PlayLondon’s extended highlights Winter ’09


OK, a couple of deep breaths and some very loud techno later, I’m feeling a bit more sanguine.

So it might be a good time to drop a quick update of some of the good stuff I’ve been up to in the last couple of weeks. Despite my bitching, there’s plenty going on at the moment. So, in no particular order here’s a few of the goodies I’ve been attending:

News Quiz Recording – Good to see this in action. For those who don’t listen to Radio 4, this is the weekly topical quiz, hosted by Sandi Toksvig. When I saw it, the panellists were Jeremy Hardy, Sue Perkins, Francis Wheen and Carrie Quinlan. I can’t remember what topics were on the night, but it was just as they announced the new President of Europe, and there was a debate as to whether secularists should be allowed on Thought for the Day. The live version’s actually as good as the edited version, and you get to hear all the swearing and libellous quips that they usually cut out in the broadcast. (It’s a bit long though). I met one of the writers too, Gareth Gwynn. Very nice chap.

Richard Herring’s As It Occurs to MeAnother live recording, this time of a comedy podcast. In contrast to the News Quiz, Rich’s whole USP here is that it’s unedited and goes out as raw as when it was recorded. It’s a good example of the whole online comedy explosion, where comics don’t wait to be commissioned; they just get up and do it. Rich explains his thinking on the Culture Show here.

Hackney Empire’s Panto – I’m never sure how much people know about panto. Obviously here in the UK it’s a pretty well established; further afield, I have no idea. The Hackney Empire effort is usually a safe bet, particularly with Clive Rowe as Widow Twanky. But I was watching it with an American girl and I kept wanting to explain what the hell was going on (‘Yeah, the principal boy’s always a leggy girl, the dame’s always a fat bloke, and don’t be surprised if someone bursts into song or starts shouting for no reason – you’ll catch on.’ I’m not sure she did).

Hide&Seek’s Sandpit – I mentioned this in an earlier post. Hide&Seek is a company that arranges social games, and their latest showcase at the Royal Festival Hall was a chance for games designers to try out their new wares. Apparently they do this quite a lot. This was my first one, and it was a lot of fun (again a bit long – I suspect I’ve just got an exceptionally low boredom threshold or I get hungry too quickly). Games that stick in the memory include a translation game that was hosted by Russell Davies where you’ve got to decipher an emergency message, and one for about 60 people where we all had to make up Beatles’ lyrics from the cards scattered about. Definitely up for another one. (I also met some interesting types like Good Machine, who’s good on the social games front).

Anish Kapoor at the Royal Academy – Slipped over to this one last night, as it’s the last week of the exhibition. I have to say that given the effusive reviews both in the press and from my mates I was expecting more. Old Anish is certainly good at probing the boundaries of art. And some of his pieces were genuinely fantastic. I loved the hyper-shined distorting mirrors and the cannon firing a block of wax at the wall, for example. But the massive concrete dog-poo things just didn’t do it for me. Here’s a video about the exhibition, if you want to see what the hell I’m wittering about.

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