Friday, 27 July 2012

Richard III

Shakespeare’s Globe
22 July

Here is a play the summer waited for
and feted, full of pride and expectation.
Here’s a man, crippled and hurt
beneath his cloak, whom all of London loves
and hangs upon. And here we wait, agog
to see him limp into our midst, so close
that we could kiss or spit upon his feet.

And on he creeps, a quiet would-be king
who pockets us with his first scaly speech.
His heart is stone, and yet it seems
only like crumbling lime or granite chips;
and though his mind is quick and hard
as running water, still he veers and trips
and brings all down with him.

He is a man, mis-reasoning and undecided
as the rest, and yet he holds us rapt, enthralled
with every grievous word and act;
and though he was not born to pleasure
he was moulded kindly by the playwright’s pen,
and where his words fall they are dark
and beautiful as raven song.

Richard III runs at the Globe until 13 October

Monday, 23 July 2012

Henry V

Hampstead Theatre
20 July

London is beset with histories this year,
a summer of Henrys and Richards –
if you can call it a summer.

Here is the manliest, awash with blood
and beer, music and muscle,
played out on a stage of chainmail,

punchbags and clanking metal.
The battles race, the pace set
by a marching band, a beating drum,

the shouts of men and rousing swell of song.
The man himself is strong as oxen,
chiselled, quakeless as a king,

and in his merry band is wit and fire,
saunter and swagger, as if their troop
had been a hundred strong.

Henry V, by Propeller, ran at Hampstead Theatre until 21 July.

Friday, 20 July 2012

en route

Theatre Royal Stratford East
18 July

I walk in London every day
but not like this,
following notes and signs,
music and poetry,
lead on by words on walls,
letters on doormats,
breezing through locked doors
and into offices,
climbing to car parks in the rain
and looking down upon the city
from a silent place.
I walk a way laid out for me,
a ribbon-route uncurling,
secret things unhidden
and in all these streets and crowds
a city that is for my eyes alone.

En Route runs around the streets of Stratford until 21 July

Presented by the Theatre Royal Stratford East

Sunday, 8 July 2012


7 July
The Borough Hall at Greenwich Dance

Skeleton bird frame,
dancing with anguish,
tearing out tongues and
tearing himself to pieces

on a blasted rock,
silver and rubble,
only the sea below
a silvery relief.

Crow played at Greenwich Dance from 21 June to 07 July 2012

Saturday, 7 July 2012

Mass Observation

Mass Observation
6 July

Woman, 19, slim,
blonde hair, beige cardigan, pale skin.

The beauty here, and the absurdity,
is in the detail. Little things

you might not notice otherwise:
notebooks and boxes, names,

a neat new hat, stiff upper lip;
step back, stay in the shadows,

save the world through tiny observation,
minutiae, delicacy.

There’s a futility, a sadness
in the smallest things, movement and words,

desire and hope, love at first sight
and the unbearable, unfightable desire

to be beloved. And in the end you find
an old, bent woman in a chair,

a birdy tilt of her old head upon her neck,
and in her silence all the thoughts

of her long, patient life hang without word,
unspoken, held in boxes

and notebooks, whilst her own life slips by
without reciprocated thought or document.

Mass Observation runs at the Almeida until 14 July

Wednesday, 4 July 2012


29 June
Noel Coward Theatre
And now I know the stage, the set, my seat
as well as my own house; each character a brother
and their voice familiar as a well-loved song.

Eight hours in and I have nestled down
into another world, unknown and yet only a step or soar away
through swimming pools and mansions,

highballs and rubies, love and the excited thought of love;
and here we fly on words, lyrical, dancing, 
peacock-bright and gorgeously bejewelled girls and men

who barely know what they are there for,
tinkering with their lives with such unearthly, trivial,
disastrous consequences. It is a joyous ride,

exotic, carefree, beautiful, and yet even the air is tainted
with the coming storm. You smell the tragedy
before it hits. Warm as a puppy. Breathless. Inevitable.

Gatz plays at the Noel Coward Theatre until 15 July

Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Knight Watch

Spa Fields
2 July

There is a cold, wet park in Clerkenwell,
one corner grey with concrete and metal,
blue and black graffiti, sandwiched between
the tennis courts and the rest of the city.

Not so inviting on a cold wet evening as a warm-lit bar
or glass of wine at home, safe on the other side of town,
but perfect for a tale of gang warfare and rain,
magic and music, friendship and flight; the perfect place

to listen to a poet’s smooth-tongued guile,
lilting flute and drum conjuring unknown worlds.
The language flows like lava, molten caramel
and rain drops dancing. It is exultant, pulling you in

to listen to a strange, bloody and blacked-eyed fairytale,
carried along on its own beat, conjuring music, 
bankers, city stench, love and sculpture, street fights, 
age old troubles and delights, 

and all closer to home at last than you might think
or wish.

Knight Watch played at Spa Fields as part of the Almeida Festival from 2-3 July; and plays at other locations throughout the summer.