Wednesday, 30 July 2014
Saturday, 26 July 2014
Monty Python Live (mostly)
O2 Arena, London
Reviews of the earlier shows had been mixed, with the song and dance routines coming in for particular criticism. True, they did, perhaps, outstay their welcome and each routine took away stage time from the Pythons themselves, but within the context of an arena event they were largely excusable.
Elsewhere, the material was a fairly predictable set of ''greatest hits'' with the Pythons clearly enjoying the experience just as much as the rest of us. A detailed critical analysis would definitely reveal a significant number of flaws, but I found the best method was to simply sit back and enjoy the entertainment - warts and all.
Here's a few (mostly self-explanatory) photos from the memorable evening.
|''The Four Yorkshiremen'' - originally from 1967's At Last the 1948 Show|
|Showbizzy Eric Idle as Noel Coward|
|Song and dance! Mostly highlighting body parts and bodily functions|
|The late Graham Chapman made the occasional appearance on the big screens|
|Michael Palin and John Cleese performed various classic two-handers|
|''I wanted to be...''|
|The Bruces - including Eddie Izzard|
|Terry Jones, clearly reading a cue card. John Cleese took it off him!|
|No Python show is complete without some ''old women''|
|Flower arranging - Gumby style (Terry Gilliam!)|
|Two judges relax after a hard day's work|
|Tonight's celebrity blackmail victim - Mike Myers|
|''I wish to register a complaint!''|
|Long-time female Python performer Carol Cleveland|
Friday, 25 July 2014
London's brand new Museum of Comedy can be found at The Undercroft, St George's Church, Bloomsbury Way (near the British Museum).
The museum offers a very friendly welcome and an extremely relaxed atmosphere. The main room is absolutely packed with comedy memorabilia stretching back many decades.
A side room - The Cooper Room - is dedicated to all things Tommy Cooper. A big screen replays scenes from his shows and there are many photographs and authentic props to be seen.
|In the Cooper Room|
|Authentic Cooper prop.|
|Film Fun with Hancock and James|
|Max Miller's hat and jacket|
|The bear from Steptoe and Son|
|''There'll never be another, lady''|
|Part of comedy's rich heritage, from more innocent times|
Planning a visit? Head for the museum's website for further details.
Thursday, 24 July 2014
The Centenary of the First World War seemed as good a time as any to see War Horse, which has been on my list of things to do for a number of years.
New London Theatre
The horses are, famously, puppets, realised in such a way that the required suspension of disbelief takes no special effort.
Without spoiling the story for those who have yet to see the play, it is enough to say War Horse thoroughly deserves its tremendous reputation (it's far more than merely ''Lassie with horses'' as someone once described it to me) Just don't get too attached to any of the characters, human or otherwise.
For further information, head for the official War Horse website.
Staying with the First World War, I paid a visit to the Imperial War Museum to look at the brand new First World War Galleries.
The galleries are well worth a visit. Entry is free. I got there early and was in the first bunch of visitors but there was a queue for subsequent sessions (but it's worth the wait).
There are plenty of artifacts, lots of detailed visitor notes and even a recreation of a trench, complete with authentic machine gun noise and other sounds.
To round off the WW1 part of my London trip, I called in at the British Library to see their Enduring War: Grief, Grit and Humour exhibition.
My next museum trip, which will be highlighted tomorrow, was an altogether different experience...
Wednesday, 23 July 2014
1984Playhouse Theatre, London
Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan’s adaptation of George Orwell's 1984 delivers a new slant on the classic story.
A reading group, studying the text of Winston Smith's book, tries to determine the truth of the story. At certain moments, Winston is seen to bleed into their time zone and/or consciousness (and vice versa). Such a breaking of the fourth wall - from the internal narrative point of view - is taken a stage further later on, as Winston pleads with the real audience to help him as he is forced to confront his greatest fear - ravenous rats! - in Room 101.
Such a challenging of the perceptions of both characters and audience is a recurring theme throughout the play (which lasts, incidentally, 101 minutes - without an interval). Scenes are replayed, but with key differences; characters formerly present have been erased from history and narrative simultaneously. Flickering lights and obscure noises frequently distract the audience, who look again to find characters have somehow appeared on stage, literally in the blink of an eye.
We are left to try and distinguish between a number of different realities. What is real? What has been censored by an unseen hand? Can any of Winston's own story be trusted or is it all in his mind?
Some of the action on the stage is enhanced by large screens set against the backdrop, showing, for example, a close up of Winston writing things down and crossing them out in fear. The performance are all very strong but I particularly enjoyed Tim Dutton's portrayal of O'Brien, a study in composed menace (he would make a great No. 2 in The Prisoner).
The story of 1984 become more relevant as time goes by. Despite the warnings, we willingly rush headlong into our own compromised futures with every online click. Big Brother still needs you, but he doesn't need to work anywhere near as hard as he used to.
This version of 1984 simply demands attention. It is creative, thought provoking and extremely challenging. It's touring later in the year; keep an eye on the official website for further details.
Thursday, 17 July 2014
The top scorers from the internal school events qualify for the Megafinals. A score of four or more points from six games earns qualification to the Gigafinal.
The results of the Delancy Northern Gigafinal are now available.
Saturday results (up to the Under-10 section).
Sunday results (Under-11s to Under-18s).
The top scorers at the Gigafinals have qualified for the Terrafinal (and Terrafinal Plate competition), details of which can be found here.
Full details about the UK Chess Challenge can be found here.