The Game’s Afoot

21 Aug

Currently, at Madame Tussaud’s in London, an event of mystery, imagination and excitement is taking place after the doors close of an evening.  I refer to the interactive theatrical experience that is “The Game’s Afoot”.

I attended with a close friend, not really expecting very much.  I had a ball.  It was adrenaline fueled fun from start to finish.

I cannot go into the plot.  The Game’s Afoot people ask very nicely that you don’t over share on social media.  I can understand this, because if you gave away clues and solutions, then you take the fun away from others.

There are two scenarios, that play out on different nights, but the workings are much the same.  The attendee is a junior Scotland Yard detective. This is really a case for Sherlock Holmes, but he has gone missing, so Scotland Yards finest (!) must fill the gap.

Each person is given a notebook to jot down clues, a pencil, and a sheet of paper that has a map on one side, and photographs of the suspects on the other.  Inspector Gregson gives you the back ground, then you are let loose to examine the area, talk to suspects, and look for clues.  There is also one other thing.  Each person is given a clue, just for them, that was left for them by Sherlock Holmes.  I will say one thing.  The clue I was given set me on the path.

As well as the suspects and Gregson, Doctor Watson, Lestrade, and the coroner are around to ask questions of, and advise.  I did notice that as individuals hit on the right track, then the help from certain characters became slightly more overt.  Lestrade gave me the threads I needed to pull everything together.  But never outright.  A clue, which lead to another clue, etc.

One thing I will share: the crypt set.  It will have any Sherlock Holmes fan hysterical with laughter.  When you look at the names on the graves.  I nearly got sidetracked because I was so delighted with the crypt.

“The Game’s Afoot” is brilliant.  It’s almost like a live action version of Cluedo.  The plots are intricate, and there are clues, evidence, and red herrings EVERYWHERE.  And fiendishly difficult.  I think less than half of those there solved the case.

If you’re going to be in London between now and 30th September 2016, do yourself a favour and go.

Oh, and I solved the crime.

Romeo and Juliet

15 Aug

Whilst in London I went to the Garrick Theatre to see Kenneth Branagh’s production of “Romeo and Juliet”.

I found the production uneven.  Two things disturbed me a lot.  One was the setting.  Shakespeare’s plays are, mostly, timeless, in that you can shift them quite happily through time and space without upsetting the story.  However, because “Romeo & Juliet” deals with teenage love, and the marriage of a girl not yet 14, shifting the setting to the fascistic Italy of Mussolini, just feels so badly wrong.  As if Lord Capulet is pandering to a paeodophile in attempting to marry Juliet to Paris.  In Shakespeare’s own time and earlier, this was nothing to quibble about.  Marriages were contracted early.  But by the 1930s-1940s, this simply was not done.

The second thing was the sheer brutality of Lord Capulet.  Turning him from a harried father to a brutal, abusive, psychopath, changed the tone too much.  There was no need for the violence displayed on stage as he throws Juliet around in his rage.  No, sorry, if I want to see that I’ll watch the bloody news.

However, the production does have three things going for it.  Three of the actors.

Sir Derek Jacobi – I freely admit that I wanted to attend the play purely for the chance to see one of the greatest actors of our age on the stage.  Having adored him in the BBC Shakespeare’s productions of “Richard II” and “Hamlet” in my teens.  Sir Derek played Mercutio.  Usually a young man, full of pomposity and arrogance, in Sir Derek’s hands, Mercutio becomes an avuncular oracle to Romeo, dispensing advice, wit, and sarcasm in equal measures.  His death scene is a delight.

Meera Syal – Meera played Juliet’s nurse, one of Shakespeare’s most delightful comic creations.  She captured the stage and the audience in the palm of her hand and never let them go.  A brilliant performance.

Samuel Valentine – Friar Laurence is one of those characters, like Horatio in “Hamlet”, where the role is small, but pivotal.  Samuel’s Friar Laurence was a creation of strength, honour, and love.  Watch for this actor.  I am positive he will go on to greater things.

Though, as I said, the production was uneven, I would not have missed it for the world.  The chance to see three fantastic actors at work, was well worth the cost.

On Vacation

21 Jul

Will be in London for the next couple of weeks, so no blog posts from me during that time.

Behave yourselves and I’ll be back, hopefully with some adventures to relate, in the middle of August.

Love ya all.

Lady MacBeth’s Daughter

19 Jul

“Lady MacBeth’s Daughter” by Lisa M. Klein is a delightful book that takes an unusual look at Shakespeare’s famous tragedy.

While the viewpoint does switch, the story is mostly told from the viewpoint of Albia, the daughter of MacBeth and his wife, who was abandoned at birth and raised by three weird sisters.

It’s marketed as a young adult romance, but don’t let that stop you for several reasons.

It’s a damn good story.  Well told and absorbing.

The romance isn’t overplayed.  It’s young love (Albia and Fleance), but not in that nauseating way that adults seem to usually view teenagers in the first flush of love.  In all honesty it is more of a female perspective quest narrative than a romance.  Love drives the quest, but then that is usual of most quest narratives anyway.

The story, like any good quest, has a sprinkling of myth and magic to season it.  In this case it’s Celtic.

Highly recommended.

Dwarves in Space 2: Family Matters

10 Jul

First off I’ll let it be known that I was gifted a copy of the book by the author, S. E. Zbasnik, in exchange for an honest review.

Imagine, if you can, a world created by collaboration between Douglas Adams and J. R. R. Tolkien.  If you can manage that, then you’ve at least got a bit of a handle on the Dwarves in Space series.

“Family Matters” is the second book in the series and carries on from the first book.  This one explores Variel’s background a little more when her husband turns up basically demanding money with menaces (or, in this case, lawyers, it all amounts to the same thing).

The plot twists and turns as Variel tries to find a way to bury her past, and this time have it stay buried.

Fast paced, quirky, and at times laugh out loud funny.

Highly recommended.

The Mammoth Book of the Adventures of Moriarty

3 Jul

An excellent book of short stories involving Sherlock Holmes arch enemy Professor James Moriarty, edited by Maxim Jakubowski.

Some stories also feature Colonel Sebastian Moran, Sherlock Holmes, John Watson, and Mycroft Holmes.

Some stories propose a reversal of canon where it is Moriarty who survives the Reichenbach Falls.  Moriarty as a child, as a young man, as a very old man.  The possibilities are endless, and also entertaining.

Unusually for an anthology, the story quality was high through out.

My favourite stories were by:
Priscilla Masters
Keith Moray
David Stuart Davies

All in all an excellent anthology.  Highly recommended.

The Adventure of the Colonial Boy

27 Jun

By now I’m sure everyone has realised that I read a lot of Sherlock Holmes pastiches.  Some are good, some are mediocre, and some are downright terrible.  Occasionally you get one that is bloody brilliant.

“The Adventure of the Colonial Boy” by Narrelle M. Harris is bloody brilliant!

Mourning both the death of Sherlock Holmes at the Reichenbach Falls, and the death of his wife Mary in childbirth, John Watson is shocked and angered to get a telegram purporting to be from Sherlock himself.  After a meeting with Mycroft Holmes, Watson finds himself bound for Melbourne, Australia, to help Sherlock Holmes track down Colonel Sebastian Moran.

The book is a wonderful adventure and crime story.  Published by the romance/erotica specialist Sherlock Holmes imprint Improbable Press, “The Adventure of the Colonial Boy” is also a romance.  So if two men loving each other is not for you, then do not read.  But if you chose not to read it, you will be denying yourself a truly fantastic reading experience.

Highly recommended.

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