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Orlando Review | London Theatre

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How do we define those most fundamental questions in life: who we are and who we love? And what happens when our feelings about gender, sexuality and identity come into conflict with rigid social structures? A century ago, Virginia Woolf ploughed headlong into what feels like a shockingly modern debate with Orlando, her forward-thinking 1928 novel. Now, Emma Corrin – who rose to fame as Princess Diana in The Crown – stars in a new stage version of Woolf’s remarkable work.The non-binary-identifying Corrin is particularly exciting casting for Orlando, an Elizabethan nobleman who wakes up one day to find that he is now physically a she, and who then proceeds to question the distinctions of gender as the centuries pass (Orlando is immortal and forever young, too). We know that the character is anatomically male at the start of the production, thanks to a flash of prosthetic genitals, but the transformation is left deliberately, and effectively, ambiguous.Instead, Woolf’s playful tale shows up the absurdities – why should Orlando have to eat daintily as a woman, but not a man? – and the raging inequalities: Orlando can no longer inherit the family estate when he becomes female. Amusingly, some elements remain the same, too. Society keeps pressuring Orlando to marry, presenting first a collection of eligible wives, then potential husbands.Orlando is essentially an extraordinary love letter from Woolf to her paramour Vita Sackville-West, written to capture all of her many and contradictory facets. That boundless generosity comes blazing through Neil Bartlett’s adaptation: the joy of seeing Corrin’s androgynous, fiercely independent Orlando slipping in and out of different guises, boldly seeking adventure and growth, and pursuing lovers of the same or opposite sex, simply because that’s where happiness lies.There are profound moments that speak soberly to us, as well – most poignantly when Orlando emphasises, twice, that when he changed gender, some people wanted to kill him. That rings out with terrible force during a World Cup in a nation where homosexuality is criminalised, and at a time when many in the trans community face hostility and violence.Michael Grandage’s nimble production also captures some of Woolf’s formal inventiveness. A chorus of Woolfs (fracturing her identity between them) narrates in fragmented, overlapping, layered language, glorying in the power of words to create and complicate. And a wonderful Deborah Findlay, acting as Orlando’s housekeeper and, here, dresser, breaks the fourth wall with panto vigour.However, in zipping through hundreds of years in just 90 minutes, Bartlett resorts too often to comic zaniness – Horrible Histories style. There are so many quotes and references that it grows distracting, whether it’s lyrics from Cabaret, the peerless final line of Some Like It Hot, or even a riff on the Just Eat ad, alongside dodgy cod-Shakespearean blank verse.Likewise, with casting that is cheerily gender- and colour-blind, Orlando ceases to be such a radical figure; it’s just one more person putting on a costume. That means nothing is “real”: not just the exterior constructs that Woolf was challenging, but the people within them as well, reduced to cameos. In particular, I wanted more of Lucy Briers’s world-weary Elizabeth I, and Millicent Wong’s smouldering princess and shrewd sex worker. Lampshading the latter as the “working-class supporting character” in a comic aside doesn’t excuse this use of her.And yet this Orlando worth seeing for Corrin alone. Their performance is a glorious feat of shapeshifting, from wide-eyed boy to swaggering, sexy nobleman and self-possessed lady – while always retaining the soul of the character, their curious mind, quick wit and passionate heart. Corrin’s Orlando feels deeply: “I could taste her,” they gasp as lust overcomes them, and their heartbreak is all-consuming.Though Bartlett references how the past can speak to the here and now, his script stops short of really engaging with contemporary concerns. He over-emphasises some fairly obvious takeaways (of course you were better off as a man than a woman in most of recorded history, and still today really) and is too heavy-handed, even slightly tasteless, in how he prefigures Woolf’s suicide.But I was charmed by Peter McKintosh’s evocative design, which whisks us from the great frost of 1607 (dry ice and exquisite stillness) to a raucous Russian banquet, sumptuous tent in Constantinople, or the splendour of court – all juxtaposed with blasts of rock music. A flawed but engaging experiment, and one given a beating heart by the magnificent, mercurial Corrin.Orlando is at the Garrick Theatre through 25 February. Book Orlando tickets on London Theatre.Photo credit: Emma Corrin in Orlando (Photo by Marc Brenner)

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ICE London 2023 to feature exhibitors from record 68 nations – IAG

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Industry trade show ICE London will feature exhibitors from a record 68 nations, topping the previous best of 65 set three years ago, according to organizer Clarion Gaming.
ICE London returns as a full-sized show for the first time since 2020 from 7 to 9 February, with the total 623 exhibitors representing everything from Argentina to Australia and Macau to Mexico.
“No other exhibition in the gaming space can come anywhere near the internationalism of ICE,” said Clarion Gaming Managing Director, Stuart Hunter.
“To have 68 nations represented by our community of exhibitors means that visitors are immediately part of what is a global experience with unique access to the smartest gaming innovators drawn from every corner of the world. There are very few exhibitions of scale in any industry sector which are able to compare with such international representation and legitimately lay claim to being a ‘global’ or a ‘world’ event.
“Once an event is recognized as being genuinely international, stakeholder groups including brands, regulators, trade associations, media groups and strategic industry-wide bodies focus their activities accordingly.
“Research that we’ve undertaken has shown that for many people ICE and iGB Affiliate London actually start on the Sunday preceding and finish on the following Saturday. In that week we estimate that over 100 gambling industry events will take place outside of the show hours providing a new and compelling perspective on why ICE and iGB Affiliate London are so influential and important to the world industry.”
IAG will have a team of four at ICE London next week. Visit us at Stand ND7-C.

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David Ford and Annie Dressner Live in London

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There’s something special about London on a Saturday night – there’s a certain buzz in the air as you head into the Capital city. For me that buzz was extra special, as I was going to see David Ford and Annie Dressner at The Lexington in Islington. I literally listened to their ’10 Days (Live)’ album for the first time a week ago, but since then it’s been on repeat and heading in I knew that the night was going to be special.
The Lexington is a great place for music, with a bar on the ground floor before heading up the winding stairs to the spacious venue itself. And as the crowd started coming in, the atmosphere in the room was growing by the minute.
Opening the night was Scottish singer songwriter Gary Stewart. He set the night off really well, with an engaging set that got the crowd onside from the start. He opened with his 2021 single ‘Hot To Trot‘ and you already knew the set was going to be a good one – a rousing folk song with great lyrical dexterity. The highlight of the set was ‘Frontlines’, a simply gorgeous song (check out a YouTube video of the song here – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tDCLwYwsesk). Gary ended with a fine cover of Paul Simon’s ‘Song for the Asking’.
It was time for a quick visit to the bar before settling down for the main event. 
The duo appeared on the stage to great applause, David in an orange shirt and Annie in a sparkling black dress. They opened with ‘Easy Falling’, the first song that I’ve ever heard of theirs, and a song that convinced me I needed to listen to the rest of the album. This slow and moving number is a touching love song and shows off the brilliant harmonies of David and Annie – there’s something special about the English (David) and US accents (Annie) mingling in the way that they do. 
Throughout the set, there were so many highlights. ‘Something I’ll Have to Learn‘ is a song with an almost timeless feel that feels like a conversation in song, Annie’s original ‘Strangers Who Knew Each Other’s Names‘ was simply brilliant and ‘Some Folks Are Lucky I Guess‘ is a song with a great sentiment. ‘Can’t Help What I Want‘ (below) is a great example of those brilliant harmonies that the two share.

‘Trash‘, a cover of the Suede hit, was a particular highlight – a song that was a nice surprise on the live album. As they break into ‘Oh maybe, maybe it’s the clothes you wear‘ it almost feels like this was a song that Suede wrote for David and Annie, their version is that good. Outstanding.
The set had a second cover, a song that Annie introduced as ‘an American classic‘. This classic was ‘Ain’t No Pleasing You‘ from Chas and Dave, a song that typified the cockney sound of London back in the 1980’s. I love the way they re-worked it and there was something special about the way Annie sings the word ‘Darling’ in her US twang that just resonated and put a smile on my face.
There were great moments of humour throughout the night, the chat between the two great. At one point mid-song, Annie passed her guitar to David, exclaiming ‘I knew there were chords in this song, I just didn’t know which ones‘ which had the crowd laughing.
The best of the night was saved till last. ‘Warning Sign’ had quickly become my favourite song from the pair and hearing it live in person lived up to all expectations. There’s such a beauty in live music, and hearing songs like this with other people in a venue can really bring a song home – and almost even change your own personal relationship with a song.
The final song of the night (there was no encore as David explained that they literally had no more songs!) was ‘Put Me In A Corner’. Annie’s vocals take the lead in this track and it was just magical, the emotion of the song emanating from the stage and filling the room. You can listen and see for yourself below.

You never know what to expect when you see an artist or artists perform for the first time. Some exceed expectations and some just don’t hit the heights you expect. In David Ford and Annie Dressner, it was definitely the former. The gig was stripped back – just two people on a stage creating a moment. And what a moment it was.
Annie and David and reviewer Nick Cantwell
Check out their websites and hit and follow the social links!
http://www.dressnerford.com/

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http://anniedressner.com/
***Note – I need to say a word about the audience for the gig. The audience was impeccable, with barely any talking at all at any point (apart from whispered orders at the bar). Credit goes to Gary, Annie and David, who managed to grab the audience from the start, but also to everyone there. If you were there yourself, give yourself a high five!***
Review written by Nick Cantwell (instagram.com/nickcantwellmanagement)
 
 
 


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Graduate Organist vacancy in London and Home Counties – Church Times

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Graduate Organist vacancy in London and Home Counties  Church Times

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