Thursday, 23 June 2011

Ticket to ride... extremely!

Watching this is almost as convincing as one of those roller coaster simulators! Just hope wasn't disqualified for riding through the tapes a couple of times (or splatting the dog!)? I couldn't help noticing the pin-striped suit the competitor is wearing, too!

P h/t Pat Kirby

Monday, 20 June 2011

Let everything that hath breath...

Saturday night's alright for music! The official launch of the new 'Friends of West Mersea Parish Church' was both an inspiration and a privilege to be part of...

Setlist for Café Musica:

Help - The Beatles
Blowin' in the wind - Bob Dylan
You - Rob Halligan
Time to think - After The Fire
Are we alright? - Show of Hands
Harvest home - Traditional

With a little help from my friends - The Beatles
Forever young - Bob Dylan
Every breath you take - The Police
Railroad man - The Eels
Still haven't found - U2
Blackberry blossom - Traditional

Do you wanna dance? - Bobby Freeman


Monday, 13 June 2011

The Peace of the Lord be...

Well, I, for one, can't wait to see this movie based on Don Miller's cracking book 'Blue Like Jazz'. Instead of a 'coming of age' storyline it's a bit more of a re-discovery with some seriously perceptive observations of the church.

Love it!


Thursday, 9 June 2011

Out of the mouths of babes...

Adele's wonderful cover of Bob Dylan's 'Make You Feel My Love' plays over the closing credits for BBC's documentary masterpiece, 'Poor Kids' broadcast last Tuesday. Filmed and directed brilliantly by Jezza Neumann, here's the official blurb:
Documentary telling the stories of some of the 3.5 million children living in poverty in the UK. It is one of the worst child poverty rates in the industrialised world, and successive governments continue to struggle to bring it into line. So who are these children, and where are they living? Under-represented, under-nourished and often under the radar, 3.5 million children should be given a voice. And this powerful film does just that.

Eight-year-old Courtney, 10-year-old Paige and 11-year-old Sam live in different parts of the UK. Breathtakingly honest and eloquent, they give testament to how having no money affects their lives: lack of food, being bullied and having nowhere to play. The children might be indignant about their situation now, but this may not be enough to help them. Their thoughts on their futures are sobering.

Sam's 16-year-old sister Kayleigh puts it all into context, as she tells how the effects of poverty led her to take extreme measures to try and escape it all.

Poor Kids puts the children on centre stage, and they command it with honesty and directness. It's time for everyone to listen.
Sadly there are only a few days left to watch on iPlayer, try and make the time...


Saturday, 4 June 2011

BBC Desert Island Discs... The Challenge

Found I couldn't resist the challenge of trying to come up with just the eight requisite number of pieces of music to post on the BBC Your Desert Island Discs page despite knowing how difficult it would prove to be. So I settled on attempting to pick pieces chronologically that had affected me in some profound way, regardless of whether they were actually real favourites. This meant there were far more that, sadly, had to be dropped and so they simply got away! The final list I submitted, after much deliberation:
The Beatles - In My Life
Wendy (was Walter, at the time) Carlos - from Switched on Bach - Brandenberg Concerto No.3 In G Major 1st Movement
Emerson, Lake and Palmer - from Pictures at an Exhibition - The Great Gate of Kiev
Queen - These Are The Days Of Our Lives
J S Bach - from the St. Matthew Passion - Wir setzen uns mit Tränen nieder
Peter Gabriel - The Power Of The Heart
Coldplay - Fix You
Sir Edward Elgar - from The Enigma Variations - Nimrod

with the Peter Gabriel track as my favourite
Now, as mentioned these all mean a great deal, even though I appreciate some are very popularist choices and will potentially bring down scorn upon my cultural taste. So to get around the strict eight disc rule here are some more from the shortlist in a similar chronological order:
Easybeats - Friday On My Mind
Fleetwood Mac - I need your love so bad
The Nice - Intermezzo from the Karelia Suite
Carl Orff - from Carmina Burana - Fortune Plango Vulnera
Bob Dylan - When He Returns
Van Halen - Jump
Imogen Heap - Hide and Seek
Arcade Fire - Intervention
Again, even this more esoteric list leaves out many I would love to feature... oh woe!

I have discovered you can see who also picked the songs you selected, quite alarming in some cases! Try out the searches in the section Find castaways and choices.


Wednesday, 1 June 2011

I’m loving angels instead...

Sometimes when attending the theatre you feel you already know something about the story or the author and then it's a further delight the way everything is brought to life in a way you had previously never imagined. Last night's performance of the relatively unknown play 'Assumption' at Colchester's Mercury Theatre meant there were additional unknowns in the artistic equation to engage the audience en masse. Written by established playwright Simon Turley, this is a brilliant romp which manages to trash an array of sacred cows by tackling topics including religion, prejudice, hypocrisy, abuse, misogyny and Irish Roman Catholicism with a robust yet gentle comedic touch.

The script is wickedly brilliant and multi-layered. For example you could interpret the core theme of the justified dig at institutional religion as the overall message or you could readily be seduced by the revelation of something deeply spiritual and therefore more transcendental.

The plot centres on Gabriella, played by Emily Woodward, who is a straightforward, down to earth, 'girl next door' type who falls pregnant 'without having committed the requisite sin'. She then has to suffer the terror of facing up to her busybody, 'never does anything wrong' mother, to 'confess' that the father is actually an angel. Meanwhile her friend, Anna, played by Nadia Morgan, has suspicions that Gabriella is also carrying a torch for Sean (never seen on stage), whom Anna is determined to marry. As a result, during confession, she 'lets it slip' to Father Farrell (also never seen!) about Gabriella's condition. The first act revolved around setting this part of the story, with riveting performances from the compact cast of just five actresses plus a cameo from a young girl.

The pace is consistently sedate, befitting the period the costumes suggest. As always with Colchester Mercury's productions, the standard is exceptional, respect due to Dee Evans for the sensitive direction. The faultless technical production and brilliant lighting design counterbalanced what appears to be a simple set, providing both subtle surprises and one jaw dropping moment early in the 1st act that provoked a collective gasp from the audience. Whilst it is difficult to single out a single performance from the cast, as the seamless combination of them all makes this production really solid, Christine's Absalom's performance as Gabriella's mother was captivating along with Amanda Haberland as the androgynous angel. They formed a counterpoint to the hapless Gabriella who also had to contend with the Reverend Mother, played by Gilian Cally. However, it is Emily's performance as Gabriella that engenders an affection that means you long for things to work out for her and in that respect she is utterly convincing.

As for special moments, there are many. I loved the way the script is an allegory of the Christmas Nativity story and presents Gabriella with similar challenges to the Blessed Mary. The 2nd Act sees Gabriella unceremoniously despatched off to the exploitative Sisters of Mercy for 'correction' from her unspeakable sin ('for the best'). This yielded the most poignant moments, betwixt Gabriella and the subservient nun Assumpta, as the play takes on a further dimension and embeds the audience with unforgettable tenderness. This ability to combine humour and pathos to tackle essentially a religious storyline in a way that oozes charm rather than offense is so special and this production nails it.
I sit and wait
does an angel contemplate my fate
and do they know
the places where we go
when we´re grey and old
´cos I´ve been told
that salvation lets their wings unfold
so when I’m lying in my bed
thoughts running through my head
and I feel that love is dead
I’m loving angels instead
Assumption runs until Saturday 11th June 2011, it's definitely worth making the trip to Colchester to experience that something extra the Mercury's productions have, this is definitely one to see and remember.