Monday, September 07, 2009

Chess in Concert

Chess in Concert was on in Horsham yesterday.

Although it is a concert rather than a musical it presents the plot in a non-realistic way and has some great performances in it.

The plot is based on the goings on in the chess world in the 1960s and early 1970s. At the height of the cold war, chess became a non-violent battlefield mined with dirty tricks and brinkmanship.

Josh Groban plays the lead role of Anatoly Sergievsky - who defects to the West but is persuaded to return to the USSR to get the father of his girlfriend (Idina Menzel (Florence Vassy)) and there is a plot twist which will take you by surprise.

Adam Pascal is so good as the obnoxious American Frederick Trumper it makes you wonder what he is like in real life!

David Bedella (Anatoly Molokov) plays a sinister Stalinist to perfection

The music (Björn Ulvaeus and Benny Andersson) and lyrics (Tim Rice) are excellent.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Banksy at Bristol Museum

Banksy who has gone from being a graffiti artist to the quasi-respectability of having an exhibition at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. His picture of a spiky-haired anarchist having his mask adjusted by his mum probably suggests what his attitude towards this is.

When you first approach the Museum you can see a figure of Ronald McDonald on the facade. If you think another public service has succumbed to corporate sponsorship - the clown cries tears of blood and has a bottle by his side and a clear intention to commit suicide.

Some of the pictures are lighthearted such as the Wizard of Oz picture of Dorothy saying "I don't think we're on Canvas any more."

Others are less so with a KKK member hanging from a tree to comment on the fine old Southern Tradition of lynching.

The exhibition is thought-provoking and interesting and well worth a visit. It is also free.

Edinburgh Fringe and all that Jazz

On Saturday we went for lunch at a jazz venue to listed to Ian Millar (tenor sax) and Dominic Spencer (piano) for a relaxing time with the best pop video ever - evidently Dominic Spencer is a keen photographer and the video was videos of the highlands and islands.

The big Cambridge University Jazz band were completely different - very fast paced and engaging. The MC said they were not music students, "many of us are scientists....and one is a biochemist!"

And the Oxford Gargoyles were an a capella jazz group - a highly original performance including a take on Austin Powers.

"Four Poofs and Piano" might sound like a show about furniture but in fact it is the much underused band on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross. Their repertoire is extensive and varied and at times absolutely outrageous. They have a song about the question you need to ask on a third date ("Do you take it up the ****?") and then said they wanted some audience participation. In the event they only wanted us to sing along.

Shappi Khorsandi's show was well worth seeing. She adapeted it to the audience and toned it down a bit because of the 12 year olds in the front row.

The street performers were a mixed bunch - the most spectacular act was Frankie G who also does a different act under the name Derek Derek - his act included escaping from bondage while balancing a lighted torch on his nose.