‘Tis Pity She’s a Whore

by John Ford, A production by Cheek by Jowl
At the Oxford Playhouse


(Imaged sourced http://www.facebook.com/cheekbyjowl)

Encouraged by the title and having been impressed by this particular theatre company before (see Ubu Roi), we three headed down to the Playhouse last evening for a little early week entertainment.

Excitedly, especially as this was Tuesday, the venue was packed and ‘alive’. (But then I wonder how often you’d go to a show with only the Dead…). Anyway, with hindsight I can testify, a huge treat was in store.

The performance was pure Drama and perfect Theatre.

And as cautioned by the posters in the foyer, the show included violence, nudity, and a note recommending that it might not be appropriate for those under 16 – so big smiles from the 13 year old next to me.

The delivery of this ‘Strong’ tale couldn’t have been bettered.

For it is a mix of fiery talent; great dance moves; challenging themes; sweaty bodies; some disturbing – though perfectly executed violence; and bold choices by a master Director.

I attended with no prior knowledge of the content, which I feel benefited my enjoyment, as I wasn’t prejudiced or influenced, rather open to take it all in, so I shan’t be providing any spoilers (or sweeteners) here.

Instead note, this is a play which is best met performed, not read. So give it considerable thought. I cannot recommend it enough.

It is showing until 24 May in Oxford and for further details and dates please visit


Australian & New Zealand Festival of Literature and Arts – and it’s coming to Britain

I’m surprised you didn’t hear me scream as I discovered this little beauty.

What started out as a let’s goggle Tim Winton (yes it’s all to do with the warm-up and increasing excitement levels), I stumbled across something even bigger:
the 1st Australian & New Zealand Festival of Literature and Arts is being held at King’s College London, and kicks-off in just under two weeks time.

The line up is above grouse and to see more please visit http://ausnzfestival.com


Cycle Berlin

Carrying on with my current love interest – Berlin – it seems only natural to provide you with a little ‘getting around on a bicycle’ perspective from one whom occasionally dabbles in such, back on the home front.

Background – I like cycling, but not exerting, so I’m not one to deliver on speed, however can happily peddle for hours if it is flat and not raining. So, Berlin, Sunday 4 May was ideal for an outing.

Team Family hired bikes from our hotel (Casa Camper Berlin – top location, feel, service and view from breakfast) and chose to take in several sites between us (in Mitte) and Charlottenburg (the location of the Helmut Newton Museum), and it couldn’t have been easier, safer, more satisfying and interesting.

  • Easier – you can hire bikes pretty much anywhere and get going

rental bikes in berlin

Look these are just like the ones in London (though not blue) (Image sourced smutpedaller.blogspot.com)

  • Safer – I know this will shock…drivers are actually thoughtful and patient…and cycle paths are everywhere
  • More satisfying – I could take in everything, feeling like I was exercising, had control over how long I wished to stop in places and after listening to my 13 year grumble about never getting to go on his computer, hear him squeal with delight as we weaved our way through the Tiergarten.


See how happy and satisfied this lot looks (Image sourced visitberlin.de)

  • Interesting – you can cycle down the Unter den Linden, through the Brandenburg Gate, park up for a while to visit the Holocaust Memorial and walk a little over to Hilter’s Bunker; get back on – do some circle work at Potsdamer Platz ; see some bunnies eating the grass – in the Tiergarten not on the street; two wheel along the canal; and see a cathedral that looks like a broken tooth as you gracefully alight in Charlottenburg – all before lunch. Then…back route it through the Tiergarten, past a never have I experienced it before, beautiful Bell Tower, playing Bells (yes really); over to the Reichstag; through Alexanderplatz just for fun; stop at the Galleria to purchase Falke hosiery for mummy; and back in time for afternoon Cocktails…Nice.

image of the tiergarten

The Tiergarten – you can see why the 13 year old was cheery (Imaged sourced berlin.de)

And I thought Oxford was a city for cyclists.

map for cycling guide

And a little map which covers the area we explored (image sourced overt.org)

One of the best things about Berlin

Heidi…Heidi Leyton and her sidekick Daisy.

Now I know that my mathematics isn’t exactly right, however it would be reckless not to mention Daisy, as together these two can provide the lucky tour participant with interest, information, an insiders’ perspective, heaps of great things to look at, and an abundance of happy walking, memories and deep longing to relocate to Berlin.

Hooray that great fortune is my friend – and I, along with the two others in Team Family, had Heidi (and Daisy) to ourselves for Saturday afternoon, 3 May.

Following my initial email approach and vague idea of wishing to focus a little on WW2 + Jewish History and spying some Graffiti – our plans were loose – however left in the expert hands of Heidi, we found ourselves learning, enjoying and seeing parts of this fabulous city, which left to our own devices we would have surely missed.

Our expedition through small pockets of the city commenced in Mitte, a really exciting and rich – in history, great galleries and people watching – area of former East Berlin. The weather was great and my shoes were sensible for a change, so we weren’t held back from investigating the courtyards, buildings and museums/memorials sprinkled around the zone.


(photo from inside the Museum Blindenwerkstatt Otto Weidt – image sourced from museum site)

Heidi really knows her stuff and more importantly, knows how to be engaging, respectful and tailor her knowledge accordingly. Her skills you can’t learn – it’s as if she was born with the gift. Not only was the Young Chap enthralled from kick-off, I wanted her to be my new best friend by end of play.

Also the emotional ride was interesting and actually more intense than I thought it would be – particularly as we watched the film footage at the Berlin Wall Memorial Visitors Centre, spent time at the Memorial site and visited the Museum Blindenwerkstatt Otto Weidt.

berlin wall museum

(Photo of the Berlin Wall Memorial – image sourced from destinationeurope.net)

We headed off to Kreuzberg later in the afternoon to see a little more of the city and play spy the graffiti and track down some sheep…some painted sheep. Happily also, we came across my new favourite type – yarnbombing or guerrilla knitting – whatever the name, it’s smile producing and gets you creating secret plans of your own.

Sadly, all wonderful things come to an end, particularly as it was a five hour tour.

I couldn’t/can’t recommend Heidi enough and if you’d like to know about her head to: www.heidileyton.com

Cézanne and the Moderns

Being fairly partial to the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists it seemed only wise to investigate the third floor exhibition space at the Ashmolean, last Thursday.

I picked Thursday specifically as I knew that this day (and Tuesdays), from 3.30pm until 4.15pm, any ticket holder can freely join an ‘introduction’ to the exhibition, thereby maximising one’s understanding and getting a little backstory.

Our guide was not only beautifully dressed; beautiful; French; and a fountain of knowledge – she also managed to bring my limited education in ‘history of art’ (of this period), up to a comfortable post Digestif discussion standard. Well, maybe…

So the works on show come from the impressive private collection of Henry and Rose Pearlman. The former being a successful North American businessman (and I assume the latter – his wife). He clearly had a good eye; taste; an open mind; and spent his money wisely – for there’s no denying it, Cézanne and the Moderns doesn’t hold back on impress factor. From watercolours, through wood carvings to an ‘Ahh’ making bronze bust, there’s something to appeal to all.

In addition, the painters he collected – you’d be hard pushed to find a more experimental, talented and eclectic bunch. Imagine standing just four inches from a Van Gogh – you can. Or being impressed by Toulouse-Lautrec’s gift with painting/creating light – you can.

So, not sure yet…this glorious Cézanne creation is there and a million times better two feet in front of your lucky eyes.

provencal manorAside from the above, there were several more works I was particularly fond of:

  • An angular and warrior like limestone ‘Head’ by Amedeo Mogigliani (1910-11)
  • Cézanne’s ‘Three Pears’ (1888-90)
  • And possibly my very very favourite – Wilhelm Lehmbruck’s ‘Bust of a Woman’ (1910)

lehmbruck bust Ohh, and there’s no surprise that this one was purchased in postcard format and now resides on my kitchen wall.

degas lady post washingThe exhibition runs until 22 June 2014

To learn more about the fabulous Pearlman collection head to www.pearlmancollection.org

And please note all images sourced there as well.

Tim Winton’s coming to town

I just found out, so I thought I’d spread it.

For those who know him, or don’t, this man really knows how to write.

I came across him approximately 16 years ago when I saw his fifth book, Cloudstreet adapted for stage and have been hooked ever since.

His plots are compelling, descriptions poetic and characters fabulous.

If you haven’t tried him yet – maybe start with Dirt Music or Cloudstreet. 

You’ll get your first fix and then your addicted.

So, he’s coming to Oxford to talk about his newest novel – Eyrie
Monday, 19 May @ 7.00pm.

Blackwell’s are hosting, it’s only 3 tiny pounds, so rush off and buy tickets.

Also note: it might be noisy, as I’ll be the screaming/swooning woman in the front row and my husband will be the one chanting throughout.

Yip, Yip, Yipee!