I feel like I’ve spent this winter season, just trying to avoid being somewhat ill. I was doing super well, until I overate on pizza and my digestive system decided to have a breakdown. Not fun. But thankfully this managed to pass before my 2 and a half day weekend as I had booked Friday afternoon off, specifically for theatre purposes. Let’s get into it!
First trip was to the Park Theatre for On The Ropes. This is the true story of the life of Vernon Vanriel, a legendary boxer who overcame drug addiction, homelessness and being on the brunt of the shoddy government’s Windrush scandal. Split into 12 rounds, the play (which Vernon co wrote with Dougie Blaxland) charts the rise of a young, ambitious boxer who had grown up in Tottenham as well as Vernon’s fight to return home to the UK from Jamaica, after a change in Home Office policy. This was such a fascinating story and really is such recent history after Vernon only won his fight against the Home Office in 2021. The play doesn’t shy away from the pain and horror that Vernon experienced as he was homeless for 13 years in Jamaica with a heart condition developing and no money to his name. I’m glad this play exists to show how awful the government and its shitty policies are and the impact they have on real people and their lives. The 3 piece cast were fantastic with Mensah Bediako leading as Vernon, supported by Ashley D Gayle and Amber James who juggle a plethora of characters throughout the show. This is really so worth the 2hr 25min run time and the trek to Finsbury Park, but this is such a vital story that deserves to be seen by as many people as possible. I went on a Monday night and had a whole row to myself, so anything to spread the word about this show. And also, Judge Rinder was in the audience the night I went and he seemed to really enjoy it, so it’s not just me that can recommend this. It’s only on until 4th Feb so be quick!
Second was a trip to the Southwark Playhouse Borough for Fake News which closed this week. I remember hearing about this show when it previewed at the Bridge Theatre a while back. And this was only over an hour long. What a DREAM. Sad for me – the show itself was not. The one person play written by and starring Osmain Baig follows the rise of a budding young journalist who will do anything to be successful. The play is positioned sort of like a Ted Talk as the protagonist is detailing his rise from intern to top of the food chain to a group of interns (the audience). I thought this was fine. It was funny in places, but honestly the play felt like mansplaining most of the time. And some of the scenarios were just bizarre, how is it meant to be believable that publishing a fake article wouldn’t get you fired? I just didn’t buy it. But hey ho, always good to support the Southwark Playhouse. I also paid a visit to the Donmar Warehouse this week for Watch on the Rhine. Didn’t know anything about it, but managed to find a ticket for a £10. This was pretty fascinating play, following the Farrelly family in Washington as the eldest daughter flees home from Europe along with her German husband. The play takes place at the beginning of World War II and it isn’t until the end of act one, that the plot really starts to thicken. What was really sublime about Lillian Hellman’s play is how subtly political it is. Given this premiered in a time where any opposition likely would’ve resulted in horrible consequences, Lillian Hellman still manages to make her feelings clear, which I thought was impressive. The cast is fantastic, particularly Patricia Hodge as the matriarch Fanny, who balanced the comedy and drama super well. The run at the Donmar concludes on the 4th Feb – I believe the rest of the run is sold out but worth checking the website for any returns. And I had another spot as I passed Michael and Hilary Whitehall in the bar at the interval (their son was not with them. Believe me, I checked).
My final two shows for the week were on a Friday for a change! I booked the afternoon off purely so I could catch Zara Macintosh as Juliet in her regular Friday afternoon slot at & Juliet. So many of my friends had seen her and raved about her and WOW were they right. She was a perfect Juliet, so much energy and what a voice! I was also treated to Collette Guitart as Anne who made a wonderful pair with Zara. This was a lovely surprise for me as I had seen both of them in Six way back when. The entire cast was on absolute top level, the audience were on fire and it was such a great time overall. It also made me realise that this was round 7 for me! I’m hoping to squeeze in another trip before the show finishes its run at the end of March. If you haven’t seen the show yet, what on earth are you waiting for! And my last show of the week was a return visit to Newsies which was round 3 for me. I had previously sat in Flushing and Manhattan but wanted to try another section, so managed to find a cheap ticket in The Bronx! Only some of the set was cut off but it’s still so cool to see the incredibly choreography so up close. I still got excited when the zip line was in action. Currently booking until April and if you haven’t been yet, GO. So worth seeing the incredible performers and choreography with your own eyes, in the flesh. My last famous person spotting was actually in Wembley before Newsies. I was sat in Black Sheep Coffee reading (cr: When We Collided by Emery Lord, not loving it but determined to get it done). This guy sits at the table next to mine and he looks familiar but not sure where I could place him. And then I logged on Twitter and saw Max Harwood had tweeted that he was going to Newsies again. And that’s when it dawned on me, he was the person on the table next to mine. Such a small world!
Any Other Media
Cinema trips included a 2 showing Saturday to catch up on some of the awards season films. First one we saw was The Fabelmans, which was quite a long, emotive drama. And then saw in the credits that Tony Kushner was a co-writer and I realised ah yes, the king of long emotive dramas. I quite liked the film, it did feel a bit slow moving at the time and took a bit of time to get going. But Michelle Williams was wonderful as always. And secondly, we saw Babylon which was 3 hours of my life that I’ll never get back. Fucking hell. What was the point of it all, honestly. It was so overly gory and had some moments that were just downright awful. It was also incredibly loud, like please whoever the sound team was – you could’ve turned down the volume. Maybe I was just crabby from being tired, but this was not for me.
Any Other Business
Not much else really, just waiting impatiently for Taylor Swift to make her next move. As always. Hoping for something soon. I did also do an online Boots haul, cause I’m tired of going into a Boots with the intent of buying a couple of things I need and walking out with 5 other things that I didn’t really need. Very excited about that to be honest. Is this… being an adult?
Until next time,
Categories: A Week In The Life
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