Monday, 27 December 2010

Hansel and Gretel

I'm really sad to say that i was terribly disappointed by Kneehigh's production of Hansel and Gretel at the Southbank. I'm a huge fan of the Cornish theatre company, whose inventively interpretative productions of plays including Brief Encounter and A Matter of Life and Death have captured my heart and imagination in a way like few other plays over the last few years. Perhaps it was because this was most definitely for children, perhaps because i secretly wanted to be at a Christmas party across town, who knows, but the songs failed to excite and the story never seemed scaled the heights of innovative daring and surprise i was expecting, acrobatically flying between the familiar and fantastical with gravity-defying elegance as with former productions i've seen. I kept thinking it should have been like Told by an Idiot's production of Michel Faber's short story The Fahrenheit Twins, weird, wonderful, funny and deliciously dark, but it wasn't. sitting somewhere between awkward and deflating instead.

Still, i've booked tickets for Kneehigh's adaptation of Powell and Pressburger's classic film The Red Shoes, starring Moira Shearer, about a fatally passionate ballet dancer, which opens at the BAC in March. so fingers crossed that'll more than make up for this disappointment.

Broken Hearts

I literally can't stop listening to these Broken Hearts covers of songs. LOVE them. i want to be in the videos, clad in neo-burlesque finery with a heart shaped bob.  

Naughtily Black XS

There is a very particular significance to my liking this video. the end. 

Friday, 10 December 2010

James Turrell

Sustaining Light, 2007
Wood, computerized neon setting, glass piece
Aperture: 62 1/4 x 46 1/2 inches (158.1 x 118.1 cm)

Everyone's been talking about the James Turrell exhibition at the Gagosian Gallery, getting all giddy with excitement in their explaining of it. I can now understand why.  It's incredible. Today, the last day,  through nothing short of a gloriously unexpected miracle (given how many times i've tried to book a slot) i managed  to get one of the coveted spots in Bindu Shards (2010), the immersive light installation experience. You enter the lunar-esque space pod (below) like it was an MRI scanner - flat on your back and slid in by the 'laboratory assistants' who ask if you'd like the hard of soft experience. i went for the invigoratingly hard as oppose to the blissed out soft experience, which they informed me meant being surrounded by coloured strobe lighting effects. The experience, which lasted about 10 minutes, and which you do all alone, is a bit like being inside a piece of op art - a Bridget Riley, say - or like wandering round a technicolour, throbbing M.C.Escher print crossed with Antony Gormley's Blind Light. Patterns of colour converge and diverge around you. it's wholly enveloping, like being at the epicentre of a kaleidoscope. the colours which flash seem not so much to be around you as within you - inside your eyes. it's not really like seeing. it's like being. being transformed into light that has shape and pattern and a perspective that pulsates rather than being visible upon a surface. It is one of the most extraordinary experiences i've ever had.

 James Turrell, Gagosian Gallery

The Animals and Children Took to the Streets

I'm not sure what it would be like to be in a graphic novel, as in to actually see events unfold in 2D animated life, but i imagine it'd be something like 1927's production of The Animals and Children Took to the Streets at the BAC. the story concerns an insalubrious, dilapidated, cockroach and weirdo ridden tenement block staffed by a melancholic caretaker, called the Bayou Mansions. We learn that residents include "a 21 year old... granny" and "a man with a horse... as a room-mate". it's all about unexpected twists, as we learn from these statements, which are delivered with a suspenseful pause midway through so as to turn the ordinary into the extraordinary. Renegade child vagabonds terrorise the building; theft, larceny, peddling of illegal wares and prostitution are the local trade. the area is in the Mayor's blind spot. but not for long. Into this condemned malaise enter Agnes and Evie Eaves who come to help transform the fates of the children with Blue Peter-esque gung ho. They have no idea what they are getting themselves into... What unfurls is a sardonic satire on fairytales, morality, heroism, adventure, love stories and moral triumph. Here happy endings are uncertain and good may not necessarily win out. if that is to make it sound depressing at all, be sure that it isn't. it's caprivatingly magical, hilarious and pacey. but for the opposite reasons you'd expect.

The production is part animation, part cabaret, part theatre, part art creation, part silent cinema and part macabre fairytale that confounds expectation with droll chutzpah, fizzes with deadpan black humour and is brought to life through screen projections which provide scenery, supporting characters and soviet-esque printed script revelations. Its deliciously dark magic is completely enchanting, the songs are witty, funny and utterly original. i've never seen anything like it. but i hope to again.

see a teaser for what to expect here

The Animals and Children Took to the Streets by 1927 at The Battersea Arts Centre, £16, running until January 08, 2011 7.30pm & 3pm.

House of Voltaire... Miu Miu... Fistful of Mercy

Last Friday night was rather a bizarre evening as I ran around town to events which couldn't have been less connected to one another. Still, they were all wonderful in their own way.

First up was a trip to House of Voltaire, a pop up shop run by contemporary arts organisation Studio Voltaire above Rupert Sanderson's shop on Bruton Place, in Mayfair which sells affordable contemporary art by names including Ryan Gander and Linder. I've been there several times since it opened in November and there's an ever changing selection of amazing prints and print collections, plus various art objects (bags, a suit made from fabric which looks like bricks, dog bowls, tea towels - all designed by artists). Every time i've been i've loved the Richard Nicoll and Linder collaborations, including this bandanna.
Next up, I nipped just round the corner to meet the delectable Sophie de Rosee and head to the opening of the new Miu Miu shop on the corner of Bond street, a visual treat if ever there was one, and i don't just mean the juicily coloured patent bags, glittery vertiginous heels, and apple and heart print shirts, dresses, earrings and belts (as modelled below)... literally I've never seen such HOT WAITERS. it was enormously distracting. in a good way, obviously. they even took attention away from the array of stars who rocked up - from Harry Potter kids to Jessica Alba,  ChloĆ« Grace Moretz (A.K.A Hit Girl) and the glitterati of the fashion and design worlds - Katie Grand, Tom Dixon (and pup) et al.  Prior questioning and research into the proliferation of similarly dishy waiters at glitzy fashion and art events reveals that apparently there are waitering agencies where the higher your hire fee, the hotter the hands who help. literally. Good to know.

Finally i ended up in Koko to see Fistful of Mercy, a band comprised of Dhani Harrison, Ben Harper and Joseph Arthur. Their troubled emotional rock tinged with a soulful country flavour and mellifluous, yearning vocals strangely rather makes one want to be heartbroken the intensity is so all-consuming - hardly surprising given that more often than not there are 3 acoustic guitars and 3 male harmonies thrown in to the mix.  I love the title track Fistful of Mercy as well as  Things Go Around.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Janelle Monae

I went to see Janelle Monae at the Shepherd's Bush Empire on Sunday. She's completely incredible - lungs like bellows and a natty sartorial style - she's a monochromatic, sexy, pixie-like teddyboy-tomboy, with a quiff to die for and super cute dance moves. She's playing at The Roundhouse in March. The song Tightrope rocks big time.

Moustaches to take home...

I don't seem to be getting bored of my moustache obsession. in fact it seems to be growing. some things which have caught my eye...

A Field Guide to Typestaches, $24 Etsy (+$8.50)

Moustache Hip Flask, £14 Urban Outfitters

Moustache Mugs, £16.95 Pedlar's

Cushion cover, £49, le Cerise sur le Gateau, Lifestyle Bazaar

Moustache Tumblers, £16.99, Peter Ibruegger

The Windows of French Connection (thanks Laura x)

Thursday, 2 December 2010

A Dog's Heart

Hmmm. where to start when trying to describe the Complicite/ENO collaborative adaptation of Bulgakov's story, A Dog's Heart? Frankenstein meets War Horse meets Quentin Crisp's Gothic fantasy Chog? possibly. Frankenstein because it's a Gothic fable that sees the scientific creation of a monster symbolising the proletariat (more or less), War Horse because the eponymous dog is a puppet manually operated by 3-4 puppetmasters, and Chog because it's a seriously disturbing tale involving a weird dog/man hybrid. 

In short, it's a deliciously dark Soviet political polemic that sees a stray dog fall prey to the scientific experimentation of a bourgeois intellectual doctor who swaps the dog's testicles and pituitary gland for those of a recently deceased man. the experiment is the 'natural' continuation of the doctor's commercial practice involving human/animal transplants  - whereby he gives men dogs' genitals to make them virile, and women monkeys' uteri to repair the ravages of sexual promiscuity. After this latest transplant, however, the dog actually physically transforms into a man - and proves himself to be the worst combination of man and beast. But he is readily embraced by the soviet authorities, who award him a government post, despite his sexually rapacious tendencies, scatological nature, and permanent state of inebriation. havoc ensues. After he denounces the doctor to the authorities (amongst other things) the doctor forcibly restrains him and reverses the procedure - but the damage is done.

All that and it's an opera. But not any old opera, no, no; one whose foundations are dissonant chords, cacophonous clashes, and dog howling sopranos. no joke. set to the jarring, jagged score is contemporary dialogue - abrasive, course, witty - at times hilarious, even - poignant and curious.

It is, quite simply, brilliant. Shocking, arresting and thought-provoking obviously, but also so cleverly realised - from the delicate precision of the puppetry and the ingenious deployment of numerous projections which blast out messages in soviet font, to the use of silhouette, and gory, gory on-stage antics (blood, there's rivers of it). It's also funny, very funny (with a libretto which includes 'fuck you, motherfucker' you'd be hard pressed to remain po-faced).

After the MASSIVE disappointment that saw ENO collaborate with promenade theatre kings Punchdrunk, on The Duchess of Malfi, in a vast disused warehouse space somewhere at the end of the Dockland's Light Railway during the summer (completely non-sensical and a bizarre re-apportioning of dramatic focus to completely irrelevant themes) i was apprehensive, but this production brought all the experimentation, courage, chutzpah and energy of Complicite to opera without sacrificing its integrity. AMAZING.