Straight Line Crazy

September 18, 2022 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | THEATRE, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

Written by David Hare / Directed by Nicholas Hytner – Bridge Theatre, London, 17 September, 2022 Breaking news: Fat Book inspires Thin Play. Robert Caro’s monumental work about Robert Moses, reviewed by us in March, gave us a character of Shakespearian complexity. Alas, David Hare is not Shakespeare. Not even close. In his play he cherry-picks two episodes in the powerful public servant’s hectic agenda: an expressway cutting a line through estates of the leisured and treasured on Long Island (Moses is depicted having a slanging match with Henry Vanderbilt). The First Act, declamatory, expository, and facile, shows Ralph Fiennes,…

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This Is Spinal Tap

(Directed by Rob Reiner, 1984) (Special Screening at the Mercury Theatre featuring a Q & A with Harry Shearer, Adelaide Guitar Festival, 22 July 2022). Spinal Tap are the blond rock god David St. Hubbins (Michael McKean, who you already know well from Better Call Saul and other offerings), the bass player Derek Smalls (Harry Shearer) and Nigel Tufnel (Christopher Guest), who longs for St. Hubbins with big wet spaniel eyes. When Nigel learns that David’s girlfriend Jeanine Pettibone (June Chadwick aping Yoko Ono) is flying over from England to join the tour, his heart sinks. His crush on David…

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Otto & Astrid

June 24, 2022 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | Modern Music, MUSIC, THEATRE, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(Adelaide Cabaret Festival, 23 June 2022) Come out, come out! In Adelaide’s cold, clear, calm, beautiful winter! And see this Festival before the tents are pitched. At the fabulous Spiegeltent on Festival Plaza (below), a large and appreciative crowd gathered to see and hear Otto & Astrid, the famous ‘dysfunctional, squabbling, co-dependent pair who are Berlin’s prince and princess of art rock and Europop, a lipstick-smeared, tantrum-loving, sonic collision between B-52s, The Pixies, Kraftwerk and early Ramones.’ Remember! What’s good or easy In your freezing sit? Come hear the music play, Life is a cabaret, you folks, Come to the…

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Every Musical Ever

June 19, 2022 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | MUSIC, THEATRE, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

'HOW MANY musicals?'

(Adelaide Cabaret Festival, 18 June 2022) Two Disclaimers: (1) The Varnished Culture is not really that much into musicals (bad music, good acting), preferring opera (bad acting, good music). We couldn’t fit a musical in our list of the 20 finest films. However it is a great genre we suppose, and we have previously commented on some of the outstanding examples: Singin’ in the Rain, Cabaret, The Umbrellas of Cherbourg.  We have also expressed our disdain for the more toxic entries, such as Cats and The Sound of Music. (2) Musical theatre is exempt from consumer law, so no producer…

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The Shanghai Mimi Band

June 18, 2022 | Posted by Peter Jakobsen | HISTORY, MUSIC, THEATRE, THUMBNAIL REVIEWS |

(Adelaide Cabaret Festival, 17 June, 2022) Shanghai in the 1920s and 1930s was “The Paris of the East, the New York of the West,” at least in popular myth, and in old Hollywood films: where elegance rubbed shoulders with depravity but always in a well-dressed way: glittering gowns, elegant cheongsams, dinner suits and white mess jackets, accompanied by a range of recreational poisons. And the night clubs along the Bund (the Shanghai waterfront) provided the venue, salted with the haute and the louche, and sugared by the Chinese chanteuses and hot bands playing French torch songs and shidaiqu (時代曲), a…

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