Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – a gif review

The most hyped up show in London’s West End at the moment is undoubtedly Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Palace Theatre.

Tickets have been booked up more than a year in advance. There’s a script book for Potter fans so those who can’t make it into London can get stuck into the story too. There’s a #keepthesecrets campaign to stop spoilers spreading uncontained across the internet.

But does the play actually live up to expectations?

I went to see it on Sunday October 15, 2017 after booking tickets in August 2016 and I have quite mixed feelings. Here they are, represented mostly in gif form.

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Michael McIntyre – Happy and Glorious tour at Wembley Arena

Playing to his ‘home crowd’ having just travelled just 10 minutes down the road – hilariously, so he said, past all the people who live on the North Circular stuck in their houses – Michael McIntyre brought the house down at Wembley Arena with his new Happy and Glorious tour.

I was worried he wouldn’t be able to match past successes – with jokes that can be referenced with short phrases like ‘five spice’, ‘man drawer’ and ‘no juice’ – but there were still plenty of brilliant moments in there.

Brits on holiday, often a source of embarrassment for fellow tourists, made for a hilarious encore – especially the idea of dads dragging sun umbrellas in circular motions in an attempt to save their kids from the sun.

The well-off comedian’s move to a house in the countryside also proved fruitful, with well-told anecdotes about the absolute pitch black there compared to London and the harrowing noises rural foxes make.

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Two Book Reviews: The Miniaturist and The Versions of Us

24480276The Versions of Us by Laura Barnett called to me from the bookshop shelf, with its blue and yellow snapshots of scenes from the story. It promised to be a descendent of One Day and Sliding Doors, a lofty promise, and it met my expectations.

The book follows Eva and Jim, who meet after a dog crosses her path as she cycles to a seminar in Cambridge in 1958. Three versions of her and Jim’s subsequent conversations and indeed their lives follow; one appears good, one bad and one – who knows? But of course life isn’t that simple and their paths follow countless twists and turns.

The story is a beautiful reminder that life is what you make it and that your choices can make a huge difference in what path you go down. Even more, if there is a real connection or purpose to find, it can be found no matter how long it takes.

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The Ruling Class starring James McAvoy – Trafalgar Transformed

The 1968 play The Ruling Class, currently staged at The Trafalgar Studios as part of the Trafalgar Transformed season, is a clever and hilarious look at the English class system with a big bonkers lead role masterfully performed by Professor X himself, James McAvoy.

McAvoy plays the paranoid schizophrenic Jack, who becomes the 14th Earl of Gurney when his father dies dressed in a tutu, underpants and cocked hat in an erotic asphyxiation gone wrong, after a revealing opening monologue on British politics and dignitaries.

So after seven years in a mental institution, Jack returns to take his rightful place and inadvertently ends up the centre of a plot by his uncle to force him to produce an heir before being re-institutionalised. The only problem is that Jack believes he is God and is not shy about letting people know.

McAvoy gives an exceptional amount of himself to the performance and is gripping to watch throughout, whether he’s unicycling, spitting, ranting and raving, fighting, leaping around or attached to a huge crucifix. He was thoroughly charming, twice momentarily breaking the fourth wall for a quip about the crowd and his unicycle skills, but mostly intense. Female fans would have enjoyed his topless scenes and even the tease of him unzipping his trousers, a power of which he must be well aware.

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Love and writing in Stuck In Love

Stuck In Love was the most affecting movie I’ve watched in a long time – with the exception of The Fault In Our Stars, but that doesn’t count because I knew what was going to happen even if I didn’t know how much I was going to cry.

These two films are linked by the same director, Josh Boone, and one of the stars, Nat Wolff. That’s one of the main reasons I started watching – that and it’s what I eventually chose when scrolling through Netflix when I was supposed to be essay writing.

As a result, I didn’t even realise almost every main character of Stuck In Love is a writer. Writing is discussed throughout – what it means to be a writer, what sort of experiences enhance our writing, how personal it is. Stephen King comes up a lot too, which was incredible for me. To hear the characters discussing IT and to hear Mr King quote himself, saying “the most important things are the hardest to say,” meant I could relate to their thought processes and think about what words really can mean.

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Book Review: You Had Me At Hello by Mhairi McFarlane

15733851This is, hands down, one of the best chick-lit books I’ve ever read.

Not because it’s particularly ground-breaking or genre-defying, but because it’s so funny, well-written and just hard to put down.

The story follows Rachel, a court reporter for Manchester Evening News, and Ben, a solicitor. They were great friends throughout university and then didn’t see each other for ten years before Ben moved back to Manchester with his wife. There are a lot of feelings between them that aren’t explained for a long time – largely because they’re hiding them from themselves – and it is a joy to learn about both their past and their present along with their friends.

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Book Review: Here’s Looking At You by Mhairi McFarlane

bookHere’s Looking At You follows the massive success of Mhairi McFarlane’s You Had Me At Hello, and is a great example of a funny, finely tuned chick-lit novel.

The story follows Anna Alessi, a historian who was mercilessly bullied at school for her size but has since become conventionally beautiful and goes on a stream of disastrous internet dates. When she is inadvertently reunited with one of the coolest boys in school, James Fraser, she hides her true identity and battles a torrent of emotions as they are first colleagues and then friends.

This is one of those romantic comedy novels that is utterly predictable – at least most of the time – but it doesn’t matter because you have so much fun along the way.

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Book Review: Geli Voyante’s Hot Or Not by Elle Field- with giveaway!

Geli Voyante works at a paper imaginatively called New News, and although she sits next to dreamy political columnist Theo, she is stuck writing the weekly Hot Or Not column. When it suddenly seems like everyone around her is getting engaged, Geli becomes desperate to catch up and win Theo over. Unfortunately, as ever, nothing really goes to plan…

After the release of Elle’s thoroughly enjoyable Kept earlier this year, I was looking forward to another good slice of chick-lit, and Geli Voyante’s Hot Or Not delivers, just in a different way.

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Book Review: Bridget Jones: Mad About The Boy by Helen Fielding

Bridget Jones, one of literature’s best-loved diarists, is back, with first day sales topping 46,000 despite mediocre reviews.

Mad About The Boy is the third book by Helen Fielding following the ditzy, calorie-counting Bridget, and this time she comes with two children and a toyboy in tow, as well as old faithful friends and the infamous Daniel Cleaver.

The book’s buzz began when The Sunday Times Magazine printed extracts last month that told readers that Mark Darcy, Bridget’s happily-ever-after of the last book, had been killed off. Although a controversial decision, this perhaps made a new Bridget book more exciting to write than a simple happy tale of newlyweds.

This plot point provides some of the only deep thoughts we see from Bridget, as she thinks of what might have been and how she seems to be trapped in a deep and lonely void without her wonderful husband. This can be repetitive, but it is less irritating than other sections where Fielding gets stuck in a rut and does not develop any significant thoughts.

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The Shockingly Good Miss Caro Emerald

Caro Emerald, the Radio 2 favourite Dutch singer, recently returned to the UK to promote her second album, The Shocking Miss Emerald, her first UK No. 1.

With her unique jazz and pop fusion, which is made even more interesting with the use of a live mixing desk, Caro provided an exciting live experience at Portsmouth Guildhall on September 25th that was enhanced exponentially by her extremely talented band who were a joy to watch.

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