Don’t Miss This Train!

24 Jun

Given the results of yesterday’s referendum, a post about Departures seems apposite, so here’s my review.

I entered the theatre on Wednesday night expecting to like Departures: A Song Cycle.  I didn’t.  I loved it.

The theatre was intimate; the seating comfortable (always a bonus for the audience).  The station platform set was simple but effective.  The musicians were backstage but visible through an ‘exit’.  The music was by turns fun, energetic, moving; the themes were current.

Each story was revealed in song, with characters only really joining in with the ensemble as their particular tale was told, rather like a matryoshka doll in reverse. The songs varied in style and tone, just like the themes.  We were told of isolation and disappointment, but also hope and positivity; by the end there was a coming together as the characters were united by sharing the very things that left them feeling alone in the first place.

I must declare a bias: Alex Cosgriff is my son.  I’ve seen him in almost everything he has appeared in and I have watched him grow as an actor and performer, so I feel qualified to say that he gave a subtle and nuanced performance as Henry, a teenage schoolboy.   His solo Sad To Me was poignant and moved more than one person to tears.

Tom Williams’ solo I Choose Silence was simply beautiful; but mention must also be made of his ability to sit still and unnoticed for almost ninety minutes: not many actors would be satisfied with that but it definitely added to the show’s quality, for it was a physical manifestation of the underlying theme of those we ignore as a society.  I felt the song would have been more effective if it had occurred earlier on, but that’s a minor quibble.


In stark contrast came Billy (Will) Taylor’s vigorous characterisation of Trefor the Station Master.  He was hilarious whether moving or still, and often commanded our attention even when he had no lines.  He built a great rapport with the audience and is definitely one to watch.

The real stars of the show, however, were the fabulous score by Matthew Malone and lyrics by Joe Bunce, both of which showed a maturity beyond their authors’ years.  I pay Bunce & Malone the highest compliment I can: I was still thinking about the characters and singing snatches from the show twenty-four hours later.

I strongly recommend that you try to catch this while you can, tonight or tomorrow at the Pleasance, Islington.  No matter how you voted yesterday, this is one departure that will leave you feeling good.


Departures: A Song Cycle

20 Jun

No, I’m not talking about tearful goodbyes to Al, Grannymar and Barbara last week (though there were, of course; especially when they realised I was taking all the Maltesers with me), but about Alex’s latest venture: he’s appearing in Departures: A Song Cycle at the Pleasance Theatre, Islington in London this week.

I will talk about hellos and goodbyes in my next post, of course, but for now I want to publicise this fantastic new musical by Joe Bunce and Matt Malone.  You may recall that it won a ton of awards at The Edinburgh Fringe last year and The National Student Drama Festival this year, only four of which are mentioned in the poster, but one of which was The Cameron Macintosh Award…yep, that’s right: that Cameron Macintosh…  

The plot, according to the Pleasance Theatre website

Nine strangers stand at a nondescript railway platform on an unremarkable weekday afternoon. As their train is delayed further, they put down their crumpled Metros, pocket their bleeping smartphones – and begin to share their secrets, hopes and fears.

The cast in rehearsal:


The Sunday Times said:

The lyrics have the contemporary bite, and the music the tricky wit, of a new Sondheim; the cast sing beautifully and the band play immaculately.

When it appeared at the Fringe, the Edinburgh Guide described it as:

…an exciting, innovative, intelligently conceived and choreographed show. Dramatic storytelling with a sense of realism is the strength behind the emotional heart of this modern opera. Remember the names Bunce and Malone – the Kander & Ebb, the Lerner & Lowe, the Sondheim of Musical Theatre of tomorrow.

If you happen to be in London this week, get yourself down to the Pleasance Theatre; tickets are very reasonably priced and I promise you an amazing night – but there are only five nights, so get going.


14 Jun

I’m meeting several bloggers in London today.


Three more people who are going to discover I’m funnier in ether than in person (Viv, no need to reassure me in the comments, but thank you in advance for thinking of me).

In the ether, you see, I can rewrite the dull; in person, I’m borderline offensive when I mean to be amusing.

Not having a crisis of confidence at all. No, sir; not me.

                                                                                                                 Wish them luck.



Don’t Eat The Spam!

9 Jun

Sometimes, spam comments looks genuine; at first glances, I thought this was:

My brother suggested I would possibly like this web site.
He used to be entirely right. This put up actually made
my day. You cann’t believe just how a lot time I had spent for this info!

Then I thought about it: her brother used to be entirely right?  I has brothers.  I don’t thinks so….

It’s definitely spam; or the author is an only child and wishing it ain’t so.


On a seriously note, I heard that the illiterate emails we is getting in our inboxers are deliberate: nasty spammers want to weed out the intelligent and/or persons what can spell, becAuse they are less likely to be gullible and therefore taken in buy iritating emails.


Does you like how I am writings in the style of spam?  It’s very pleasance.

I was going to asks you all to do similar or the sames in your comments, but yours proberly ennd up in my spam filter.

By the way, the title refers to a family story going back about six years.  My nephew and niece were staying with us for a couple of weeks and I made lunch.  Much hilarity ensued because I squirted a bottle of tomato sauce from directly over the top of a sandwich and still managed to miss.  Such are my cooking skills.

Nephew & Nice sat down with their sandwiches and Spud and Wary Boy were given theirs.  One of the boys smelled it and said, ‘I think this ham is off.’

You know how in The Night Before Christmas visions of sugar plums danced in their heads?  Well, visions of vomiting children for whom I was temporarily responsible danced in mine and I ran into the other room screaming, ‘Don’t eat the ham!  Don’t eat the ham!’

Nowadays, if I ever say the word ‘ham’, everyone in the room yells at me, ‘Don’t eat the ham!  Don’t eat the ham!’

My mistake, of course, was not to give food poisoning to my own children.   They wouldn’t have laughed at me then.  Ah well, we mothers can’t get everything right.


Sofa Surfeit

26 May

It’s that time of decade.  We last bought a new couch in 1993. I wish I was kidding; I’m not.  We’ve had new-to-us couches since then: a lot of new-to us couches, bought secondhand or given to us or donated by Freegle or inherited from dead parents; but we have not bought a new one since 1993.

We have had a couch each for some years now – unmatched in size, shape, style or fabric.  We sold some stuff and saved and eventually we had enough dosh for two new couches.  I demanded only identical couches with no space underneath for junk storage or stale dog pellets; the Hub demanded comfort.  As usual, I got my way.  As usual, he didn’t.

We found two lovely couches in a shop on eBay – style, colour, everything perfect. They arrived.  They were installed.  They look fabulous in the lounge.  They give you backache within five minutes of sitting on them.  The arms are too low; the back too not right in any way that counts with a couch.

We arranged a refund – hooray for seven-day returns policies! – covered them up for protection until next week’s collection, and  went out the very next day and purchased two beautiful, matching, comfortable couches from a shop, where we were able to sit as long as we liked, testing their efficacy.  They efficked just fine and all we had to do was sign on the dotted line and wait four weeks for delivery.

And so that’s how we find ourselves in the unique position of owning six couches but unable to sit on any of them: two are rain-soaked in the garden, awaiting a man in a van to take them to the dump; two are under covers in the lounge, awaiting collection (possession being nine-tenths of the law, they are ours until they are gone); two are currently under construction in a warehouse somewhere, desperate for a loving home.

Meanwhile, this six-sofa couple is sitting on tatty old deck chairs in the living room.

You couldn’t make it up.


12 May

This is a snippet of Alex as Jamie Wellerstein in The Last Five Years.  Jamie is telling the story of Schmuel, the tailor of Klimovich.

The show was Colla Voce Theatre’s début production and it was fantastic, particularly given the venue, which was practically a dungeon (two or three storeys below ground, in an old Woolworths building).  A two-hander, Alex and his partner, Olivia Doust, had roughly ninety minutes of singing between them.  Olivia had never acted before but you wouldn’t have known.  She gave an assured performance and she has a lovely voice.  Alex was in agony: he had a throat infection and said it hurt from start to finish. He spent three days not talking, treating his voice with honey and great care.

You can read a review here: Blunt Cinema.

In other news: this week, Alex is appearing in The Forgotten Songs of Lerner & Loewe.  If you are in the Sheffield area, tonight is your last chance: details here.

There was a clip available but it won’t play, unfortunately.

He’s got two shows coming up in the summer; I’ll share details when I’m allowed.

Apologies to those who feel outraged that this humour blog has been overtaken by the Alex Cosgriff Fanzine.  What can I tell you?  I’m a proud mama. 

Speaking of which, Hairy Boy was home this weekend.  He came to visit on Friday and turned into Invisible Boy on Saturday morning, disappearing to visit his friends and reappearing in time for Sunday dinner and his train home.  At least I got to feed and wash up after him.  There’s always a silver lining.

Me And EU

29 Apr

The EU referendum is coming up; I’m feeling a little down because I’m truly undecided: I see pros and cons for in and out.  I’ve been going back and forth on this.  The top and bottom of it is, however, that I feel British, not European.

That got me thinking about what makes me British:

  • The Queen (obviously)
  • Rain
  • Queues
  • Peculiar Spellings (previous answer refers)
  • Earl Grey Tea
  • Big Ben
  • Cadbury’s Chocolate
  • The NHS
  • Polite Silences
  • Football (NOT ‘soccer’) (What kind of word is ‘soccer’ anyway?  It’s just weird)
  • Carry On Films
  • Stamps
  • Snow Panic (Three flakes?  Shut down the country!)
  • Shakespeare
  • Fair Play
  • Humour
  • Austen
  • Pragmatism
  • Coronation Street (even if you don’t watch it, there’s nothing more British than busybody small business owners clustered together down the pub, gossiping)
  • Stiff Upper Lips

None of these things help my decision, sadly – unless Europe wants to make this a republic, in which case I’m throwing the towel in and voting out.  I’m a royalist through and through and I have the stamp collection to prove it.

Tell me, what do you immediately think of when you think of Britain and the British?  Stereotypes welcome here.


Vivinfrance's Blog

mainly poetry, also quilts, pictures, life-writing and the occasional short story.


Where is the heart of Stockport?

The Jog

notices and reflections in ministry

The Cvillean

The adventures of little read writing Hood

Guernsey Evacuees Oral History

An Overlooked British Evacuation

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