The West End of London city centre is a magical place, packed with cinemas and theatres.
There are always some amazing shows to be seen in such theatres, whether they are full-blown
musicals or pure drama-driven plays, and I guess the most frustrating thing about taking
a trip to the West End to see a show or two is actually deciding which show or shows to
go and see, given such an incredible choice.
For years now I've desperately wanted to see The Phantom of The Opera stage production and
so I headed to Her Majesty's Theatre down Haymarket to try and secure a ticket, but all the
cheap balcony seats were already taken.
It's not that I'm a cheapskate and won't pay any more than £20 a ticket for a show
because I'm tight... it's simply that I don't earn all that much money (even though
I do work damn hard), and obviously the less you pay for tickets then the more shows you can see.
Anyhow, the views offered by the cheapest seats are often no worse than those offered
by some of the most expensive, as I ecstatically discovered when I went to catch
Hollywood superstar Kevin Spacey in National Anthems.
National Anthems is a play (and couldn't be any less like a musical if it tried) and being
staged at the historic Old Vic Theatre on The Cut (yes, that is a road name) - which is
just down the road from the vast Waterloo train station to the south of the River Thames,
and thus located some distance away from the main West End concentration of entertainment.
Kevin Spacey has been directly involved with The Old Vic for a while now, and he is also set
to star in The Philadelphia Story after the current run of National Anthems finishes on the 23rd of April.
Many of the greatest actors ever have performed here, with Spacey quite literally following in the
footsteps of the likes of Laurence Olivier, Richard Burton and Sir John Gielgud.
National Anthems also stars Mary Stuart Masterson, a Hollywood actress who is perhaps best
known for her screen roles in movies such as the charming Fried Green Tomatoes at The Whistlestop Café
comedy-drama and the romance-soaked Bed of Roses. American actor Steven Weber completes the cast of
three, who all genuinely do turn in awe-inspiringly brilliant performances.
The story itself is really rather simple, with Spacey playing a fireman who comes round to his
neighbours' house to introduce himself.
The stage is consumed by a mock house, and the audience sees the two-hour-long play develop
- from its hilarious start through to its devastating and quite shocking climax - right up
close in the living room.
Spacey's neighbours are played, then, by Mary Stuart Masterson and Steven Weber, who are
a couple of money-obsessed snobs who have worked - allegedly - damn hard to afford this
plush house in the suburbs of Detroit.
Initially, all that Spacey's character (called Ben) aims to do is acquaint himself with
his neighbours and to make them feel welcome in their new neighbourhood.
But as he gets to know them better, as the play progresses, it becomes apparent that he
somewhat resents some of their more materialistic attitudes and thus a great sense of
tension materialises between them all until Spacey's Ben effectively has a nervous
breakdown and begins to routinely trash his neighbours' house to prove a point.
National Anthems is packed with ferociously funny moments, but it ultimately becomes a wickedly
dark play that benefits hugely from Spacey's powerhouse performance that is packed with so much
raw emotion it'll make you weep, and subsequently stare on dumbfounded as the house lights begin to dim.
You might think highly of Spacey's acting talents on the big screen, but when you see him act
before a live audience you should rightfully be thoroughly mesmerised.
Watching a play of this calibre makes you realise just how hard it must be to act in such a
situation compared to in the movies... especially when movie-shoots only call for one
scene to be shot at a time.
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Death is nothing to young girls, except as part of the adventure, an exciting secret
whispered by a dark lover, not something you meet one evening when you're going home to your movie or father.
Such a notion is all about to change
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While we all sit around moaning about the lack of decent live entertainment in
Hull; Buzz Comedy Club have been doing something about it.
While we get in from work, moan again about the lack of decent live entertainment in
Reviews, Books - The Horse Whisperer by Nicholas Evans Reviewed By Steve Rudd
It was in America that horses first roamed.
A million years before the birth of man, they grazed the vast plains of wiry grass
and crossed to other continents over bridges of rock soon severed by retreating ice.
They first knew man as the hunted knows the hunterRead more...
Reviews, Books - Eleanor Rigby by Douglas Coupland Reviewed by Steve Rudd
I realise that by deciding not to do things, I've lost millions of threads of chance
and opportunity to have new experiences, to meet new people - to be alive, really.
So now I'm going to start doing things I'm bad at again. Heck, I'm going to do things
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The one way to be happy is to love, to love self-denyingly, to love everybody and everything.
If you fancy a nice little slab of classic literature, then this beauty of a story might be for you.
Set on the harsh Russian Steppes back in the nineteenth century, this simple-living
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Famed Hollywood-based director Gus, like actor Ethan Hawke, is now making his name as an author too.
This is his debut novel, and a bizarrely tripped-out one at that, putting the reader in the mind of
Douglas CouplandRead more...
Reviews, Books - God's Debris by Scott Adams Reviewed by Katherine Horrex
God's Debris explores the philosophy of physical science within a fictional story.
It was written by Scott Adams, creator of Dilbert and is the number one best-selling
E-book on the planet.
Adams himself describes it as a
Reviews, Books - Ice Run by Steve Hamilton Reviewed by Steve Rudd
This is Steve's sixth action-thriller novel, and it is arguably his most exciting and accomplished so far.
Michigan-born Steve sets all his work in such a perpetually snowbound state
(or so it would seem from reading his work),
Reviews, Books - The Shark Net by Robert Drewe Reviewed By Steve Rudd
Ok. So most movies, books or long-running TV-orientated soaps tend to
dwell on the sunnier side of living in Austrailia. Am I right?
Sure, there are instances of scandal now and again amidst the emotionally
challenged sprawl of Ramsey Street, but nothing too shocking or