time before the dreaded operation on the 18th. I shall then be a virtual prisoner in our bunga for at least two months, in a lot of pain and feeling like I’m missing out on EVERY BLOODY THING that’s happening:-(


(p.s. I’m writing this on a new app in the old iPad, so it may well come out all funny as I’ve no idea how to make it do ‘things and stuff’….)


Of course, it’s the one I won this week!

I’m no great sports fan, but I’m of the opinion that you should try everything once, then either tick it off your list or carry on doing it.

Polo was one of the things I’d never tried, so when I won the ‘ULTRA VIP GAUCHO POLO EXPERIENCE’ through I was pretty happy. But the bit that got me happiest wasn’t the ‘polo’ bit but the ‘ULTRA VIP’ bit. Yay! I could do with a bit of VIPing, I said to myself. And I’m sure a friend wouldn’t turn it down either.

First I asked James if he’d like to come. Then Cathy showed an interest. So I let them slug it out amongst themselves and Cathy came up trumps (with both of us owing James one…)

Next I looked it up on the official site, and saw that we must be getting the hospitality package as in the comps T&Cs it had mentioned an exclusive champagne reception and a meet and greet with the players, not to mention ‘the best seats available’.

So I phoned Natalie at 1883 mag and asked if there would be food. She said she’d find out and get back to me which she did, via email, only now our prize was looking a little less VIP and a bit more bog standard General Entry. For a start, our package started at 5.30pm, so how could we enjoy the champers reception and meet and greet which took place at 3.30pm?

Both Cathy and I queried this but were told that the champers reception was at 5.30pm, as was the meet and greet. We couldn’t get much else out of Natalie, so decided we had no option but to get there at her appointed time and see what happened.

What happened was that we managed to get the tickets from a stroppy Gaucho PR woman who obviously thought competition winners slime in comparison to the VIPs she had on her other list. We were given two writstbands each, one red, one blue, and were told in a garbled fashion what they gave us entry to. There appeared to be a before show reception happening in the IndigoO2 which we could get into, and two after show parties in different places, but we couldn’t understand which one we could get into, nor why there were two.

So off to the before show party we went. ‘This must be the champagne reception,’ Cathy said carefully, realising by now that not everything was as it had appeared in the T&Cs of the competition. And sure enough, it was. £12 a glass. Oh yes. £12.

Now, I’m no VIP expert, but I would imagine that it’s very very rare for a VIP to have to actually pay for their drinks. And hang on, weren’t we ULTRA VIPs!!?? Cathy looked at me: I looked at Cathy. She scooted off and came back accompanied by a poor PR girl who didn’t know what she was doing. To her credit she did manage to wangle us two free glasses, but that’s hardly the point. This was turning out to be less ‘VIP’ and more ‘begging pleb’ which is so not a good look.

To me, a ‘meet and greet’ is just that: you meet the star, and you greet them (and they SHOULD greet you back if you’re lucky). So where was the person who was going to introduce us to the polo players? Oh, silly me, there was NO ONE. Come to that, where were the players?!

The main problem with this VIP prize was that we’d missed the structured bit of the day, the formal reception and the meet & greet, because 1883 magazine had misrepresented the prize on offer. Either that, or they just hadn’t done their homework.

I think it went a bit like this:

1883: ‘Hi Gaucho Polo, any chance of some prizes to give away in our magazine?’

Gaucho: ‘Yes, no probs, you can have three sets of VIP tickets’

1883: ‘Oh goody, I’ll just write it up now’

The missing link? The question ‘What is a VIP ticket?’

I phone up, asking about food and telling them I’m veggie. 1883 panic a little.

1883: ‘Gaucho? You know those VIP tickets? What do they actually entail?

Gaucho: ‘Well, obviously they’re not the £200 hospitality jobbies, we’re not that stupid, but just the bog standard general admission tickets. Why, did I say VIP when we spoke?

1883: ‘Well, yes you did, but never mind, I’ll fob her off with something. Ciao!’

Gaucho: ‘Ciao! Mwah mwah’

So, without even a sniff of a polo player (which is what Cathy very much wanted, the perv), we headed up to our ‘best seats in the house’. You’ve guessed it: back row (I’d say they were definitely the £20 seats as opposed to the £65 ones).

This is where the O2 stepped in, in the shape of Venue Manager Judith, and apologized for the state of our evening. She was lovely, and apologetic (‘We don’t like this sort of thing happening as it reflects badly on the O2’) but there was little she could do to help as we’d already missed all the bloody good bits of the day.

horses! running!

Resigned to our plebeian fate, we sat down to watch the horses running. This was when Cathy got excited and I started eating all the chocolate I could find in my bag.

I just can’t get excited about sport. I’m sorry, but I can’t. It’s peeps on horses chasing a ball until the ball gets put in a specific little place. Again and again and again. But Cathy loved it.

After the first game I decided to leave as I was feeling a) a bit ill from eating all the chocs b) bored cos of the horses running and c) pissed off that our ULTRA VIP outing had turned into a rather ordinary night at the O2.

Cathy stayed and went to BOTH the after parties but left after 10 minutes as they were apparently rather dull (although, to be fair, any party is dull if you’re on your own and you have to pay for your own drinks).

We never did find out what the blue wristbands were for. The red one was to get us in to the before and after parties, but no one had even SEEN a blue one before so that was a darned mystery. For all we knew it could have meant ‘This wristband entitles you to line up all the fit polo players and then chose which ones you want to take home for the night.’ So Cathy might have missed out there…..

cathy, thinking what her blue wristband might have meant....

I am, frankly, very disappointed with

Let’s look at the blurb:

‘winners will each win 2x exclusive VIP tickets to the event where guests will be able to enjoy an exclusive champagne reception, meet and greet the players, watch the matches from the best seats available and have access to the Wine Tasting Village and White Jeans after party’

What does ‘exclusive’ mean? What does VIP mean? Obviously they mean nothing. I suppose it makes no mention of the champagne reception being free, but when the sentence is peppered with ‘exclusive’ and ‘VIP’ then I don’t think I’m being out of order when I say I don’t think they should have made us pay.

‘The best seats available’ was a downright lie.

General Admission tickets got you access to the wine tasting village. I say ‘village’. Where do they get the people who think these things up??? Village?? I saw no dog walkers or cricket being played on a green!! It was a bit of the outer ring of the O2 (where you walk to get to your seats) that was cordoned off and where you had to lay down a fiver deposit for a glass to taste some wines from peeps at tables. Village. Some PR people should just be shot….

Yes, we had access to the after party, where you had to pay for your drinks.

Now, the very last of the T&Cs of this VIP competition says ‘The winner may be required to participate in publicity’ so I am at least doing my bit towards that, which is more than can be said for ‘s participation in making sure that if they offer a competition the winner gets the prize advertised.


Barsoom’s ruled at the John Carter premiere a couple of nights ago at the BFI. I mean, look at these!

phnar phnar

No, actually Barsoom is the planet that JOHN CARTER (he of the film) finds himself on, meeting and falling in love with the above bazookas. And Charlie didn’t want to come to the premiere, thus missing them…

Val was going to the prem anyway to sit in the crip pit and hopefully meet Willem Defoe, but as I won tickets I said I’d go to.

I watched the trailer and to be frank the film looked awful, all a bit boy’s own for me, but I thought it an excuse to meet up with Val and also to go to Westminter Abbey in the day, which I did.

I blagged my way into the Abbey for free saying I was coming to worship. Worship who or what I didn’t specify, but it worked and saved me £16.

SIXTEEN QUID!!!? To go in a church!!!?? That does seem a bit steep to me. On the plus side, you can spend £30 (concs) and go in it for a whole year!!! Or you could just blag it.

I looked closely at the FAQs on their website which revealed ‘We will NEVER charge you for worshipping,’ so I printed it out just to be on the safe side. I was, I’m afraid, prepared to argue the toss as I think that entry fees to all churches should be voluntary.

They’ve thought through this loophole though. If you say you just want to worship, they send you to the west entrance to the abbey where you can sit in the bit where the Unknown Warrior is buried, but you can’t go into the main part of the church as there’s a bloke checking on the door. Sneaky. Well, I say you can’t, but you can of course always be SPECIFIC in your worship and say you MUST, simply MUST worship at the tomb of Edward the Confessor. Not only do they then let you in, they let you up to the heart of the church which, due to its fragility, is shut off from the main footfall of visitors. I will try this one next time.

Looking round took much longer than I imagined and it was soon time to shoot off to the South Bank to meet up with Valerie and her magic wheelchair.

I sat outside the National Theatre trying to squeeze a decent cup of tea out of a teabag until I gave up and went back for a backup bag. “Oh I’m not surprised,” said girly, “They take ages to brew, these do.” By which time my tea was cold…..

We sat outside in the crip pit, meeting up with James as usual and were treated to a bit of entertainment – a few blokes doing somersaults on those springy stilt thingies. Half way impressive, but only half.

Soon it was time to toddle in and take our seats. I grabbed a seat in the middle of the cinema (which wasn’t strictly mine to take) while Val stuck to the one she’d been given. This served her well when the cast came in to do their usual intro to the film. She managed to grab Willem Dafoe and gave him a few cuddles while his wife struggled with Val’s new camera and failed three times to take a photo of them both. Not a decent photo, mind, ANY sort of photo. So no evidence at all that Val managed to add another celeb bottom pat to her already impressive tally….