Monday, 8 June 2015

Teddy

I started working on the synopsis of my new musical today, in amongst writing half a tonne of emails to people who'd kindly got in touch to say that they'd seen me on the news yesterday morning. I'm genuinely shocked to discover that anyone was awake at 9am on a Sunday, but it's great to know that so many people were watching.

This afternoon, after going to the gym, I took myself down to South Kensington to meet Uncle Bill and her son, Jago at the National History Museum, which I realised I'd not stepped foot in since my extreme childhood. The brontosaurus skeleton which snakes its way through the main hall is as iconic and impressive as it ever was. It seems to me a great shame that it's destined to be replaced by a giant whale. That said, I have no concept of the actual size of a blue whale, so perhaps it will open my eyes to something extraordinary.

I was a little perturbed to find policemen holding guns standing on the street opposite the museum. Great big modern black rifles and little hand guns strapped to their thighs like something out of an action movie. Police carrying guns is not normal in the UK, or at least it wasn't until relatively recently, and I still find it a somewhat troubling sight.

We walked with Jago from the museum to Hyde Park, where we visited the Lady Diana Memorial Fountain. It was horrible and grey - the weather and the fountain, really - but little Jago changed into his shorts dipped his feet in the water and had a fabulous time watching feathers and sticks being carried in circles by the fast-flowing water.

A man in high-viz was there to ensure that no-one actually paddled in the fountain, despite that being the architect's very vision for the monument when he designed it. Too many people were apparently slipping on the concrete, so a ludicrous health and safety law was invoked and hundreds and thousands of pounds of tax payers money has subsequently been ploughed into staffing the fountain. Yawn...

One of the trees in the complex was shedding a substance like cotton wool, which, when the wind got up, was blowing around in the air like a snow storm. Frankly, at one stage it got so chilly that I began to wonder whether we were experiencing an actual blizzard!

We had noodles for tea, and then I took the tube to Southwark, crammed like a layered sardine into the carriage. The rush hour in London is brutal.

Still, I got to walk down Union Street to Borough this evening, which is a surprisingly charming walk in a somewhat eccentric part of town, filled with Victorian warehouses and curious little red brick buildings with archways leading to courtyards stuffed with cafes, junk shops and 1950s placards. It's like stepping back in time.

Speaking of which, this evening we saw the show Teddy by Dougal Irvine and Tristan Bernays at the Southwark Playhouse. It was produced by our mate Jim Zalles, known to my Mum as Christmas Jim on account of his having come to Thaxted for Christmas about five years ago.

Folks, it's a tremendous show! Genuinely. Get yourselves down to the Playhouse to see it before it sells out. The piece, set on the Walworth Road and scored for two actors and a rock 'n rock band, is about the edgy underground Teddy Boy culture in London in the late 1950s. The two actors play a variety of roles as seen through the eyes of a pair of teenagers, whose love of the American rock star Johnnie Valentine turns them into Bonnie and Clyde figures, running riot amongst the bomb-damaged buildings and deprivation of the post-war capital. Both actors are extraordinarily powerful. Joseph Prowen is sexy and charismatic and stalks the stage like Elvis on acid whilst Jennifer Kirby fizzles and pops like a fire cracker in his tall-quiffed shadow. The script could have been written by a Cockney Alan Ginsberg.

The rock band, playing Dougal's energetic and hugely authentic-sounding songs, are a four-piece of brilliant oddballs who play the music from memory and inject large doses of Viagra into the on-stage performances. Everything just works.

The show ends and the stage immediately becomes a pop-up bar. The band continues to play and the audience, many of whom are dressed in 50s clobber, start to dance. If you like burlesque, 50s underground culture or rock 'n roll, book your ticket, dress up, and you'll have a ball!

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