Friday 11 August 2017

A music legend, some drinking, some theatre and some comedy...

31st July - 6th August 2017

Music, comedy, Shakespeare and a musical based on parliamentary hearings, doesn't get more varied than that...

Brian Wilson

On Tuesday night we headed West to Hammersmith to catch Brian Wilson on the final leg of his Pet Sounds world tour.

We caught the show twice last year at the London Palladium and the Together The People Festival in Brighton so knew we were in for a good show, and once again we weren't disappointed, the show had even had some new tunes added to change it up a little.

There's been much eyebrow raising about Wilson's participation in these tours as after years of mental health issues and now being in his mid-seventies his voice has understandably weakened and he's not running about the stage spryly anymore, however these shows have an assembled band which accurately and astonishingly interpret the masterpiece that is 'Pet Sounds' as well as other Beach Boys classics the best you'll ever hear them, all anchored by Wilson's stately presence.

The band also comprises Beach Boy Al Jardine and his son Matt Jardine who does a lot of the heavy lifting when it comes to the iconic Beach Boys harmonies, and former Beach Boy Blondie Chaplin.

The show comprises three sections, the first is a collection of hits and some deeper cuts, including 'I Get Around', 'Shut Down' and the like, then after a short break moves on to a complete play through of 'Pet Sounds' and ends with another selection of hits ending the show on the crest of a wave, (surfing pun intended).

Having a band comprising such talented musicians, playing guitars, bass, keyboards, drums, percussion, woodwind, and all able to sing harmonies means the amazing scope of the original work is recreated flawlessly.

However there's something tellingly poignant hearing Wilson singing such beautiful and achingly youthful naive songs in his now slightly fractured tones, 'God Only Knows' and 'Don't Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)' in particular, and show closer 'Love And Mercy' just reinforces Wilson's genius as a musician and composer.

The full set list was:

California Girls
Dance, Dance, Dance
I Get Around
Shut Down
Little Deuce Coupe
Little Honda
In My Room
Surfer Girl
Salt Lake City
Let The Wind Blow
I'd Love Just Once To See You
Aren't You Glad
California Saga : California
Don't Worry Baby
Let Him Run Wild
Feel Flows
Wild Honey
Sail On, Sailor
Wouldn't It Be Nice
You Still Believe In Me
That's Not Me
Don't Talk (Put Your Head On My Shoulder)
I'm Waiting For The Day
Let's Go Away For Awhile
Sloop John B
God Only Knows
I Know There's An Answer
Here Today
I Just Wasn't Made For These Times
Pet Sounds
Caroline, No

Good Vibrations
Help Me, Rhonda
Barbara Ann
Surfin' U.S.A.
Fun, Fun, Fun
Love And Mercy

Shit-Faced Shakespeare : Much Ado About Nothing

A Late addition to Thursday night, (as we had a later show to go to so thought we'd fill the time), at the Leicester Square Theatre was a show with an interesting premise, Shakespeare performed by a group of actors, one of whom is drunk...

The show starts by our compere for the evening revealing the alcohol consumed by that evening's drunkard, in this case nine bottles of Corona, and an outline of the rules...

Three audience members are charged with certain tasks, one with a gong, one with a horn and one with a bucket. Those with the gong or horn were allowed to use it once in any instance that they felt the drunk was getting sober and needed another drink, you can guess why the bucket was there...

The host also informed us she would intervene if there was any danger to the drunk or the show needed getting back on track as you would imagine it's difficult enough to remember and perform Shakespeare whilst sober, so it was liable to go off on a tangent at times.

Needless to say the inebriated member was glaringly obvious and her struggles, and mini victories with the lines were very funny. The various instances of bad language were to be expected and the sober cast members around her trying to keep the play moving did an admirable job of persevering and ad-libbing when required.

Thankfully the bucket didn't come into play!

The show won't be for everyone, however at just over an hour it was a very entertaining show and should bear repeated visits as a different member gets drunk each time, if you like a good laugh and like Shakespeare it's worth catching.

Dara O'Briain - Work In Progress

So after Shakespeare we headed over to the Soho Theatre for a late show of Dara O'Briain performing a work in progress show for material to form his next tour.

We've been to several shows before of this ilk by Frank Skinner, David Baddiel Ricky Gervais and Micky Flanagan so know what to expect, warts and all, usually involving referring to notes and polishing routines, however these shows also tend to be more personal and afford to opportunity to hear lots of material which doesn't always make the final cut.

As ever O'Briain's comedy is as smart as you'd expect, touching on his roles as host of Stargazing Live and Go 8 Bit, with a particularly funny routine regarding technology in his house.

He also had a very funny section about ailments and visiting the doctor with minor symptoms.

Tickets for these sorts of shows are also a bargain at around ten to fifteen pounds and afford the opportunity to see them in small venues too.

From the material showcased here the final show should be really funny, keep your eyes peeled as venues such as this have work in progress shows often for a variety of comedians and they're always worth catching.


On Saturday we caught the matinee performance of a new musical at the Donmar Warehouse based on the parliamentary hearings concerning the high profile collapse of charity Kids Company.

Not a subject that you would think lends itself to the musical format, (actually plays more like an operetta of sorts), however it's a clever way of presenting the facts of the subject and it's lean run time of eighty minutes with no interval meant that it kept our attention.

The setup consists the two people in charge of Kids Company, Alan Yentob and Camila Batmanghelidjh attending a parliamentary hearing to ascertain why the charity collapsed financially, carried out by a variety of MPs charged with discovering and reporting the failings to stop something similar happening in future.

The cast were all well chosen, as each MP is introduced we see the real MPs on screens and the likeness is superb, as are the two Kids Company representatives.

Cameras face the pair and this feed is shown on screens at the back of the stage above the panel of MPs, however at times all the cast members get up and move about the stage, sometimes also taking on the personas of witnesses to deliver actual testimony.

Alexander Hanson as the chair of the committee chair Bernard Jenkin is particularly effective, as was Sandra Marvin, unrecognisable as Batmanghelidjh.

Whatever your opinion on the scandal, this production only seeks to prevent the event as documented, which in itself highlights quite clearly where the failings lied with the venture.

However as a piece of innovative musical theatre it's very well written and performed and certainly worth catching to illustrate just how the medium can still surprise.

That's it for this week, next week sees the conclusion of a two part play from earlier this year and a theatrical treatment of a Hitchcock classic, until then, get inspired...

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