Category Archives: London

Tea & Tattle | Skye O’Neill (@georgianlondon) Shares Her Instagram Tips

Listen to the latest Tea & Tattle here.

This week on Tea & Tattle, I’m joined by the instagrammer and blogger, Skye O’Neill, otherwise known as @georgianlondon on instagram. Skye’s love for London started when she moved to the city several years ago from Australia. Her fantastic eye for London’s architecture and her knowledge of its lesser known areas makes Skye’s instagram account one of my very favourites to follow.

In today’s conversation, Skye tells me about how she joined instagram only two years ago, after a fluke feature through the VSCO photography app, and how she’s gone on to build an audience of over 130k followers since then. Skye also shares some of her favourite London areas to photograph, as well as how she juggles her family life and career in publishing alongside her photography.

This is an excellent listen for anyone who loves London and who is interested in growing their own instagram following through urban photography.

Tea & Tattle is also available to listen to on iTunes and stitcher.

London Culture | The Wider Earth, Natural History Museum

Please note: I was given tickets to ‘The Wider Earth‘ in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

If you’ve got children and are hoping for some fun (and even educational) entertainment over half-term next week, then I’ve got the perfect theatre suggestion for you! I was lucky enough to be given tickets to see The Wider Earth, a play about Charles Darwin’s famous voyage on the HMS Beagle, which is now showing (highly appropriately!) at the Natural History Museum.

The museum has installed a custom-built theatre to host this production, which features a cast of seven, as well as incredible puppetry by the Dead Puppet Society. A basic stage setup was brilliantly amplified by the use of watercolour-style projections that made stunning backdrops to the drama.

Bradley Foster, Marcello Cruz and Matt Tait in The Wider Earth. Photo by Mark Douet.

The Wider Earth is written and directed by David Morton, and he shows Charles Darwin as a 22 year-old student in Cambridge, who is delighted when he’s given the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to continue his passion for nature and science by taking the post as resident naturalist on the HMS Beagle on its voyage to far-flung corners of the globe.

I felt this play was clearly written with an educational view in mind, so the script is serviceable, but not overly ambitious. Morton, however, does a good job at showing how Darwin’s experiences on the voyage and the deductions he made from his observations of the lands and animals he encountered, led him to write the world-changing On the Origin of Species. Bradley Foster, who plays Charles Darwin, is engaging and perfectly combines an attitude of youthful zeal with a very serious desire to seek out truths.

It’s the visual experience of this production that truly makes it stand out. I was extremely impressed by the painterly projections that were used to add further detail and mood to the various settings. The puppets were beautiful, too, and brilliantly operated by the actors. It was lovely to hear the gasps of appreciation from the young audience when the particularly striking large puppets were used.

Bradley Foster as Charles Darwin in The Wider Earth. Photograph: Maisie Marshall/Rex/Shutterstock

Although much of the action of this play takes place on board ship, I also greatly enjoyed the details about Darwin’s home life, particularly his engagement to Emma Wedgwood. I’d had no idea that Emma Darwin had originally been Emma Wedgwood, part of the famous Wedgwood family, and in fact as soon as I got home, I ordered a biography of her in order to discover a bit more about her life. David Morton did a great job in fleshing out Emma’s character in a short space of time, and his emphasis on her passion for abolishing slavery and involvement in the abolitionist movement definitely peaked my interest. I’m looking forward to reading her biography when I get the chance, and it seemed fitting that I should leave the play on a quest for more information, even if about one of its more peripheral subjects.

The Wider Earth makes for a brilliant afternoon or night out for all the family. I would say it’s most appropriate for those age 10+, as though those younger would love the puppets, the dialogue would be difficult to follow. I definitely had my teacher cap on whilst I was watching it, and I think it would also make an excellent outing for schools for Year 6 and up.

Tickets for The Wider Earth may be purchased here. The play is showing at the Natural History Museum until 30th December, and both matinee and evening performances are available.

London Culture | Pinter at the Pinter, The Lover and The Collection

London Culture | Pinter at the Pinter, The Lover and The Collection

Please note: I was given tickets to ‘Pinter Two: The Lover / The Collection’ in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Pinter at the Pinter is an exciting season of Harold Pinter’s one-act plays, which are being performed in London at the Harold Pinter Theatre until February. The plays are being put on as a tribute to Harold Pinter,  one of the greatest British playwrights of the 20th Century, on the 10th year anniversary of his death.

Twenty of these short plays are being produced, and a spectacular lineup of actors are performing throughout the season, including David Suchet, Rupert Graves, Tamsin Grieg, Celia Imrie, Russell Tovey and many more. ‘Pinter One,’ comprising of four one-act plays, and ‘Pinter Two,’ which includes The Lover and The Collection, are currently showing at the Harold Pinter Theatre until 20th October.

I was thrilled to be given press tickets to Pinter Two, as I’m a huge fan of David Suchet, and I couldn’t wait to see him live in The Collection. He did not disappoint! Pinter Two showcases two of Pinter’s one-act plays that explore the themes of love, fidelity, truth and fantasy.

Hayley Squires and John MacMillan in ‘The Lover.’  Image source.

John MacMillan and Hayley Squires star in The Lover as a married couple, Richard and Sarah, who are apparently exceedingly open with each other about their respective lovers. The play was first performed in 1963, and it is a play of its time, although the issues of marital happiness, mutual trust and desire that it explores are still very relevant today.

The Lover opens with witty, breakfast table repartee that’s reminiscent of Oscar Wilde. Richard cheerfully asks Sarah whether her lover is coming today, and Sarah replies that he is. Richard asks what time, and says he’ll be back by 6, to allow his wife and her lover a full afternoon. The next day, Sarah questions Richard about his mistress. He denies all knowledge of a mistress, although says he’s very well acquainted with a whore.

As the play progresses, it becomes clear that Richard and Sarah enjoy a complicated game of role-play. They are each other’s lovers, willingly acting out the fantasies of their spouse. When Richard suddenly decides he is tired of playing a part, the lines between reality and fantasy start to blur, and only then does the couple’s real tenderness for each other become apparent.

David Suchet in ‘The Collection.’  Image source.

In The Collection, David Suchet and Russell Tovey join Hayley Squires and John MacMillan in a story that further explores desire, fantasy and truth. Harry (Suchet) and his partner Bill (Tovey) cross paths with another couple James (MacMillan) and Stella (Squires), when James accuses Bill of having slept with Stella at a hotel in Leeds whilst she was away on a work trip. Apparently, Stella has confessed all to James, although her story seems surprising given the nature of Harry and Bill’s relationship. David Suchet steals the show with a hilarious and incredibly camp performance as Harry, and Tovey also adds a great comic touch combined with virile sexuality.

I feel a modern interpretation of this play adds greater nuance to Pinter’s work, as the roles of sexuality and gender are further explored under Jamie Lloyd’s direction. Just as the line between reality and fantasy was blurred in The Lover, so too does sexual preference and attraction remain ambiguous in The Collection.

Russell Tovey in ‘The Collection.’  Image source.

James enters into flirtation with Bill even as he accuses him of being unfaithful with his wife, and Bill’s story of what happened constantly changes. At first he denies ever having met Stella, then he admits to having sex with her and finally he says the truth is that he and Stella only sat in the hotel bar and talked about what they might do together, should they ever go upstairs to bed…. Who is to be believed? And what counts as an act of infidelity? Stella knows the truth of that night, but on being asked what really happened, the play closes on her enigmatic smile, so the audience must draw their own conclusion.

Of the two plays, I enjoyed The Collection the most, mainly because David Suchet’s performance was so incredible. Both productions were excellent, though, and I was also impressed by the simple, striking staging, from the bright pink walls of The Lover, to the clever use of space to portray two couple’s lives in tandem in The Collection.

Pinter Two: The Lover / The Collection is on at the Harold Pinter Theatre until 20th October. Tickets may be purchased here

 

Brenda McIntosh Shares Her Secret Seven London

Brenda McIntosh Shares Her Secret Seven London

An Insider’s Guide to London

This post is part of my Secret Seven London series, where I ask my favourite London instagrammers to share their top seven London locations that are a little off the beaten track.

London is full of beautiful destinations to explore, and I’m always so excited when I uncover a new gem, so I hope my readers will find this series as inspirational as I do! Get ready to fill your Little Black Book with some of London’s best kept secrets…

Brenda McIntosh’s Secret Seven London

Brenda McIntosh Shares Her Secret Seven LondonBrenda McIntosh

I first met Brenda through her former job at the flower company, Bloom & Wild, and we instantly bonded over our mutual love of flowers! Originally from Seattle, Brenda moved to London a few years ago, and I was so delighted when she agreed to share some of her best-loved haunts with Miranda’s Notebook readers.

Brenda recently relaunched her lifestyle blog, Somedays and Sundays, which is a delightful mix of fashion and travel. I always admire Brenda’s terrific sense of style, so I enjoy her fashion and beauty tips (her daily looks on instagram are always stunning!), and it’s a joy to read about her adventures beyond London as well.

Having worked for two floral related start-up companies in the past, Brenda thought she’d share her top seven flower-themed London destinations. Of course, I couldn’t be happier!

Over to Brenda….

1/ The New Covent Garden Flower Market

Brenda McIntosh Shares Her Secret Seven London

This is where the florists in London buy their flowers—I’ve made quite a few early morning trips here! Don’t expect too many frills, but do expect the best selection of blooms in all of London. You’ll find the freshest flowers at wholesale prices, plus plenty of greenery, vases, and floristry tools. Be sure to go early for the very best selection!

2/ Queen Mary’s Rose Garden in Regent’s Park

Brenda McIntosh Shares Her Secret Seven London

By far my favourite spot in London, this is a rose lover’s dream. This area of Regent’s park is
never too crowded and there’s always a free bench to sit and enjoy the sight and scent of the roses. I like that each variety of rose has its own section and there’s a label letting you know the name. The best part is the circular centre that’s surrounded by benches and climbing roses.

3/ Vauxhall Lavender Field

Brenda McIntosh Shares Her Secret Seven London

When you think of Vauxhall, a more industrial area comes to mind, and that’s true. But tucked away in Vauxhall Park is a little lavender field. It might not be as large as the more well known Mayfield fields, but it’s easy to get to and scenic enough for a really lovely photo. Plus, the scent is incredible and it’s a great place for a picnic.

4/ Kenwood House Rhododendrons

Brenda McIntosh Shares Her Secret Seven London

This is a relatively new discovery for me, but one that I absolutely love! I’m originally from
Seattle, Washington and our state flower is the rhododendron, so to see such an expansive
display of these brightly coloured blooms makes me feel right at home! Most people might know Kenwood House (and the grassy fields in front) from the movie Notting Hill, but if you’re around in late May, head to the side of the house for a rhododendron display well worth the trip to Hampstead.

5/ Diptyque Westbourne Grove

Brenda McIntosh Shares Her Secret Seven London

You’ve probably seen Wild at Heart’s turquoise island display featured in plenty of Instagram posts, but just down the road is a store that I always love to pop into. It’s Diptyque’s second ever location (after their original boutique on Boulevard Saint-Germain in Paris) and it’s even more special after a recent renovation. It’s no secret that I’m a bit of a Diptyque fanatic—I’ve got quite the collection of their candles around my house! Describe the kinds of scents you like (for me it’s florals) and they’ll guide you to a perfect pick.

6/ The Punch Room at The London Edition

Brenda McIntosh Shares Her Secret Seven London

This is another lesser known spot that’s right next to a more well-known one. Berners Tavern is beautiful, but I prefer the tucked-away Punch Room (both are in The London Edition). It’s an intimate spot for upscale, but not too fussy, drinks. The last time I was there, my choice was garnished with a jasmine flower and it smelled
heavenly!

7/ Petersham Nurseries, Richmond

Brenda McIntosh Shares Her Secret Seven London
This one takes some time to get to from London, but it’s well worth venturing off the beaten path for. This place always feels so magical—crystal chandeliers hang from the ceilings of their greenhouses, and their cafe and restaurant both serve incredible (and incredibly fresh) dishes. Head home with some new plants and gardening tools, or just browse around! Richmond Park is a stone’s throw away too, so you can certainly make a day of it! (Miranda’s mentioned that it’s also a wonderful spot to visit in the wintertime, when it’s decorated with Christmas trees! {Yes, it is! You can read my post about it here.- M})

~

Thanks so much to Brenda for her brilliant suggestions. I’m definitely adding Vauxhall Lavender Field to my list for next summer, and I can’t wait to to get to The Punch Room for one of those delicious cocktails….

Do keep up with Brenda through her bloginstagramfacebook and twitter.

Note: All photos apart from cover picture provided by Brenda McIntosh. Enjoyed this post? Read my other Secret Seven London articles with Talitha McQueen and Annabel Bird.

London Culture | Misty Theatre Review

London Culture | Misty Theatre Review

Please note: I was given tickets to ‘Misty’ in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

I had tickets to see Misty last Friday at Trafalgar Studios, so I invited a friend along to see it with me. I’d heard rave reviews about Misty, which has opened in the West End following its sell-out success at the Bush Theatre, so I was looking forward to the evening.

Shockingly, Misty is apparently only the second play written by a black playwright ever to have been produced in the West End. It’s essentially a one man show, written and performed by Arinzé Kene. What struck me most forcibly about Misty was the sheer power of Kene’s performance; he seems to give the show every part of his soul, as well as his considerable physical energy. I was awed by the sheer stamina of such a performance, which sees Kene singing, rapping, raging, crooning, wrestling with giant balloons, playing multiple characters and displaying a surprising knack for physical comedy. The play is a curious mix of gig-theatre and performance art, and it’s a credit to Kene’s talent that he manages to pull it off so convincingly.

London Culture | Misty Theatre ReviewArinzé Kene in Misty. Image © Helen Murray.

Misty is structured as a play within a play:  Kene is writing a play that exposes the social and racial prejudices that he witnesses in modern day London. But his rap about a confrontation gone wrong on a London bus is interrupted by some of his friends. They don’t like the play.  You’re selling out, they chastise him, creating content that feeds to the ‘angry black man’ stereotype that white people expect to see. His play is nothing but ‘a modern minstrel show,’ they cry in disappointment.  Kene argues that he has the right to tell whatever story he wants to tell; he speaks eloquently on the importance of being able to simply make art, to speak the truth as he sees it, as he’s experienced it. Why can’t his story just be a story? Why must it be labelled before the ink of creation is even dry?

If more plays were put on like the one he’s writing, Kene argues, then he’d go to the theatre more often. ‘Who gives a f*** about Shakespeare?’, he jeers, hammering home the point that much of what is shown in West End theatre falls short of representing  a wider audience. And yet, Kene also seems to play some homage to Shakespeare, with his use of the mise-en-abyme technique, that brings Hamlet  to mind. And just as Hamlet soliloquises on the deeper questions of life, so does Kene reflect on what it means to be an artist, specifically a black artist. It’s clear, too, that Kene shares with Shakespeare a love for word play. His lengthy monologues are superb, often nothing short of poetic, and they morph into song, into rap, into lyrical speech with expert ease. Kene’s aim may be to subvert and justly challenge the traditional theatre scene, but he shows how inspiration may be drawn from many sources, both traditional and non-traditional, to create drama that speaks of the moment.

London Culture | Misty Theatre ReviewArinzé Kene in Misty. Image © Helen Murray.

Along with the script, I was also impressed by the staging of Misty. For a minimal set, there was brilliant use of audio and video recordings and dramatic lighting to add interest and further dimension to Kene’s performance. Balloons are used as a powerful visual motif throughout the play: Kene blows up a balloon and then watches it deflate, like his ego, crumpling under criticism. At one point, he becomes trapped within a gigantic balloon, struggling to escape, just as he battles with the questions – what kind of play should he write? And how should it end?

Although, as I said, Misty is essentially a one man show, credit must go to Shiloh Coke and Adrian McLeod who play the drums and keys throughout the play, as well as taking to the stage for their parts as Kene’s friends. Coke and McLeod delivered their lines with a subtle humour that sparked a great deal of appreciation from the audience, and I thought Shiloh Coke’s performance was especially memorable.

Misty is an exciting, thought-provoking play that makes for a memorable night out. It’s showing until 20th October, and tickets may be purchased here.

St Jude’s ‘Nature Table’ Exhibition at the Town House in Spitalfields

St Judes 'Nature Table' Exhibition at the Town House in Spitalfields

I’m such a big fan of the artwork of both Emily Sutton and Angie Lewin, so I was very excited when I heard about the current exhibition of their work in collaboration with St Jude’s at the Town House in Spitalfields. The exhibition, ‘Nature Table,’ is on until 30th September, and I recommend seeing it as quickly as possible. Not only are the artworks spectacular to view in person, but the Town House in Spitalfields is a marvellous destination in itself.

The Town House is located on Fournier Street, a particularly beautiful and historic street in East London, featuring many original Huguenot houses dating from the early 1700s. The streets surrounding it, especially Wilkes Street and Princelet Street, are also well worth a stroll.  Be sure to bring your camera, as the area is instagram gold!

This was my first visit to Town House in Spitalfields, and I was amazed by how lovely it is. The shop is a treasure trove of carefully curated books, ceramics and other collectables. I loved the bookshelf stuffed with Persephone Books and all the beautiful autumnal displays in the shop.

Mum and I made our way through to the exhibition space at the back, and there were lucky enough to meet Angie Lewin in person. She was so lovely and friendly, and it was wonderful to be shown the artwork by one of the artists herself! There were so many gorgeous prints and originals, as well as new fabrics, on display by Angie and Emily. The exhibition is definitely a feast for the eyes, and I was especially taken with Emily Sutton’s new ‘Q is for Quince‘ print and Angie Lewin’s ‘The Gardener’s Arms‘ linocut. I wish I could have taken them home with me!

St Judes 'Nature Table' Exhibition at the Town House in Spitalfields St Judes 'Nature Table' Exhibition at the Town House in Spitalfields St Judes 'Nature Table' Exhibition at the Town House in Spitalfields St Judes 'Nature Table' Exhibition at the Town House in Spitalfields

After enjoying looking at all the artworks, we decided it was time for a cup of tea and slice of cake. The Town House has a small kitchen downstairs and a seating area in their tiny garden:

The garden was rather damp after a recent downpour, so we decided to head down to the kitchen, which has a long wooden communal table that we were lucky enough to have to ourselves.

I don’t think I’ve ever sat in such a charming kitchen before! Vintage copper moulds hung around the oven and a large table in the middle of the room was crowded with a range of cakes and biscuits to tempt customers.  A cherry bakewell tart, fresh from the oven, was placed at the other end of our table to cool, its delicious aroma blending with the other baked goods in a way that made our mouths water.

St Judes 'Nature Table' Exhibition at the Town House in Spitalfields

I went for a pear and almond cake, which was moist and utterly delicious, along with a pot of tea, and my Mum chose a rose and cardamon cake that was also exceedingly tasty. We could have quite happily stayed in that snug place all afternoon, and now I’ve discovered such a charming spot, I’ll definitely be returning very soon!

Read more details of the ‘Nature Table’ exhibition here.

 

London Culture | Little Shop of Horrors Theatre Review

London Culture | Little Shop of Horrors Theatre Review, Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

Please note: I was given tickets to ‘Little Shop of Horrors’ in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

I had such a fun night out last Monday! I was given a couple of tickets to see Little Shop of Horrors at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, so I invited a friend along with me to see it too. The show started quite late (7.45pm), so we met first for a  carafe of wine and some tapas at the Providores and Tapa Room on Marylebone High Street, which was a 20 minute walk from the theatre.

I’d actually already tried to go to Little Shop of Horrors earlier in the month, but unluckily it poured with rain halfway through the show, so I had to have my tickets rescheduled. Fortunately, this time our luck held, and we had a summer-perfect evening ahead of us. Although I’ve lived in London for many years, I’d never experienced outdoor theatre in the city before, and I was awed by how beautiful the Open Air Theatre at Regent’s Park is. Fairy lights glittered in the trees above our heads, and champagne fizzed at picnic tables where visitors had pre-ordered hampers to enjoy before the show, or during the interval.

We were soon making our way to our seats in the impressive open air stadium. I was worried the seating might be rather uncomfortable (I thought we could be sitting on the grass, or at best on benches), but it’s actually fantastic with proper chairs and seating areas that all have an excellent view of the stage. The set looked fabulous with the trees and plants of one of London’s prettiest parks making an impressive backdrop.

London Culture | Little Shop of Horrors Theatre Review, Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

Little Shop of Horrors is certainly an appropriate musical to stage outdoors, as it tells the story of Seymour, a young shop assistant at a flower store in a rundown district of New York City. He discovers an unusual plant (which he names the ‘Audrey 2’) that soon draws the attention of the public and the media, much to the delight of Seymour’s boss, who cashes in on the increased exposure and consequent surge in sales. Seymour is indifferent to his sudden fame, but he’s delighted to have caught the attention of his colleague, Audrey, with whom he’s secretly in love. Unfortunately for Seymour, there’s just one problem: the only thing that keeps his precious plant healthy is fresh human blood….

I must admit that Little Shop of Horrors has the most bizarre plot line I’ve ever encountered,  which I think is fairly impressive for someone who loves both ballet and opera! ‘Can this really be happening?’ flashed across my mind more than once during a production that is as far from a typical love story as you can possibly get (I don’t want to ruin it, but let’s just say, there’s no Hollywood ending to this tale). Triffids have nothing on the Audrey 2! What makes Little Shop of Horrors great is that its strangeness is equally matched by its hilarity. The cast of Little Shop of Horrors at the Open Air Theatre had the audience laughing throughout the production, and there were stand-out performances from Marc Antolin (Seymour), Jemima Rooper (Audrey) and Matt Willis (Orin, Audrey’s abusive boyfriend).

A fabulous energy and pace ran throughout the entire performance, culminating in one of the best finales I’ve seen, complete with huge green balloons and confetti showering down onto the audience. Little Shop of Horrors is over-the-top, but in the best way possible. Both my friend and I agreed that it was the most brilliant night out, and we talked about the show the entire way back to the tube. The Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre is definitely on my list for next summer too!

Little Shop of Horrors is showing at the Open Air Theatre at Regent’s Park until 22nd September. Tickets may be purchased here

London Culture | The Importance of Being Earnest Theatre Review

The Importance of Being Earnest Theatre Review, Vaudeville Theatre: a dynamic production without a standout performance from Sophie Thompson.

Please note: I was given tickets to ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

At the end of May, my Dad took my Mum and me to see An Ideal Husband at the Vaudeville Theatre. We had a wonderful evening, and I enjoyed the production of the play so much that I even interviewed one of the actors, Faith Omole, on Tea & Tattle Podcast (you can listen to the interview here).

I was delighted, then, to be offered tickets to review The Importance of Being Earnest, the latest Oscar Wilde play to be staged at the Vaudeville Theatre, as part of the Dominic Dromgoole and Classic Spring Oscar Wilde seasonThe Importance of Being Earnest is my favourite Wilde play, so I was particularly looking forward to seeing it live, and I took my Mum along to watch it with me.

The Importance of Being Earnest Theatre Review, Vaudeville Theatre: a dynamic production without a standout performance from Sophie Thompson.Fehinti Balogun as Algernon Moncrieff. Image source.

As soon as the curtain went up, I realised that Michel Fentiman’s staging of the play was far from a conventional interpretation. In the opening scene, Algernon Moncrieff (played by Fehinti Balogun) is locked in a close embrace with a young man who rapidly slinks off into the wings, and the stage is dominated by a centrally hung painting depicting two naked men entwined on the floor.

Unlike Wilde’s unrivalled satirical wit, subtlety is not a notable feature of this production. Algernon is overtly bisexual, even kissing his manservant, Lane, on the lips, and the fulfilment of the physical appetites seems to be very much on everyone’s mind: cucumber sandwiches and crumpets are stuffed into mouths; Gwendoline (Pippa Nixon) all but straddles the grand piano when encouraging Jack (Jacob Fortune-Lloyd) to propose; and Cecily (Fiona Button) shares a cigarette and flirtatious glances with a gardener that looks like he wandered in from a production of Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

The Importance of Being Earnest Theatre Review, Vaudeville Theatre: a dynamic production without a standout performance from Sophie Thompson.Sophie Thompson as Lady Bracknell. Image source.

It must be a challenge to bring a fresh direction to such a classic play, but I did feel that this ‘sexing up’ of the production was a little too heavy-handed, and occasionally tipped into farce rather than satire.  Despite these reservations, however, I still thoroughly enjoyed the play. It’s hard not to have a wonderful time when seeing something written by Oscar Wilde, and The Importance of Being Earnest is Wilde at his very best.

Sophie Thompson as Lady Bracknell was completely marvellous, and Fehinti Balogun and Jacob Fortune-Lloyd brought a playfulness to their respective roles that added a youthful energy to the production. I’d recently admired Fiona Button’s acting in BBC’s The Split, so it was fun to see her perform live, and she did not disappoint as an exuberant Cicely.

The Importance of Being Earnest Theatre Review, Vaudeville Theatre: a dynamic production without a standout performance from Sophie Thompson.The Importance of Being Earnest. Image source.

For me, there were two standout scenes in this production: the first when Jacob Fortune-Lloyd as John Worthing explains the circumstances surrounding his birth and being found in a handbag in a cloakroom at Victoria Station.  Sophie Thompson’s deliverance of ‘in a handbag!’ is muttered faintly, but still conveys Lady Bracknell’s utter horror of the situation. My other favourite scene was the final denouement when John Worthing’s true parentage is revealed. By this point, the cast have achieved a wonderful degree of tension, and  – despite knowing the story well – I waited in eager anticipation for Miss Prism’s explanation of events.

I chuckled my way through the entire performance, and Mum and I agreed we’d had a brilliant evening. If you’re in the mood for an entertaining, lighthearted night out filled with sparkling wit, then I highly recommend adding The Importance of Being Earnest to your theatre list.

The Importance of Being Earnest is on until 20th October at the Vaudeville Theatre. Tickets may be booked here

London Culture | Kinky Boots Review, Adelphi Theatre

London Culture | Kinky Boots Review, Adelphi Theatre

Please note: I was given tickets to Kinky Boots in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

If you’re looking for an entertaining way to kickstart a summer weekend, then a theatre outing to see the Tony Award-winning Kinky Boots at the Adelphi Theatre would most definitely tick the box. The theatre is blissfully air-conditioned (tick), the audience enthusiastic (tick) and the whole performance is charged with an energy, sparkle and sense of fun (tick) that guarantees a terrific start to a great night out.

The original Kinky Boots film was released in 2005 and has gained a dedicated cult following. Inspired by a true story, Kinky Boots tells the story of Charlie Price, who inherits his father’s shoe factory in Northampton. Although successful for years, the family business is now floundering, and Charlie sees no way forward apart from closing up and selling, putting the workers he grew up with out of a job. He struggles with guilt and despair, until by chance he meets Lola, a drag queen with a problem: the high heels of regular women’s shoes cannot stand up to the weight of a man and keep snapping. Charlie decides to take a chance and cater to the niche transvestite market, developing dazzling (but sturdy!) boots inspired by Lola’s designs. How Charlie and the people of Northampton rise up to the challenge, not only of creating the boots, but also of accepting others for who they truly are, makes for a feel-good, inspiring story.

London Culture | Kinky Boots Review, Adelphi TheatreKinky Boots, Adelphi Theatre. Image source.

Fans of the Kinky Boots film will not be disappointed by the musical, as it’s very faithful to the original movie. Many of the film’s most memorable lines are cleverly incorporated into the songs and script of the musical, and the set designs brilliantly mimic the Price Shoe Factory of the movie. Kinky Boots is a smart choice for a musical adaptation: the simple, but heartfelt plot is well expressed through song, and the big dance numbers are truly outstanding when performed live with a West End cast. The music and lyrics are by Cyndi Lauper – an inspired choice, although I was a little disappointed that none of the songs quite came up to the ‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’ standard, but there were still many great tunes.

For me, the star of the show was Momar Diagne, who played Lola and brought impressively high levels of energy to the demanding role. From leading dance routines, to singing solo, Diagne never faltered. Moments of humour or pathos were injected into his performance by a mere flick of the wrist or slump of the shoulders. Oliver Tompsett as Charlie Price was also very strong, combining an authentic earnestness and impeccable slapstick comedy in his performance. The cast as a whole performed many spectacular singing and dancing routines, and by the end the entire audience was on their feet, clapping in time to the finale score.

London Culture | Kinky Boots Review, Adelphi TheatreKinky Boots, Adelphi Theatre. Image source.

Kinky Boots must close Janurary 2019, and as I said I think it would be a great choice as part of a celebratory night out (Hen Dos, Birthdays, Girls’ Night etc). I recommend starting your evening viewing Kinky Boots, then going on for drinks and dancing, as the impressive dance numbers will be sure to make you want to bust a move or two of your own, whether in high heels or not!

Tickets to Kinky Boots may be purchased here

Witness for the Prosecution Theatre Review, London County Hall

Witness for the Prosecution Theatre Review, London County Hall

Please note: I was given tickets to Witness for the Prosecution in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Last week, I took my Mum with me to see Witness for the Prosecution at London County Hall, a short walk from Waterloo Station (and within a stone’s throw of the London Eye). We were both so excited to see this play, as we’re huge Golden Age mystery fans, and my Mum gave me my first Agatha Christie book when I was about 10 years old (it was Halloween Party – very appropriate as it features a character called Miranda, and my birthday is in October!).

Witness for the Prosecution Theatre Review, London County HallPhilip Franks as Mr Myers QC in Witness for the Prosecution. Image source.

I’d never seen an Agatha Christie play before (now I want to get to The Mousetrap too!), but I already knew the short story of Witness for the Prosecution, which Christie wrote in the 1920s, but later adapted into a play in 1953. A young man, Leonard Vole, stands accused of murdering an elderly lady whom he’d once helped and who subsequently grew fond of him, treating him like a son (and changing her will to leave him her fortune). The case against Vole seems cut-and-dried, but Vole’s defence counsel becomes convinced of his innocence, especially when the testimony of Vole’s vindictive wife hints at a possible plot to ensure her husband is sentenced…. In typical Christie fashion, there is a brilliant twist to the story at the end, which I certainly shan’t give away here, but prepare to be shocked when you see the play for yourself!

Witness for the Prosecution stands out not only for its devilishly clever storyline, but for its courtroom setting.  Everyone in the audience was clearly delighted by the fantastic way the play has been staged by Lucy Bailey at the now disused debating chamber in London County Hall, which is easy to imagine as the Old Bailey, the play’s predominant setting. A sense of occasion is created as soon you arrive at County Hall and sweep up the grand staircase to take your seat in the rows of large leather cushioned pews.

Witness for the Prosecution Theatre Review, London County HallWitness for the Prosecution at London County Hall. Image Credit: Sheila Burnett

Where politicians once hammered out political debates, Leonard Vole’s trial is staged, with legal counsels for the defence and prosecution arguing whether or not he should be found guilty of murder. The impressive setting lends to the theatricality of the cast’s performance, and the audience is made to feel a part of the play, as though we were all spectators in the gallery of a courtroom. Some seats are even positioned so that twelve members of the audience are used as the jurors, which certainly adds a piquancy to your typical theatre experience!

The cast, though small, was strong. I was especially impressed by Richard Clothier and Philip Franks, who played the part of defending and prosecuting barristers perfectly. Their cross-examinations kept the audience spellbound, and they brought a drama and flourish to their speeches that would have made Rumpole proud. Lucy Phelps played a fiery Romaine Vole, and Harry Reid oozed boyish charm as her husband Leonard.

Witness for the Prosecution is an unforgettable courtroom drama and shows Agatha Christie at her very best. I highly recommend it for a fun, different night out in London!

You can book tickets to see Witness for the Prosecution here.