Friday, 8 August 2014

The Power of Summer at Battersea Power Station : LOCAL LOVES

Well guys, there's something happening over at the Battersea Power Station! It's the last summer before all those uber rich bods move in to the snazzy flats that are being created there (I bet you can see your neighbour having a wee. Way too much glass.) so something had to be done!

So low and behold.....The Power of Summer was created! Brilliant people like The Indytute, Everyman Cinema and Street Feast have got together and created a riverside haven of outdoor summer fun. There's movies, classes, food stalls, bars, giant connect four...all the essentials one needs for shed loads of sunshine frolicking.

And lucky me, I was invited along by the lovely Sarah from The Prosecco Diaries and The Indytute to take part in a chocolate class and sample the delights on offer! I met Sarah, who runs brill evens and meet ups for bloggers, a few months ago at an Instagram workshop run by Jess aka Miss Underground at the Cath Kidston flagship store on Piccadilly. Sarah also focuses a lot on theatre in her blog so I was hooked at the sheer mention of The Prosecco Diaries.

The chocolate class at the Power Station was arranged by The Indytute who organise fun and inspired classes for adults.Now, I don't know about you but I just LOVE a workshop, I've recently become so obsessed with learning stuff. After uni I'd definitely had enough of education. The essays, the seminars, the books.....and don't get me started on critical theory. But now that I'm a few years clear of those hallowed halls of learning I'm suddenly ready to learn again and very, very happy that there won't be an exam at the end. Broaden your horizons and all that jazz - on your own terms.

So, where were we? CHOCOLATE. Some lovely chaps called Phil and Caesar from a very snazzy chocolatiers called Paul A Young ran the session and they sure knew their stuff. They took us through the origins of cocoa use, where it's traditionally grown, who first found it and the various forms it took before what we know chocolate to be today. Seriously interesting stuff that really makes you appreciate the art of chocolate!

But you can google all that yourselves can't you - what I should tell you is that we got to try some and it was seriously scrummy. Paul is famous for his daring flavours and combinations you wouldn't expect with chocolate (there was mention of marmite truffles and beef bon bons). The first we tried however was a scone, jam and clotted cream one and I absolutely loved it. The individual flavours came through at different times and really was link scone! We also tried Paul's award winning sea salt caramel filled chocolates....gahh my mouth is watering.

John has four shops in London - Soho, Bank, Tottenham Court Road and Camden - and the guys gave me a little voucher so I'm going to pop along to the Soho store asap so make a big purchase.

After getting our sweet fill it was time for some savoury and there is tonnes to choose from. We had a nice wonder round and plumped for an old fave - hot dogs. You can't go wrong with a mustard and ketchup laden hot dog. Ohhh the greasy goodness.


The Power of Summer is running until the end of August so pop along, take a class with The Indytute, see a film with Everyman and just sit and stuff your face with the help of Street Feast

Happy summering chaps!


Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Shakespeare in Love, Noel Coward Theatre : LOCAL LOVES

“A love letter to theatre...”

Ah lads, I’m in love! And so is Shakespeare it seems!

I went to the Shakespeare in Love press night, having seen it only a week before too, and fell head over heels. I booked the first visit with ‘the gals’ as soon as tickets came on sale when I didn't know I'd be going to the press night too. So lucky me, I’ve seen it twice and it is BRILLIANT.

When word got out that Shakespeare in Love was going to be made into a play it just seemed to make total sense, of course it should be on the stage! The play is sitting prettily at the Noel Coward on St Martin’s Lane and I can tell you, it is just lovely. Completely lovely. If you’re a fan of the film – go see the show. If you’ve not seen the film – go see the show, then borrow someone’s dvd and relive all your fave bits. 

The actors...

Shakespeare is played by the wonderfully hunky Tom Bateman – please see evidence  of hunkiness here. Very different to Joseph Fiennes who played the role in the film, Tom is a more manly and strong Shakespeare who doesn't wither under his writer’s block but instead knows he must find inspiration in love. His relationship with Kit Marlow (played by David Oakes who you may know from the BBC’s The White Queen) is a great development from the film, there's a lovely sense of true friendship and comradery. 

Lucy Briggs-Owen plays the theatre loving Viola and is perfect for the role. The passion she has for Shakespeare’s writing is so earnest and, from one theatre-obsessive to another, is so brilliantly conceivable. Shakespeare and Viola are both struck with a sudden and all-consuming, needless to say forbidden, love and I found it all completely believable. The chemistry between these two is palpable and you can feel it even in the back row of the balcony.

Best bits...

THERE IS A DOG. Yes, a dog. As we all learnt from the film – everyone loves a bit with a dog. And this new West End powerhouse is no exception. The big fluffball, an Irish wolfhound named Spot, bounds on stage and steals the show. Also, keep an eye out for him at the curtain call...!

But it’s not just the canine cameo that makes this show great. The set, designed by Nick Ormerod, is the inside of a beautiful wooden three tiered Elizabethan playhouse with a central section that glides forward and back, transforming the space and bringing the audience 'backstage'. The ensemble watch the scenes they're not involved in from the balconies, creating theatre within a theatre, within a theatre...within.. You get the gist.

There are also constant nods to the bard, famous lines are dotted here and there, and thrown into conversation. The audience titters in quiet recognition. It's moments like this that make this show a love letter to theatre. 

The after party...

Was brilliant. It took place in the stunning Southwark Cathedral as there is a window and statue that commemorates Shakespeare, and his brother Edmund was also buried there. We were greeted by flaming torches, champers and canapes. My sister pondered whether we'd get 'Shakespearean food' but luckily there was lots of smoked salmon, goats cheese stuffed cherry tomatoes and tiny bowls of cheesy risotto. I had a totally brill time and loved spotting the cast in their party frocks. I didn't get many photos as it's wasn't really the place to get snap-happy in!

The reviews...

Stonking. Simply stonking. The critics loved it.

"It’s got the lot – a stirring love story, a prodigious succession of terrific jokes - and it sends up the theatre something rotten while simultaneously delighting in it." 

"This is the best British comedy since One Man, Two Guvnors and deserves equal success." 

"A joyous celebration of theatre itself." 

"A swooning delight. Terrific."


Get tickets here - prices range from £17.25 to £89.75 so there's a seat for every budget. I really do recommend going if you are any sort of theatre fan, it's a wonderful show and you'll come out feeling all warm n' fuzzy!


Tuesday, 15 July 2014

The Crucible starring Richard Armitage at the Old Vic Theatre : LOCAL LOVES

Ah chaps I saw a BRILLIANT play last week – Arthur Miller’s The Crucible at the Old Vic. It was a seriously amazing evening and if you’re a theatre fan then this is a production that you really should see.

At three hours and forty minutes long it is quite a marathon but it’s such high quality that I personally welcomed the lengthy session in my seat! The Crucible is a real favourite of mine – I studied it at school in both my English classes and also in Drama, and also religiously (ooo interesting word choice...) watched and re-watched the film starring Daniel Day-Lewis and Winona Rider. So it’s fair to say I know it inside out. 

Set in 1692 in Massachusetts, The Crucible depicts the famous witch trials that took place in Salem. Led by Abigail Williams, a group of young girls are caught dancing naked in the woods and performing ‘magic’. Dancing is considered punishable in this town, let alone performing magic. To cover their actions they say they were forced to by Barbadian slave Tituba and that they spoke with the devil. They accuse members of the community of being in the presence of the devil, thus naming them witches or wizards. Those accused are brought to trial and if they do not admit their so-called sins they are sentenced to hanging.

Amongst those accused is Elizabeth Proctor, wife of John Proctor who has slept with Abigail Williams in the past. Abigail hopes to have Elizabeth hanged so that she can pursue John.

So there’s a lot of lives at stake, reputations to be tarnished and accusations falsely made with disastrous consequences. 

John Proctor is played by the wonderful Richard Armitage, who recently starred in The Hobbit and Robin Hood, and also happens to be rather gorgeous. Proctor is a seriously meaty part and one that it seems Richard is revelling in playing – check out what he has to say about it in this video

Richard Armitage as John Proctor

Abigail is played by newcomer Samantha Colley in her professional stage debut – she has such power in her performance, she really captures the strength and danger of Abigail, and at times seems truly possessed. 

Samantha Colley as Abigail Williams

And, for me, the role of Mary Warren seemed all the more significant in the Old Vic production. Often overlooked as a protagonist for the bolder Abigail, Mary’s attempt to tell the truth is pivotal in the explosion of activity that brings the play thundering to it’s conclusion. Natalie Gavin takes on the role with great precision and emotional awareness. An honest and wonderful performance.

And all of this astounding acting and action is accompanied beautifully by Richard Hammarton’s haunting soundscape, a constant reminder of the suspense and risk in the melting pot that Salem has become.

It’s thrilling, heartbreaking, gut-wrenching and ridiculously brilliant. There was barely a dry eye in the house. Get tickets here and experience it for yourself.


Sunday, 15 June 2014

My Week With London, Photos : LOCAL LOVES

Hello, hello! It was quiet week this week. Just the one theatre trip and some riverside catch ups with friends. I spent the weekend having some drinks in the garden (which turned into jagerbombs in Brixton, deary me), doing some life-admin and pretending I'm a grown up by buying peonies from Marks and Sparks. 

The weather was lovely though so here are some sunny snaps...

Embankment footbridge

Covent Garden rickshaws

Bobbing along the Thames

National Portrait Gallery
Next week is looking fun - seeing my new fave band in Soho, drinks with an old school friend and a football bbq at mine!


Friday, 13 June 2014

Skylight, Bill Nighy & Carey Mulligan at Wyndham's Theatre : LOCAL LOVES

I saw Skylight starring Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan last night and it was WONDERFUL. I’ve been walking past the theatre for weeks, gazing at the posters and dreaming of getting a ticket so I was absolutely over the moon when a little email pinged up in my inbox inviting me along!

Skylight centres around Kyra and Tom – a young woman and older man – who brought an end to their six year affair after Tom’s wife discovered their illicit relationship. The play joins them three years after this, in which time Tom’s wife has died of cancer without giving him the forgiveness he so craved and Kyra has dispassionately removed herself from the situation.

In Kyra’s cold London council flat in late December, Tom and Kyra reminisce, flirt, argue, shout and throw. It’s thrilling to see them slipping back into their old and familiar relationship while past tensions quickly rise to the surface. 

Bill and Carey are utterly convincing in their roles – Carey has a maturity to her performance (I think it’s that amazing voice of hers) that makes the age gap completely plausible. And there’s a youthfulness to Bill’s portrayal of Tom's desire for forgiveness and poorly concealed feelings of ownership.

The show is directed by powerhouse director Stephen Daldry, who recently directed Helen Mirren in The Audience and also created the 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony with Danny Boyle. Yeah, pretty big-time hey?!

Skylight is one of those shows that feels like a pure master class in acting. Bill and Carey act their socks off and I suggest you find a way of getting a ticket. 


It’s on until 23rd August 2014 at the Wyndham’s Theatre by Leicester Square/Covent Garden. There is the odd ticket left still and they can be booked here.  Or alternatively you can queue very early in the morning on the day you’d like to see the show and try and get Day Seats at 10am – these are a bargain at £15 and usually on the front row of the Stalls so well worth the early rise!

Or, if your can’t get yourself down to the box office, there is an NT Live broadcast of the show on 17th July. That’s right - an actual live performance will be played in lots of cinemas in London! All the info is here.  There’s been a fair bit of controversy surrounding NT Live broadcasts as some people believe it discourages people from physically going to the theatre as they can see a show on the cheap at their local cinema. Personally I disagree – I think it’s the perfect way for people to access what they usually couldn’t, then tempt them into the theatre to see the real deal. What do you think?

So yes, there you have it gang, another bloody good play is on in fair London town. Get yourself along and witness the wonder.

Have any of you seen it already? I’d love to know your thoughts!


Sunday, 8 June 2014

My Week With London, Photos : LOCAL LOVES

Hi again gang! Hope you've all had lovely sunny weekends - how frickin' good has the weather been?! I am writing this in a slouchy sun dress sitting in my little garden and waiting for my hangover-busting wagamamas delivery to arrive. It was my sister's engagement party last night so I'm feeling a little worse for wear after tottering home at 4am when it was starting to get light and the birds were singing VERY loudly.

It's been a mega busy week again folks - two theatre trips, a friend's gig, an evening at the Oval watching the cricket and a lot of family celebrations. I'm pooped! I think a visit to the outdoor pool in Holborn may be in order in the coming week for a bit of healthy rejuvenation. But let's finish this week first shall we? Here you go...

Amazing breakfast at Dishoom in St Martin's Court - been dreaming about the chai ever since

Coffee on New Row in Covent Garden

Late night tubing after an evening at the Southwark Playhouse

Little lunchtime friend in Leicester Square

Wondering Westminster after a visit to the Savoy Theatre

Sunny signs

Essex vs. Surrey at the Oval, 20 20 

Industrial beauty


Tuesday, 3 June 2014

The Roof, Fuel Theatre : LOCAL LOVES

On Friday I was lucky enough to attend the opening night of The Roof – the brand spanking new show from Fuel Theatre. Fuel make great shows by taking risks and this was a big one that totally paid off.

Sitting snugly behind the National Theatre it’s performed in a car park – yes, a car park! Who’d have thought it?? Bugger off cars, we’re going to make some theatre hereNow, what they’ve done is put free-running, contemporary dance and gaming into a big pot, mixed it together and thrown it out onto a ring of rooftops with an audience wearing headphones standing in the middle. True 360 degree theatre. Does it sound like anything you’ve seen before? Didn’t think so!

Because of my job I get to see a lot of theatre (jammy git) but I’ve never seen anything like this. There was such a buzz in the air as we crunched our way across the gravel of the car park and donned our headphones. Walking under an arch and into the ring of roofs we turned up the volume and got in the gaming mood as Nintendo songs were played into our ears.

After a couple of headphone-selfies, and some excellent posing from my sister and her pal...

 .....the lights dimmed and the game began.....

Out of a chimney-like box a player in a red jumpsuit appeared and Level 1 began. He ran and jumped and flipped and climbed over the roofs, killing monsters and winning prizes, buying energy and shooting guns. It was so damn exciting! The skill of the performers was incredible, every single movement was done in the style of a gaming character. Blank faces as they fought, stiff backs as they ran.

I won’t spoil it too much but I have to say the best bit for me was the sound (created using incredibly clever Binaural sound technology) and the way the entire show timed in with it. Absolutely everything you hear is pre-recorded but you’re forever looking over your shoulder and spinning on the spot to see who shouted out from the crowd or shot a gun, led by your ears. The performers had their timing spot on, it must have taken forever to perfect.

It’s on until Saturday 28th June and you can buy tickets here - tickets for performances before 8th June are £24.50, then it’s £29.50 thereafter, but if you’re unemployed, a full-time student or under 26 you can get the concession rate of £19.50.

Performances don’t start until 9.30pm as they have to wait for the sun to go down so its the perfect opportunity to explore the Southbank! I’d suggest having dinner or drinks at one of these fine establishments:
  • The BFI has two awesome places under it's roof and is the closest place to the show – The Riverfront which is nice and casual or Benuga which is pretty snazzy. Go for burgers and pints.
  • The Roof Garden bar at the Southbank Centre – stunning views of the city. Go for pimms.
  • The Swan Bar at Shakespeare's Globe, lovely buzzy place – leave about 20mins for the walk back to the show. Go for a gin and tonic.
  • The Oxo Tower – if you’re feeling flash! Check out the blog I wrote when I went for my birthday. Go for a cocktail.
  • Gordon's Wine Bar – just across the river (so not strictly the Southbank, cheeky). Go for wine and cheese.

If you're going to The Roof or have been I'd love to hear what you think of it so leave a comment below! Has anyone ever seen anything like it?