Sunday, November 30, 2008

Imagine This, New London Theatre

Imagine This is a new musical currently playing in New London Theatre. You may think it is mad to launch a new West End show in this climate of economy uncertainty, and you may be right. The theatre, while wasn't empty, wasn't exactly filled to the brink either. In fact even though armed with bargain tickets we managed to bagged seats just six feet from the stage, enough to witness a bit of snorting action by the leading lady.

The musical follows a Jewish theatre group during the early days of the second World War. Set in a Warshaw ghetto, the group continues to produce musicals for the community in order to commit a sense of normality to their now miserable lives. In fact much of Imagine This is sort of musical within a musical. This in my opinion made it tedious. Rather than allowing the characters to grow, by constricting them within their Masada play (a play about the Jewish plight under Roman rule), they came off as rather shallow. Nevertheless Masada served as a brilliant fore shadowing to their present day plight. One of the primary complaints by certain circles of critics was the distasteful humours that are occasionally brought up, despite the predicament the cast finds themselves in. We (and the audience) didn't think so and took the humour as it came as. This is after all an entertainment and should be treated as such.

Production value is great, though no where near Les Miserables level of detail. Rain and snow drops through the broken windows, furnitures are realistic and the set wonderfully designed. Even the stage revolves, which is rather nice, though I did find it a bit of a gimmick. The orchestra pit is shamefully partially hidden and can only be seen through the broken windows on the right side of the stage. I found the acting to be a little bit tepid, though the singing is wonderful particularly by the two leads. Jamie Davis who plays the nine year old Leon/David was very impressive as was Michael Matus for his comedic performance as Pompey.

All in all, I found Imagine This to be an above average musical. I thought it was more enjoyable than Candice, the only musical so far that I've slept partly through. Jennifer on the other hand found it to be exciting and was thoroughly pleased by the whole thing, as did most of the crowd (standing ovations included). Regardless of what you think of it Imagine This, it is most definitely the most daring new musical West End has seen in years. More of this will be welcomed, especially in London. Perhaps a musical about occupied Palestine or Guantanamo Bay next?


Imagine This is currently playing at New London Theatre, Drury Lane (Covent Garden)

Friday, November 14, 2008

SingStar ABBA out today

Is it right that I am finding myself more excited of the new SingStar than Fallout 3, Mirror's Edge and anything Nintendo ever puts out for the Wii? Ah screw it. ABBA rocks (this coming from a metalhead) and so does SingStar.

The PS3 version is compatible with PlayStation Eye, allowing you to upload your Mamma Mia! impression to My SingStar Online for the whole world to mock. Note that neither version comes with microphones so you will have to get them from other SingStar bundles or use your old worn out ones. Amazon is selling the PS3 version for £17.97 and the PS2 version for £14.99.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Sony Walkman NWZ-S639 16GB for £87.99

Update: Amazon UK has these babies for £87.99. That is a huge bargain and it is criminal not to take advantage of the deal/pricing mistake. The orange/silver version is also going for £87.99, though the red version is curiously priced at £99.99. Note that Amazon UK does not ship electronic products overseas, though Advanced MP3 Player does (with minus VAT ye lucky buggers).

Sony's latest Walkman, the S63x series has received critical acclaim from various tech pundits due to its ability to offer superior sound quality. Like previous Walkmans, the S639 is a no-fuss gadget whose primary function is to deliver great sound quality. According to some Head-Fi posters, the SQ is even better than Sony's classic A818. If you are a UK resident and a valid license fee player ;), you will be glad to find that the S639 is also compatible with BBC's iPlayer allowing you to catch up with the latest episodes of Top Gear and Strictly Come Dancing.

Now, thanks to the current economic climate, the S639F 16GB model is on sale for £99 and is available in black, red or silver. That is a great value for money.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Oyster card travesty

Last week we found over selves heading to London Euston on the London Overground network, with Oyster cards as our ticketing method. On arriving at Euston we found that our Midland train has docked onto one of those platforms with nary a Oyster card reader or even ticket gates. Annoyingly we were forced to find another platform with ticket gates in order to validate the journey, lest we get charged the maximum £5.50 per journey with no daily journey caps.

The staffers there were well aware of the issue but they just shrugged while helpfully touching-out our cards. I wonder how many people unintentionally paid more than they were supposed to due the lack of signage and campaign by TfL. You may be able to scam them tourists, but not us.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Oh bless them

Nothing excites me more than watching religious folks squabbling with each other. But videos of orthodox Armenian and Greek trading blows with each other where Jesus Christ was supposedly buried, is reason enough to be happy that I've not bought into any of these religious crap.

Never mind that they actually believe in the same faith, the reason they decided to go for a wee bit of embarrassing themselves is they simply hate each other. Just like that in a quick moment they demonstrated the supposed virtues of religion to be false. How can you preach if you do not yourself submit to the supposed scriptures you proclaim to love?

Oh never mind, at least us sane folks had a good cheap laugh at their expense.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Futurama - Bender's Game review

I am a massive fan of Futurama. So when it was announced that a fifth season of Futurama beacons in the form of direct to DVD films, I was filled with hope. Bender's Game is the third of said features and to be honest after viewing this, I don't see much hope left in the franchise.

Bender's Big Score was a typical Futurama episode stretched to widescreen and length that while no where near as good as the series, was pretty enjoyable. The second, The Beast with a Billion Backs was less so. I was only capable of watching it a couple of times before permanently archiving it in the back of the bookcase for spiders to gnaw at. Bender's Game on the other hand... well I barely got through half of it before turning on my PC to begin ranting about it, while the none stop pop-referencing Dungeons & Dragons meets Lord of the Rings meets Star Wars filled the background noise. I had to re-watch the second half to write this because I missed so much.

The plot is nonsensical at best. I know, Futurama has always prided itself with silly (but still cohesive) plots, but what we have here is absolutely no plot. There were a couple of jokes and gags, but these were far in between, and those that appeared are weak. It's like a couple of awful Scary Movie films rolled into one, with Teletubbies thrown in for good measure. The film has a couple of con-current storylines: Bender being accused of having no imagination after his dabble with Dungeons & Dragons, Leela being fitted with a temper checking dog collar and Hubert Farnsworth's desire for vengeance against Mom. Sounds good on paper, except it doesn't...

For an episode that supposedly explores Bender's lack of imagination, Bender's Game is surprisingly lacking. The over reliance on parodying genre favourites like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings just proves that. Gags are often unfunny and made of cheap predictable puns and seemingly random. Even the quality of the animation seems a bit off. About the only thing worth about Bender's Game is we finally get to see Leela and Amy getting it on, something I am sure many of you were wishing since The Series Has Landed (don't lie now).

The picture quality is great and you do get audio commentary by the makers of the show with your purchase. In addition to that a slew of bonus features is included such as deleted scenes, storyboard animation, bloopers by the voice casts etc. Unfortunately that doesn't change the fact that I personally think Bender's Game is an awful awful Futurama episode. Perhaps if you are a D&D nerd who takes pride in spotting mathematical references, then this film may be for you. A rent at best, but don't blame yourself if you decided to give this a miss.


Bender's Game is available on DVD and Blu-Ray

Thursday, November 6, 2008

"Fool" teaser

Here's the Cliff Notes you wished you'd had for King Lear—the mad royal, his devious daughters, rhyming ghosts and a castle full of hot intrigue—in a cheeky and ribald romp that both channels and chides the Bard and all Fate's bastards. It's 1288, and the king's fool, Pocket, and his dimwit apprentice, Drool, set out to clean up the mess Lear has made of his kingdom, his family and his fortune—only to discover the truth about their own heritage. There's more murder, mayhem, mistaken identities and scene changes than you can remember, but bestselling Moore (You Suck) turns things on their head with an edgy 21st-century perspective that makes the story line as sharp, surly and slick as a game of Grand Theft Auto. Moore confesses he borrows from at least a dozen of the Bard's plays for this buffet of tragedy, comedy and medieval porn action. It's a manic, masterly mix—winning, wild and something today's groundlings will applaud. (Feb.)
A Chris Moore book based on a Shakespearean lore! Excited yet? I think I will re-read his entire back catalogue (for the sixth time) this week. ^_^

From Publishers Weekly via also blogged by Chris himself