LUCY: MAC HIT THE PAVEMENT

On Wednesday night I went to ‘HIT THE PAVEMENT’ a MAC event, it was held in the now redundant Shoreditch station off of Brick lane.  There was an abundance of street food and dangerously delicious margaritas, but most of all there was body painting.

When I was at art school I was into live installations, I wanted to paint naked people like Yayoi Kusama.  That’s how I ended up studying make up at LCF.  Body painting goes in and out of fashion, it might make you think of page 3 girls with England football kits painted on their breasts or the Goyte video for ‘Somebody that I used to know’.  The point is that body painting can look rather old fashioned and I am schooled in it, I love it.  I used to dance and parade about wonderful parties body painted as a turquoise cyber 60’s dolly bird with a UV butterfly on my chest and bubbles climbing my legs. When I left college Tatler painted my bottom in Andy Warhol colours for a diamond encrusted watch advertorial.

On Wed night MAC created a rather  wonderful instillation, street performer characters in situ wearing painted clothes which adds a twist to the last MAC body painting event I went too where models didn’t even have a cotton thong to hide their modesty and all sorts was on display.  Which was fun and full of surprises.

This show reminded me somewhat of the Sensation exhibition in parts, especially the 2 American tourists totally dipped in pink and the man catching rays.  There were greek statues leaning delicately against a giant urn and bronze statues on a bench.  A roller girl – you’ve gotta love a roller girl and last but not least a man painted white with his kegs down reading a book on the toilet. That man turned out to be a friend of mine Daniel Dewhirst which was quite  shock to both of us!

The body painting was beautiful I especially loved the pigmented highlights on the bronze bench men, a great concept, great atmosphere and we all thoroughly enjoyed it and quite possibly had one too many margaritas, well, margaritas have two shots of tequila in them…..who knew?

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SAMI: UNHAPPY BIRTHDAY

You may know Amy Lamé from the radio, or from off the telly, or perhaps you know her as host of Duckie,  Vauxhall clubnight extraordinaire.

You may however, not know her as a stage performer, but if not, you bally well should.

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She warmed audiences across the country back in 2006 with her heartfelt melange of Mama Cass, family issues, and plus size princesses with her show ‘Amy Lamé’s Mama Cass Family Singers’, and has returned to the performance world with her latest ‘Unhappy Birthday’.

A ticket to Unhappy Birthday is an exclusive ticket to Amy’s birthday party, where there is a seat saved for legend to the lonely Morrissey, and what a party it turns out to be. Set to a backing track of Morrissey classics, punctuated with a game of pass the parcel the show is a trip through the ego of Amy’s upbringing, self discovery, teen angst and of course her obsession with Morrissey.

Be warned, you may get messy, as this performance has been directed by performance legend Scottee, a well suited collaborative addition to Amy’s style. If you’re a Scottee fan you’ll be able to see his sticky fingered touches scattered throughout the production, to great aplomb.

Amy shone through this performance, her candour was touching, and her comedy was creative. Emotionally, and sometimes physically taking you down a road that showed just how hard it can be to be different. Minimal staging was used to great effect with the addition of a basket full of party supplies, props and a large birthday cake.

I was lucky enough to score a ticket for the penultimate performance in London just before she sped up to Moz homeland Manchester to begin a UK wide tour, details of which can be found on the Unhappy Birthday website www.unhappybirthday.net/

This is the kind of show, that with a good friend or two, and a glass of wine or two will make an ordinary evening into something extraordinary, and definitely something to tell your friends all about. Go and see it.

STEVIE: IN BASILDON

David Eldridge’s latest offering at the Royal Court offers an insight into a working class family torn with feuds and riffs that date back many a moon brought together by the imminent death of brother/uncle Len. With a strong British cast this ensemble piece was set in the round and explored beautifully the tensions and relationships that occur between families, neighbours and partners. From the daughter who’s trying to loose her working class roots, to the best friend who’s strong morals and working class pride provide a boiling pot for drama.
With some razor sharp dry lines, and genuine tender moments the play twists through the highs and lows of a family in mourning with issues yet to unearth, itching to burst forth.

As the play roles on, the thoughts and demons that have bubbled under come to the fore under the strain of death, with an outburst at the generous neighbour, outbursts of love that have been trapped deep within souls for years and the two children of the families trying their best to pull everyone together and to put their differences aside for the sake of family and the deceased.

David Eldridge again proves with this taught, dry sharp script that he is one of the best wrting talents England has to offer. I look forward to his next piece, and the tast makers at Royal Court again prove to have exceptional taste.

SAMI: SWEENEY TODD!

Musical theatre is a big love of mine, especially the works of Stephen Sondheim, and I was thrilled to have a second opportunity to go and see his 1979 classic, ‘Sweeney Todd – The Demon Barber of Fleet Street’.

Having finished a widely acclaimed run at the heartily wonderful Chichester Festival Theatre in November, the show transferred, with much the same cast, to the Adelphi, and opened on the 10th of this month to a flurry of 4 and 5 star reviews.

This production follows the traditional version of the Musical, with original arrangement and staging, bar the somewhat updated setting from mid 1800’s to what I suspect was the 1940’s, an amendment which irked me not one bit, I think it made for a refreshing stance, and certainly distanced itself from the odious Burton film version from a few years back. If you’re a fan of Sweeney, then this production will feel like a favourite slipper, blood-splattered and bursting at the seams with familiarity, not to say however that there’s anything wrong with knowing just what you’re gonna get!

For me Sweeney Todd is all about Mrs Lovett, she’s got everything you want in a leading lady, and Imelda Stauton is a shining example of how she should be. Hopeful, desperate, savvy and common as muck are all a given, but it was the hint that perhaps somewhere she has good intentions that made Staunton one of the best. If you really want to get into the nitty gritty, I’d place her somewhere in between Angela Lansbury and Patti Lupone, above Sheila Hancock, and Christine Baranski. (Helena Bonham-Carter doesn’t feature on my scale). The warmth she brought to the stage was noted by every member of the audience, edging forward on seats and brightening of eyes as she came into a scene proved this, and was testament to her presence and enrapture.

Having only ever thought of Michael Ball in comedic, or jovial roles I wasn’t entirely convinced by this casting, but pleasantly surprised was I to see his tension and antipathy suited both him and the production, he dominated the stage and cast, and was truly believable as a the psychopathic Sweeney.

The rest of the cast were adequate, with no standout performances, I was unsure if this was in submission to Ball and Staunton’s stage dominance, or if perhaps they just weren’t all that outstanding, but the harmonies were spot on, and the plot carried well, so I suppose I mustn’t complain, and truthfully there is little to complain about.

I remember the fist time I saw Sweeney I was 15 years old, and didn’t really know much about Sondheim, or even musical theatre for that matter, the staging and arrangement at the New Wolsey theatre in Ipswich were almost identical to what I saw at the Adelphi this evening, but in that performance many years ago, from the first bar to the last word I was gripped to the story and the music, and I felt immersed. I was immersed this evening too, but perhaps not until the last third of the first act, not to say it wasn’t good for that first hour, but I wasn’t hooked, I wasn’t tense with anticipation, and I didn’t believe it. Perhaps this could be blamed on my surfeited nature as i’ve aged, or perhaps if could be accounted for by a certain amount of over confidence that comes with a string of A+ reviews in many of the major dailies, or perhaps it just took this particular cast that long to bind, and gel and to make me not want it to end, which ultimately they did.

Sweeney Todd is the type of show that would be difficult to make awful, as the songs and book are so exceptional. I’m sure I would enjoy any proffering you’d care to show me, but actually what I saw this evening went beyond that, they did an excellent job, and I was thoroughly entertained for the entirety. Staunton is the clear star of the show, and it would be worth seeing just to watch her as she plays, but do watch everything else, I guarantee you’ll not regret it.

http://sweeneytoddwestend.com/