Friday, 28 January 2011

Lanvin playing cards

 Whilst on James' blog (see below), i saw these incredibly cool Lanvin playing cards.
$85 maybe, but Ace none the less.

James Lambert: Look and Learn

James Lambert's video art installation at Sketch on Conduit Street is awesome. Kind of like David Shrigley on an acid trip; simple little bird like creatures (drawn in a 1970s-esque block colour palette of mauve, orange and black), dance, bob about and busy themselves to a schizophrenic but seriously fun soundtrack (at least that's what i heard when i was in there)  in a video collage of individual scenes that are projected on  to the top rim of the walls - a bit like an oversize cornice. super cool.

Look and Learn @ Sketch is on until14th Feb.

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Twelfth Night

Hmmm. wasn't sure about this at all. Directed by the amazing Sir Peter Hall  and starring his daughter, the beautiful Rebecca Hall, it had so much promise, but was, sadly, only a so-so production, though one elevated from complete forgetability by a stalwart handful of stand-out performances.

What were brilliant were the comic roles - Simon Callow, Charles Edwards and Finty Williams as Toby Belch, Sir Andrew and Maria, the riotously mischievous underlings of Olivia's household who set Malvolio up for his humiliating fall. they were hilarious, especially Sir Andrew, a character who usually irritates the hell out of me, but who was lambasted to the hilt with comic perfection through every gesture. the three characters were such a pleasure to watch - so uniquely silly and so energetic in their rambunctious plotting.

Still, for me, warning signs that i might not leave the theatre glowing with happiness and laughter started the moment Duke Orsino appeared. IE line one. not ideal. He seemed to be an escaped front man from a New Romantics pop band - all flowing locks, open shirt, hairy chest, voluminous velour coat, sweeping strides and languorous, louche lounging. he was utterly nauseating and a completely dickhead... put simply, UNBEARABLE to watch. i contemplated gouging my eyes out with the heel of my shoe. i restrained myself. just. i know Orsino's a bit of a tit - a man in love with the idea of love as Olivia is in love with her state of mourning, but this was insanity. INSANITY. Realist Viola would never have fallen for him.

i also had no truck with things like the scenery... it was downright weird with a sort of sail/canopy construction that was rather pointlessly raised and lowered to create, one supposes, some kind of different atmosphere (?) for the various scenes. A handful of leaves lay strewn by the stage sides while mini houses rested on a shelf at the back of the stage signifying the town in the distance. Result, in my opinion: A Level set decoration. Ditto costumes, which were Elizabethan + strange forays into lurid tones. Olivia's orange dress was enough to burn holes in the retina.

i could go on. i won't, but needless to say i was pretty disappointed, which was sad.

Twelfth Night is on at the National Theatre and runs until March 2.

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

London Art Fair: Chris Kenny

After four and a half hours spent moseying round the London Art Fair this weekend, I was pretty much ready to skewer my head on a shard of metal passing itself off as contemporary art. Still, in the main it was incredibly helpful re the book i am working on, which is about buying contemporary art. In terms of wanting to buy individual works myself, there were a few things which, had a i a few thousand comfortably to spare, i would really like to have taken away with me. No.1 was probably one of the pieces on display by British artist Chris Kenny.

Chris Kenny is an artist who makes sculptural collages from found text. I first discovered him at Samuel Johnson's house just off the Strand, when i went to the House of Words exhibition there about a year or so ago, where he was showing a collection of funny miniature books with curiously provocative, humorous and philosophical titles. Here at the LAF were larger works either telling a surreal story or combining phrases to evoke a sense of something - celebrity, the universe, nature. On sale was a very cool story about a couple called (if i remember correctly) Marguerite and Dave. I would have taken pictures, but my iPhone was still up the spout after i had to get a replacement and the new one decided it was incompatible with my macbook. helpful? very. Anyway, both the dissonant and complimentary randomness of the phrases and words he compiles together are a complete joy to read. it's part story, part word association, part art, part theatre of sorts. the below images are taken from his gallery site, England & Co.

 All the way to Idiotsville, 2008 (above).
You can just about make out part of the  weirdly wonderful story.

Why does the universe go to all the bother of existing? 2010
below are a series of questions included as part of this circle of phrases:
Which way is London from here?
Do men follow you in the streets?
What are children a substitute for?
Is a poem worth dying for?
Do fetishists get married?
How exactly does looking at pictures corrupt the viewer?
How does this make you feel?

All worth asking if you ask me. I'd very much like to have one of his artworks in my house.


Friday, 21 January 2011

Fitzrovia Radio Hour

The Fitzrovia Radio Hour combines two of my obsessions, theatre and all things vintage. The troupe of writer-performers stage original 1940s-style  radio shows which are performed as if being broadcast live, accompanied by riotously funny sound effects using household implements and otherwise mundane items, creatively deployed... the banging and squelching of cabbages and watermelons simulate the bloody and gory end of one character's life while a melody of small jars and pots accurately convey the (rather inept as it turns out) playing of a game of pool. the ways and means of making the sounds are just as entertaining as the plays themselves. Not to feel left out, the audience are invited to 'cheer' and 'educatedly mumble' etc to enhance the all round atmosphere of the performances. 

Pastiche, parody, whatever, the three plays that are performed during the 75 minute show (each read in two parts, and broken up by supposed adverts of the period), hilariously send up the more un-PC and preposterous elements of 1940s attitudes and views on romance, adventure, and world events. In one play, poor Frank the Leeds lathe worker comes to a sticky end because he 'should have known his place', while in another, during a feisty hunt for treasure in the backwaters of Europe, fey Nazis frolic about, before getting their just, and brutal comeuppance.

An utter delight from beginning to end.

The Firzrovia radio Hour runs until 5 Feb at The Trafalgar Studios, tickets £15. 

Thursday, 20 January 2011

The chicest Russian Dolls EVER.

Russian Vogue commissioned a series of fashion designers to design their own Russian Dolls.

Died. Heaven. To. Gone. And. I've. and not necessarily in that order.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011


Quest, mystery, theatre, adventure, treasure hunt. Accomplice is all of these things – an immersive theatrical experience which summons participants to a location revealed mere hours before the show/adventure begins and thrusts them headfirst into a mystery in which they must play a role. From the initial location, you are given the backstory to the shady situation by the first character, and given a clue which leads to the unveiling of both the next location and narrative mystery as a whole. With each location, new character and more information, the pieces of the puzzle begin to fit together. 

Because you never know where you are supposed to be, everything and everyone (even passersby – especially passersby in fact) becomes suspicious. It’s clever, unusual, ingenious and original, with actors who completely inhabit their roles feeding you information, blurring the lines between theatre and reality. It’s simultaneously funny, and intriguing while inspiring paranoia, curiosity, and a mania for discovery, revelation and explanation.

Weirdly, even though it's such a fabulous and inventive idea, I'm not sure it worked as well as it could have done - the story quite often got lost in all of the hunting for clues, and the relevance of the characters to the plot sometimes felt tenuous, or at least seemed that way because their performances were bigger than the content of what they were actually saying.  i also had a few cerebrally challenged people in my group who insisted on hogging the clues and not explaining them to the rest of the group, which made me want to throw a strop, but which actually resulted in me having a good old gossip away from the action while the men bickered about whose take on the clue would lead us to the next destination. a scene that's not hard to imagine. 

Still, all that aside it's exciting to be part of an adventure like this. Go and make up your mind for yourself, I say.

Accomplice runs until October 2011

Friday, 14 January 2011

King Lear (mark 2)

A standing ovation for the Donmar's current production of King Lear. Where to start? With Derek Jacobi in the title role i suppose; Lear’s fall from sanity, power and confident majesty to babbling, confused, wandering simpleton has never moved me quite the way this performance did. It’s not just that it’s believable, it’s the texture and dimension of the emotional mastication he suffers – it’s viscerally tangible.

Gina Mckee, who I love, is a fabulously steely Goneril – poised, elegant; her face set in a permanent sneer. Her first illicit encounter (that we see) with Edmund was one of my highlights; as he repeatedly grabs her breast she jolts and shudders in ecstasy as if hit by an electric shock. Almost immediately she segues into a scene with her husband where she becomes the physical aggressor, however this time the brutality of the force is malign – she grasps his balls with disgust and shame for his nature and actions. The twisted reflection of the two scenes is perfectly set up.

The set itself was another highlight for me – the mottled white wooden boards are both blinding and bleak– the perfect backdrop to a story which turns on a knife edge. The way they encircle the auditorium also mean they envelop the audience too, drawing you in and almost including you in the action.

Ron Cook as the fool was exceptional. Normally I hate a Shakespearian fool, but this fool was so infused with melancholy, so clearly offering poignant insights without over playing it or scene stealing, I grew to see the character in a new light.

I think that that last point was ‘it’ really for me. I felt that I heard and felt the text in a new way. there were so many moments i could isolate... take one:  when Lear is cradling Tom the madman, touching/stroking him like an animal; it's a physical comparison of man and beast that is echoed in the text a little later – there were so many moments like this where what I saw echoed what I heard and visa versa but in a wholly new and original way.

I don’t often give standing ovations, but I leapt to my feet at the end of this – it was totally, utterly, knock-your-socks off brilliant.
King Lear runs until Febuary 5th at the Donmar Warehouse.

Blue Valentine

I felt broken by Blue Valentine. It almost makes one never want to fall in love. almost. And yet, despite being heart-wrenchingly upsetting, it's also a beautiful meditation on falling out of love. The film opens with a couple (Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams) about 5 years into their marriage. it's awkward to watch the subtle signs of their failing relationship, the willful miscommunication; the silences loaded with disaffection, frustration, disappointment and disillusionment; effort made by one party and its passive deflection by the other. slowly we flash back to how they met, how they fell wildly in love - it's like you imagine it being in the movies. what happens in between the two opposing points is left to circumspection, imagination: in between lingers a hazy void where the arc of the relationship is concrete in its invisibility - the journey from burgeoning beginnings to a sobering, grey flat lining.  Every look and touch taken from each side of the arc is painfully opposed; it's crushing. It's nominated for Golden Globes on Sunday. Michelle Williams in particular 100% deserves her award.

Blue Valentine is out today.

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

MORE book shelf porn

In The New York Times today were these seriously cool pictures of bookshelves, which cater to my specialist interest in bookshelf porn. The feature was about some guy in the US, whose job is to make bookshelves in the homes and properties of moneyed, artsy types look uber cool. This might involve wrapping them in silver jackets to match the decor (below), sourcing books along a theme to compliment the location of the house (Westerns and cowboy themed books for the wild west, bottom), or simply making a fucking show-stopping arrangement, as above, which (in case you missed it) is The American Flag. Impressive. 

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Jarvis Cocker reads Peter and the Wolf Live

The most magical experience I had over Christmas was going to The Royal Festival Hall to hear Jarvis Cocker read Prokofiev's 1936  classical composition and children's story Peter and the Wolf, accompanied by the Philharmonia Orchestra. Jarvis' deeply mellifluous voice rolled out each word of the tale like another musical instrument alongside the flute-bird, clarinet-cat, oboe-duck, timpani-hunters, horn-wolf and strings-Peter. I defy anyone in the auditorium not to have felt their heart skip with the strings, soar with the flute, quake with the drums and arch, stretch and purr with the clarinet  as the story of the little boy who traps a malevolent wolf with the help of a little bird unfurled. Once Jarvis had finished reading the story, the orchestra took up their instruments once again to play the piece over, this time while the Oscar-winning animated short film by Suzie Templeton was screened (teaser above). Nothing could have been more of a complete delight.

Monday, 3 January 2011

Happy New Year

A very happy new year. clearly my moustache obsession shows no sign of abating. oh dear.