Review: WigWamBam @ Queen of Hoxton

Poor, poor Londoners – we don’t have campfires or girl scouts or smores. But, luckily, we do have the Queen of Hoxton.

WigWamBam pops up at the Queen of Hoxton to make those winter months slightly more bearable. Boasting a tipi atop a rooftop overlooking the Shoreditch sky line, expect roaring fires, a meat-topped grill, buttered rum, mulled cider and a host of entertainment lined up.

Forced back out into the howling wind due to a distinct lack of food that DOESN’T include pork (the menu varies day-to-day and my Muslim friends were unlucky enough to venture upon the meat-topped grill on a day where pig was the serving) we unfortunately missed out on the nights entertainment.

Bar the food problems, seating was also a flaw. Hacked off treetrunks massively taking away from the comfort, cosiness factor that is the be-all and end-all of WigWamBam. Bean bags! Reclining chairs! A bed, perhaps? Come on WigWam! Didn’t you know it was a massive effort to pull ourselves off the above in order to get to you?

That said, anything that makes winter less daunting is my best friend. And the WigWamBam certainly does that.

WigWamBam is at the Queen of Hoxton, 1-5 Curtain Road, and is open Monday to Friday 4-10pm and Saturday 6-10pm until March 2012. More information can be found here: www.queenofhoxton.com

The Perks of Being a Wallflower | Film Review

Thumbing through my heavily highlighted and dog-eared copy of Stephen Chbosky’s ‘Perks Of Being A Wallflower,’ it was with a mixture of excitement and dread that I took my seat at Fulham Broadway’s Vue Cinema to watch the film adaptation of one of my favourite books.

I recently lamented the forever inaptitude of films to portray the novel in a way that doesn’t take away from the magic of the printed word. That doesn’t mock your imagination for the way it pictured things. That doesn’t Hollywood-ify even the most beautiful of stories.

With ‘Perks Of Being A Wallflower,’ I needn’t have worried.

Directed and written by Stephen Chbosky himself, the film version of ‘Perks,’ remained true to the novel in a way very few feature length films have managed. Chbosky’s love for his characters evident in the casting, with the young actors successfully conjouring up a troupe of textured individuals, rather than archetypes.

Logan Legerman, aka Charlie, the protagonist, instantly endeared himself to the audience, magnificently and with undeniable aptitude bringing a much-loved character to life. To anyone who ever felt on the outside of things, unable to understand the seemingly easy-going lives of those around them and trying, but failing, to participate, Charlie holds up a mirror.

Ezra Miller, last seen in broody ‘We Need To Talk About Kevin,’ magnificently portrayed out-and-proud student Patrick, who’s effeminate touches added another layer of truth to this coming of age drama. Emma Watson, perhaps one of the biggest household names in the film proved slightly less remarkable. But passable. She got the job done.

But how did a tale with such a heavy storyline translate to a rated 12A Hollywood blockbuster? Surprisingly, very well. Although some themes such as teenage abortion and un-consensual sex were left out of the 102 minute production, others, like child molestation, homophobia, suicide and the trials and tribulations of teenage-dom were portrayed with unflinching honesty and openness. Facts that must be applauded when you consider the arguable culture of shame which so pervades us.

A perfect blend of happy and sad, the emotions of the characters manage to infiltrate the audience in a genuine way, no cheese-alarms sounding off, but rather leaking eyes, tugging heartstrings, and a peek into a mind that is not your own, but may well, once upon a time, have been.

Are certain moments in the film slightly over the top? Perhaps. But is that not what being a teenager is all about? Every rejection and every problem seemingly insurmountable and the end of the world as you know it?

If anything, Chbosky’s characters recognize this, dropping beautifully written and observed epiphanies throughout the course of the film. “We accept the love we think we deserve,” perhaps the most poignant, and important of observations.

Joss Stone performs at Londons Under The Bridge | Live Review

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By track two of her sold out, intimate show, powerfully soulful singer Joss Stone inspired a school boy crush on every single member of the audience at London venue Under The Bridge on June 6. Having sold 11 million albums by the age of 24, the Devon-raised songstress seems to be secure in the knowledge that she’s got us whipped; with bare feet, untamed hair and a show which may have been deemed unprofessional, had it not been so damn enchanting.

“I’ve had a bit of a wardrobe malfunction,” laughed Joss within minutes of the show starting. “I hope you don’t mind but I’m going to sing this song holding my boob.”

Read the review in full over at SoulCulture

A Bomb | Theatre Review

Known for exercising its passion for political theatre, The Tricycles latest offering comes in the form of mediation on the atomic bomb in a series of short plays put together by nine different writers.

If it sounds disjointed – that’s probably because it is – with the play even falling into two different evenings, with the first half looking at nuclear proliferation since the forties, while the second looks at the present dangers posed by rogue states.

Despite the heavy subject matter, the production does manage to be relatively humorous, with chuckles overheard at various times throughout. Woven together with snippets of newsreel and verbatim testimony, the play is often engaging, but just as equally often tedious in its static production – exasperated by the fact that the quality of the writing differs from excerpt to excerpt. One constant, however, is that it gives a supremely insightful view into some of the controversial views behind one of the most important discussions of our time.

One of the stand out parts of the production is Lee Blessings witty depiction of the arms race as the petty antagonisms which animate a gentleman’s club – explaining a complicated predicament in a simple and relatable way, all the while making a mockery of national stereotypes, while paying heed to their dangers.

Some episodes are more effective and engaging than others, but all acted out particularly well by a versatile cast of 11 who bend and shape shift as often, and as well as the stage does.

The overall premise that is taken away at the end of the night is that the bomb is an endless source of contradiction, one that no amount of thought or effort would ever reach a final conclusion on. What is the point of nuclear weapons if you don’t use them, or hide behind them as a deterrent? This debate is slyly threaded through all of the plays, which vary in length from half an hour to ten minutes and leave their own little bombs to be diffused or ignited within you.

On March 19th 2003 rockets were launched, fighter jets flew overhead and President George W. Bush featured again and again on our television screens, shaking his fists and remaining adamant that Iraq was harbouring “weapons of mass destruction.” For many, our knowledge of nuclear weapons does not go much beyond that. Now does ‘The Bomb’ help enlighten us on this plight? In a word… maybe. It does undoubtedly reveal facets we may not have known otherwise, but, it could also be said that the production does require a relatively detailed and substantial knowledge on history, which –without – may make the production hard to follow and understand.

The production forces viewers to become engagers. Whether you are willing and able to make that leap is up to you.

Photo Credit -Bernard-Hoffman

Gregory Porter – ‘Be Good’ | Album Review

Frank Sinatra and John Legend’s lovechild. That’s who I would compare Grammy nominated Gregory Porter to if I absolutely had to. That said, comparisons don’t do him justice. Having shot to fame with his debut album ‘Water’ in 2010, expectations for the follow up are high. But fans need not have worried.

With a timeless familiarity, Porters rich, soulful voice unleashes undeniably beautiful music – songs that would fare well on a theatrical stage; rich both in substance as well as in their ability to tell tales. This truth resonates particularly in ‘Painted On Canvas’, the albums opening number, where the earnest wistfulness of the track evades the speakers. His love for the jazz genre and his identification with it is evident in the extent to which the album is teaming with horn-heavy arrangements and soulful vocals. Exemplified in ‘On My Way To Harlem’, where the Californian-born New Yorker even goes so far as to name drop legend Duke Ellington, and sing: “You can’t keep me away from where I was born. I was baptized by the jazz mans horn.”

Click here to read the rest of the review as written for The House of Coxhead

Emeli Sande – Our Version of Events | Album Review

Having written tracks for the likes of Cheryl Cole, Tinie Tempah, Cher Lloyd, Susan Boyle and Leona Lewis – prompting Simon Cowell to name her his “favourite songwriter at the minute,” as well as singing hooks for the likes of Wiley and Chipmunk – Scottish born Adele Emeli Sandé has finally emerged as a (phenomenal) singer in her own right. Turning heads and catching the attention of the world with an old school voice coupled with an immensely new school vibe, (and hair-do to boot), Emeli Sandé has continued to win over hearts on her journey to the top of our most played lists.

Click here to read the rest of the review as written for The House of Coxhead

Maverick Sabre – Lonely Are The Brave | Album Review

The youth of today are too often subjected to “rubbish” music, Hackney born, Irish bred Maverick Sabre once said. He went on to say that in the Top 20 chart “no-one seems to be talking about the issues that people go through on a daily basis anymore.” A bold statement – but one he challenges with his own debut album, Lonely Are The Brave.

The crooner catapulted into our hearts and onto our radars almost without prior warning, when he unleashed his debut single “Let Me Go” onto the world. Steadily gaining new fan while forever pleasing the old, on the journey to the release of his debut album, the project soared to the top of the iTunes chart on the first day of its release – and sat comfortably.

Click here to read the rest of the review as written for SoulCulture