Tuesday, September 26, 2006

New BBC Idents

At last! (via) But how will we cope until the launch date - Saturday 7 October 2006? And how can the following sentence ever be uttered on any day other than April 1st? :-

A fantastical exploration of what it would look like if adult hippos could swim.


Paul Fuzz reviews Cabaret

An 'AnnaWaits Tribute Review', as he puts it. It's really great, go check it out.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Summing up

Sorry guys, I've been suffering with a bit of a nasty virus, so apologies for the lack of posts and comments. I'm still not feeling brilliant so here's some rubbish summing-up blogging for you:

Spooks: brilliant - loads of that unbearable suspense it does so well, Hermione Norris seems like she'll fit in well, and Zaf continues to be incredibly cool.
Extras Ep.2: awful - aren't the general public idiots? They'll watch any old crap, won't they? Even when proper critics see that it's rubbish? Urggggh. Plus, and most importantly, I don't really remember laughing.
Jane Eyre: ho-hum - very stylised, and I'm not sure I like it...

Discuss. :)

Also, I'm currently working my way through the Nathan Barley series and I am loving it. Writers Charlie Brooker and Chris Morris clearly know the Shoreditch/so-cutting-edge-it's-tomorrow scene to attack it so vehemently. There's a slight problem here, I think, though, in that they don't show why that lifestyle might be something people aspire to, or find attractive, when of course they do. The performances are uniformly brilliant though. I may be a little biased but MAN Julian Barratt is good - he makes Dan Ashcroft a flawed and often incredibly irritating man, but you're right behind him and his campaign against the 'idiots'. You know he won't always make the right decisions, but you want him to, and that shows you like him. Nicholas Burns also makes the eponymous 'hero' brilliantly slappable, and one of our faves, Nina Sosanya, provides a character looking at things with our eyes. I can't wait to finish the series.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Sheffield Theatres lead TMA Awards. Again.

As The Stage are reporting.

That's partly down to me, that is. I'm a 'regional panelist' for TMA, and getting two free tickets for whatever show (outside of London/Stratford/festivals) I like explains how I can afford to go so often. And great parents. :)

Sam West is at the start of his tenure, so it's not surprising that this wasn't quite the rounded season that we saw at the end of Michael Grandage's time in Sheffield, but there were still some great productions - and of them all, I really hope Assassins (my review) gets the recognition it deserved.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Charles Ross's One Man Star Wars Trilogy - Sheffield Lyceum, 17/09/06

At the end of the performance, Ross said "If this wasn't what you expected, well I can understand that, because the title is misleading..." And he's totally right. Well, he's wrong and being sarcastic, but you know what I mean. One Man Star Wars Trilogy really does do exactly what it says on the tin. There's very little out-of-character talking (apart from five minutes at the end for thanks and a quick ad for his next show), and indeed very few jokes - this is one man acting out the original Star Wars films in an hour. But it's great. For one, it's an achievement in pure stamina - I swear, this man must lose a stone in pure sweat every night because he puts everything into the performance, running round the stage creating galactic explosions one minute, swinging round an invisible lightsabre the next. More wonderful, though, is the love of the films that comes through. He doesn't do exact impressions of the actors or their parts, but picks on particular, and instantly recognisable characteristics, like Han's cowboy swagger, and Luke's constant whining. These are so accurately and funnily observed, that they could only be performed by a true fan. Plus, it's quite fun spotting which bits of the films he likes best, because he quotes them in full when it's really not necessary: 'We're fine, we're all fine here... how are you?.... Boring conversation anyway'. That's one of my personal favourites too. He also picks out tiny little quirks of the films which normally pass you by (who can name the only character to pronounce Leia "Leeah"?!) and it's that attention to detail which really makes the show. Problems? Really this isn't a show to dissect too much, but I guess some audience participation might be a welcome addition - I don't know about anyone else, but I was itching to shout 'No Luke, I am your father!". And 'He doesn't like you - I don't like you either'. But that one probably was just me.

Basically, the more you know and love the films, the more you'll enjoy this show, and if you've not seen them at all (and in which case, really, what are you doing reading this blog? ;) ) then it'll certainly be one of the the wierdest hours of your life.

EDIT: Ooooh, I forgot - on arrival at the theatre we were confronted by stormtroopers, Boba Fett and C3P0. Not something one would normally forget! It's a wonderful idea, as makes the night feel like a real event. Thank god for camera phones!

Me with C3PO:


The actors go a bit too method...

Fun night :)

How Do Solve A Problem Like... giving the people what they want.

Not as snappy as the programme, title.... sorry. Basically, it's been announced that Connie Fisher will be performing 6 times a week, out of 8 performances. In terms of Connie's voice, this seems perfectly reasonable, but what worries me is that David Ian said on Breakfast this morning that it's the matinees that she'll miss. Surely children and families are both the people who voted for Connie to win, and those who will make up much of the audience on a Saturday afternoon. These people deserve to see the performer they spent their money to get on the stage, so I hope they think this through again.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Paul Fuzz on Gervais

And it ain't pretty. He's totally right, though.

Thursday Is The New Friday

Comedy-wise, of course. So, Extras, That Mitchell and Webb Look and Mock The Week - what did we think?

First Extras - I laughed out loud several times, and that really doesn't happen very often (except when watching Futurama, I've realised recently). Ashley Jenson was, if anything, funnier than last series, and I preferred her sections to Andy's. They're better together, though, and hopefully Andy's awful sitcom will fail and they'll be sat observing ludicrous A-listers together again soon. Talking of Andy's sitcom, and more his reactions/comments, it's hard not to just hear Ricky Gervais talking, so similar are Andy's beliefs to his own. I found his rants a little self-indulgent - and even a little churlish, seeing as though Gervais's own experience of the Beeb has clearly been very different to Andy's. Yup, it was certainly Maggie's exchanges with Orlando Bloom and the one-rung-up actress which made last night's episode so enjoyable.

Then That Mitchell and Webb Look - patchy but then isn't that the way of all sketch shows? There was real promise: the self-conscious Nazis were great, as were the 'Big Talk' and life insurance sketches. The best by far I thought, though, was the posh waiter sketch - haven't we all felt intimidated by 'the staff' when in classy restaurants? This made me laugh a lot. Shame that they copped out of the 'How Not What To Look Like' punchline - it was funny, and not offensive, I didn't think - and tacking the 'real-life' scene on the end felt unnecessary. If they'd really thought it was offensive, surely they just wouldn't have included it at all?

Lastly Mock The Week - which my nerves can't really handle. I know that they've probably seen the topics, and have been improvising for years, but it still amazes me. It's good to know that the BBC have decided to use this show as a jumping off point for emerging comics - Fringe Festival hit Russell Howard was on last night and more than held his own against the old hands like Clive Anderson.

Me And My Girl - Lyceum Theatre Sheffield, 14/09/06

Maybe it was because my journey did not require a monumental effort, but this was.... ok to pretty good. The main, insurmountable problem is, I think, that it's not all that good a musical. How 'Lambeth Walk' has survived where other middling sing-alongs haven't is beyond me (the rousing, irrepressibly cheery 'The Sun Has Got It's Hat' on is twice the song, and deserves its longevity, though) and it's got that 'change yourself to fit in and you'll be happy' message that seems to pervade musical theatre. Grease anyone?

But despite what I see as the inherent weakness of the songs (quite a major one, I realise), this is was far from terrible. Richard Frame - the go-to guy for a lovable lead - is as charismatic as he was in Promises, Promises, and his eponymous Lambeth girl, Sally, was played with real warmth and wit by Faye (Steps) Tozer. The supporting cast, including Dillie Keane and Sylvester McCoy, also showed game in throwing themselves into their rather silly (but fun) roles.

Two elements really stood out though - first the choreography. This production was both directed and choreographed by Warren Carlyle, and it showed - there was a real flow to the production visually, with little physical tics and motifs cropping up throughout the dances, and normal stage business. Secondly, the book, which has been updated by Stephen Fry, and my doesn't it just scream it. Fry's love of language and punnery ('Do you like Kipling?', 'I don't know, I've never Kipled') runs throughout, and is a real highlight of the show which went a little under-appreciated by the audience, I felt. This wasn't a brilliant production, because it simply isn't a brilliant musical, but it was saved, I think, by some lovely delivery of a rather wonderful script.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Blogging with Blogger in Beta

Over here. Just for fun mind, don't go changing those bookmarks. Blogger Beta looks pretty nifty - tags (or 'labels', so that Blogger can feel as though they've invented something new, rather than just been slow), and you can edit the look of the blog really easily - dragging and dropping elements all over the place. And there's the option to add more content like a list of all your 'labels', feeds, sidebar photos and lists etc. Looks good, but I'll tell you when I find the inevitable disadvantages... :)

EDIT: I'm in love with Blogger Beta. I've got all new colours and fonts in about 30 seconds. Hurry up and change over, Mr Google!

EDIT 2: I'll post all my little discoveries at annawaitsbeta.blogspot.com rather than here, I think.

September 12th

If anything, I remember more about how I felt on September 12th 2001, than the day before. The day before I was just numb like everyone else, I guess. Over at Lisa's, she's told us where she was, and while I've commented, I just felt I wanted to post it over here, too - more for me than for anyone else.

I was at school when it actually happened, and I heard nothing. As I walked home, there was this household on the way that was always watching Friends as I passed, but this day they were clearly watching the news - there was the anchorman on the screen at the time. I remember it striking me as odd that they weren't watching Friends.

Then I wandered into the house and there were Paul and Becca on the sofa, eyes glued to the TV. I think they just pointed as the film of the towers falling was re-shown. 'They've bombed the f*cking Pentagon too' said Paul. Like everyone else, I just watched the rest of the night, the rest of the week. I was probably meant to go to ballet but I don't think I did. I remember thinking 'I wonder if this is big enough for the date to be remembered'.

The next morning was one of the strangest of my life. I remember meeting my friend in the playground and not knowing how to start the conversation. There was nothing else to talk about, but you could hardly start 'did you hear about...' Of course they heard. Then there was all the rumours of World War III and the like. My first lesson was History but noone could concentrate. We just sat there, completely spaced out.

Then things started to get back to normal, I guess, but in a pretty new world.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

The Sublime and the Ridiculous

For those who missed the Guardian's special feature yesterday, where famous photos were mocked up starring our best new comedians, here's a little selection to get you scrambling over to see the rest...
Jimmy Carr as Jack Nicholson

The Boosh as the BBC Test Card

Nick Frost and Simon Pegg as Vinnie Jones and Gazza

There's some great interviews, too, and my joke repertoire has grown substantially: Velcro - what a rip off.


Well that was... pleasant. Well-acted. Dull.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Ooh, get me on TV Scoop!

Heehee. I still get excited about this sort of thing, sorry :)

Mark Shenton on Me And My Girl, Plymouth

On the Stage Newsblog:

"...it didn’t help, either, that our arrival in Plymouth hadn’t been exactly welcoming. All four of us critics had been booked into a rather down-at-heel hotel, the Astor; and then trying to eat at the Theatre Royal’s upstairs café meant dealing with what Charlie called a “Kafka-esque” ordering system in which all orders were taken at a counter by someone manning a solitary till, which took the best part of 15 minutes. Critics shouldn’t expect a red carpet to be rolled out for them – we’re members of the public with free tickets and a notebook, basically – but coming here involves a 7-hour round-trip by train, so it might have benefited the theatre’s management to have noticed we were there at all before we picked up our tickets from the theatre’s charming in-house PR. By then, even though she was as hospitable as she could be (and even rustled up some interval sandwiches to perk us up), the irritations had started building up. Now it wasn’t just memory that the show had to compete with, but the monumental effort of getting here and getting fed were counting against it, too."

Monumental effort??!! As you can imagine, I had something to say about that. Really, is a 7 hour round trip really an unfair price to pay for a fantastic job like he's got? Well, if Mr. Shenton can't face a trip up north, he can always delegate that work... :) The comments, by the way, have morphed into that age-old discussion about the 'essence' of blogs in general. And I'm afraid I contributed to it, but then we already know that I'm rather protective of the comment function...!

"Look who's a bird now!"

So the Arctic Monkeys got the Mercury (Music) Prize. Not entirely newsworthy as it was all but certain, but it does give me the opportunity to do my Official Monkeys Turnaround. I've hinted at it already, but it's time to be frank. I like the Arctic Monkeys. Quite a lot. A lot. Ok I think they're great and I was wrong, dammit! I WAS WRONG. A girl can change her mind....

Far from boring, they do really interesting things musically. I've still got problems with some of the lyrics (indie-snob anthem Fake Tales Of San Francisco especially) but the festival coverage suggests they're brilliant live, and, overall... well they're actually pretty special.

Enjoy this admission of fallibility, readers, it won't happen often.
Oooh, and I'll be around a little more now I've finished work. You're relieved, I know :)