See One, Nineteen in Birmingham this weekend

My friend and fellow Archers writer Tim Stimpson has a play on this Friday and Saturday, at the Old Joint Stock Theatre in Birmingham.

I saw One, Nineteen when it was premiered in London. It’s fast moving, funny and thought-provoking. It got great reviews, including four stars in Time Out.

Since then it’s been performed in Suffolk and Salford, and finally comes to Tim’s home city of Birmingham.

And given the news from the other side of the world, the subject matter is, to say the least, prescient. To quote from the press release:

“…Freak storms bring devastating floods to the English coast, but before the rescue effort arrives, the media are already in town spinning their story.
A play about the power of the news, the strength of the government, the question of climate change, and of course, and the search for Sam, Jack and little Chloe…”

See you there, I hope.

More details and to buy tickets

Flyer and production company details

Amazing YouTube mash-ups by Kutiman

I’ve been knocked out by an amazing YouTube mash-up project by Kutiman. It’s called Thru You.

He’s trawled YouTube for completely unconnected clips and then cut and mixed them to make entirely new tracks.

I can’t conceive of the hours it must have taken just to find the clips, let alone all the editing and mixing.  And the music he’s made really works on its own merits, not just as a novelty.

Once you’ve listened, click on the credits to list all the source material, then follow through to some of the clips to get a feel for what the job must have entailed.

Singles reviewed as if they were Archers characters

The Lipster has reviewed this week’s singles (well, some of them) as if they were Archers characters.

Morrisey’s new single is described “as all rather spineless, but in a pleasant enough way”, which equates it to “wet” Nic Hanson.

And Thunderheist’s Sweet 16 is compared to sexy Annabelle Schrivener.  “…Rather like Krystal Carrington with her high-falutin’ head for business and bod for sin, Annabelle also has a fearfully dirty way of intoning sentences about protection orders on local bird’s nests. She is, to use modern parlance, well fierce…”

It won’t mean much to non-Archers listeners, but The Lipster clearly knows her (I suspect it’s a her) music and her Archers, which makes her a top bean in my book.

(Do books have beans?)

Four Word Film Review

Thanks to Katie Parry (not the one who kissed a girl and liked it – that’s Katie Perry)  I’ve just been introduced to Four Word Film Review.

No need to explain what it is – that is encapsulated perfectly in the (four word – neat) title.

There’s a website which contains (as I write) 28,726 films and 283,727 reviews, which I guess is a tribute to a brilliantly simple, accessible and fun idea. And indicates that I’ve come to it rather late.

The top-voted “review” for Casablanca is the clever “Nazis bogart Rick’s joint” (only clever if you’re familiar with the verb “to bogart”, of course.  If not, Urban Dictionary will enlighten you). I actually prefer the less popular, but inspired “Yellow Lorre, dead Lorre”.

And for The Matrix?  “Finding Neo”.  Nice that it references another film, I think.

You don’t have to send your reviews to the site, of course, although I hope you will.  You can play it as a game with friends, guessing the film from the review.

I haven’t tried this with the family yet, but I suspect it could lead to a lot of screams of “it’s obvious” from the setter, viewing their clue from the vantage point of the answer, while everyone else tears their hair out, trying to match it up to the hundreds or thousands of films they know.  A good one for car journeys, maybe.

Here’s a few of mine to kick you off:

  1. Dude, wears mascara?
  2. Takings in the balance
  3. Sent he mental, Johnny
  4. Women over the edge
  5. In the white Gere

Answers:

  1. Tootsie
  2. The Italian Job
  3. The Shining
  4. Thelma and Louise
  5. An Officer and a Gentleman

I’d love to hear your suggestions.

Rage wants amateur actors

Rage, which teams amateur performers with professional directors, is about to cast its next production – Our Country’s Good.

They’re looking for people 16+ (older than school leaving age) for an  open workshop audition 11am – 5pm on  Saturday 31 Jan in Birmingham.

The play will be rehearsed at a central location, three evenings a week.

The show will be performed 14 – 16 May at a  Birmingham theatre (they haven’t said which one yet).

They’re also intersted in hearing from people who want to work behind the scenes.

Full details

Human League, ABC, Heaven 17 – review

Last night with a thousand other midlifers to see three bands from my youth at Wolverhampton Civic Hall. I usually avoid this sort of musical necrophilia, but I thought it would be a nice pre-Christmas treat for Mrs D, who can still play an Ultravox album without irony.

One of the inevitables with this sort of “back from the dead” tour is seeing how well the performers have weathered over the the years.  Pretty good in most instances, although there was the odd middle aged spread being held in by the apparently compulsory grey suits.

Heaven 17 were fun.  Someone’s son on drums, I suspect (certainly not an original member).  Glenn Gregory (vocals, trilby, waistcoat) was obviously utterly delighted to be performing.  Great female vocals too. Temptation predictably brought the house down and I could have done with that being twice as long.

I have a soft spot for ABC, having seen them in a very intimate pre-tour warm up gig in the early 80s.  I was particularly looking forward to seeing the drummer, who had quite an individual style.  Disappointingly the sticksman they have now was much more conventional in his technique.

They did have quite a charistmatic female percussionist/vocalist though, which made up for it a bit.

It was all very professional, but in the old days Martin Fry really committed to those nonsense lyrics he writes.  After so long, and with a new album (they did a couple of tracks, which were fine, but didn’t get the crowd going) there’s a feeling that he’d rather be doing the new stuff.

Human League

And then the main attraction.  And no doubt about the stature of Human League in this package.  Ambitious staging (two level, giant LED screen across the full width of the stage).

Shock to see the once hair-curtained Phil Oakey now with a male pattern baldness No 1. Still looking good, though and with that insistent baritone voice in good shape.

Of the two female  singers, Susan Ann Sulley (the blonde one) is great value.  Looking magnificent, toned and blingy, and with great stagecraft (actually better than Oakey, who is a better singer than he is a frontman).

Joanne Catherall, unfortunately, is the Andrew Ridgely of the outfit.  Looking desperately uncomfortable in an ill-advised flapper dress, she looks every inch the girl that Phil snatched from a Sheffield disco nearly thirty years ago – if that disco was a gay bar frequented by transvestite plumbers.

But the set was one electropop classic after another.  There was much wearing of keyboards. Giant love hearts rolled around the stage to Love Action.  Fascination, Don’t You Want Me… you know the canon, and they (Catherall apart) delivered it with conviction.

Returning quickly for a remarkably fresh-sounding Being Boiled, they spoiled it for me by finishing with Electric Dreams. Hey guys, that’s not a Human League song, it’s pure fromage.

The audience didn’t care, though.  They went back home happy, aching slightly, not caring (until the cold morning) about work and wondering where the last 25 years have gone.