What to Watch?

The burgeoning quantity of online content continues. Social media bursts at the seams. YouTube creaks under a thousand new webinars, and a hundred new podcasts just hit the airwaves in the time it took to read this paragraph.

In this fragmented entertainment environment who could ever possibly watch it all? Time was when theatre in London meant the West End and that was it. A generation of actors-who-couldn’t-wait-any-longer has turned every back room in every pub north and south of the Thames into a black box space, and now every public park and many private back gardens will host solo performances when the spring comes.

Why then, does this blog bring you yet more content?

Because my admiration for those entrepreneurial self-starters of stage and screen is without limit. One such dynamo of energy and invention is Nikki Coble ( ← that’s her website) Out of whole cloth she created – by which I mean she wrote, directed, produced and acted in … yes a web-series called ‘Awkwardly’. And even though this was shot pre-pandemic I mention it here because …

… It’s a brilliant piece of work.

The episodes are in bite-sized nuggets. Each one illuminates a mildly excruciating, awkward encounter from which, one of the principal characters then appears in the next episode where they hand on the story baton to a different character. The process repeats through 20 episodes. A sort of snap-comic ‘La Ronde’. Enjoy them singly or binge the lot..

Episode One: Here

And this is Nikki telling me stuff from behind-the-scenes:

You can find this splendid series in several places: that website again where, among quite a few other things Ms Coble also offers a niche long-form interview series with screen creatives called Scribble and Point.

From ensemble to solo, now follows a notice of coming attractions; Mick Millamphy (he has appeared previously in these pages), is, to my knowledge an actor of superior storytelling skills. I saw his solo, “The Cure” directed by the equally gifted Tim Ruddy – we were all in The Seafarer at The Irish Rep. “The Cure” opens with a man experiencing not for the first time in his life, a hangover of biblical intensity.

And if you are a dialect connoisseur: Mick is a native of Cork.

These lads, Mick and Tim, are exactly the sort of boys you want on stage with you in a show. I speak from experience. In The Seafarer there was a line which for some reason or other I frequently forgot to say – it was a senior-moment-preview type experience. Mick who was sat next to me in the scene and who had the next line, was a total gentleman about it. He would leave a fractional extra pause unnoticeable to anyone in the audience just in case memory prevailed. If it didn’t he’d cover with his next line. That’s the guy you want in the foxhole of live performance.

If, as, and when we ever return to what we used to think of as normal, Mick will be bringing us another of his excellent storytelling pieces – watch this space…!

Oh and while we’re at it, just a few more suggestions for content curiosity to pique the pandemic palette:

  1. A niche daily blog from the Upper West Side NYC. Richard Hester, by the way the man who in a professional capacity, knows more about the show Jersey Boys than anyone alive, has been blogging for an impressive 282 days consecutively riffing wittily on life in the current situation. As I told him, he’s knocked out more words than in one of Tolstoy’s more loquacious tomes. His latest post here
  2. Well this item, although produced in the mainstream and therefore not technically eligible for a niche curation like this, should in my opinion, be required viewing for us all. Sir David Attenborough has made what he calls a ‘Witness Statement’ – A Life on our Planet. The fact that I was once paid handsomely to do an impression of the great man at a corporate breakfast for marketing executives is not the only reason I recommend it.
  3. And this is a poem by D H Lawrence called Song of a Man Who Has Come Through. I associate it with the astronomical event that takes place today.

Click here to listen to me reading it.

The conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn at zero degrees Aquarius. We can all watch that for free. It is the first bright star to appear shortly after sunset in the western sky, exact for a day or two 21st December 2020.

If you’re interested in the astrology of it take a look here.

Happy Solstice! Merry Christmas!


There’s Been a Run on The Marmite

If anyone had any doubts that the supply chain is in serious peril, just try to get hold of a jar of Marmite.

When I lived in Manhattan I was close to two excellent retail outlets of traditional British foods: Digestive Biscuits, P G Tips tea, Golden Syrup, Fish n Chips, Sausage Rolls, Tiptree Jams, Bangers … to name only a few … all of these British adaptations of Nectar and Ambrosia could be had at Tea And Sympathy on Greenwich Avenue and Myers of Keswick on Hudson Street.

And I’m delighted to tell you that back in the day I found a closely similar emporium just a mile or two south of West Palm Beach in Florida. More than that: here in Westchester our local supermarket has a discrete section of three shelves dedicated to such British superfoods as Heinz Tomato Soup, Heinz Baked Beans and Hob Nobs.

The relationship between Great Britain and the United States has endured in various forums and alliances since 1776, and it’s my firm belief that if Marmite were more widely consumed in the  Americas it could only benefit the Republic. This works both ways of course. For example I have seen baseball played in Regent’s Park, and the ubiquity of the American vernacular now gives us the younger British royals peppering their speech with the word “like”.

I mention all the above because it’s well known that comedy shows are now approximately the only remaining source of genuine news. We know too that the few remaining people who can reliably and regularly speak truth to power are those characters created by gifted comic actors.

To their ranks I nominate my old friend and fellow-student, Matilda Thorpe who “manages” Celia Walmsley-Clarke. Celia’s material is given in convenient bite-size nuggets on Facebook, and this month she has kindly agreed to appear in The Guest Spot here to explain the burden of privilege that is being a member of the British aristocracy.

None of this can disguise the fact that supplies of Marmite have dwindled. The presenting reason is a global shortage of yeast but many of us know that the Flying Spaghetti Monster is to blame.

Fortunately there is a vegetarian alternative from Australia:


Images by unsplash


Can’t Go to the Theatre?

At the moment the inside of most theatres is like this:

Announcing the Guest Spot. Please take a look at the content there. You may not be able to go to the theatre in the present circs. Three varied niche pieces come to you!


And in other News

If you’ll take a look at the Video page you’ll see an interview with me by Margaret Ledford who helmed the Engage@GableStage project, which has commissioned a series of projects. The short 15 minute film we’re talking about will be premiered exclusively at on Friday September 18th.

So… the focus of this blog… was acting and allied subjects… hmm… the issue, as I’m sure you understand, is that live theatre depends upon lots of paying customers in close proximity to each other and within breathing space of the stage…

No sign of that returning just yet.

In which case what shall we talk about? While you’re here please sign up for the blog so as to find out!






The Bard Off-Planet

I will be guest speaker on Tuesday June 30th 2:30 pm Eastern USA/7:30 pm UK at:

Aquarius Rising: West of Scotland Astrological Association

My topic is:

Shakespeare was an astrologer

(Or if he wasn’t, he knew people who were)

Courtesy of The Birmingham Museums Trust, UK

Here is the blurb:

This talk is an astrological exploration looking at the chart of the Bard and his work. For example, it’s well known that the seven ages of man speech in As You Like It takes us from the Moon through to Saturn in order of orbital period. But did you know that there is a Jupiter signature in The Tempest, or a Saturn one in Romeo and Juliet, or that Sonnet 15 echoes the Duke’s speech at the top of act 3 in Measure for Measure? Mars figures in all the history plays, and A Midsummer Night’s Dream is as lunar as it gets. Shakespeare was at home in the solar system and he wrote the plays to prove it! 

If you’d like to attend as a guest (no need to join the group although you are welcome if astrology is an interest), here is the zoom link and the date again is, June 30th 2:30 pm Eastern USA/7:30 pm UK

They do ask for a donation of five quid!

See you there!