Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Twitaceous Era 42: Really bloody big and sometimes on fire

This week on my Twitter feed, Christmas happened, as it is sometimes wont to do.

Christmas Congratulation, Twitter!
9:21 AM - 25 Dec 2014

Never felt more middle-aged than while bellowing DO SOMETHING WITH A TUNE! at Christmas Top of the Pops.
2:40 PM - 25 Dec 2014

That was so much better than last year's! Of course, so's rectal surgery #doctorwho
7:17 PM - 25 Dec 2014

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Book review: Broken Homes

The fourth of Ben Aaronovitch's PC Peter Grant novels, Broken Homes, brings the policemen from the supernatural branch of the Met, The Folly, to South London. I felt like this book was following me around actually, as most of it is set in the Elephant and Castle, which isn't far from me, and which I was often going through on the bus while I was reading. But then when I went to the Barbican a couple of times last week, the action briefly moved there as well.

This time the action centres on a tower block at the Elephant and Castle, an unusually-shaped building which to be honest I thought it took the characters a bit too long to figure out must have been built to harness some occult power. It's another fun book although it feels very much like a transitional one rather than ever really kicking off its narrative. Without spoilering, certain events at the end confirm the impression that the book is largely setup for things that will happen in later installments of the series.

Googling for a picture of the cover to illustrate my review with, quite a few photos of Samuel Anderson crop up. I guess that campaign to get him cast as Peter Grant if the books are ever turned into a TV series must have a lot of supporters. He wouldn't be a bad choice, certainly, and his recent stint on Doctor Who should make for a high enough profile to launch a show around (especially if you added a well-loved older actor as Nightingale - any thoughts?)

Twitaceous Era 41: Cicely Bumtrinket

This week on my Twitter feed, Paloma Faith is still very, very old.

The Barbican towel dispensers are so demanding. "Now dry your hands. NO NOT LIKE THAT YOU IDIOT, LIKE THIS."
7:10 PM - 17 Dec 2014

@Elsiebrewster I need Jewel Staite and Morena Baccarin to complete the set of "Firefly good guys playing bad guys in other Whedon projects."
5:46 PM - 18 Dec 2014

Sleb Spot: Suchet (clothed) at the Barbican.
6:59 PM - 18 Dec 2014

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Twitaceous Era 40: I embrace change!

This week on my Twitter feed: The answer to a question Charles Dickens never thought to ask.

These carollers are singing entirely the wrong lyrics to "Get Dressed You Merry Gentlemen."
6:59 PM - 10 Dec 2014

I think @emsler must have taken up lighting design - walked into the Menier to see Parker's forearms the main focus.
7:58 PM - 10 Dec 2014

Aaron Tveit spat on me, so we're technically married now #straightthroughnointervaltweets
10:26 PM - 10 Dec 2014

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Book review: A Clash of Kings

I have to say, these new paperback covers for George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, with the generic landscape photos, are a bit dull; but the one for the second book, A Clash of Kings, is also a bit of a mismatched one, as the desert it shows is obviously meant to link to Daenerys' story, but she doesn't actually appear in this part of the story much, with only four or five chapters from her POV.

What's actually going on in this novel is a fight for the throne that she's not quite ready to join yet, as Robb Stark and both Stannis and Renly Baratheon all stake their claim to the throne that Joffrey, not actually the dead king Robert's son, is falsely sitting on.

Again I enjoyed reading the story I'd seen on TV, as well as seeing those areas where the two versions started to diverge, the TV version understandably having simplified certain elements. The next installment is one of those so long it got split into two volumes, so I'm taking a break now to read other things, but I'll probably be heading back to Westeros in the new year.

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Twitaceous Era 39: Rainbow mirrorball bauble

This week on my Twitter feed: Dick.

"Unexpected item in the bagging area." That's the receipt, you div.
3:24 PM - 3 Dec 2014

Not that anyone who follows me would be remotely interested *whistles* Sleb Spot: James Norton at Southwark Playhouse.
6:23 PM - 3 Dec 2014

Kitson Old Vic tickets acquired with minimum fuss *thumbsup*
12:21 PM - 4 Dec 2014

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

A devastating existential nightmare. You know, for kids!

Oh noes, Clara's going to destroy all the existing TARDIS keys with lava, such peril! How will the Doctor ever get back into his TARDIS now, other than by snapping his fingers, which he's been able to do for the last three regenerations?

"Dark Water"/"Death in Heaven" by Steven Moffat, directed by Rachel Talalay. Spoilers after the cut.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Twitaceous Era 38: Shake It Off

This week on my Twitter feed: Treacle.

Is Family Guy and American Dad constantly hiring real English actors to do terrible English accents some kind of in-joke I'm missing?
5:35 PM - 26 Nov 2014

Off to look at topless men smeared with treacle because Culture.
7:20 PM - 26 Nov 2014

Some people avoid the front row if it needs a splash guard. These people are theatreing wrong #straightthroughnointervaltweets
9:22 PM - 26 Nov 2014

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Twitaceous Era 37: A friendly handshake and a dry hump

This week on my Twitter feed I have Opinions about next year's Globe summer season, because of course I do.

I love how A Number attracts so many real father/son actors despite the relationship being so twisted. Yet more proof actors are weirdos.
5:57 PM - 19 Nov 2014

So far: Leg injury and fairytales #intervaltweets
8:54 PM - 19 Nov 2014

The cat's got a furball stuck in his throat. Mum & stepdad are now calling him "poor little sick soldier" because my family is certifiable.
3:57 PM - 20 Nov 2014

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Twitaceous Era 36: Sad smiles and head-shaking

This week on my Twitter feed I end up in Birmingham, which you'd think would be a tricky thing to do if you didn't intend to.

Radiant Vermin. Ridley's totally using an automated title generator now, isn't he?
10:57 AM - 12 Nov 2014

Today's news in summary: Apparently someone's landed a probe on Kim Kardashian's arse.
6:08 PM - 12 Nov 2014

Sleb Spotted Luke Thompson & Nick Hendrix in quick succession and now I'm no use to anyone. At Hampstead, looks like Wildefire press night.
7:00 PM - 12 Nov 2014

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Twitaceous Era 35: #toast

This week there's just too many cooks on my Twitter feed.

BARROWMAN's on the telly. I see he's gone full Scottish again.
2:00 PM - 6 Nov 2014

"It takes two to tango." "Don't try to confuse me with choreography." #Dagenham
10:32 PM - 6 Nov 2014

There's going to be a "live Hunger Games experience" in a purpose-built arena.Which sounds alarmingly like it'll be the ACTUAL Hunger Games.
5:25 PM - 7 Nov 2014

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Twitaceous Era 34: Some undead pierrots

This week on my Twitter feed, buses start talking to me in the voices of Joanna Lumley and BRIAN BLESSED, but apparently this isn't a sign of psychosis.

I'm writing a disco musical about the Great British Bake-Off. It's called Here Lies Loaf.
10:15 AM - 29 Oct 2014

Sleb Spot: Oliver Chris definitely qualifies as my new stalker. (Phone wanted to correct to Oliver Cromwell. Which would be disconcerting.)
7:00 PM - 29 Oct 2014

Opera Spot (Spopera?) Bryn Terfel on a bike. (For when "Christ on a bike" is too enthusiastic for the circumstances.)
7:26 PM - 29 Oct 2014

Monday, 3 November 2014

Book review: A Game of Thrones

Having, slightly late to the party, got completely wrapped up in the TV version of Game of Thrones, I figured I'd read George R.R. Martin's original A Song of Ice and Fire books to get caught up and maybe even get ahead of the TV series. I'd wanted to read them for a while but the length put me off, as I only really get time to read on buses and trains and it takes me ages to get through even a shorter book, but as it turns out I finished A Game of Thrones in just under a month.

Having some familiarity with the universe and the story obviously helped (it also meant I chuckled every time Jon Snow is described as being close to tears, because I thought "yes, that's the facial expression he can do.") But Martin's prose is also very easy to get on with, detailed without being boring. For anyone who's avoided it so far, it's a fantasy novel but the magical elements are kept very much in the background, the main sweep of the story starting with a murder mystery of sorts, the "Hand of the King" of Westeros having met with a suspicious end. The new Hand, Ned Stark, investigates and discovers that his predecessor might have come across a secret that puts the whole line of succession in question, meaning by the end of the book there's numerous claims on the throne, but only after a lot more backstabbing (metaphorical and literal) and intrigue have gone on.

I don't think I'll read the rest of the series so far in one go (five books published so far, seven if you count the fact that two of them have been split into two volumes each) because I like to mix my reading up a bit, but I am going straight on to A Clash of Kings because I'm happily back in the Ice and Fire universe for now. I'd heard this first book was the one the TV series stuck to most closely, and it is indeed pretty much identical to the first season; I'm interested to see how the two versions diverge a bit more from now on.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Twitaceous Era 33: Other people's bodies must work differently

This week on my Twitter feed: Some stuff.

@stevenperkins I usually don't know what I'm having for dinner while I'm eating it. We can't all be good cooks.
11:14 AM - 22 Oct 2014

The many face of Nicole Shitsinger: #doesnthavetherange
11:04 AM - 24 Oct 2014

I see there's a new series of "Russell Howard plays last year's viral videos then shouts them back at you."
12:31 PM - 24 Oct 2014

Monday, 27 October 2014

Tiger, tiger, not so bright

I'm not OK with the amount of child actors in Doctor Who nowadays.

"In the Forest of the Night" by Frank Cottrell-Boyce, directed by Sheree Folkson. Spoilers after the cut.

Thursday, 23 October 2014

π Anxiety

That's what these kids today get excited about: Geometry.

"Flatline" by Jamie Mathieson, directed by Douglas Mackinnon. Spoilers after the cut.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Twitaceous Era 32: He looks like a jockey

This week on my Twitter feed I correct the world's incorrect opinions about theatre.

Well Bad Education certainly knows how to do guest stars #allam
5:31 PM - 15 Oct 2014

@Weez there's certainly something of an in-joke for anyone familiar with his dulcet tones.
5:37 PM - 15 Oct 2014

Tsk, the Apprenti I fancy always go early. Poor miniature Scottish Tovey-alike. #Apprentice
2:31 PM - 16 Oct 2014

Friday, 17 October 2014

Are you my mummy?

A trip on a train leads the Doctor and Clara into a situation stickier than George Sampson's stomach. HASHTAG TOPICAL COMEDY!

"Mummy on the Orient Express" by Jamie Mathieson, directed by Paul Wilmshurst. Spoilers after the cut.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Twitaceous Era 31: "Too Apocalyptic"

This week on my Twitter feed I take a break from sitting in a dark room watching a play, to sit in a dark room watching a film.

I'm at the ballet tonight BECAUSE CULTURE. Lithe, partially-clad culture.
6:48 PM - 8 Oct 2014

So... did they just decapitate a littlun, or was a pig meant have just turned up because of reasons? #intervaltweets
8:41 PM - 8 Oct 2014

Finally off to see Pride. You've probably all built it up too much so if I hate it I'll blame you.
3:19 PM - 9 Oct 2014

Friday, 10 October 2014

The Moon's (not) a balloon

Having a look at what Peter Harness has written before, I see he's one of the writers on the upcoming Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell adaptation. And since his Doctor Who episode was a decent debut, that bodes well enough.

"Kill the Moon" by Peter Harness, directed by Paul Wilmshurst. Spoilers after the cut.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Twitaceous Era 30: He tried to breastfeed Max

This week on my Twitter feed there were a lot of casting announcements I could feel smug about.

6:06 PM - 1 Oct 2014

@MovieTheatrGoer Canada Square branch. Fairy lights, the works.
6:25 PM - 1 Oct 2014

This barbecue pork pasta salad I'm eating in the interval is rather marvellous. The play's all right too #intervaltweets
8:58 PM - 1 Oct 2014

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Book review: A Blink of the Screen

As he mentions a number of times in his notes accompanying them, short stories aren't something Terry Pratchett finds particularly easy to write, so there aren't many books of them. A Blink of the Screen collects those short stories he was commissioned to write for other collections or magazines, and even a few pieces of writing done for Discworld conventions, spanning his whole career. In fact the first story, "The Hades Business," is from a school project when he was 13.

The book's separated into Discworld stories and non-Discworld stories, the latter including one from 1986, "The High Meggas," which decades later would come back as the basis for the Long Earth series. My favourite of these has to be "Final Reward," in which a fantasy writer kills off the hero of his long-running series, only to find him on his doorstep having come to "meet his maker."

Of the Discworld stories, the longest one is probably the best, "The Sea and Little Fishes" following a terrifying day when Granny Weatherwax starts being terribly nice to everyone. But there's also a sweet Cohen the Barbarian story, "Troll Bridge," and I liked the lyrics to the Ankh-Morpork national anthem, the only national anthem to deliberately include a load of mumbling in the second verse since that's all anyone would sing anyway.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Twitaceous era 29: A low tolerance for acrobats

This week on my Twitter feed I'm terrorised by corporate fun and a public speaker who shouldn't.

Today I'll be livetweeting my firm's mandatory "fun" day at the O2. Because if I have to suffer so do you.
9:47 AM - 24 Sep 2014

Colleague: "Having known Nick for a year I'm pretty confident he's going to hate this more than anyone here."
10:02 AM - 24 Sep 2014

Well someone was singing "Don't Stop Believing" before we even entered the venue, so he's not wrong.
10:03 AM - 24 Sep 2014

We have flashing wristbands. Yay! Accountancy!
10:38 AM - 24 Sep 2014

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Book review: Half Bad

Sally Green's Half Bad is the latest attempt to create a young adult fantasy phenomenon. In a world where witches live alongside "fains," the witches are divided into Black and White, with the White side very much in charge - officially the good guys, they run the witches' bureaucracy and seem to have carte blanche to kill any Blacks they come across. The protagonist, Nathan, is the son of a White mother and a Black father, and as such is under a cloud of constant suspicion as he grows up, and relentlessly bullied. In theory everyone's waiting to see which side of him will become dominant when he comes of age, and dispose of him if it's the "wrong" one, but as he gets older he increasingly suspects the authorities have some other plan for him.

Using the classification of Black and White means Green is able to make Half Bad an allegory for racism, and of things being controlled by the side that's arbitrarily put themselves in the right and everyone else in the wrong. It's hardly the subtlest metaphor, and she hammers it home somewhat in the first half, but by the second half when Nathan has escaped the clutches of the Council and goes on the run, the story picks up. The ending is a bit too abruptly and obviously setup for further volumes but Green's story had had enough interesting moments by then that I'll probably look out for future installments.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Invisibility watch? Really?

Frankly I think Doctor Who's adaptation did no justice at all to Pinter's original.

"The Caretaker" by Gareth Roberts and Steven Moffat, directed by Paul Murphy. Spoilers after the cut.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Doctor's Eleven

Late again because of All The Theatre, I'll just do a quick blog on this week's Doctor Who.

"Time Heist" by Steve Thompson and Steven Moffat, directed by Douglas Mackinnon. Spoilers after the cut.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Twitaceous era 28: We'll stand on a staircase like in Fame Academy

A bit late because I wasn't online much yesterday, here's what I gibbered about this week on my Twitter feed:

"Barbican audiences will be able to see 3 Beckett productions in one day." OR MAYBE THEY COULD JUST TAKE A CHEESE GRATER TO THEIR OWN FACES.
3:09 PM - 17 Sep 2014

I'd have taken a photo of the baby facepalming in his sleep on the bus cause it was adorable, but I'd have been, you know. Arrested.
10:28 PM - 17 Sep 2014

I would argue the audience got EXACTLY what they bargained for, and would normally have been cheated out of
4:41 PM - 18 Sep 2014

Saturday, 20 September 2014

I don't think that was even a real nursery rhyme

A bit late with my Doctor Who post this week - that's what happens when you have ALL THE THEATRE to see. Still, here we are with an episode that gets another of the regular BBC One idents given a Doctor Who twist - I liked the Dalek on the roundabout but the TARDIS going underwater with the hippos is a good addition, hopefully over the weeks they'll all get the same treatment. And I guess kudos for not starting with the obvious choice of the Moon rover one.

"Listen" by Steven Moffat, directed by Douglas Mackinnon. Spoilers after the cut.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Twitaceous Era 27: A Bond villain's staff meeting

This week on my Twitter feed is another theatre-heavy one, with lots of show announcements and me running around town trying to get from one show to the next...

I'd have preferred a completely new production but glad to see Rupert Goold's not ruling out Shakespeare at the Almeida.
10:49 AM - 10 Sep 2014

Charing Cross
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3:06 PM - 10 Sep 2014

Beardy-without-the-beard Spot: Andy Rush at St James Theatre.
7:01 PM - 10 Sep 2014

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Book review: Enter Wildthyme

I don't know if Paul Magrs plans to return to Brenda & Effie at any point but in the meantime he's starting a new series that crosses their own universe over with the Doctor Who one. Iris Wildthyme is a character Magrs created years ago for the Doctor Who novels and audio plays that came about when the series was off the air, another seemingly immortal time traveler who picks up companions to go around the universe having adventures with; except this one is female, much more fond of booze and fags than the protagonist of a family TV show, and travels in a double-decker bus instead of a police box. Evidently she's taken on a life of her own and has appeared in print and audio stories written by a number of writers, but now Magrs is giving her a new series of books, starting with Enter Wildthyme.

Iris' main sidekick Panda, a living stuffed toy, appeared in the last Brenda & Effie book, and there's a number of other sly little crossovers with his other series, including a cameo from Jessie the womanzee. The story itself is largely setup for a new series, with Iris acquiring a new crew for her double-decker (in addition to Panda she picks up a gay, Northern bookshop owner and a talking vending machine called Barbra) and then setting off in pursuit of a dangerous poet. You may not be able to judge a book by its cover but the tagline ("Time and Space. Good and Evil. Gin and Tonic.") should give you a good idea of the kind of sense of humour we're talking about.

Twitaceous Era 26: #sotheatre #muchreviewing #wow

This week on my Twitter feed, more celeb spots, with a bit of free food thrown in.

RSC 2015, Hugh Quarshie as Othello, Lucian Msamati as Iago. Interesting, I've never seen one where Iago's also black.
11:33 AM - 3 Sep 2014

@Weez @RobbieHand I want to see if they can do Jew of Malta without the audience spending the whole play like this
12:24 PM - 3 Sep 2014

Our project ends this month, as do our jobs. We now officially have an "ignore this and hope it goes away" email folder.
4:43 PM - 3 Sep 2014

Monday, 8 September 2014

Shoot that golden arrow through my heaaaaart

Time is a great healer, and I guess enough of it has passed for the BBC to admit that their most recent version of Robin Hood is a thing that happened, and move on.

"Robot of Sherwood" by Mark Gatiss, directed by Paul Murphy. Spoilers after the cut.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Twitaceous Era 25: A Thing That Cannot Possibly End Well

This week on my Twitter feed is mainly about me telling you where slightly famous people are, or were a couple of minutes ago.

Obviously, Norman's idea of being ambitious with flavours involves vanilla #GBBO
8:38 PM - 27 Aug 2014

"STAY AWAY FROM ME YOU BLACK WIDOW!" Every contestant next week, any time Diana comes within ten feet of them. #GBBO
9:03 PM - 27 Aug 2014

Sleb Spot: Harry Lloyd being instantly recognised by Italian tourists as he went into Pret, despite scruffy "disguise."
7:33 PM - 28 Aug 2014

Monday, 1 September 2014

The Good Dalek Guide

Second week into a new series of Doctor Who and I'm not massively annoyed by anything yet, so that's pretty good going all things told.

"Into The Dalek" by Phil Ford and Steven Moffat, directed by Ben Wheatley. Spoilers after the cut.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Book review: The Complete Sherlock Holmes vol.2

Having read the first three Sherlock Holmes books last year, I returned to Arthur Conan Doyle this summer for the second volume of the collected works, as I re-read them all to make sure I've caught everything. This one comprises two books, the first a short story collection, Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, with a couple of well-known stories like "The Crooked Man" but for the most part they're not mysteries that have seen frequent adaptation ("The Yellow Face" is quite spectacularly racist, although not in the way the title might suggest, so it's not the basis for that episode of Sherlock.) This is the collection that ends with Sherlock Holmes' apparent death, and there's moments in the stories leading up to it that feel like Conan Doyle was tiring of his famous creation - but then "The Final Problem" actually leaves things pretty open-ended to allow the author to resurrect the detective.

He doesn't technically do that in the next book, as The Hound of the Baskervilles is a flashback to before Holmes' encounter with Moriarty. It's the most famous Holmes novel but deservedly so, its spoookiness something that's become associated with the whole series, and I found it fun to re-read despite its familiarity.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Twitaceous Era 24: Emily Fruitcrisps

This week on my Twitter feed: Hardly anything. Turns out a rainy weekend with no theatre doesn't inspire me to share much.

Kelly Brook's vagina is basically a finishing school for people who want to be on reality TV.
12:05 PM - 20 Aug 2014

"Every dog has its day: Get your coat, you've pulled." The man wearing this shirt was holding hands with an ACTUAL HUMAN WOMAN :(
2:42 PM - 20 Aug 2014

@rudemrlang Emily Fruitcrisps would be my new drag name, if I wasn't already Nicki Minge.
4:43 PM - 20 Aug 2014

Monday, 25 August 2014

The marital McMarrieds of Marriagetown

It's been creeping around the schedules every year but, to coincide with the arrival of Peter Capaldi, Doctor Who is back to the traditional autumn run it's obviously been being nudged towards for the last few years. Hopefully this means no more of the on-and-off scheduling that made it feels simultaneously as if Matt Smith had been the Doctor forever, and like he'd barely got there before he was gone.

"Deep Breath" by Steven Moffat, directed by Ben Wheatley. Spoilers after the cut.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Twitaceous Era 23: You bitches be jealous

This week on my Twitter feed: Imrie! And disturbing overheard phone conversations.

Dogfight production photos are all fully-clothed. I feel like some unspoken contract has been broken.
11:42 AM - 13 Aug 2014

Richard Schiff will be in Speed-the-Plow, in flagrant disregard of the "everyone involved is called Lindsay" theme.
1:45 PM - 13 Aug 2014

Cast photos for Teh Internet Is Srs Bsns are up. … Excuse me while I stare at my screen for the rest of the day.
11:42 AM - 14 Aug 2014

Monday, 18 August 2014

Book review: The Fault In Our Stars

John Green's The Fault In Our Stars is one of those books that you feel you ought to read because so many people feel strongly about it. It's a love story about teenagers with cancer - the narrator, Hazel, has a terminal case, but new drugs have given her a fair few years longer than originally expected. In a church support group she doesn't actually think does her a huge amount of good, she meets Augustus, who's lost a leg to a cancer that's currently in remission. The two bond over a cancer memoir that Hazel feels is the only one to accurately reflect her own experience, and despite the constant care Hazel needs they resolve to go to Amsterdam and seek out its reclusive author.

It's ironic that The Fault In Our Stars deals in part with a novel that's become a touchstone to its heroine, when the book itself has gone on to become so well-loved. It's quite moving but not overly sentimental and doesn't paint cancer patients as saints which may be why it's been as successful as it has; although of course the idealised love story is another reason it would have acquired so many fans.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Twitaceous Era 22: Electric Boogaloo

This week on my Twitter feed: Strallens, sequels and Scissor Sisters.

Caved and got a standing ticket to see Celia Imrie do cabaret next week, because of course I did.
12:03 PM - 6 Aug 2014

I may have enjoyed this for reasons other than the Buzzfeed parody: … via @clickhole
4:04 PM - 6 Aug 2014

Why yes, I *have* continued to amuse myself since last night by thinking of new Strallen names.It's hard to come up with an implausible one.
5:23 PM - 6 Aug 2014

Wednesday, 6 August 2014

Twitaceous Era 21: Guardian-Readers of the Galaxy

This week on my Twitter feed, the Commonwealth Games continue to be mainly exist for the purposes of innuendo.

Whitlock's on top but Purvis is coming up behind him *bow chica bow* #gymnastics
2:10 PM - 30 Jul 2014

Theatrical Spot: Edward Killingback (yeah!) them motherfuckers don't know how to act (yeah!) on the South Bank.
6:49 PM - 30 Jul 2014

Hmmm. Dogfight could be interesting, I suppose.
5:42 PM - 31 Jul 2014

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Book review: The Hanged Man Rises

A bit of light relief with a children's/teen novel, although "light" maybe isn't exactly the word for a book about a serial child killer. Sarah Naughton's The Hanged Man Rises is a Victorian ghost story that sees a number of slum children murdered, and the killings continue after the killer is hanged. I can't see it being a big kids'/adult crossover book because the story is pretty simple and predictable, but it should be popular with kids who like something a bit dark and gory - it's surprisingly full-on when it gets to the actual public hanging.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Twitaceous Era 20: "Never fucked an elf!"

This week on my Twitter feed, I watch sport in my lunch break. Don't worry, it was men's gymnastics.

First Fatality Of Game Of Thrones Spot: Rob Ostlere at the Globe.
6:57 PM - 23 Jul 2014

So the only thing that'll topple @russelltovey in his pants off the top of my most popular reviews list features 7 naked men #faceofsurprise
3:17 PM - 24 Jul 2014

Have we seen the cast for the Royal Court's revue show next week? Some people might be a tad interested
3:25 PM - 25 Jul 2014

Monday, 28 July 2014

Book review: Eleven

Plenty of comedians double as novelists, and it seems when he's not being a likeable Welsh stand-up, Mark Watson has been one of them. Not many of his books seem to be available on kindle yet, which may be why I wasn't aware of them, but Eleven is. It's a sort-of rom-com about Xavier, an Australian radio DJ with a guilty secret in his past that's made him move to the UK. Here he's now a late-night phone-in show host with a dedicated listener base of insomniacs who like to call him up with their problems, but who in his personal life has a strict non-intervention policy that sometimes sees him letting things slide that he perhaps should have done something about.

One time he chooses not to intervene is when he sees a local boy being bullied. While the story continues to follow Xavier and the not-quite-romance he strikes up at a speed-dating evening, we also flash to different parts of London, following the consequences of his action, or lack of it, across eleven people. So the child's mother, a restaurant reviewer, is upset and writes a particularly harsh review, which puts the chef in a bad mood and makes him sack the boy who washes the dishes, and so on. As sometimes happens with writers who also do comedy for a living there's a dark side to the novel, a kind of fatalism in which he uses his writer's omniscience to tell us the fates of many of the characters years from now; and there's a trace of contempt for his lead character. That doesn't, though, stop the story from being interesting and cleverly put-together, and it left me wanting to read more of Watson's books.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Twitaceous Era 19: Legitimate theATRE

This week on my Twitter feed, a superhero show features surprises, but the superhero's identity is never one of them.

Now I want Tom Mothersdale to be the 13th Doctor #straightthroughnointervaltweets
9:13 PM - 17 Jul 2014

I still think Timothy Speyer is Matt Lucas accidentally stuck in character as the theatrical agent #intervaltweets
9:09 PM - 18 Jul 2014

Watching Arrow. DC superheroes are SO bad at disguises.
6:23 PM - 19 Jul 2014

Monday, 21 July 2014

Book review: The Graves of Saints

The Graves of Saints is another of Christopher Golden's Shadow Saga novels, a series that started out as a trilogy but got revived and extended into an indefinite sequence. It's always felt more like a publisher's request than a story Golden was desperate to tell, especially as this vampire saga was revived just as the latest craze for them was at its peak. And although there's been some entertaining books in the series this one really fell flat for me. This time there's the leader of an old-school vampire coven who takes a personal vendetta out on the series' lead, Peter Octavian, as well as a number of demonic incursions around the world, the graves of decapitated saints becoming portals from hell dimensions. But the book took me weeks to get through because the story steadfastly refuses to get started until at least 70% of the way in. Much of it is about Octavian dealing with a personal grief and failing to spring into action, which makes for about as dynamic a story as it sounds. This book is pretty obvious setup for the next in the series, and seems to be partly about establishing a new breed of supernatural creatures to populate upcoming volumes, but on its own terms it's pretty disappointing.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Twitaceous Era 18: Not being ghastly to women

This week on my Twitter feed, some production photos suggest a play I'm seeing tomorrow isn't as dry as expected.

Continuing my trend of seeing Curious Incident in every theatre it plays in. Might have to draw the line at Broadway though.
 7:19 PM - 9 Jul 2014

I heard the Prime seats hadn't made it to the Gielgud but looks like they're here now.
7:20 PM - 9 Jul 2014

For a moment there I was worried the little train wasn't going to make it round the corner #intervaltweets
8:46 PM - 9 Jul 2014

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Twitaceous Era 17: "Timmy The Dog Hates Mrs Thatcher"

This week on my Twitter feed, I come up with honest song titles for a Famous Five musical, and The Crucible starts at 7:30pm, and ends on Doomsday.

4:42 PM - 2 Jul 2014

I'm enjoying all this Suede soundtracking the interval #intervaltweets
8:43 PM - 2 Jul 2014

The machines really are becoming more human, I swear the recorded train announcement just stuttered.
9:23 AM - 3 Jul 2014

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Twitaceous Era 16: Lesbian Wednesday

This week on my Twitter feed, a terrifying rumour turns out to be terrifying reality.

I was hoping "Billie Piper And Oliver Chris Flick Richard's Bean" might fill my theatre-free late August but never mind, July it is.
10:07 AM - 25 Jun 2014

Watched an episode of Orange Is The New Black, then my iPod played "Take Me Or Leave Me." Guess it must be Lesbian Wednesday.
6:45 PM - 25 Jun 2014

It doesn't matter how good an actor you are, you can still be upstaged by some pasta sauce #intervaltweets
8:46 PM - 25 Jun 2014

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Twitaceous Era 15: Beautiful yet ruggedly windswept

This week on my Twitter feed, I have some very well thought-out opinions on The Football.

The canteen's doing a different World Cup nation theme every day. Today's lunch confirmed why Australia isn't known for its cuisine.
2:48 PM - 18 Jun 2014

Karl Davies is so watchable. Even when he's wearing clothes.
10:07 PM - 18 Jun 2014

Between Lindsay Lohan and True Blood: The Musical, I assume I just wasn't informed it was Insane Theatre Rumour Week.
3:06 PM - 19 Jun 2014

Monday, 23 June 2014

Book review: The Long War

The second book in Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter's Long Earth series that takes place over a multitude of parallel universes is The Long War. It's a bit of a deliberate misnomer as an all-out war in the "stepwise" Earths proves to be impossible, but there's a lot of tensions, some to do with the US government's schizophrenic approach to how hands-on it wants to be with the alternate Americas; as well as issues with how to deal with the life forms found in the alternate Earths. I did think after the lengthy setup of The Long Earth that for the next book we'd get something a bit more focused, but this is still a bit of a rambling story taking place over multiple dimensions with various casts of characters, and it never quite got me gripped. I also can't quite buy the central conceit that, within a couple of decades of discovering how to "step," humanity would already be skimming over Earths millions of steps away in each direction, without actually having properly explored the ones nearest to the Datum. The book's enjoyable enough all in all, but doesn't quite get going as much as I expected the sequence to have done two books in.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Twitaceous Era 14: "lesbians on mechanical bulls"

This week on my Twitter feed, I'm terribly judgmental about Dame Kevin Spacey's pronunciation.

Inventiveness is good, but there's really too much going on here #intervaltweets
9:16 PM - 11 Jun 2014

Aw, cute couple thumb-wrestling on train platform. KILL THEM WITH FIRE! (There is a chance I'm in a bit of a mood.)
9:10 AM - 12 Jun 2014

The canteen's gone Brazilian-themed today for the World Cup. All the food's served in a strip in the middle of the plate #bra
1:10 PM - 12 Jun 2014

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Twitaceous Era 13: Talent-spotting

This week on my Twitter feed, I do what may be my best-ever joke, and nobody notices.

Tsk, don't put Maggie Smith on the front page and get me excited whatsonstage, then it turns out she's not returning to the stage after all.
11:17 AM - 4 Jun 2014

Although obviously a Smith/Jennings film of The Lady In The Van is far from bad news.
11:18 AM - 4 Jun 2014

@Weez @emslj @Sian_Estelle My main memory of the Famous Five was that Dick was too stupid to know HIS OWN NAME was short for Richard.
1:03 PM - 4 Jun 2014

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Twitaceous Era 12: Quite traumatising to watch

This week on my Twitter feed, much is made of the evils of flirtation.

Charlie Cox is Daredevil? Gingers just can't catch a break, even in a role specifically written for them.
10:44 AM - 28 May 2014

"his oversized nipples jut" #bloghitsoftheweek To be fair that does sound like something I'd write.
2:36 PM - 28 May 2014

I think one of the hot boys might have been flirting with me this morning. Obviously I've been nervously avoiding eye contact ever since.
4:33 PM - 28 May 2014

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Twitaceous Era 11: Nick joins the rest of the world's population

This week on my Twitter feed, I said the following stuff.

I do wish ginger wouldn't keep turning up in foodstuffs where it's not invited. Like this rhubarb crumble.
2:20 PM - 21 May 2014

Red sky at night, Angel Delight.
9:18 PM - 21 May 2014

Prestidigitator Spot: Dynamo on The Cut.
9:33 AM - 22 May 2014

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Book review: Deadeye Dick

An early-Eighties Kurt Vonnegut novel, Deadeye Dick is a sort of twisted life story, narrated by Rudy, who happened to be away from his home town when it was destroyed by a neutron bomb. It's a meandering but interesting story of someone crippled by guilt over a childhood event - at the age of 12, Rudy's father got him to clean a loaded gun, which resulted in him shooting dead a pregnant woman and acquiring the titular nickname. Feeling that he deserves an outcast's life, Rudy lives as a neuter, a term he defines not just as sexual, but meaning he steers clear of any kind of emotional or intellectual investment in the world at large. It's an emotional distance that's reflected in the narrative style itself - a failed playwright, when Rudy needs to retell some of the more complex and important encounters of his life, he turns them into playlets in his narration, distancing himself from the fact that they happened to him. Not a classic, and a little bit aimless at times, but I found it worth the read.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Twitaceous Era 10: She's not some Jezebel

This week on my Twitter feed is mostly about me stalking celebrities. Actually I'm pretty sure it's them stalking me.

Finished watching Breaking Bad. Walter White is basically Evil MacGyver, isn't he?
5:16 PM - 15 May 2014

Well I don't remember taking a whole load of drugs tonight but apparently I must have done #intervaltweets
9:00 PM - 15 May 2014

If Jeeves and Wooster is closing in September, does that make the timing right for American Psycho to go to the Duke of York's?
4:01 PM - 16 May 2014

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Twitaceous Era 9: There's no best bit

This week on my Twitter feed, witness the annual noise of the Eurovision Song Contest.

This bus driver looks like Bob from Twin Peaks. It's a disconcerting start to the day, I won't lie #damnfinecoffee
8:53 AM - 9 May 2014

The Gays: Before you get excited about Gary Lucy in The Full Monty, remember: It's backlit, you won't actually see anything.
10:29 AM - 9 May 2014

Don't mind me, I'll be in my bunk, thinking about Ben Foster playing Stanley in A Streetcar Named Scully.
10:47 AM - 9 May 2014

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Book review: The Ocean at the End of the Lane

The latest all-ages Neil Gaiman book is The Ocean at the End of the Lane, a short fantasy with a dark side a little bit in the vein of Coraline (but without anywhere near as many sinister buttons, so my friend Vanessa needn't have a panic attack at it.) Instead it's a reminiscence of a boy's rural childhood, and a sequence of supernatural threats that are kicked off when the family's lodger commits suicide. The man's death attracts a presence from another realm, and when the boy accompanies a mystical local girl there to try and solve the problem, they only make it worse. There's a creepy au pair and, on the side of good, a trio of witchy women in Gaiman's recurring configuration of maiden, mother and crone. It's a simple enough story but, like the pond that hides an ocean, it opens up the possibility to contemplate greater depths.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Book review: The Dying Hours

This year's Mark Billingham thriller is a return to the Tom Thorne series, and The Dying Hours comes from a challenge from a couple of uniformed cops to Billingham: Namely to see how Thorne would handle being back in uniform. The detective's been threatened with demotion enough times for it to seem plausible that he'd piss his superiors off one time too many, so he's now back on patrol in South London.

Aside from the embarrassment this also means the experienced policeman's hunches are no longer taken as seriously, and when an unusual number of elderly people start committing suicide, his bosses don't believe that there's something else behind it. So Thorne has to call in some favours and try to fit in his own private investigation around night shifts in Lewisham. The unpredictable structure is one of the fun parts of Billingham's writing, and here the revelation of what's going on comes a lot earlier than might be expected, leaving time for a lot more twists and complications.

Twitaceous Era 8: Certain hypothetical scenarios

This week on my Twitter feed, I find someone new to fixate on, which is always fun.

According to the countdown screen, the bus I'm waiting for is going backwards. Which wouldn't particularly surprise me.
8:56 AM - 30 Apr 2014

Ooh, the RSC's Other Place shows are doing a couple of perfs at the Royal Court *skips the EV Crowe one*
5:41 PM - 30 Apr 2014

Hottest. Benedick. Ever. #intervaltweets
8:55 PM - 30 Apr 2014

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Twitaceous Era 7: You guys enjoy Dick

This week on my Twitter feed I'm all about sharing second-hand theatre news, like a Netto Baz.

Anna Carteret, Paul Chahidi, Ferdy Roberts in Shakespeare in Love, to distract from Tom Bateman's... existence.
10:37 AM - 23 Apr 2014

It does seem harsh to surround him with a cast like that when the furniture will out-charisma him anyway.
10:38 AM - 23 Apr 2014

I have received a communication from the Doge #suchmask #soVenice #wow
11:26 AM - 23 Apr 2014

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Twitaceous Era 6: In their pants

Here's some stuff I rambled on about this week on my Twitter feed:

If there's a better song to start the day with than the Cagney and Lacey theme music then my name's Mary Beth.
9:47 AM - 16 Apr 2014

Did someone say something about the pot calling the kettle a twat? #robertlindsay
12:31 AM - 17 Apr 2014

If Seth Numrich is thinking of becoming a London stage regular this is a move I can very much get behind.
1:46 PM - 17 Apr 2014

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Book review: King Rat

One of China Miéville's earlier urban fantasies, King Rat follows Saul who, following his father's murder which he gets falsely accused of, is sprung from jail by a supernatural figure calling himself King Rat. It turns out Saul is half-rat, and rat royalty at that, and his new home is in the sewers underneath London. The main plot focuses on the return of the animals' nemesis, the Pied Piper, and a half-rat half-human is a combination that could beat him once and for all. Reveling somewhat in the grossness of a human living as a rat, the book's entertaining at the start and has a strong ending, although it lost my interest in the middle - I think there were probably too many in-depth descriptions of jungle music tracks for me.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Twitaceous Era 5: Meat coma

This week on my Twitter feed, I'm at the Young Vic a lot so I'm tripping over hot actors everywhere I turn.

Fecal Attraction's changed its poster image to just the bunny. NOW WHERE COULD THEY HAVE GOT THAT IDEA FROM?
9:59 AM - 9 Apr 2014

I'd demand a share of the profits but... #lol
10:00 AM - 9 Apr 2014

This sounds terrible. I MUST SEE IT AT ALL COSTS!
1:07 PM - 9 Apr 2014

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Twitaceous Era 4: Scottish king shag list

This week on my Twitter feed, more dark mutterings about crashing theatre websites, because we all know that's what gets the followers flooding in.

This church's "DEATH COULD NOT HOLD HIM IN HIS GRAVE!!!" poster is making me think less "Easter," more "vampire apocalypse."
9:11 AM - 2 Apr 2014

Been watching Bates Motel. So far the maddest thing is there's a girl called Bradley, and NOBODY thinks that's weird.
5:58 PM - 2 Apr 2014

"naked giant and the beanstalk" #bloghitsoftheweek Pretty sure even MY blog doesn't feature that.
10:21 AM - 3 Apr 2014

Monday, 7 April 2014

Book review: Cold Comfort

I got the first couple of Quentin Bates novels on a kindle special offer, and after Frozen Out a few months back I figured I'd also give Cold Comfort a go. This one sees the recently-promoted Gunnhildur investigate the murder of a famous-for-being-famous Icelandic celebrity. I didn't dislike it but I think this is where I part company with Bates' Icelandic mysteries. The trouble is I'm never the best with remembering character names, and in crime novels that can be awkward when there's a bit surprise appearance by X who's suddenly revealed to be the killer... and it takes me several pages to remember which one X is. So add to that foreign names that I can give no mnemonic association to, and the Icelandic tradition of patronymic surnames that makes everyone's names blur into each other, and I'm frequently too lost to end up caring much. Here I spent several pages thinking we'd had a nasty incestuous revelation about the murder victim and her brother, only to eventually realise we were dealing with one of her lovers and it hadn't all gone a bit Game of Thrones after all. I wasn't really getting enough from the story to make up for all that confusion, and Gunna herself is a bit of a bland central character so I can't see me revisiting the series.