Monday, 21 February 2011

My Culture Show........and tell.....

Last week started well with a screening of West is West, the dung and dusted sequel to the brilliant East is East, although as a movie it does stand alone. It's been more than a decade since we first met George and his unruly Salford-raised sons. This time around it's the youngest, Sajid, who's the focus of his father's ire. Om Puri, a man whose nose must surly have it's own agent, reprises the role of the troubled George; watching him is like slipping one's foot into a well-worn pair of flip-flops, he just fits. Back too is the fabulous Linda Bassett, a woman who looks like her name sounds. Having deserted his first family, George now despairs of his second. The boy is his last hope and a return to Pakistan his only chance to save the rude young adolescent. Again drawing inspiration from his own life, the writer, Ayub Khan-Din, spoke eloquently about the loss of ethnic identity, cultural change and exchange. But this is no politiscised-God-baiting-soul search for the truth behind the lies of today's fundamentalists. There are no answers to the problems in Pakistan nor indeed are there any questions. He has instead, written a refreshingly comical romp through the heat and dust of the Punjab.

Next up was press night at the Hampstead Theatre to see Penelope by Enda Walsh. Apparently this went down very well off-Broadway. In fact the Sunday Times said:

'Best of all, though, is Enda Walsh's grandiose Penelope, which mixes classical myth with a bit of Beckett, as interpreted by Father Ted after watching an episode of Lost.'

...... if only. Personally I found it to be a load of gentleman's genitalia, of which there was rather too much on show in an ill-fitting, orange speedo, sported throughout by one of the four ensemble cast. But quite frankly, if I'd wanted to spend an evening listening to four Irish blokes shout at each other, I could have gone to Finsbury Park station.

Finally it was off to The Chocolate Menier Factory, to see the singer Judith Owen co-star with the comedienne, Ruby Wax, in Ruby's one-woman show...... as she put it ......Losing It. This is a jolly romp through the American star's life of ups and downs and depression. This is not a show for everyone, hence the small but perfectly formed theatre, but it is a show for me. The second half has Ruby and Judith on stage for a Q & A, a bold move considering the audience was made up primarily of celebrities, people with mental health issues and celebrities with mental health issues. Really, it was like one of those weired dinner-party-wish lists: Nigella Lawson and her dad Nigel, AA Gill and The Blonde and Samantha from Sex And The City to name but a few..... and for the record, Nigella in the flesh, of which we know there is plenty, looks amazing. Honestly, at 51 she looks like a fabilous 41. Really, I know she's had a bit of botox, but she is blessed with incredible cheek-bones and a jawline to die for..... Some of the comments and questions were tear-jerkingly moving. Ruby is quite genuine about her mental health and who her people are, but one woman, who clearly had not read the poster properly, said she'd found the whole thing so depressing and why would you want to talk about your depression? Oh how the rest of us laughed........

Top tip: M&S Pistachio and Almond Cookies.......I am quietly becoming addicted.....


  1. Wow, you've been out and about - makes me want to move back to London! I'd love to have seen Ruby Wax - esp with A A Gill in the audience - his restaurant reviews are brilliant - he generally starts to mention food in the last paragraph, doesn't he? Loved East is East, so will look out for the w is W one; hadn't heard about that (out here in the sticks!). Just reading 'The hand that first held mine' / Maggie O'Farrell - loving it so far. Have a good (cultural?!) week.

  2. taking time to catch up on my reading, and as always, I enjoy every word.

  3. I heard Ruby talking about this show on the radio a couple of weeks ago and wondered what it would be like. I used to find her brash American persona very grating, but then saw her on TV (think she was investigating weird culty health things) and I realised that there was a lot more going on behind that manic personality. Since then I've loved her. Did someone honestly wonder why you were all talking about depression? LMAO!!

    You're a jolly fine reviewer, you know :-)

    Ali x

  4. What a selection of great nights out - I just knew you would know Nigella! I loved East is East, it really made me think about the problems we have today with 2nd generation immigrants. xxxx

  5. Dear Jo, I'd love to see West is West. I'll give the play a miss, loved what you wrote though.

    I must go and see Ruby and Judith. I used to book Judith to come and play in a venue in about 1990, before she went off and married the chap from Spinal Tap.

    I'll must call you for a catch up this week! Love, C xx

  6. I loved East is East. I'll look forward to a sequel. I think he should write one about the life of the oldest son too:).

  7. You do stay busy, Madam. I'd love to see Ruby. She can talk about what ever she damn well pleases.

    Love you!

  8. I saw Ruby in Selfridges when I was there having coffee .. she was almost quiet .. I would love to see it it sounds great xx

  9. I like you!

    Just read thro' a couple of posts and gasped at having missed Patti Smith in Bexhill - only a spit away from me, kinda, a good strong spit anyway. I'll have to follow you now as you seem like a good Entertainments Secretary. Even if I never actually go out I can pretend....