Friday 24th November

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Kenesha
Photograph by Martin Slidel

Kenesha EP Launch // Thursday July 10 // Alley Cat

I caught up with North London Roots singer Kenesha over lunch on a not-so-sunny Sunday though her very presence illuminated the afternoon. She spoke with infectious enthusiasm about her forthcoming EP, ahead of its launch at the world-famous Alley Cat venue in the heart of London’s music district. Her new and inspirational collection features pared-back acoustic interpretations of Bluesy yet contemporary balladry, as requested by fans.

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Category: Music
The writing was on the wall
The writing was on the wall // Photograph by Martin Slidel

The Review that Never Was

Rating:

Arrived at the Oxford Arms to a review a fringe production. Usual enough. Long day at the office followed by an inspirational exhibition of children’s art that I’d been invited to by a local secondary school. Spent my time and money staying out, traipsing around my old (very old) stomping ground of Camden before time to venture forth.

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Category: Comedy
Melissa James
Photo credit: Mike Watts

Melissa James @ Green Note + CD Competition

Rating:

First up was Vincent Burke in a natural, warm and easy, performance. What else would you expect when singing about pianos falling down the stairs! Somewhat in the style of old-school balladeers such as Jake Thackray and Tom Lehrer; funny, wise, droll and just jaunty enough to get your feet tapping. Plus a lovely version of Smokey Robinson’s ‘You’ve Really Got a Hold on Me’ replete with new middle-eight. Burke is also a bit McCartney-ish, reinvented with a quirkier, folksier, edge. The punters demanded more.

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Category: Culture
Sally Mortemore and Claire Louise Amias
Sally Mortemore and Claire Louise Amias

Women of Twilight @ Pleasance Theatre

Rating:

A fun night out ‘Women of Twilight’ is not. It is a truly great evening of theatre at a commendable (and welcoming) venue. If Sylvia Rayman’s play seems long-overlooked, in some ways it’s easy to understand why. The taboo of illegitimacy in post-war England seems not only reprehensible but through contemporary eyes is like visiting an alien land. Director Jonathan Rigby refers to “the continued relevance of the play…” as I imagine both at home and abroad, and considers that “maybe it’s appropriate to revive a play written during the early years of the Welfare State at a time when strenuous efforts are being made to dismantle it…” Rigby’s current production, at the roomy and comfortable Pleasance Theatre, is more than worth a revisit.

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Category: Culture
Theo Jackson
Photo by Ben Amure

Theo Jackson: Exploring the boundaries

Appearing at The Forge, Camden, February 27 + St James’ Theatre Studio, Belgravia, March 22

Theo Jackson is fast establishing himself as a force to be reckoned with on the Jazz scene, having returned to these shores from the US to two forthcoming London dates at The Forge in Camden and St James’ Theatre in Belgravia. Theo writes his own songs as well as offering a unique take on the standards. His slightly raspy voice belies the gentlest jazzy vibrato; imagine if you will Nick Drake in this genre and you’ll be somewhere near. I define Jackson as a contemporary storyteller and it’s one reason he cites Nick Drake as influential, alongside forces as diverse as Stevie Wonder and Tom Waits.

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Category: Music
Monday

The Park Theatre: A Bad Case of the Mondays

Rating:

Seven short plays on Monday nights: January 13, 20, 27

The Park Theatre, Finsbury Park (Finsbury Park Tube)

The Morris Space upstairs at the Park Theatre in Finsbury Park was pleasingly full for the opening night of the first of four Mondays. Two pop-songs on loop alternated between ‘Manic Monday’ and ‘Between Sunday and Monday’ – no Boomtown Rats. The programme by Paradigm Theatre was set very attractively with seven short themed works from a number of gifted writers.

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Category: Comedy
Amy Neilson Smith
Amy Neilson Smith

Poetry Café: Playerist Comedy Night – Review

Rating:

I was thrilled to present the Comedy Night for Playerist Literary Magazine at the Poetry Society in Covent Garden. Needing to ensure spot-on timing felt a little like operating a conveyor-belt. But what a conveyor-belt. It’s rare to be privy to such a collection of talent, and so pleasing to see a full-house at this venerated venue. The Poetry Café is smartly situated, central but hidden, in the heart of the city. This year saw Jillian Miller come aboard as the magazine’s patron, and she kicked-off proceedings with much appreciated verse by John Cooper Clarke. Drawing on two decades of public speaking, as CEO of an international charity, Jillian sparkled and lit the touchpaper. Next up was Brighton poetess (self-termed) Amy Neilson Smith who recited her naughty-but-nice rhymes. This girl has gumption and little wonder she’s in such demand, as fellow of the iPoets collective that last summer performed at the Royal Festival Hall.

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Category: Comedy
Paradigm Theatre
Rehearsal photos: facebook.com/pages/Paradigm-Theatre-Company

Hen & Chickens Theatre Bar: Fresh off the Boat!

Rating:

Paradigm Theatre Company

Hen & Chickens Theatre Bar

A full coop at the Hen and Chickens Theatre Bar on a school night reminds one of the fortune of London-life and the riches always to be discovered. This is a good venue with tiered seating offering excellent new writing above a warm and friendly pub in the immediate vicinity of Highbury and Islington Stations.

The first of ‘two one-act plays about immigration’ opens with a cleverly scripted conversation by Sarah Pitard between dual mobile-phone calls. ‘Fresh off the Boat!’ immediately conjures images of Windrush but this drama centres on a white middle-class couple, in personable portrayals by Paul Tonkin and Lee Lytle. ‘A Border Story’ soon leads to direct dialogue with the audience as if you’re the wife’s confidante. It sounds as if she speaks from experience, and placing multi-ethic Britain in context of a global village it’s a shock. This is a politically-angled play at moments slightly over-detailed but the human drama is engagingly effective. Lytle brightens the stage with her likeable presence and featureful face counterweighted by Tonkin who, a little like a young Duncan Preston, is graceful and considerate in his craft.

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Category: Hidden London