Border Tales by Protein Dance at Summerhall: Edinburgh Fringe Review


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Another day, another Summerhall 5 star show.  This time it’s dance, but with a BIG twist.  It’s political and it features dancers that sing, act and deliver spoken word monologues that never outstay their welcome.

First off, can I just say the choreography is beautiful with monologues often delivered in brilliant flowing double-hander dance movements where the dancer/actor seems to flow like water supported by their counterpart whilst delivering their insights.

It’s mesmerising and the first time I’ve ever seen anything even remotely like this.

The show is about Britain’s rise of immigrantion from all over the globe.  The cast is led by a gruff Yorkshireman who displays many of the traits we regard as cliches, but performed with a humour and lightness of touch that protects it from parody.  I’m afraid there was no programme so I can’t name names but this central and leading character pulled a difficult gig off with ease.

The six dancers were supported by a Colombian multi instrumentalist who worked in tandem with excellent backing music and beautifully held the show together (he too could act when called upon to do so).

The remaining five in the cast represented a second generation African (Nigerian) Londoner fully immersed in UK culture, a Hong Kong Chinese man, A Taiwanese Chinese girl who, with her poor enunciation of English, became the butt of many of the Yorkshireman’s jokes, An Irish Catholic man and a hirsute Egyptian (parodied as an ‘Arab’) is he african?  Is he middle Eastern?

It all paves the way for questions about the value or otherwise of multiculturalism, some nice subtle digs at Brexit, debate about religion and which one (including trendy atheism) is best.

And it’s at times funny, always brilliantly delivered, original and downright fascinating.

A true melting pot of our times in a show you should do your best to get tickets for.

The Hungary Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2017. Our favourite.


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There’s much to savour at La Biennale but this was our collective favourite.

Here’s what they say about it.

“Peace on Earth!” by Gyula Várnai and curated by Zsolt Petrányi is a project based on the viability and the imminent need of utopias; it’s about the disillusion we have about the future and about the things that have not come true, but especially it’s a show concerning new technologies, global economies and natural crisis, giving the viewer the chance to make a deep reflection on a future that is growing faster than before.

The entire pavilion is just a stunning display of modern art but this piece stole it for us.

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The rainbow needs closer scrutiny.  Turns out is made up of a kaleidescope of 1960’s pin badges…

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Like this one…

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We didn’t see Gyula Várnai’s neon piece at night but this is how it looks

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The Biennale is incredible.  This won our vote.

 

 

A better denunciation of the most powerful man in the world than I could ever write.


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“The man in the white house sits, naked and obscene, a pustule of ego, in the harsh light, a man whose grasp exceeded his understanding, because his understanding was dulled by indulgence.”

Thus speaks Rebecca Solnit in her piece in The Literary Hub that completely destroys Donald Trump with her pen.  The central theme of her piece is the old Russian (ironic, huh) fable of the old man and the Golden Fish.  It is a beautiful fable with a strong moral.

But Donald Trump is not the old man.  He is the greedy, vile, egotistical wife whose desire for power has no end.

This is a long, dense but completely compelling piece.

I hope it predicts the downfall of an evil dictator-to-be.

Schadenfreude, were it to have been invented in Roman times, would probably be one of the 8 vices.

But you know what I can cope with that.

Completely remarkable writing and thank you to Dan Rebellato for sharing it on Twitter.

Read it here.

Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. (50th Anniversary Edition.)


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Listen to Martin Freeman’s outstanding two part documentary on BBC Radio 2 (iPlayer) called Sgt. Pepper Forever to hear a really interesting insight into the creation of what many believe to be the greatest record ever produced.

I’m listening to Giles Martin’s remix of his late father’s masterpiece and it does sound zingier, cleaner, crisper and yet deeper.  It’s recorded in stereo of course which adds a dimension that purists may not appreciate but I feel adds quality.

And it is quite incredible source material pushing the limits of sound technology absolutely MILES past anything else that had been recorded by 1967.

It introduced completely new compositional facets to pop music (some drawn from classical repertoire) and now we have the benefit of 50 years’ later’s technology to further emphasise its brilliance.

Of course, the songs are what makes it and there’s only 39 minutes 52 seconds of them.

Top of the pile for me are She’s leaving home and the absolve;ute masterpiece Life in a Day.  The story behind the recording of this in Martin Freeman’s documentary is fascinating.

Amazingly (and possibly rarely) all four Beatles have songwriting credits including Ringo who penned “With a Little Help From my Friends.”

Enjoy this spectacular new take on a five star classic.

 

 

 

Alien Covenant: Movie Review.


 

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In which a young Michael Fassbender utters the immortal line to his older brother, also played by Michael Fassbender, as he teaches him how to play a penny whistle, “I’ll do the fingering.”

Stop.

Stop right there.

That was silly right?

Alien:Covenant is Ridley Scott being let loose on his wildest fantasies and this time it’s almost all about religion.  He’s apparently in thrall with the notion that Aliens are gods or some such claptrap.

The name of the ship is ‘Covenant’, the name of the ‘Synthetic’ that was on Prometheus but has met its fate and who forms a big part of this movie’s plotline was David (Michael Fassbender) and David has lured his ten year the junior ‘brother’ Walter (also Fassbender) to Prometheus and to seek the fate of the 2,000 ‘covenanters’ on board ship.

Although Walter is a more advanced model he is more deeply flawed and has had his emotional intelligence reduced as it became apparent that David was too advanced.

Meanwhile, because this is 2017 rather than 1979 special effects, we get to see much more Alien action, which is in itself good (and creepy) but it’s OTT and the Aliens as organisms appear less developed because, remember, this is a prequel to Alien and in the time between the two movies the Aliens have evolved.

It starts great (but slow) the sets are miraculous and the acting largely decent (Katherine Waterston as Daniels is commendable) but the religious theme becomes more and more overbearing and the relationship between Fassbender and Fassbender is preposterous (although well acted).

Although the SFX are great they are just too much and the whole movie descends into a disappointing silly pet project that needs much more script supervision.

Not great I’m afraid.

 

 

 

Evangelii gaudium bullshit. (Or, life in a land of relativistic subjectivism.)


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I’m a pretty regular Catholic churchgoer.

It gives me a lot of challenges in my mixed up mind and the list of what’s wrong with the Catholic church would fill this blog from now to kingdom come (thy will be done) were I to put my mind to it.

Most of all (and we’ll not even go into child abuse and the horrors that we read about in that Irish convent last week) is its refusal to wake up to 21st century life, thinking, logic and relevance.

Yet still I go.  And get great community spiritual benefits from it.

However, it’s the sort of guff below that really sets my teeth on edge.

It’s a part of the Catholic Printing Press of Farnsworth’s weekly newsletter that is distributed in churches throughout the UK, to churchgoers of every level of intellect.

I’ve written over 2,000 posts on this blog so I think I’d count myself in, at least, the top 50% of the UK’s most literate/reasonably well read population.

But if anyone can explain to me why this sort of self important pomposity should be published to a church of mixed ability readers then I’d be interested.

(I showed it to a couple of my fellow parishioners last Sunday and they hadn’t a Scooby what it was on about.)

What does inculturating mean?

What does relativistic subjectivism mean?

What percentage of the population is aware what a pluralistic religious landscape means?

And what, to the ordinary Catholic, does Evangelii Gaudium mean anyway?

If it means Joy of the Gospel why not just call it Joy of the Gospel?

Get a bloody grip.