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Mandela Review | London Theatre

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A seismic figure in world history, Nelson Mandela gets the levelling-down treatment in Mandela, the blandly hagiographic new musical at the Young Vic that contains not one iota of surprise.Whereas Hamilton (from which this venture has drawn its hardworking American leading man, Michael Luwoye) has shown numerous ways to bracingly reinvigorate onstage, Schele Williams’s production follows an entirely predictable path. The result, dogged in almost every respect except its dancing, will be too overfamiliar for anyone with even the vaguest awareness of the material, yet far too earnest and generic for those newcomers to the story of South African emancipation who do inevitably exist. (Williams has just been announced to direct a forthcoming American revival of The Wiz.)There’s no denying the worthy intentions of those involved, who include two South African brothers, Greg Dean and Shaun Borowsky, and Massachusetts-born book writer Laiona Michelle, who has also worked as an actress. White and Black creators joined to remind us of the legacy of the pioneering South African president and activist who died 9 years ago, age 95.Legacy, indeed, is a defining word in the show, as one might assume, and gets resoundingly voiced from the stage in the production’s undeniably stirring closing moments.But my heavens, what a formulaic slog the audience is asked to endure in a chronicle of Mandela’s life that is almost comically reductive. I was put in mind more than once of a 1990 West End flop, King, that subjected Martin Luther King to much the same uninflected reverence – and that one included Maya Angelou, a mighty figure of African-American letters, as a co-creator.Mandela begins during the apartheid era, the West End veteran Earl Carpenter pressed into service as an all-purpose Prime Minister, on hand to embody the white supremacy that went on to be dismantled. “We demand freedom,” read the placards on view, as is fair enough, but presumably one has the right to expect rather more from the script itself than a mere extension of such bald-faced pronouncements.As it is, we’re reminded of the need “to fight fire with fire” and, yes, “to do what must be done.” There are lyrics about seeing the light and hanging in there, and not a single cliché is left unused.Danielle Fiamanya’s impassioned Winnie reminds us that her husband is synonymous with “the struggle,” though she doesn’t much like being called out on her own behaviour. Here’s a woman, you may recall, who faced extensive legal issues of her own and whose own narrative is far more complicated than the show named for her husband has time for.Instead, she reacts to the merest suggestion of impropriety with a stern reminder that she had to look after the family while Nelson was incarcerated in Robben Island. He has been shielded from public view while she was required to engage with the world, though it’s not entirely clear how that in itself excuses the charges of fraud and theft that, for a while, laid Winnie low.We hear of the death of his son Thembi (Posi Morakinyo) in a car accident in 1969 whilst his father was serving out his life sentence, and two daughters function as embryonic firebrands: Zindzi (Leanne Robinson), notes her mother, has dad’s “fighting spirit.” And tears, one of these children says to the other, are not an option: “the enemy must not see you cry”.The score possesses a sort of all-purpose musical wash – anthems that feel as borrowed as its laments are tired – that is at odds with the undeniable dazzle of Gregory Maqoma’s choreography. The cast, expertly drilled, rightly whips the audience into a frenzy only for the writing to send the proceedings crashing down once more with a thud.And the ever-reliable Stewart Clarke, fondly remembered from the Menier Chocolate Factory’s 2018 revival of Fiddler on the Roof, belts his 11 o’clock solo number to the roof and beyond as a self-reckoning white warden. It is searingly performed, the banal lyrics notwithstanding.I can’t be the only playgoer who would be interested in what followed in the wake of a figure whose footprint remains singular to this day, rather than a by-the-book rehash that settles for the obvious at every turn, as if neither politics nor the theatre have moved on since the era on view. There’s no denying the commitment to a ceaselessly important cause that courses through Mandela, but the show in its present form aims to soar only to feel artistically stillborn.Mandela is at the Young Vic through 4 February. Book Mandela tickets on London Theatre.Photo credit: Michael Luwoye and Danielle Fiamanya in Mandela (Photo by Helen Murray)

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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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