Posted in Musical theatre

May 2: Chess

I’ve never been a fan of “big” musicals (with one or two exceptions- I loved Wicked and Starlight Express). I’m more of a fan of the small and quirky – Grinning Man; Frogs; the Tiger Lillies’ Rime of the Ancient Mariner.

So it was with a lot of doubt that I trotted along to the London Coliseum for Chess. The Colly isn’t the most comfortable of venues, unless you splash out for the posh seats, but I had a good view and some legroom in the circle, even if I was jammed into my seat by strange men on both sides (strange as in strangers, not as in weirdos). I compensated by claiming both armrests.

The set was modern. The show wasn’t. There were some very problematic moments (the Bangkok ladyboys being just one), but also some excellent theatrical moments. The Cirque du Soleil interlude was lovely, the two Russian dance routines were excellent (I really loved the one in Red Army uniforms- don’t judge me).

The orchestra and chorus were fantastic, and what a brilliant idea of having the orchestra above the stage.

The soloists’ voices all stood up well, and Alexandra Burke made Svetlana into a strong character. Finally, Michael Ball. Normally a singer I can take or leave, he really showed that musical theatre is his natural habitat.

I came out feeling energised. Four stars.

Posted in books, Theatre

Week 11


Visible Theatre at Southwark Playhouse

Sonja Linden: Roundelay


What to say about this? It was rude. Very rude. And disturbing in that it broke the last taboo, sex and old people. It was meant to be disturbing, of course, and that worked. I went to a matinee performance, which always guarantees a larger number of “mature folk” in the audience. What I wasn’t expecting was that most of the cast were elderly. The theatre is a small, “in the round” space, and this production used the space to the full, with aerial circus arts included (two cast members were young enough to take this on). One of the lead characters was a woman with Alzheimer’s, and we saw her deteriorating over the course of the play. This was upsetting for me as I have had the experience of watching a family member go through this awful disease.  All in all, this was a mixed experience for me, but that was not the fault of the actors, who performed a difficult play very well.


I am ahead of my target for this point in the year, having read 32 of my proposed 100 books for 2017.

I have come late to ValMcDermid, but am realising just why she is known as the Queen of Crime. WireintheBlood is the second in her Tony Hill series, and was thoroughly enjoyable.