25 October 2018

Vulcan 7 at Richmond Theatre was very entertaining

For some reason I was not immediately attracted to Vulcan 7. Yes Adrian Edmondson and Nigel Planer were big names but, from my perspective, mostly from a fairly distant past of Young Ones and Bottom. Also my most recent experience of Edmondson was watching the filming of a very unfunny sit-com at the now defunct Teddington Studios.

Despite all that I had no real reason for giving it a miss so I duly booked my usual seat in Richmond Theatre, Dress Circle A25, for a modest £30.

It seems that my trepidations about the show were shared and while the seats were reasonably full it was nothing like packed.

With limited expectations of an acceptable if predictable comedy I sat back and waited to be entertained.



Vulcan 7 was funny. Very funny. Some of this was the expected verbal slapstick, such as the abusing of Daniel Day-Lewis' name with multiple swear words, but a lot of it was intelligent humour, much more BBC than ITV. I laughed a lot.

And as befitting the two actors that Edmondson and Planer were playing, there were lots of theatrical references, including one for local lad Richard E. Grant who I have seen in the audience at Richmond Theatre, and also some extended quotes from plays like King Lear. Having actors act as actors and talking about acting was a nicely played theme.

The story was good too. Not so much the story of their current situation but more the story of their long careers and relationship which featured custard in one memorable moment. Their story also intertwined with that of the production assistant who had to manage the two actors.

Vulcan 7 surprised me. I expected a simple comedy of simple characters and would have been very happy with that. What I got was much more than and that made it a thoroughly entertaining show.

16 September 2018

Another fine adaptation of Elric of Melniboné

I have at least two sets of Elric stories somewhere in the house, the original Michael Moorcroft paperbacks and the early 1970s Marvel adaptations by Roy Thomas with art by P Craig Russell (and others). I never expected to buy more Elric until I saw a new release notice on a new adaptation by Titan Comics and one glimpse at the art work was enough to convince me to dive in again.

This double-page spread should be all that anyone who likes comics should need.




It helps that this new comic adaptation has been produced with the full and enthusiastic endorsement of Moorcock himself, who wrote "Fully captures Elric's sense of utter decadence. The saga of the albino I would have written myself if I had thought of it first!".

That should be enough of a recommendation for any fan of Michael Moorcroft.

I like comics and I like Moorcroft so I absolutely love this version of Elric of Melnibon√©.

15 September 2018

Radiant Vermin at Ram Jam Club was an unexpected treat

I have a Google Alert set for Philip Ridley and I was drinking in the Grey Horse last night so I was surprised to the extent of being shocked to discover this morning that there was a Ridley play on at Ram Jam Club (part of the pub) today.

A few frantic unanswered emails later and I was walking to the pub in the hope, and some expectation, that I would be able to get in. I was about the first person there and as it had not sold out I was able to get a ticket. I also got a pint of Naked Ladies and a table at the front.

The Ram Jam Club is a cosy venue and it worked well fashioned for theatre. I had only be there previously for music.

I had some trepidations about seeing the play as when I saw it the first time, at Soho Theatre in March 2015, it starred Gemma Whelan and that is a hard act to follow. Still, I reasoned that it was a brilliant script and some modest acting would not hurt it too much.

I was right on one count and wrong on the other.

The script was brilliant and in addition to it's fantastical story it had some exquisite lines. Just one example, "You stick out like a toddler's leg leg from a crocodile's mouth". The acting, however, was not modest - it was very good. I was particularly impressed by the quick fire birthday party scene at the end when Joy Bowers and James Dart had to play multiple roles at the same time. It was wonderfully done.

It was a small stage and good use was made of it. The movement was a significant component of the play's success so here is a little bit of recognition for Movement Director Louise-Mai Newbury.

Radiant Vermin was a real treat and all the more so for being unexpected.

Cemetery Beach is delicious

Any new Warren Ellis comic book is something to look forward to and one with Jason Howard even more so given their illustrious collaboration on Trees. Cemetery Beach issue #1 arrived on my iPad this week and was the first comic that I read in bed with my first cup of tea on Saturday morning.

It comfortably lived up to expectations. This double-page spread starts to explain why.

Obviously the art work is lovely and the scene is futuristic and interesting. Also, like the five pages after it, it has no words.




It's early days but I am already deep into an exciting adventure that is steeped in mystery. I love the story, I love the action, I love the exhilarating pace of it. I love this comic already.

13 September 2018

Losing Venice at Orange Tree Theatre lacked substance

Losing Venice sounded like an interesting proposition with a contemporary relevance as it addressed themes like "A nation with delusional ideas of its place in the world, making poor choices, involved in clumsy foreign adventures, constantly on the edge of war.". Sadly it fell short of my modest expectations.

It was a play of two halves. The first was flimsy but had enough good lines and exotic characters to be entertaining. The second descended into political commentary and despite being only 45 minutes long it dragged. I looked at my watch several times.

At the end I struggled to see what the point of the play was. It was a bit funny, a bit political a bit absurd but not much of anything.

Rising above the play's limitations were the excellent cast, which is why I have chosen a cast photograph to accompany my words.

Tim Delap (top right) as the Duke led the way with everybody else a close second in emphasising their characters' silliness. I even forgive Tim for almost stabbing me (A30 is a risky seat) and the stand-in (presumably) for having to read from a script.

Walking home I tried to make sense of what I had just seen and failed to find the point of it. It lacked gravitas to make any political points and lacked sufficient humour to be a comedy. It lacked substance.

18 July 2018

The Brave and The Bold is beyond beautiful

I am not a big DC fan these days and have never read their mainstream books (Batman, Superman, JLA, etc.) consistently, tending to dip in and out for specific stories and/or creators. I still keep an eye on what is happening in DC Land so I was aware of the buzz created around Liam Sharp's Wonder Woman in 2016 and experimented with the first issue. The art impressed me but the story did not and I left it there.

Then I heard that Liam was working with Wonder Woman again this time with Batman in tow in the revamped Batman team-up comic The Brave and The Bold. I experimented again, was even more impressed by the art and liked the story too so I stayed with the book.

This panel helps to show why.



The detail is frightening and the subject is fantastic. The story is steeped in Celtic mythology and that is reflected in the design of the pages. The book is beyond beautiful.

The only shame is that it is a six part limited issue series.

17 July 2018

Genesis Inc. at Hampstead Theatre was much more than a comedy



I do not need much temptation to go to Hampstead Theatre and the prospect of seeing Harry Enfield in a comedy would probably have been enough by itself but the addition of Arthur Darvill (Rory from Dr Who) and the sharp subject matter settled any doubt.

I duly paid £25 for seat Q9 which magically turned into K9 when I collected it.

Genesis Inc. once again showed how hard it is to describe a play in one short paragraph. The Hampstead Theatre oversold the comedy side of it and undersold the drama.

It was funny, and at times very funny, but there was also a lot of pain too, as you would expect in a play about childlessness. It was the mix of comedy, drama and an interesting subject matter that made Genesis Inc. so compelling.

It was funny that the exploitative clinic run by Harry Enfield ludicrously insisted in running expensive standard tests that had been run before and it was painful that the couple had to dig deeper into meagre pockets when they knew they were being fleeced but had no other options.

Helping both the comedy and the drama was the excellent ensemble cast, many of whom played multiple roles, that is why I chose the cast announcement poster to introduce this post.

I went to see Genesis Inc. to be entertained and I was in ways that I had not expected which is always a good thing.

16 July 2018

Blown away by Gideon Falls

Andrea Sorrentino work has appeared in this blog a few times over the years, usually because I have liked the samples shown in DC Comics Digital Sneak Peeks, most of which I singularly failed to tag with his name at the time. Anyway, the point is I have liked his work for a while.

I have also liked the little of Jeff Lemire's work that I have read, notably A.D.: After Death and X-Men.

The two had worked together a few times before, to great acclaim, but not on anything that I had read. Even so, that reputation was enough to get me interested in Gideon Falls.

It is my favourite current comic.

The art is as decisive as I expected with sharp lines and dramatic page layouts. The story is just as good. It is about an evil barn, a priest who lives nearby and a psychiatric patient who collects small parts of it from waste dumps across the city. If that sound weird then it is in all the ways that you want weird to be.

The two main characters' stories are told in parallel and so far, after four issues, have yet to come together. Happily Gideon Falls is billed as an ongoing series so there is plenty of time for this expected thing and many unexpected things to happen. I'm hooked and will be along for the ride all the way.