Thursday, October 10, 2013

London Cocktail Week: My Plan of Action

As you may already know, London Cocktail Week is well under way. The UK's biggest drink festival started on Monday and is offering mixology lessons, pop-up stalls and free tasters until Sunday.

Wristbands for the event cost £10 and allow wearers access to sampling, cocktail demonstrations and cocktail tours. 

I have made a list of the places I want to visit around the Seven Dials area. All are within a stone's throw from each other. I doubt I will be able to get 10 sampling sessions in but I can have fun trying!

Why don't you have a go? Buy your London Cocktail Week wristband here and join me in sampling the cocktails on offer in Seven Dials using the map below. Click on it and hover over the pins to see what spirits they base the drinks on.

Other places to visit include:
  • Seven Dials 
  • Marylebone
  • The City
  • Clapham Hight Street
  • Trafalgar Square and Piccadilly
  • Angel and Islington
  • Clapham Juction
  • Bermondsey and Borough
  • Chelsea and South Kensington
  • Southbank
  • King's Cross
  • Coven Garden 
  • Soho
  • Fitzrovia
  • Shoreditch
  • Notting Hill

Happy drinking!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Go and Marvel at Matilda

Roald Dahl's deliciously naughty and absurdly funny literature, from his children's books to his darker short stories for adults, has been a staple for many a person's fictional appetite.

A West End musical always holds the potential to be a cheesy few hours of hammed-up show tunes and jazz hands. However, what awaits theatre-goers and Roald Dahl fans at the Cambridge Theatre is the most delicious concoction of alphabet soup.

There is sweet and sour in equal measure, with the angelic Miss Honey and the bullish, thuggish beast that is Miss Trunchball. The large bosom, statueqsiue build and devlishly funny delivery from Alex Gaumond has the audience in stitches. The Olympic sportswoman proved hilarious as she marches her minions to exhaustion through an acrobatic routine in the gymnasium.

The person who, quite rightly, stole the show was Matilda. She sang every word with clarity and innocent wit and to top it all off proved to be a dab hand at Russian.

The moment that proved to be the tipping point from 4 stars to 5 was the subplot of the acrobat and the escapologist. Some musicals try to add a bit of flavour to a well-known story by introducing new characters. Composer Tim Minchin and writer Dennis Kelly struck gold with this narrative as it built on the empathy and admiration for the courageous little girl. It also neatly tied in with her discovery of Miss Honey's secret past (the sub-plot doubles as a retelling of her childhood).

The magic was captured excellently on stage with the newt, the floating chalk and the beautifully assembled stage that magically created a school, a playground and a party out of alphabetical building blocks.

 Miss Trunchball the Olympian

A recent Huffington Post review on the Broadway version suggested that this play is not for the very young and parents should make a judgement call depending on their child's 'sensitivity'. Matilda wouldn't stand for that nonsense. It seems us Brits are made of sterner stuff.

Where: Cambridge Theatre
Price: Tickets were supplied by Seatwave, who are an online marketplace where fans can buy and sell tickets to theatre, sports and music events, such as Bruno Mars tickets
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Josh Widdicombe and Seann Walsh at the Hammersmith Apollo

Two weeks ago I made my first trip to the Hammersmith Apollo expecting to roll on the floor crying with laughter and gasping for air. Safe to say Josh Widdicombe and Seann Walsh did not make my dreams of oxygen deficiency through giggling come true. Both acts were recording their performances for a DVD after touring the UK to apparently 'sold out' venues.

First up was Seann Walsh, a 26-year-old from Brighton, who has established himself as an emerging artist on the comedy circuit and has appeared on TV in the usual shows Mock the Week, Celebrity Juice and 8 out of 10 Cats.

His performance touched on the mundane views of a cosmopolitan life: troubles with using iphones, being drunk, and being hungover. There was a good sketch about the awkward moment you are in a park and and someone's football goes astray and you have to return it. Do you kick? No you throw it. And then it lands 2 feet from where you are standing so you have to awkwardly pick it up and pass it to the youths that are watching and waiting. This material could have provide a hilarious few minutes. A moment that most people can identify with.

However, Walsh plays it out in slow motion. The first few moments has me giggling as I try to guess what's happening. However, 10 minutes in, he is still slow motion walking across the stage, everyone has clapped and is now slightly bored of him picking up the football for the third time. He uses this technique later and again it drags on. Similarly, he uses long pauses - I don't know if they were for laughter or to think of the next joke - which only slowed the pace down even more. This was a shame as he gathered momentum in a few of the funnier jokes only to lose the audience again.

Josh Widdicombe and Seann Walsh

By the time Josh Widdicombe appeared, I have to say, I had been doing a bit of clock watching.

Widdicombe touches on similar aspects of London living: troubles with using iphones, being drunk, and being hungover. He delivers on these more expertly, picking up the pace and linking up jokes where you least expect (unlike Walsh where you predict the joke before it has been said). Although, finely tuned, his act still didn't excite me, there was nothing naughty to giggle at or nor anything hilariously familiar to whisper to your friends 'I do that!'

But maybe that's because I don't have an iphone, I wasn't drunk and I wasn't hungover.... 

Where: Hammersmith Apollo
Price: Free through a special offer by Eventim
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