Mini Reviews

Jeffrey Holland plays an aging Stan Laurel, talking to his friend and long time partner Oliver Hardy in an imagined visit to the latter’s sick bed. We don’t see or hear from the stroke victim Hardy; he is represented by an empty bed frame.

This is a touching and sad piece as the two men are at the end of their long careers: Hardy critically ill and Laurel looking back on their careers and lives with some pride and some regrets. Yet the play also celebrates through Laurel’s recollections the 100+ films these pals and comedy partners made. We learn that Laurel, despite playing the dumb one on film, was the brains behind the duo: writing many of the gags and scripts, directing and producing.

It is a credit to the script and Jeffrey Holland’s acting that a one man performance with a chair and a bed frame for props kept the audience totally engaged.

A lovely piece that deserves more outings.

Janet Murray. An obituary for my friend and tutor

An obituary of the journalist and lecturer Janet (Jan) Murray who dies at the Marie Curie Hospice in London on the 1st of July 2016

Review: The Trouble with Scott Capurro at The Bill Murray @CamdenFringe

“They’re just jokes – I’m not even gay!”

Scott Capurro greets “all my imaginary friends in the front row” as he skips onstage at The Bill Murray. The front row is conspicuously empty – who after all would be so foolish as to sit there? But there’s no escape later in the set when he begins to interact with members of the audience. Before long a man who came out at the age of 30 is describing…

Committee a Musical at the Donmar Theatre

Committee A Musical is the Donmar’s new play based on a Parliamentary Inquiry into the high profile childrens charity Kids Company. 

Book review: The Shadow King by Maaza Mengiste

Maaza Mengiste’s novel The Shadow King, shortlisted for the 2020 Booker prize reclaims a piece of Ethiopian history. In 1935 war is looming and Mussolini’s forces have crossed the Mareb River in the 2nd Italian invasion of Ethiopia. The Ethiopians launched a counterattack and surprisingly, women, including Mengiste’s own grandmother, also fought in the conflict.

The story begins in 1974…

Book review: Golden Hill by Francis Spufford

Pacey and fizzily plotted, Francis Spufford’s Golden Hill is a breathless romp of a novel. The year is 1746, and Mr Smith, a glib tongued and amiable English charmer, is newly pitched up in Manhattan with an order for one thousand pounds in his pocket.

Trump’s First Year and the Foreign Media

Has the foreign press done enough in terms of holding Donald Trump to account in his first year as US president? Trump’s approval ratings have remained static despite the FBI investigation into Russian collusion in the 2016 election, sleaze allegations and his generally unpresidential conduct. Even the publication of Michael Wolff’s book ‘Fire and Fury’ hasn’t fazed him. This topic was central to…