‘WE ARE’ ….at The Ugly Duck

 

After months of planning, The Kitchen Table Collective, who previously gave us 1x Tab Breakfast, poached egg, no mushroom 1x sides, sausage: New Stories from the Tabernacle, have expressed a touching and thought provoking exhibition through the eyes of immigrants.  The incredibly diverse quintet of Artists including Emma Mudgway, Claire Tipy and Alexia Villard successfully gave us a very personal look at the alien experience in the UK through their art.  ‘We Are’ can be seen today at The Ugly Duck Gallery at 47-49 Tanner Street in Tower Bridge.

We are here until the afternoon collecting great thoughts and insights to see what it feels like to be an immigrant.

20151213_113936

We’re going in.

 

20151213_123904

Claire Tipy and Sarah Tilotta’s collaboration, ‘Where Do You Think I Was Born’, seen in motion. Each actor contributed their own heartfelt monologue and drew us totally in. Continue reading

How Local Businesses see KPH

20150922_181059
Photo by Angel Lewis

You will have already read our blog about the predicament facing the Kensington Park Hotel and what it means for the local area.

We thought it would be interesting to follow this up by gaging local reaction to the news that KPH might soon be closing to make way for flats for the rich. Rather than stating the obvious (that the public supports KPH and opposes the building of more luxury homes,) your intrepid dandies set out to ask local businesses what they thought.

Methodology: We asked everyone, indiscriminately and inclusively as long as their business was situated a stone’s throw from the KPH…

 

  • Music Village (we can throw a long way).

Receptionist: ‘I’m not from the area, nobody in here is’

UD: ‘What? Nobody? About 50 people have passed through the reception area since we’ve been here’

‘Nobody’

UD: ‘But what do you think about the fact that a local music venue is closing?’

‘                                                               ‘

An inauspicious start, but we headed north, away from their mirrored windows, closer to KPH…

  • Fish Monger

‘They should let it run, it’s a good place for music. They bring lots of people, they should keep it open’

‘It’s a charming venue. The area is much more diverse now since they improved it’

‘It’s a shame especially because they spend lots of money here, the KPH buy from here’

‘If they become a chain they will buy elsewhere not from local shops’

UD note: Chain being the pertinent word as this would break many links in the chain of supported stores.

  • Dry Cleaners

‘They are our customers, he uses our services’ (her colleague looking on curiously)

Why?’ (distressed now) 

‘What’s happened?’

We explain

‘Oh no! That’s a shame, it’s a very nice place. I know the staff working there, I go there a lot. I never go to the other pub, this one is friendly, everyone is going there, why they want to close? I think it’s not a good idea.

UD: ‘Why do you like it so much?

‘It’s just KPH’

‘I would like to live in this area because it’s nice; rich people live here, poor people live here, it’s very nice, it’s not like this everywhere’

  • The Bank

(Staff member expressed surprise when we informed him, bearing in mind you don’t normally go to banks for a chat about local goings on, but we’re just UD and we had to seek that balance) 
‘You mean Mr.Powers (sic)? The Mean Fiddler? I’m local to the Mean Fiddler so I know him’ (What followed was all positive but off the record so the iron eagle doesn’t swoop on this friendly soul)

  • Furniture shop  

‘It might be closing? I didn’t know, but good I’m happy. The manager keeps parking on our premises without asking. So I don’t go there. Well, I went there once, but not any more’

‘Compared to the way it used to be its a lot better, the clientele is better. He should just ask and I would probably say yes if he has the decency but on a business level it’s a conflict of interest. If rich people move in they might buy furniture from me. We’re a mid-range furniture shop’

‘On the broader picture, I’m completely opposed to this sort of thing, it affects communities and it’s not good for society. It’s always nice to have a local pub and it’s sad to see this type of thing happening’

  • Estate Agents John D. Wood & Co

‘We go there for drinks a lot, I didn’t know that it might be closing. He turned it all around. That’s a shame, it’s been there for such a long time. It was a mess before he came in and did what he did’ 

‘We now go there and that’s testimony to what he has achieved’  

‘Yeah it’s right in the area and we go in and say hello to him. It should stay, well those are my thoughts. It’s such a shame, what’s happening in London’

(At this point I must say, it seems to sound a little scripted but in truth these are the unadulterated views of the local businesses surrounding the venue)

  • Local Chip shop 

‘I don’t personally drink but it’s sad if it’s going, it’s bad enough having a Cafe Nero over there (pointing), it’s a bit like an extension of Holland Park and not Ladbroke Grove. Like all of these coffee shops, there’s no unique coffee shops anymore, there’s no authenticity’

‘I grew up in this area, now I travel here for work and the area is changing, it’s all for rich people now’

  • Local Betting Shop

 ‘Huh? I’m only here covering for the day’ (Okay, moving on swiftly)  

  • Estate Agents Bective Leslie Marsh

(Now here’s a surprise) ‘We weren’t aware of that…I’m stunned, I didn’t know’

(A suited, authoritative looking character stands up and takes over the conversation)

‘Great music venue upstairs. I’ve been to some great gigs there. I thought it was listed as a place of community value. If people realised what was really going on they’d be gutted. 

The problem with this area is you can’t go out and drink because it was all built by the methodist church back then. If people knew what was going on….gutted. If there’s a petition going around, I’ll sign it’ 

‘Yeah I’d be happy to participate. Y’see, Golborne Road end is more community and the Portobello end is now more sanitised. We’ve seen that reflected in property prices; rich people moving to the area now want to live on Golborne instead of Portobello because they see it as authentic. The community is what gives the area its value. The property value is actually based on the community’

‘It will be sad to see it go’

  • Post Office/News Agent

Business is good while they are there, I can sell my cans to their customers for £1.00 while they are there charging £4 a pint’ (smiling)

‘I didn’t know they were closing. It’s improved a lot’

  • Florist

‘I didn’t know (UD note: nobody knows) – it’s a great pub, but it’s what’s happening everywhere’

‘The music is great. It’s weird, to hear classical music played that loud. At first, we had no idea what was going on (laughing) but it’s a great pub’.

UD: ‘The council is assisting the speculators in taking it over’

‘That’s no surprise, they would have got rid of us if we weren’t just the ground floor. Everything in this area will be flats soon’.

 

 

By Angel Lewis and Tom Charles

Heresy & Witticism – “Wittenberg” @ The Gate Theatre 4*

David Davalos’ Wittenberg centres around whether “to believe or not to believe” with undecided scholar Prince Hamlet in the crossfire of wits as Theology lecturer Martin Luther and Philosopher Dr Faustus go head to head arguing the case of religion against humanism.

Luther (Andrew Frame), Hamlet (Edward Franklin) and Dr. Faustus (Sean Campion) - Photo Tristram Kenton

The tug of war between colleagues on matters of faith versus philosophy is earnest and entertaining –Sean Campion’s Faustus declaring the Bible a source of answers for Theologians and questions for Philosophers.  The pub-crooning Faustus – twice a week at the Bunghole – mixes philosophy, medicine and women in his bon-vivant approach to life taking evident pleasure in the needling of the intensely devout and dour Luther (Andrew Frame).

Faustus Entertains - Photo Simon Kane

Davalos’ play sees Hamlet’s mental house thrown in to disarray not by scheming relatives but by an inability to reconcile Corpenicus’ theory of the sun at the centre of the solar system against religious teachings.  The tattered tennis playing undergrad (Edward Franklin) is unable to square hierarchical faith against scientific proof yet it is Luther’s own doubts about Rome that are at the true heart of the production.

Frame, Sophie Brittain as The Eternal Feminine" and Campion - photo Simon Kane

Rome grows wealthy through the sale of forgiveness leaving Luther struggling with his beliefs and loyalty to the papacy.  Staunch faith and argumentative intellect are crippled by the self -serving financial objectives of the Vatican opposition to which is sacrilege.  These weaknesses are seized upon by the mocking Faustus who accuses Luther of “abandoning the patient for the cancer” it is game on between the two worthy opponents.  The debate between Faustus and Luther is bawdy, inflammatory, the perfect storm of animosity and grudging respect as the actors deliver fiesty performances.  The production comes into its own during these sequence as Frame & Campion ignite a drolly feverish battle of wills and wit. Humours needling and hot tempers flare

The play, peppered with so many literary references, verges on coy yet Christopher Haydon stages a spirited UK premier that is never bogged down by its own cleverness. This Gate production is a thinking man’s affair wrapped in a cloak of hilarity.  Come for lascivious pub crooning, lap up the “brau” fuelled debates and prepare for the cold winds wrought by the choices of men.

Until 1 October 2011
Gate Theatre
11 Pembridge Road
London W11 3HQ

In Quest of Conscience: History lost in Translation @Finborough Theatre – 2*

by J. Cavanagh

In Quest of Conscience brings the interviews of extermination camp Nazi Commandant Franz Stangl to the stage.   An intriguing, devastating subject matter yet Gitta Sereny’s interviews, so real on paper, translate poorly to the “boards”.

The four-piece production, made up of Stangl (Martin Buchan), Sereny (Phillipa Peak) plus a male and female chorus (Patrick Knowles & Siubhan Harrison,) fails to augment the text in this adaptation. Stangl’s reflections on his time in command of Sobibor and Treblinka come across as impersonal.  Buchan and Peak do their best to channel their characters but their efforts come across as “acted” and at times under-rehearsed.

The simple set with the leads in conversation across a table from each other in the Dusseldorf jail following Stangl’s extradition from Brazil could provide a stark contrasting backdrop for strong emotion.  The chorus re-enact scenes from Stangls’ past re-creating third party memories: his wife in interview, a priest, a daughter, etc.  The chorus is an effective tool – accent challenges aside – and the play would benefit from Stangl interacting with his revisited past. The chorus, Knowles in particular, energises proceedings but more is required to bring this death laden play to life and connect us to the horrors committed and rationalised by this man.

Finborough Theatre
118 Finborough Road
London, UK, SW10 9ED
http://www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk/

Sundays & Mondays until 28 June 2011

Running time: 1 hour 30 minutes including interval

Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd: 50 Years for a London Premiere @ The Finborough Theatre – 3.5

The Finborough, a sure bet for fringe theatre, currently delivers top drawer musical enjoyment with a revival of “Roar of the Greasepaint – The Smell of the Crowd”.

Beamish (left) & Ashforde (right) in The Roar of The Greasepaint, The Smell of The Crowd - The Finborough Theatre

Set in the smallest Big Top I’ve ever seen the story is ultimately one of class struggle between the portly officious “Sir” (Oliver Beamish) and the threadbare hungry-eyed “Cocky” (Matthew Ashforde). These two are engaged in an absurd game of hopscotch with ever-changing rules to ensure the upper-hand of the upper-class.  The competition is followed throughout by a chorus of “urchins” part-mice, part-Pierrot who provide dazzling support for whichever player takes the lead.

The 60’s original never gathered the UK momentum required for a West-End run but instead was exported straight to Broadway where the class tale and setting translated as a huge success for its resonance with the struggles of the great depression.  Undeniably dated, stereotypical comedic fodder is provided briefly by “The Negro” a caricature with little more than a hayseed stance and guffaw.  Nice then that Terry Doe, assuming this small role, stunned the room with his show-stopping delivery of “Feeling Good”.

The true standout performance of the evening is delivered by Matthew Ashforde who takes on “Cocky” with gutsy relentlessness. As engaged with the audience as his fellow cast members he embodies the painful trials and pathetic triumphs of this role. His eye-catching panache brings to the production a magnetic pull that kept us drawn to the storyline of reinvention and hurdles.

Superior numbers, tight performances and terrific choreography elevate the night’s entertainment.  The cast deliver with such vivacity that from the very outset we were captivated.  The chorus of singing and dancing urchins outdo themselves with exuberant routines in a set that can barely contain them.  Hoots of hilarity and shouts of bravo echo after each number proving this production a delightful, rollicking evening with an entertainment value exceeding many despite the half-century wait for its London opening.

Finborough Theatre
118 Finborough Road
London, UK, SW10 9ED
http://www.finboroughtheatre.co.uk/

Until 2 July 2011

2 hours including intermission.