Lisa Dwan

lisa dwan

Irish actress Lisa Dwan has just completed a two week solo season of three short works by fellow Celt Samuel Beckett, following critically acclaimed sold-out performances at the Royal Court Theatre and the West End. Not I, Footfalls and Rockaby completed its sold out run today (30 August 2014) at the Southbank Centre’s Purcell Room in Central London as part of the Festival of Love.

Lisa plays the part of Mouth in Not I, a nine minute monologue where the audience sees only a woman’s disembodied mouth suspended eight feet above a black stage. To achieve this Lisa wears black makeup, a black blindfold, covers her hair with black tights, then straps her head to a blackboard with a hole in it – so that her mouth stays in the single beam of light. She first performed the piece in 2005.

It’s certainly one of the most challenging stage roles with total sensory deprivation. “I can’t see or hear anything. It’s like driving down the motorway the wrong way with no handbrake  – it’s terrifying… but it’s almost the most exhilarating role I’ve ever known,” Lisa said in an interview. The crucial thing is it’s done at speed – after a lifetime of virtual speechlessness, the character has ‘verbal diarrhoea’.

Completing the Becket trilogy is Footfalls, the moving story of May who moves back and forth like a metronome on a bare landing outside her dying mother’s room, and his most famous piece Rockaby with a woman recounting moments form her past sitting in her rocking chair. Metro called it “A mesmerising, heart-wrenching, terrifying triple.” The Standard simply said, “sensationally good” and The Telegraph said, “A stunning performance.”

The Little Paris Kitchen

rachel khoo

The Little Paris Kitchen is a big news, not only in Paris, but worldwide. Drawing on my gastronomical vice, especially TV cooking shows, I’ve continued my series of celebrity chef sketches.

This time it’s Gallic culinary artist, London born Rachel Khoo, who arrived in Paris four years ago after completing an Art and Design degree form Central Saint Martins to study patisserie at the Le Cordon Bleu (The Blue Ribbon), the world’s largest hospitality institution.

Her father is Malay-Chinese and her mother is Austrian so food was always an important part of Rachel’s life with her mixed cultural heritage creating some interesting family meals. “In Malaysia, they don’t ask how you are, they ask ‘have you eaten?'”she said in an interview.

With a degree in pastry she set up the French Capital’s smallest restaurant – La Petite Cuisine à Paris in her 21sq m flat in the hip Belleville District.

It could only host two diners at a time, but when a new lunch date advertised people responded within 20 seconds. I love the show. It has great production values, set in a picture-postcard artist’s garret, fun to watch, snobbish, great food present with infections enthusiasm by Rachel. She demystifies French cuisine by giving traditional dishes an ‘alt-Brit flavour’ and a fun, fresh approach. I recall the episode when she collected honey with a distinctive ‘city’ taste from the beehives on top of the Grand Palais – formidable!

Bon Ap! as Rachel would say.

The Madness of George III

The Madness of George III

Alan’s Bennett’s play The Madness of George III premiered in November 1991 on the Lyttelton stage of the National Theatre in London, directed by Nicholas Hytner, with the late, great Nigel Hawthorne in the title role.

It’s the fictionalised biographical study of the latter half of the reign of George III. Critics labelled Nigel’s Olivier Award winning performance as “astonishing” and “unforgettable”. He also played the role in the 1994 film version, entitle The Madness of King George, also directed by Sir Nicholas H. I’ve always liked the film’s tagline: ‘His Majesty was all powerful and all knowing. But he wasn’t quite all there.’ It was nominated for 4 Oscars, including one for Nigel and 14 BAFTAS.

David Haig played the mental monarch in the revival of the play at The Apollo in the Spring of 2012. The Telegraph’s Charles Spencer compared David’s performance to Nigel’s saying, “it seemed an impossible act to follow, but David Haig proves every inch Hawthorne’s equal in a performance of extraordinary emotion, tenderness and humour”. David was nominated for an Olivier Award.

 

Gemma Atkinson

Gemma Atkinson

British actress, TV personality and model Gemma Atkinson first came to prominence playing Lisa Hunter in the teenage soap Hollyoaks. In theatre she appeared in Peter Pan at the Manchester Opera House in 2012, playing the lead role. “It’s nice to be boyish and not have to worry about my appearance and I get to fly!”

She played the more revealing role of Elaine in the West End production of Tim Firth’s Calendar Girls, at the Noël Coward Theatre in the Summer of 2009, where she signed this quick black biro sketch for me. Gemma also toured with the production, this time playing Celia, Miss September. She is currently back in BBC’s Casualty, playing Tamzin Boyle,

 

Davina Perera

Davina Perera

I met Davina Perera after a performance of Privates on Parade at the Noel Coward Theatre in February 2013. It was the first production of Michael Grandage‘s Season of Five Plays. She played Sylvia Morgan in sad circumstances. Her friend Sophiya Hague was originally performing the role a month earlier. I had drawn a sketch of Sophiya and was waiting at the stage door to get her to sign it. She didn’t appear, which can often happen, so I thought, “oh well, another night.” The next day I read in the newspaper that she and passed away. Sophiya probably best remembered to TV views as Poppy Morales in Coronation Street was diagnosed with cancer around Christmas and died on 17 January 2013 aged 41.

Davina and Sophiya had been in four shows together and shared a dressing room on each occasion. In a recent interview Davina commented, “I was honoured to be in her last show with her and carry it on for her in her name. I am sure wherever she is she is still dancing.”

Retiring to London from her Broadway debut in Around the World in Eighty Days, Davina was last seen in the National Theatre’s The Shed in Yellow Face – David Henry Hwang’s dramatic comedy about race, based on Jonathan Pryce’s role as an Asian in the original production of Miss Saigon.

Davina actually made her West End Debut poling Yvette in Miss Saigon in 2001, at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane. In Yellow Face there are 88 characters, she plays 21 of them.

This sketch is from the 2009 Tamasha and Oldham Coliseum production of Wuthering Heights at the Lyric Hammersmith, The Bronte classic has been adapted into 23 plays, 14 musical versions and 8 films. This one is a Bollywood musical set in Rajasthan in the 1870s. Davina signed it for me that night at the Noel Coward Stage door after a quiet word about Sophiya.

Caught Marsh, bowled Lillee

Rod Marsh

‘Caught Marsh, bowled Lillee’ became a very familiar scoreboard entry during the 1970s and early 1980s. It appeared 95 times in Test matches, which is a partnership record between wicket-keeper and bowler that is yet to be broken. Dennis Lillee and his Western Australian teammate Rod Marsh continued their State success in the international arena that would cement the two in Australian cricketing folklore.

Wisden stated, “Few partnerships between bowler and wicket-keeper have had so profound an impact on the game.”

Dennis began his career as a tearaway fast bowler but back injuries fired him to remodel his bowling action and he returned more accurate and dependable, ending his career as the leading Test wicket-taker, taking the 355th off his final ball against Pakistan in Sydney in January 1984. Coincidentally, rod ended his career with a world record 355 Test dismissals – 343 catches and 12 stumpings.

Rod raised the role of wicket-keeper with his acrobatic diving and raucous appeals. he once commented on his understanding with Dennis: “I’ve played with him so much now that most of the time I know what he is going to do before he has bowled.”

In the 1974-75 Ashes series he and fellow quick Jeff Thomson formed on elf the most potent opening bowling combinations in Test cricket to steer Australia to an emphatic 4-1 victory. “Ashes to Ashes, dust to dust, if Thomson don’t get ya, Lillie must,” was the caption The Sunday Telegraph used. Even though he had cut his pace and length of run up , relying more on seam movement, Dennis bowling was still timed at 154.8km/h

The both signed a limited edition run of 10 prints of my caricatures for charity.

Dennis Lillee

Bry

Bryony Kimmings

Award winning British performance artist Bryony Kimmings also includes ‘activist, writer, Feminist, Comedian, Auntie and person’ to her Twitter description. Her work is described as ‘haphazard, loud, dangerous, unpredictable and mega fun’.

“It is an artist’s duty to say and explore the things that are untouchable or hard to talk about.” Bryony uses a combination of music, dance, story-telling, video, comedy and the autobiographical narrative, inspired by taboos and anomalies of British culture.

She gained notoriety as a solo artist with Sex Idiot in 2010 – a funny and unapologetic account of the female sexuality in the 21st century. For the show’s finale Bryony requests audience members to donate some of their pubic, which she sticks together to form a moustache for one of her songs.

7 Day Drunk is a collaboration with a team of scientists to analyse the impact of alcohol on her creativity. In a studio-based experiment a GP, a psychologist and a neuroscientist monitored her alcohol levels over a week, while she created art and performances. For the live shows she performs and creates artwork sober then compares them to footage of the experiment and asks the audience to rate the results.

“I feel I am a better artist when drunk or hungover,” she said, which is not uncommon to creative people, given the centuries of artistic achievement of influential work under the influence.

Last year she performed Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model at the Soho Theatre with her mini-me, 9 year old niece Taylor, who faces a barrage of stereotypical princesses and pop stars in a desperate need of a role model to guide her through the expectations and confusions of womanhood.

She reprised Sex Idiot for one week only this month as part of The Festival of Love at London’s Southbank Centre. “I promise this is the last time in the UK until I do it at my own funeral,” she commented. I left this sketch at the venue and she returned it signed with a nice dedication.