Review: Matt Okine at Soho Theatre

Matt Okine MR 3 LR


At first glance, it is difficult to imagine Matt Okine having the discipline and drive to rise in the early hours for three straight years to host a national radio breakfast show. His easy style and unflustered lyricism belie what must be a fierce work ethic and creative urge. But this is what Okine does: laziness is his mask, the lie that he uses to present his truth.

The Australian is much decorated and lauded for his acting and stand up, and is a serious all-rounder: he presents a cookery programme on TV and raps as part of Boilermakers. Okine’s success sees him sell out comedy shows wherever he performs and now he is back in London at Soho Theatre, ostensibly talking career changes, but there is much more simmering under the surface in his show ‘We Made You’.

The opening night at Soho saw Okine in full flow for a full hour. This was a comedian who delivers with clarity and panache. Virtually non-stop, the intensity of his performance was complemented by his laid-back style, giving him an authentic edge, sympathetic and apparently very real.

There was a conspicuous lack of confrontation during Okine’s hour on stage, with any aggression reserved for rants at potatoes, crabs and other sources of nourishment and irritation – food being his favourite subject. His charming, disarming ease with the audience meant the Soho Theatre was quickly relaxed, with plenty of laughing out loud, while Okine kept an emotional distance, never quite straying in to vulnerability, although he hinted at pain throughout the hour.

Matt Okine’s light touch works as a layer above an undercurrent of tension. He expressed a struggle between the real person and the personality adapting to the modern world and its absurdities. The silliness of mainstream popular culture formed the basis of Okine’s act: exotic crisp flavours, eight-hour binges on TV cookery programmes, social media and the rest. All this was done without criticism, Okine being the passive and innocent consumer, with the effect of him being far funnier than any comedian attempting to intellectually deconstruct consumer culture.

Okine occasionally juxtaposed his light-hearted observations with revelations of his inadequacies and insecurities: body image, hair loss, ethnic identity and facing his contradictory relationship with his father. What can you say and what can’t you say? Again, the tension between being authentic and adapting to modern life, with the mask of a media savvy, successful 30 something.

There is something of the nihilist in Okine. Or perhaps it is that he reveals a strange western digital age mass nihilism in which we have so little control over our lives and environments that we sink into the minutiae of our particular preferences and irritations as a way of avoiding the facts of our mortality and the moral bankruptcy and degradations of consumer society.

Whatever, he’s very funny, a natural, and this show is highly recommended.

See Matt Okine: We Made You, at Soho Theatre, London until 29th August.


By Tom Charles @tomhcharles

No Way, To Social Housing Merger


You can click the image above to sign the petition.

Within only a few months of the Grenfell Tower tragedy at the Lancaster West estate, two housing groups have decided to join forces. For What? You may well ask but I’m not entirely sure. Yet it is no surprise that the two major housing associations have decided to merge without the agreement of their tenants. This will surely satisfy the personal monetary aims of Notting Hill Housing Group (NHHG) and Genesis’ directors to the tune of millions, leaving basic services and the everyday needs of the residents ignored yet again. It’s as if the services aren’t appalling already with ongoing infestations, leaks, mould, antisocial behaviour and cowboy-style half-done repairs.

Kate Davies – the CEO of NHHG is at the forefront of this deal and intends for the merger to go through as quickly and quietly as possible for reasons known to her and her associates alone.  NHHG representatives told residents on Tuesday that there would be no changes to secure tenancies, and that these would only be changed by law. Hmmm, I’m sure their tenants, with no effort at all, could draw up a list of promises, by NHHG, that have yet to manifest. I’m not certain that these housing groups are in tune with, or even understand, the needs of the people and have a detached sense of reality. Although it may have been an attempt to make an emotional point to change elitist attitudes towards social housing, it’s not clear what was meant by the odd and (weirdly) prophetic statement below that Kate Davies made in 2015. Me? I think you’d be safer without it.

‘Either we need an appalling fire where some beautiful young children die, or a riot. We have to get people to feel differently about housing.’

Kate Davies, CEO Notting Hill Housing Group 2015

Remember, you can click the image above to sign the petition.

Read more here



Grenfell: Some Relief for Some of Us


Ten-year olds in North Kensington have seen more than they should ever have seen. Heat, fire, pain and death from the Grenfell Tower; Slowly inhaling the dust of the lost. 

A mutilated building stands as a constant testimony to the mass incineration of June 14th. As they look down the street, between houses, the Tower appears, as they travel through the concrete jungle, Grenfell is there, on their skyline and their minds.

The children of North Kensington lost faith in the safety of the world, and any sense they May have had that the role of government is to support the population. Profound trauma, with parents’ availability to provide emotional support severely reduced by having to fill the space vacated by government in the disaster response.


But for some of us there has been some release. In Devon my 10 year old was finally freed from weeks of the oppressive atmosphere of disaster. As the waves crashed in, she ran away, then chased them back into the sea, shouting at them. Her shouts turned to screams, pure joy and liberation…

Nature was safe again, the world was suddenly the right place to be after weeks of questions about cladding, fire, safety and the inhumane treatment of people. Re-connected to her original source, this child was at one with the water, sand, the vast sky and the cold wind.

To see her lose her ‘self’ and be her pure, true self in those moments was to regain my own faith in life. But most North Kensington children have not yet had such a moment.



As of that day, 2nd August, 12 households from the Tower had been rehoused – a statistic that tells much of the story about the re-traumatisation of victims by way of bureaucracy, political decision and incompetence in the richest borough on the planet, with its 1,400 empty dwellings.

If there is to be a restoration of faith, it will not be courtesy of Kensington and Chelsea council or Theresa May’s government.

Genuine relief is provided by local charities and community organisations, quietly organising weekends away, holidays and residentials for families. Here in North Kensington, there are creative, sporting and communal activities to lighten the burden on parents.


The community has stepped in to provide what the council cannot – humanity. What none of these organisations can provide is what the council can, but aren’t, providing: housing, the only way to dignity. And as such the dignity of the victims, survivors and the wider community is not being honoured. On the contrary, it is being threatened and trampled daily.

Individual stories in North Kensington tell a bigger story of dehumanisation and some of these will follow on Urban Dandy. In the meantime, I’m relieved that I had moved away from the Lancaster West estate to safety, and that my traumatised daughter could connect with Blessed nature, arriving home again.


Tom Charles

Grenfell – Night Thoughts



As the sweet summer breeze

blows through this petrified charcoal edifice

stirring the parched remains of the perished

inside this crematorium created by man’s greed,


We who are in temporary sleep

slowly inhaling the dust of the lost

unlike God, offering not the breath of life

Yet not forgotten, becoming part of us


Fused into our very being

scorched into our souls

as the seared conscience

of those that govern

offers no honour, shame, guilt

or Judas-like, intestine-spilling torment!

Instead scurrying like rats

under the tarpaulin of fear


Light exposing their hidden deeds of darkness

that atomized men, women and children before their time

those who’s bodies can no longer cast shadows


Your eternal flame

forever burns brightly

shining like stars

guiding both seeker and wise

along the narrow path

in their quest for the truth…



M.C. Bolton, 28th July 2017

Photo by Hugh