exhibitions · London · review

Designs of the year 2018 | The Design Museum

The Design Museum’s Designs of the Year exhibition is one I’ve been looking forward to all year. Having missed the 2017 event, I was keen to head down to Kensington as soon as I knew the doors were open.

It’s very easy in this day and age to forget how design is everywhere. Every item we use has been researched, discussed, built, tested and then evolved to reach a product that works seamlessly. There’s a lot of thought in there.

The exhibition was designed into different sections, from medical technology including an operation table that fits into a backpack to fashion and Burberry’s incorporation of the rainbow in their iconic print. Rihanna’s make up line showcasing her broad foundation range, and a smart furniture system to make the most of living in a small space also made an appearance.

With 87 different innovative projects to see, this is an exhibition to check out.

Beazley Designs of the Year 2018 is on at The Design Museum until 6 January 2019.

London · performance · play · review · Theatre

Pity at the Royal Court

From the very beginning, I knew Pity was not going to be a straightforward play. Having collected our tickets we were sent back out of the theatre, down a side alley and straight onto the stage.

The performance had already started, a brass band were playing centre stage and an ice cream stall had a long queue of patrons. We were invited to pick up our tombola tickets, buy an ice cream cone and take our seats. It opened up the theatre experience and, with it, created a community out of the audience.

Of course, once the show began it was clear we were to expect the unexpected. But the unexpected continued to surprise me. It was a fast-paced show, making the 1 hr 40 running time fly by. There’s a skill needed to keep an audience engaged when a play is in one act and Rory Mullarkey did just that.

From the simple town square, we followed Alex on a day like no other. There was death, bombs, guns, ice cream, a wedding, snipers, actors and statues. Each scene questioned the world we currently live in; the people and the politics. The questions raised covered the why and how to the confusion and the mundane. The world can change at any moment. Teams are decided, alliances are drawn and the bystanders are left to put everything back together again.

Pity worked very well as a comedy, it needed to have the lighter elements to contrast the destruction of the world we’ve come to know. The stage design enhanced the show as it managed to weave in more surprises at every turn. This is a piece of new theatre we need to see more of.

This may have been my first visit to the Royal Court, but it certainly won’t be my last.

art · exhibitions · gallery · London · review · Royal Academy

Summer Exhibition

Considering I used to spend every weekend in an art gallery (in fairness I did work there) it’s been far too long since I last visited an exhibition.

On a sunny Saturday, in search of an afternoon of culture, I headed to the Royal Academy for their 2018 Summer Exhibition. Curated alongside Greyson Perry, this year’s exhibition was always going to be a splash of colour and design.

I love the way the Summer Exhibition is created, art is suddenly everywhere, a mix-match of style: landscapes and portraits, still life and photography. Even politics and brexit got a mention. It was full of expression, of discussion starters as it evaluated life in the here and now.

Everywhere you looked there was something to catch your attention. Larger works of art sitting loud and bright, smaller pieces that needed to be spotted, sculptures, textiles, models and videos.

There was even a bar.

This may be my first Summer Exhibition, but I’ll be back for 2019.

London · play · review · Theatre

The Encounter

The last time I set foot into the Barbican was to see Titus Andronicus, this was an altogether different piece of theatre.

The Encounter is an experience of sound, a new way of storytelling which in turn, is the oldest form of storytelling we have. Sound is already an intricate part of a performance, but when it is allowed to take centre stage it can alter an entire perception. A whisper can become louder than a shout. A rainforest can appear out of nowhere and disappear just as quickly.

We follow the story of Loren McIntyre, an explorer in 1969, deep in the Amazon rainforest. His search for the local tribe is less of an adventure as a challenge. It’s an encounter like no other, isolating and terrifying. Broken only through Simon McBurney’s realisation of the modern day, his daughter and the very act of storytelling.

The whole story is told through headphones, making the experience both more intimate and more isolating. You are no longer a member of an audience, but a solo viewer of a solo show. The staging is minimal, the sound is left to convey everything and with it your imagination controls the rest of the story.

It’s a clever retelling, focused on sound and isolation, of the ways we can communicate without language. Simon McBurney captivates the audience through a journey like no other. This is an adventure you should join.

legend · London · myth · National Theatre · performance · play · review

Saint George and the Dragon

I thought I knew the tale of England’s patron saint, yet this National Theatre production alternated my preconceptions of the famous story.

While we may begin with dragons and armour, knights and fair maidens. The story soon shifts to convey a much deeper message; questioning the world that is to come. Saint George (John Heffernan) interjects comedy at just the right moment bringing light relief to this otherwise quite dark play. Rory Mullarkey’s writing is tactically clever, intertwining this historic story with many modern twists and relatable experiences. Perhaps, we too, live in the constant shadow of the dragon.

Yet, it was the set that craftily brought each element together, bringing with it the world we know and the world we think we know. Gradually turning the simple village into a busy town and a thriving city — each time with a new challenge to face. The backdrop enhances the tale and with it the perception of development, of a new and improved life, while hinting at the sacrifice this entails.

This may have been my first visit to the National Theatre — but it certainly won’t be my last.

exhibitions · London · Museum · review

London – The National History Museum

This past month has been quite a busy one, I’ve moved to London and in a typical fashion of exploring a new city took the first opportunity to be a tourist. While I’ve visited the majority of London’s museums, most of my memories are ten years old. It seemed the perfect time to take the tube to South Kensington and visit the National History Museum.

I expected the dinosaurs, the fossils and grand scale of the exhibitions – one thing that surprised me was the architecture. Hintze Hall was astonishing, a masterpiece of the victorian era and something my younger self hadn’t noticed or appreciated. Regardless of the displays and taxonomy this room now held, it was the stonework, bridges and arches that held my attention.

The experience from start to finish was impressive, entering through the Earth’s core and being taken on a journey across the atmosphere from the Earth’s beginning to today. It’s a perfect spot for half term this week with a range of exhibitions everyone will enjoy.

London · Musical · review · The Book of Mormon · Theatre · West End

The Book of Mormon

I’ve wanted to see the Book of Mormon for quite a little while now, it’s a musical that I know very little about. Although it’s been in London’s West End for four years, it’s managed to keep its plot fairly secret if you don’t go looking too closely.

book-of-mormon-2

Although I’ve stood in line for the lottery on two different occasions, failing each time to be the lucky one, I finally booked tickets for the show. It was certainly well worth the wait.

The show is a spectacular twist of comedy and musical – combining the very best of both. I’ve never laughed so hard while being sat in the stalls, and briefly I think even the actors corpsed on stage. Occasionally when at the theatre, you have an audience that heightens every emotion of the show, we laughed together, gasped in shock together, and stood together for a well-deserved standing ovation. It certainly added to the atmosphere and in response the actors put on a brilliant show.

The songs are incredible, brilliantly slotted into the plot of the musical. There are unexpected moments around every corner as the plot twists and turns at every opportunity. A hilarious and clever production.

 

 

fiction · Harry Potter · literature · London · performance · review · Theatre · West End

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has claimed its place as the play of the year — it is quite simply magic.

hp-the-trioI am more than happy to admit that I am a Potterhead, I’ve read the books more times than I can count, watched the films; I’ve been to the studio, the wizarding world in Orlando, and most of the UK film locations too. So of course, I found myself online last year waiting patiently in the queue for tickets of J.K.Rowlings eighth story.

Wow, just wow, it was worth the wait.

From the emergence of familiar faces, characters we’ve seen grow up to the new; Albus and Scorpius create a duo based on strong friendship and a desire for justice. It’s a story that holds parallels to the series, that of bravery and friendship but also unexpected twists and turns. We return to some of the most memorable times of Harry’s world, in a totally new light, exploring the manner in which Harry, Ron and Hermione fight with the past. But this is truly a tale of Albus and Scorpius and a lesson on magic’s restrictions in today’s world. Albus’ determination mirrors Harry’s own adventures of bravery, and at times disobedience, with one of times biggest lessons to learn.

The theatrical side of this production is really where the play outshone. I’ve never witnessed such clever incorporations of dance, choreography and scene changes — allowing the story to flow continuously.

hp-hogwarts

Yet it is the magic of the show that takes centre stage, perhaps it’s the magic of theatre, the belief of the audience or the Harry Potter world the audience knows and loves. Spells from the good-old expelliarmus, to duels between Harry and Draco were dotted through the performance. My favourites included the use of polyjuice position, I still don’t understand how it happened on stage, to transporting into the Ministry of Magic in the famous red telephone box, and of course the use of floo power. Magic as I have never seen albus-and-scorpiusit before.

Writing about a show can never do it justice, especially a play embedded with magic from start to finish. Sam Clemmett captures Albus’ attributes perfectly, his sidekick Scorpius, Anthony Boyle, and their friendship is one of the strongest I have ever seen on stage. The golden trio are, of course, perfectly cast and captured. A production that shines with talent.

I laughed, I cried and I wanted to head straight back in for more. This was a most magical experience, brilliantly portrayed on stage — the perfect extension to Harry’s story.

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is playing at The Palace Theatre, London – currently sold out until 2017 (with more tickets coming soon!). You can read about my ponderings of the play, and other Potter reviews here.

Finding Neverland · Harry Potter · London · Musical · play · Preview · The Girls · Theatre · West End

Looking Forward to the West End

As Harry Potter and the Cursed Child begins to hold previews this week, it’s time to look forward to the plays and musicals that are soon to open.

cursed-child-palace-theaterI managed to gain Harry Potter and the Cursed Child tickets back in October, although I’ve still got five months until I see the play in November, the recent photo releases have certainly intrigued me. The world has been waiting for the next Potter instalment for nine years, and I am certainly excited to see what Harry has been up to. We will re-visit the magical world once again, it’s almost like going back home. The two-part play will be a first for me, an insight into splitting the story in two – but a whole day at the theatre can only be a good thing.

FindingNeverland0040_Rev02-OBC-1024x683Next on my list is Finding Neverland, I fell in love with the story, the music and the characters when I saw the original broadway cast in the Lunt-Fontanne theatre, New York. Thankfully, they’re flying the show over to London, landing in January 2017. I’m looking forward to re-emerging myself into the story of how Peter become Pan, a story within a story, full of life, laughter and sorrow.

Finally, Gary Barlow’s The Girls is ready to make it’s West End debut in 2017. Having seen The Girls premiere in The Lowry, Manchester; the musical was one destined for London’s stage. It’s depiction of Yorkshire was amusingly realistic, and the songs full of humour and heartache. It’s a musical to make you laugh and cry.

So I have a few theatre trips to plan, and many more plays to review this autumn and winter. Are there any new play you’re looking forward to?

London · Musical · Phantom of the Opera · review · Theatre · West End

The Phantom of the Opera

The first May bank holiday arrived, and with the sun shining, I headed to London for the long weekend and, of course, a musical.

Phantom - boatCurrently in its 30th year, phantom had been scaring the stage and keeping the audience on their toes in critical acclaim. It’s been a musical I’ve been waiting to see for a while. Full of suspense and the power of music. Yet I was surprised by the many stories told within this tale. The original opera working in parallel to the Phantom’s own musical. It’s an incredible act of story telling. While simultaneously creating a range of emotions which take the audience through this journey.

Further to this, the elaborate staging enhanced the story line, the boat through the Phantom’s later was incredible to watch, a space full of suspense, appeared intimate despite the full house. Let alone the many secrets spaces the Phantom himself managed to hide within, taking me by surprise each time.

It was a breathtaking experience, the incredible cast and music kept the audience spell-bound throughout. It made me wish, once again, that I could somehow be apart of this theatre world, but we’ll just have to see what time will bring.

phantom

The Phantom of the Opera is playing at Her Majesty’s Theatre, this classic is not to be missed.