Eighteen months ago very few theatre-goers in London had heard of Florian Zeller. Now the Parisian playwright is “the go-to man if you are looking for 90 minutes of elegant perceptive drama that plays games with the slippery nature of theatrical reality,” according to WhatsOnStage critic Sarah Crompton.
His latest offering, THE TRUTH completes a dazzling hat-trick that includes THE FATHER and its companion piece THE MOTHER, both of which have graced the London stage to critical acclaim recently. THE TRUTH, directed by Lindsay Posner, opened at the Menier Chocolate Factory earlier this year and has transferred to the West End’s Wyndham’s Theatre. In her five-star review for the Guardian, Kate Kellaway described it as “a devious must-see.”
Like his previous English successes, LA VERITE, which was written in 2011, has been translated by Christopher Hampton. It’s a confounding and unsettling tale of infidelity and the lying game as Michel (Alexander Hanson) attempts to keep his wife (Tanya Franks), his mistress (Frances O’Connor) and his best friend (Robert Portal) in the dark about his intentions. Sarah Crompton wrote, “It’s a plot as slim as a Parisian woman, and just as sophisticated, with a faint whiff of 1950’s wreathing its etiolated gestures.”
Both Frances and Alexander signed my drawing at the stage door after last Saturday’s matinee.
The England Cricket Captain and opening batsman, Alastair Cook has made a habit of scoring runs and in particular centuries. His latest came last Friday, on the opening day of the second test against Pakistan which is still in progress at Old Trafford. His 105 was his 29th Test century, equalling the great Sir Don Bradman. In May 2015 the prolific left-hander became England’s leading run-scorer in Test matches, surpassing Graham Gooch in the second test against New Zealand at Headingly and exactly a year to the day later he became the youngest batsman to score 10,000 test runs against Sri Lanka in the second test at Chester-le-street.
This penchant for passing the magic 100 milestone began right from the start. At the age of 21, while touring the West Indies with the ECB Academy side in 2006, he was called-up to join England’s tour of India side as a late replacement, scoring 104 on debut. This was to become a familiar pattern, also scoring centuries in his first Test matches against Pakistan, the West Indies and Bangaldesh.
Alastair became England’s ‘Captain Cook’ when fellow opener Andrew Strauss retired in 2012. In 130 Tests he has amassed 10,265 runs at an average of 46.87 and 3,204 runs in his 92 ODI’s. His Test total includes three double centuries, with a top score of 294 against India.
When not scoring runs on the cricket field, Alastair runs a farm near Leighton Buzzard and plays the saxophone. I have meet him on a few occasions, mainly at Lords and he has always been great with the fans, taking time to sign graphs and pose for photos. I didn’t get a chance to catch-up at the first test against Pakistan at Lords last week, so sent my drawing to Old Trafford and it came back signed within two days.
THE TRIAL OF JANE FONDA is a one-act play inspired by a meeting between the Hollywood ‘wild-child’ of Henry Fonda and angry American war vets disgusted by her visit to Hanoi and photographed with North Vietnamese soldiers sixteen years earlier.
Written and directed by seven-time Emmy Award-winner Terry Jastrow, the production debuted at the Edinburgh Fringe in August 2014, featuring his wife, the Oscar-nominated actress Anne Archer as ‘Hanoi Jane’. The meeting took place after irate Vietnam veterans, outraged by her anti-war protests, threatened to halt shooting of the her film STANLEY AND IRIS in Waterbury, Connecticut.
She agreed to meet 26 of them (in the play there’s a lot less) in the local St Michael’s Episcopal Church on 18 June 1988 to listen to them and explain her side of the argument and her outrage at a brutal foreign policy based on a flawed ‘domino effect’ theory about the spread of Communism.
Last seen in the London in her West End debut as Mrs Robinson in THE GRADUATE at the Gielgud in 2001, Anne Archer reprises her role as Jane Fonda, which is currently running at the Park Theatre directed by Joe Harmston until mid August. I left this portrait of Anne at the venue which she signed and dedicated for me.
‘There’s a new Doll in town’ proclaims all the billboards around London, announcing Australian Hollywood star Rebel Wilson’s West End debut in the 1950’S Broadway musical GUYS AND DOLLS at the Phoenix Theatre. The 36 year old bubbly blonde, ‘Sydney-born sensation’ (as the Telegraph’s critic Dominic Cavendish called her) plays the show’s interminably engaged New York night-club singer Miss Adelaide for an eight-week engagement.
She received a standing ovation on her opening night, tweeting to her 3.3 million followers afterwards, thanking the audience and saying how honoured she was and saying “sooo… one down, 63 performances to go.”
On Saturday night I positioned myself at the stage door barriers among the hoards where she signed my sketch.
Current World Formula One motor racing champion Lewis Hamilton won his home Grand Prix at Silverstone last weekend to move within one point of his teammate and nearest rival Nico Rosberg on the F1 Driver Standings. It was Lewis’ fourth victory this year and moves him a step closer to retaining the World title. He is now third on the all time list of Grand Prix wins with 47.
Always a good ‘grapher in person, Lewis had previously signed a rapid scribble I did of his car at last year’s British Fashion Awards. In motor racing terms I would call it a ‘practice session’ for this slightly more detailed sketch, including the man himself, which I decided to send to him via his Mercedes AMG Petronas team at Silverstone, not expecting much joy. To my surprise and delight, it came back signed and dedicated. Chequered flag for me!
I have met French tennis star Marion Bartoli twice. The first time was many years ago at the Australian Open when her star was rising, walking to her match on an outer court without a lot of security and attention. I politely asked her for an autograph and she very politely said she would be happy to… but after the match. Fair enough. The second time was last week at Wimbledon where she is now part of the commentary team.
She was on her way to Centre Court to cover the women’s semi finals. It’s an arena she is familiar with. After being runner-up in 2007 Marion went on beat Sabine Lisicki in the 2011 final to win the Ladies Singles title and become only the sixth player to win the Championships without dropping a single set. A month later she retired citing the pain from all the injuries she had sustained throughout her career. Marion was known for her unorthodox and intense playing style, dominated by a two-handed forehand and backhand developed by her father and longtime coach Walter.
Marion was to have played in the Women’s Invitational Doubles at this year’s Championships, but had to withdraw on medical advice. It was revealed that she had contacted a serious virus that resulted in a dramatic weight loss. Immediately after the Tournament she underwent a blood transfusion and tweeted that she was ‘now on the up’. Great news for her large fan base. Anyway on our second meeting she was happy to sign this sketch I drew of her.
“A high-powered Flight of the Concords dipped in acid and drenched in smut,” is how the Crikey (AU) magazine described EASTEND CABARET performers and professional perverts, Jennifer Byrne and Victoria Falconer-Pritchard.
The globe-trotting, gin-loving, man east-riding, accordion-eluding, multi-award winning could musical comedy duo are known by their stage names, Bernadette Byrne, a European chanteuse of unknown origin and Victor Victoria, a faux-bilateral hermaphrodite, one man/woman band.
On a recent tour Downunder, Theatrereview NZ likened them to a “mutant child of a Victorian circus-locked away in the Pet Shop Boys basement and forced to watch nothing but Eurovision.”
Their utterly raucous, unashamedly risqué, dark,hilarious and dangerously inappropriate show had it’s origins in the iconic East End pub, The George Tavern in 2009, appearing at the Edinburgh Fringe two years later. TimeOut said “They can work an audience like nobody’s business.” Last year they won Best Variety Act at the London Cabaret Awards.
I left this sketch of Bernie and Victy from their 2015 Soho Theatre production PERVERTS at the London Hippodrome where they were performing last month and it came back, signed with their character names and a little note.
Included in the list of tennis greats, Ivan Lendl was one of the most dominate players in the 1980’s, winning 8 Grand Slams and reaching 19 finals. He also lead Czechoslovakia to a Davis Cup victory.
Ivan’s eight Slams include two Australian, three US and three French titles. The only Slam to elude him was Wimbledon. He did however reach two finals, being beaten by Boris Becker and Pat Cash. His playing style revolved around strength, using a heavy top spin from the baseline, ushering in the modern era of ‘power tennis’.
Between 2012-14 Ivan coached the current World Number 2 Andy Murray to Wimbledon and US Open victories and an Olympic Gold Medal. In June this year he returned with the Scot securing his fifth Queens and second Wimbledon titles.
A large crowd gathered around Court 19 at Wimbledon last week as Andy practiced prior to his Championship victory. As you can imagine when he came off the court he was mobbed. Ivan, by contrast, slipped down the side near the media centre and his relatively short walk to safety as only interrupted by me and my drawing which he signed on the stroll.