Fuerzabruta is Spanish for “brute force” and while some sections of the show definitely live up to the name, there is a thoughtful finesse to a lot of the action.
Loud techno beats, indoor weather systems and airborne swimming pools are all utilised in order to give the venue a carnival atmosphere. The audience play their part in holding up a giant plastic sheet on which the Fuerzabruta performers bounce off in all directions and an incredible light show helps the action along.
As the nineteenth century reached its midpoint, artists on the continent were already paving the way for the impressionist revolution that was to follow. British painters were initially somewhat reluctant to jump in and it was left to an American in London to take the plunge. James Abbott McNeill Whistler was from Massachusetts but spent many important years developing his craft in the capital. He specialised in hazy shapes and moody atmospherics and found in the gloomy riverscapes along the Thames, the ideal inspiration for his work.
Heavy industry had come to London in Whistlers lifetime and frantic construction threw clouds of dust across the city which diffused the light and influenced the artist’s point of view. This exhibition shows how Whistler adapted to his surroundings and refused to idealise his subjects. Never has grim realism looked so romantic.
The costume department of the English National Ballet go into overdrive for this swashbuckling tale of double crossing and kidnap on the high seas. This production features one of the worlds leading ballerinas, Alina Cojocaru, whose sense of drama and flawless technique are alone worth the price of admission. The sets are inspired by classic film posters and Bollywood backdrops and are an ideal platform for the immaculate choreography engineered by Marius Petipa.
The supporting cast is strong and agile with great solo pieces by Yonah Acosta and Erin Takehashi. This is the debut production of the ENB’s new director, Tamara Rojas and she has not gone for the comfortable option. Part of her burden must have been eased, however, by the recent arrival of Cojocaru from the Royal Ballet. It’s a move that has surprised many ballet insiders, yet it can only bode well for the future of the ENB.
One of the great comedy double acts of all time, Morecambe and Wise knew that their strength relied on the fact that their roles were set in stone. Ernie Wise would play the pompous little straight man whose job was to set up the gags for Eric Morecambe’s sublime clown. The fact that they honed this routine to perfection meant that they were as close and co-dependent as any married couple in the country. The strength of this bond is explored in Eric and Little Ern as Wise lies dying in a hospital bed.Eric has already passed on fifteen years previously but here he comes disguised as a doctor ready to lift his partner’s spirits with a bunch of gags and pratfalls. He’s obviously a ghost sent to take his old pal up to that great TV studio in the sky but before that, the two embark on a series of reminisces and routines.
Jonty Stephens and Ian Ashpital capture all the physical and verbal mannerisms of the duo and often refer to some of their best-loved moments. However, the nimble script ensures that the evening doesn’t descend into wallowing nostalgia, but finds a fresh way to celebrate two massive talents.
Andrew Lloyd Webber has downsized a bit for his latest foray into the West End. Known usually for his towering ballads and historical sweep, he has in Stephen Ward focused on a small, yet important footnote in Britain’s journey towards social transformation. Stephen Ward tells the tale of the eponymous doctor who moonlighted as a social fixer in the early sixties London. His friendship with politicians, call girls and spies lead to the Profumo scandal in which a government minister and Russian spy were alleged to have shared a mistress.
In the resulting fallout, the government fell and the press lost their fear of the upper class. Ward was denounced as a pimp and took his own life. Christine Keeler gained life-long notoriety. Lloyd Webber’s production uses wit and catchy songs as weapons in a battle to resurrect the doctor’s reputation. The fact that it partially succeeds in this mission is down to the period charm of the compositions and the strong singing of the entire cast. A wry, entertaining look at class snobbery and government hypocrisy.
A weakened United and a resurgent Arsenal pose some interesting questions for Jose Mourinho’s men as they enter the new year. The ongoing goal drought amongst his expensive strike force has made him overly reliant on midfielder Frank Lampard and his defence have made some uncharacteristic blunders of late. The fact that Chelsea are still title contenders is down in some way to Manchester United’s relatively bumpy start to the season with injuries preventing Wayne Rooney and Robin Van Persie from operating together effectively.
The fixture that features both premiership giants is always going to be a test of nerve as well as skill and the result may go some way to both managers seeing how the season will unfold. The week after that will see a totally different scenario played out at the Bridge as East London neighbours West Ham pay a visit. The Hammers are desperate to stay in the top flight and may feel that they have the talent to do so, if not the results. They have developed a knacks or upsetting the odds and will hope to ease the pressure on their manager with a surprise win.
The 1953 film starred some of Hollywood’s biggest names but the story stands up by itself even without the star wattage of Sinatra and co. Eminent lyricist Tim Rice returns to West End production duties after a decade away and teams up with composer Stuart Brayson and director Tamara Harvey in a bold attempt to uncover the true story behind the glitzy movie.
The musical tells the story of a group of American soldiers stationed on the beautiful island of Hawaii. War with Japan is imminent but the troops seem to be fighting personal battles of their own. Illicit love affairs and professional tensions split the men apart at the very time that unity is needed the most. The blues based score sets the tone for moody introspection and explosive confrontations.
With cheery economic news an almost daily occurrence, London’s restaurant scene has seen the return of the super-size eaterie. In the noughties, this sector was ruled by the Conrad empire as Quaglino’s and Mezzo fed the city’s foodies to much acclaim. In 2013, new faces have arrived in the West End to satisfy London’s seemingly never ending hunger for new places to eat. Chotto Matte is split into several levels and can comfortably seat over 200 guests. The food is a deliciously fresh take on the Nikkei style of Japanese cooking with dedicated areas for sushi lovers and a Japanese barbecue.
The atmosphere is gregarious and fun with a DJ and live music in selected rooms; perfect for the after-theatre or pre-clubbing crowd. Entrepreneur and owner, Kurt Zdesar has a solid track record in London having launched the first Nobu restaraunt here and he seems to have judged this opening perfectly. So as a raft of new shows hit the West End, expect to find the cast, crew and audience toasting one another at Chotto Matte
Roast chicken is set to replace the burger this year as middle class types seek to enhance their street cred by lifting ghetto cuisine out of the council estates of London and placing it on the trendy West End stage. Viewed as a superior Nando’s, Clockjack Oven take their name from the spring driven technology used to rotate meat and aim to re-invent the rotisserie chicken concept in London.
In this bustling eatery near Piccadilly, service is brisk and friendly and portions generous. The chickens are on display and are roasted vertically after being marinated with a secret sauce. A whole bird can be cut up French-style so that every piece contains breast meat and this is ideal for those wishing to share. Chicken salads and sandwiches are delicious alternatives to whole roasts and the wine list is short but good. There seems to be an indistinct line in London between street food for cool people and stuff that only street folk will tolerate but Clockjack with their free range Breton chickens, cooked to crispy, moist perfection are firmly in the former camp.
High rise dining is becoming a more common occurrence in the capital, thanks to the recent proliferation of downtown skyscrapers. The views tend to affect the prices which, in turn, affect expectations. Oblix unapologetically go for the City boy pound by offering such favourites as crab cakes, scallops, rib-eye steak and lobster cerviche. These are all tried and trusted meals so beloved by the transatlantic suits and suitesses who frequent Oblix by day.
In the evening, the lights dim and the views become even more entrancing. From this vantage point, you can actually track the progress of underground trains by the way their lights leak through cracks in the ground. A lounge menu and live music give Oblix the same kind of ambience that can be found in the New York Grill in Tokyo’s Park Hyatt hotel immortalised in Sofia Coppola’s Lost in Translation movie. It’s no surprise, then, to discover that these two high-flyers share the same origins. Both have been conceived by Rainer Becker, who with Arjun Waney also launched Zuma and Roka,
A shining example of high-style Indian cuisine even before its rebirth 12 years ago after being destroyed by fire, what was once a classic has reinvented itself with an even greater commitment to contemporary dining, style and service. The recent reincarnation pays homage to the original Red Fort built in Dehli by Shah Jahan who also constructed the Taj Mahal, by incorporating the same materials but updated to modern demands in a lush and sultry setting.
The chefs come from a 300 year old line royal cooks and have mastered the art of “dum pukht”, a form of steam cooking which imbues regional biryanis with an added edge. A wide selection of refined dishes includes dum ka lobster, which is steamed in cumin-infused broth and murgh mussalam, poussin with Kashmiri chillies and browned onions.
Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes is the brains behind this highly-anticipated musical which is set to be a must-see for families visiting the capital. Based on the evergreen children’s story by Roald Dahl, the production features brand new songs and music, along with jaw-dropping set and costume creations recreating the crazy world of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. Douglas Hodge stars as weird and wonderful factory supremo Willy Wonka, while the cast also includes former Young Ones star Nigel Planer as Grandpa Joe, and young newcomer Jack Costello as Charlie Bucket.
The story charts the adventures of Charlie as he becomes one of the few fortunate children who through finding a Golden Ticket, win a tour of the top secret sweet factory, run by the Oompa-Loompas. Greedy boy Augustus Gloop, spoiled brat Veruca Salt, endless gum chewer Violet Beauregarde, and gaming addict Mike Teavee are his fellow winners and companions, who all get their just desserts at the hands of Wonka’s mad contraptions.
The legal eagles that work in and around High Holborn like to get together with their City-based contemporaries around this time of the year. Many a grand strategy is hatched over a bottle of vintage French Red and Brasserie Blanc Chancery Lane is the ideal venue for such an undertaking. Many upmarket eateries bow to the seasonal pressure of providing customers with some form of traditional Christmas stodge in order to come across as festive, here that temptation is elegantly resisted.
There’s a duck or cod alternative to the turkey option and all come with slow roasted seasonal vegetables. Before that, pumpkin and kirsch soup is a perfectly wintry starter but the dessert option is where things get interesting. Along side the traditional puddings is the fruit explosion of guava sabayon with passion fruit sorbet.
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