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Friday, September 7, 2018

Review: 'Hamilton (Lewis)' at the King's Head Theatre, 6th September 2018

Friday, September 7, 2018 - by londoncitynights · - 0 Comments

Reviewed by David James
Rating: 2 Stars

During the opening scene of David Eaton and Fiona English's Hamilton (Lewis) I'm warned that I won't get much out of it if I'm not familiar with (a) Hamilton, the hit musical by Lin-Manuel Miranda or (b) Formula 1 racing. 


Pretty much everything I know about Hamilton comes from the last season of Curb Your Enthusiasm and I'm completely clueless about Formula 1.

In practice, this means that the majority of the gags go right over my head. The majority of the audience is clearly familiar with the musical, so all it takes is for a certain beat to start playing to arouse ripples of giggles. Meanwhile, I'm sitting there slightly befuddled trying to work out if I've missed a joke I should have been able to get, or whether the scene I'm watching was actually part of Lewis Hamilton's life, part of founding father Alexander Hamilton's life parodied via Lewis Hamilton, or simply a surreal moment in its own right.

You could argue that attending a show billed as a musical parody and not knowing the show being parodied is a fool's errand (and you've got a pretty good point), but surely a really good parody should be able to stand as a piece of theatre in its own right without every audience member possessing intimate knowledge of the subject?

And, while I might be expecting a bit much of a show that freely admits they came up with the title first and worked backwards, it doesn't have much to say about Lewis Hamilton. This is a ridiculous comedy, but even so our hero doesn't have a narrative arc so much as a narrative flatline. There's a muddled moral about him losing sight of the pleasure of racing in favour of publicity and sponsorship that doesn't go anywhere and the frequent hints that he's secretly gay never sat quite right with me. It ends with the show admitting that Lewis Hamilton's life doesn't make for a satisfying musical, so at least they're aware of it.

That's far from the only moment the show makes excuses for itself. One thing I do know about Hamilton is that it's a densely lyrical rap musical. Hamilton (Lewis) does have the occasional rap number, but in the opening, it's explained that songs like these are really, really hard to write - so much of the show is going to be a traditional musical. Oh. Okay.

I'm probably coming down too hard on the show. It's not that I had a bad time - the cast (Letitia Hector, Liberty Buckland, Louis Mackrodt and Jamie Barwood) are all fine performers and wring the material like a wet dishcloth to squeeze out every drop of comedy they can.

But the show spends an awful lot of time making light of the fact that it's been slapped together very quickly and that it doesn't make a lot of sense. Points for honesty, but identifying your shortcomings doesn't magic them away. If you're a Hamilton fan this might be worth a look and if you're a Lewis Hamilton fan this might be the one chance you get to see a musical about him, but it didn't do a lot for me.

Hamilton (Lewis) is at the King's Head Theatre until 22nd September. Tickets here.

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Review: 'When You Fall Down' at The Other Palace, 18th July 2018

Thursday, July 19, 2018 - by londoncitynights · - 0 Comments

Reviewed by David James
Rating: 2 Stars

Buster Keaton proves to be the biggest obstacle in the way of When You Fall Down, James Dangerfield's one-man musical biography of the silent movie star. The real Keaton is a silent movie star famous for his deadpan expression in the face of chaos and absurdity. Dangerfield's Buster Keaton emotes wildly while singing heartfelt songs. Can the show square this circle?

Keaton's films are always worth a bit more attention. A couple of years back I went on a big silent movie binge, finding that Keaton's films having aged magnificently due to their combination of terrifying, imaginative and dangerous stunts, imaginative use of technology and the innate charisma of Keaton himself. 

But I don't need to spend time convincing anyone of how awesome Buster Keaton was, just skip to a random place on this video and I guarantee you'll see something that will make you laugh, wince, gasp or some strange combination of the three.

The show's narrative covers Keaton's career up until 1928 when began working under contract for MGM, a move generally considered to have marked the end of his creative golden age. Along the way we see him becoming entranced with the possibilities of cinema, bemoan the unjust treatment of his friend and mentor Roscoe "Fatty" Arbuckle and taking pride in starring, writing and directing his own movies (referring to himself as "the navigator"). This runs parallel to peeks into his personal life: his alcoholism, the failing relationship with his wife, his passion for his work affecting his relationship with this children and so on.

Keaton's story is very much worth telling, functioning both as a potted history lesson on silent cinema and his role within it, a look at the early days of the celebrity lifestyle and as a simple human story of a talented man battling to realise his vision. The real question is whether it works as a musical...

Sadly, it doesn't. James Dangerfield is a talented man, echoing Keaton's creative control by performing, writing and composing everything in the show. But his performance just never really felt like Buster Keaton. There's simply too much broad emotion for a man known as "The Great Stone Face", combined with a set of generic musical theatre tics that could have come from any show. I suppose there's an argument that Dangerfield is playing the 'off-screen' Keaton, but then you're playing a character you've invented rather than trying to capture Keaton's personality.

These flaws are exacerbated by a collection of samey songs that never break out of traditional musical theatre rhythms and rhyming schemes. I can accept the odd plodding ballad or expository set of verses, but the show is painfully in need of more interesting music  - the unchanging meter quickly becoming hypnotic rather than engaging.

All the above is not to say this is an unenjoyable 50 minutes. Though Dangerfield doesn't evoke Keaton, he does present a compelling, expressive and ultimately likeable figure. The show is peppered with moments lifted from old-school vaudeville acts: a letter appears from thin air, Dangerfield tumbles onto the floor and water transforms into multicoloured liquids before our very eyes. You can sense that the show is borne of genuine admiration of Buster Keaton, and, in common with his movies, you can sense the blood, sweat and tears that have been poured into making this happen.

But, at the end of the day, a musical theatre show full of broad emotions and didactic songs simply doesn't suit the story of Buster Keaton. It's telling that by far the most exciting bits of the show are when footage from his films is projected behind Dangerfield - with even these short moments provoking actual gasps from those in the audience. When You Fall Down is a swing and a miss, but at least its heart is in the right place.

When You Fall Down will be at the Edinburgh Fringe August 1-27th: The Pleasance Courtyard, Tickets here.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Review: 'It Happened In Key West' at the Charing Cross Theatre, 10th July 2018

Wednesday, July 11, 2018 - by londoncitynights · - 0 Comments

 Reviewed by David James
Rating: 4 Stars

Finally, a musical that dares to depict the nobility and romance of corpse fucking. It Happened In Key West has been a long time coming for die-hard advocates of necrophilia: fine men and women who all too often have to put up with cruel, misguided comments from frankly unimaginative people who see a dead body and don't see an (over) ripe opportunity for straight-up sexy times.

Set in the sunny Florida keys, this is the true story of Count Carl von Cosel (Wade McCollum) and his (literally) undying love for a woman called Elena (Alyssa Martin). Theirs might have been a traditional love story were it not for Elena dying of tuberculosis, despite his frantic efforts to cure her. Lesser men might have grieved and moved on - but not Count Carl von Cosel. 

After two years of mourning he cracked open her tomb and carted what was left of her home, expertly fixing up her with a combination of piano wire, wax and a hell of a lot of perfume. Life was bliss... until her family discovered what von Cosel had been up to.

It Happened In Key West is told from his von Cosel's perspective and with the bonkers forthrightness to treat this as a grand romance rather than a freakin' weird-ass dude obsessed with a mouldy corpse. The show's insistence that this actually isn't that weird a situation after all gives the story a snowballing ludicrousness that's both hilarious and satirises the generally saccharine genre of musical theatre. After all, what better way to poke fun at the objectification of women in a male protagonist-led romance than by reducing her to a literal object mid-way through the play? 

Then again, there's also the outside chance that the writers genuinely think this is a romance. After all, the programme claims that von Cosel's story "reverberates through time as a universal tale of the incredible power love wields over each and every one of it" and the von Cosel was subject to an "immense and beautiful power [that] was the driving force propelling our hero every step of his journey". 

It follows that up with - I kid you not - a goddamn Bible quote: "Love BEARS all things. BELIEVES in all things. HOPES all things, and ENDURES all things - First Corinthians 13:17" (capitalisation theirs). Hey guys, I'm not no theologian or nothing, but I'm pretty sure the Christian church has a concrete "til death us do part" policy that specifically excludes getting it on with an admittedly quite fetching corpse.

Honestly it doesn't matter whether this is a pointed satire of musical romance OR a genuine paean to the myriad pleasures and romanticism of necrophilia - this is a deeply, powerfully strange bit of theatre that I adored just about every second of.

The songs are great - particularly Undying Love and Don't Worry About A Thing, and they're effectively performed by a cast that skates along the very thin line between sincerity and slyly winking at the audience. The dialogue is funny, providing a genuine cackle from me about every couple of minutes.

The insanely talented Wade McCollum throws himself with zero abandon into portraying von Cosel as broken but basically charismatic, just about managing the Sisyphean task of  making us sympathise with his plight, perhaps helped by him booming out his dialogue like an operatic Frasier Crane. 

For the sake of a good pun I wish I could say that Alyssa Martin was a bit stiff, but she manages to make an (understandably) under-written role pop. There's something of the virginal Disney princess to the way she approaches the role - her wistful songs about seeing the world and living among the stars cruelly funny given that the show's concept revolves around her imminent death and the Weekend at Bernie's style descretion of her corpse.

I loved It Happened In Key West - it's exactly the kind of head-scratching what-the-fuck theatre that presses my buttons. Though it functions perfectly well as a parody of the kind of sugary shit that generally clogs up the West End, I really, really, really hope that this show is entirely straightforward in its goal of turning a necrophiliac into a genuine romantic hero because that is fucking bananas

In summary, It Happened In Key West is...

(drum roll)

....dead good.

It Happened In Key West is at the Charing Cross Theatre until 18 August. Tickets here.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Review: 'Flesh & Bone' at the Soho Theatre, 4th July 208

Thursday, July 5, 2018 - by londoncitynights · - 0 Comments

Reviewed by David James
Rating: 5 Stars

In the liner notes of Flesh & Bone, writer, director and actor Elliott Warren instructs that his play should be "performed with bestial fire" and that you should "rattle the house in which you play". It's safe to say that this staging in the Soho Theatre does that, serving up a sinuous, focused and muscular piece of drama that enters with the confidence of a boxer who knows the title belt is his.

Set in the East End, the play is set within an estate under threat of demolition and subsequent redevelopment (no doubt into luxury flats). Residing within are twitchy young waster Terrence (Elliott Warren), his girlfriend Kelly (Olivia Brady), his brother Reiss (Michael Jinks), Kelly's Grandad (Nick T. Frost) and, in the flat downstairs, their dealer Jamal (Alessandro Babalola).

On paper they're broad working class stereotypes: a collection of dodgy, beer-swilling geezers waiting their turn to be disapprovingly paraded around on the Jeremy Kyle Show. But Warren peels back the surface to reveal a series of viscerally three-dimensional internal lives. For example, Reiss is secretly gay, giddily Queening it up in Soho before shrinking back into the closet as the bus home heads eastwards. Dealer Jamal has constructed an impervious tower of 6-foot-tall, ripped masculine intimidation on which to perch, yet it conceals a frustrated, vulnerable man who feels surrounded by stoned zombies.

Their revelations are delivered in stunningly lyrical writing that's half Elizabethan and half contemporary street, the disparate styles mashed up with surreal ease and naturalism. While Warren constantly slides famous lines from Shakespeare into the monologues (the play opens with "What a piece of work is a man.") it doesn't fetishise them. Rather, the quotes feel like the grain of sand inside an oyster around which the pearl forms, the dialogue elegantly and artfully expanding from this bedrock to create something equally brutal and beautiful.

I really can't overstate how fucking incredible this script, bristling with glottal rhythms and aggressively spat bilabial bullets. It looks as fun to perform as it is to watch, each image and concept seamlessly flowing into the next, each character drawn in crystal clarity and each laser-targeted gag landing dead-on.

Faintly miraculously, the show has assembled a cast that's the equal of its script. You can't slide a Rizla between them in terms of quality: but I particularly adored Michael Jinks' conspiratorial delight in recounting a happy Soho evening, Olivia Brady's hilarious Joanna Lumley impression she uses on her phone sex line and Alessandro Babalola's transformations between hard nut dealer and awkward little boy.

The cast is so good that the fact they're performing on an empty stage to a plain black backdrop never really enters into the equation. Thing is, the play occupies this space perfectly: the cast buzzing around the room like electrons around a nucleus, somehow occupying all spaces at once. Their individual moments are punctuated by well composed and executed frozen tableaux, with the best physical moment when a chaotic bar fight transforms into a series of comic-book panels.

I enjoyed every moment of Flesh & Bone, though my favourite seems to summarise everything I liked about it. It comes after Reiss has finally come out of the closet to his brother Terrence, explaining that it's taken so long because he's scared that he'll react with violent disgust. Reiss leaves the stage and Terrence delivers a blisteringly sad monologue in which he reflects on how he's perceived by his family, friends and society:

"What is it about me that my own family cannot unsee? Is it that I'm mindless, thick with heat. That I carry great weight upon my back. That I cannot help but be bad. Praps this pestilent pressure I do pour upon my blood is my only pith. What else might a man like me have? No dreams to be had. How can a man like me be a fucking dad?"

Man it's good. The only downside is that all the plays I'm going to see in the coming weeks will seem that more much pale and flaccid in comparison to this. If you just see one thing in the theatre this summer you've got to make it this!

Flesh & Bone is at the Soho Theatre until 21 August. Tickets here.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Review: 'Circa: Peepshow' at the Underbelly, 3rd July 2018

Wednesday, July 4, 2018 - by londoncitynights · - 0 Comments

Reviewed by David James
Rating: 4 Stars

Circa's new performance Peepshow is simultaneously modern and retro. On one hand, it's contemporary as hell: a show rippling with sexual tension to a pounding minimalist techno soundtrack. On the other it could be something you'd have seen in Weimar Berlin, self-consciously 'cheeky' acrobatic stripteases set to upbeat jazz.

This cocktail of old and new adds up to a pretty damn enjoyable hour of circus - a fresh jaw-dropping and gasp-inducing feat of skill, agility and strength reliably offered up about every three minutes or so.

The seven-strong cast (Ela Bartilmo, Jessica Connell, Jarred Dewey, Scott Grove, Luke Thomas, David Trappes and Billie Wilson-Coffey) each have their own speciality, ranging from Scott Grove, whose musculature strains like the rigging of a battleship, to the light as a feather  Ela Bartilmo, who's filled with an nervous electric energy that sends her jittering across the stage.

One of the things that makes reviewing circus so tricky is that the baseline of skill for even an average night of acrobatics is so high. It's easy to get a bit blase about people doing something as (relatively) straightforward as standing on each other's shoulders or weightlessly tumbling across the floor, forgetting the years of perspiration and dedication it took them to reach this point. But, sat in the front row, the performers often appearing in danger of careening into the audience and being perilously swung right over my head, you get a fantastic sense of their raw physical power and finesse.

It ends up distilled into an extraordinarily sexy hour of entertainment. Perhaps that's a bit obvious for something called Peepshow, but you'd be surprised how many circus and acrobatic performances do their best to pretend that super-fit men and women in skintight outfits writhing around on one another isn't sexy as hell.

But Circa leans into it with Peepshow - something you understand from the moment they troop on in sequined hotpants. The performance is peppered with intensely erotic moments, ranging from timelessly cheeky end-of-the-pier stuff like Jessica Connell's striptease (in which disembodied hands reach in from behind a shimmer curtain, raise her into the air and gradually undress her) to the nuclear-strength display of masculine beauty that Jarred Dewey delivers on the trapeze.

You know what? Jarred Dewey is so impressive in this show that he deserves his own paragraph. That's not to say that anyone else in the company isn't great, but he's got some intangible star quality that makes his solo performances magnetic. When he writhes about up in the air he looks inhumanly serpentine - like something you'd expect to see in an X-Men movie than on stage in front of your eyes. I'm like, not un-fit, but I'm vaguely in awe of the guy and seeing him made me make a mental promise to lift heavier weights more frequently and do a bit of yoga.

The only real low points are the hoop and juggling acts - criticisms I admit are entirely subjective on my part. I've seen a thousand hula-hoop acts over the years and they all seem fairly similar to one another. The one moment where the hoop performances become interesting is when one comes apart and swishes across the stage like a big plastic whip, having to be quickly exchanged for a more structurally sound hoop. And the juggling? Well, it's juggling. The most interesting part was when a dropped ball rolled over to me and I threw it back up onto the stage.

Wobbles aside, Peepshow is a supremely confident hour of circus that achieves its goals with style and ease. The performers manage to be both superhumanly talented and approachably charismatic. It sounds good, it looks great and you can sense the blood, sweat and tears that have been shed to make this all look so effortless.

Circa: Peepshow is at the Underbelly on the South Bank until August 27th. Tickets here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Review: 'The Tempest' at St Paul's Church, 26th June 2018

Wednesday, June 27, 2018 - by londoncitynights · - 0 Comments

Reviewed by David James
Rating: 4 Stars

There are few lovelier places to spend a balmy summer's evening than the beautifully cultivated garden that is St Paul's Churchyard. Situated smack dab in the middle of the West End bustle, the venue is an oasis of greenery and peace (well, relatively speaking considering the neighbourhood) that has been a prime venue for outdoor theatre for many years. 

The garden's many qualities were on display last night during Iris Theatre's promenade production of The Tempest. Taking place over a variety of outdoor stages (and later inside the Church itself) the show quickly envelops the audience in its outlandish, comic, yet also innately profound events.

 Despite the promenade staging, Iris Theatre's production is by the book - less an interpretation of the text and more a translation with authenticity to the play's historical roots. What that basically means is that it includes all my favourite things about good Shakespeare: older actors booming out portentous speeches; the satisfying to-and-fro between the sacred and the profane that serves up dick and fart gags cheek alongside noble soliloquys about the nature of reality; and the surreal thrill of laughing along with a joke that's somehow still funny 400 years after it was written.

All this is performed by a cast that doesn't put a foot wrong. Jamie Newall's Prospero radiates intelligence and confidence, a man comfortable in his own skin happy to be the smartest guy in the room. In the closing scene, he gazes out at the audience and exclaims "O brave new world, that has such people in 't!" Given that Prospero is generally understood as an analogue for Shakespeare, Newall's piercing delivery makes the line feel like a message through the generations to us.

Similarly great are Paul Brendan and Reginald Evans' Trinculo and Stephano. The pair spend much of the play getting rat-arsed, blundering about the magical island like they're on a pub crawl. Both compliment the others sweaty, staggering elasticity - bringing a bit of Rik Mayall and Adrian Edmondson's Bottom to the Bard of Avon. 

Also great is Prince Plockey's Caliban, upon which the play finds a bit of political meat to chew. Caliban is essentially the archetypal 'monstrous' native (it's theorised his name is a reference to 'Cariban' - the term for indigenous Caribbean people in the 17th century). Though there's a long tradition of black actors taking the role, it's still a incredibly charged image when he's introduced in chains as Prospero's slave.  Later, when Prospero says, "this thing of darkness I acknowledge mine" it also feels nervously, intentionally awkward.

 Much has been written about the colonialism inherent in The Tempest, with Prospero as the European coloniser and Caliban and Ariel representing rebellious and servile members of the indigenous population. Iris Theatre's production doesn't tackle this head-on, but visually aligning Caliban's situation with the history of African slavery in the Caribbean gives a bit of bite to the production, underlined by Plockey's sincere, committed performance. 

Anyhow, like I said nobody's bad here (and I have to give a shout-out to Joanne Thomson's super thirsty Miranda), but the undisputed star of the night is Charlotte Christensen's Ariel. She sings! She acts! She dances! She plays multiple instruments! If you'd have tossed a couple of eggs onto the stage she'd probably make a world-class souffle! Clad in a striking outfit that makes her look a bit like a Restoration-era David Bowie, she comes across as genuinely otherworldly - living up to her billing as an air spirit in temporary human form.

I'm not kidding when I say there is literally no moment in this production where Christensen isn't kicking ass - even when she's waiting in the wings she's observing proceedings with an unnerving curiosity. At one point in the show she transforms into a malevolent harpy to terrorise Caliban, Trinculo and Stephano - her costume is an elaborate feathered affair with gigantic wings and this, in combination with her iron grip on her body language, makes for a jaw-dropping visual.

By the time Prospero (and by extension Shakespeare himself) is bidding us farewell and asking us to release him through our applause, the sun had set, night was beginning to creep in and there was a chill in the breeze blowing through the shaded garden.  High above the philosophical musings of the elderly sorcerer,  bats were wheeling and circling, occasionally illuminated by the crimson tang of the stage lights. It was a moving sight to cap off a very memorable evening, cementing Iris Theatre's The Tempest as one of the most satisfying ways to spend an evening in London this summer.

The Tempest is at St Paul's Church until 28 July. Tickets here.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Review: 'James Cook: The Voyages' & 'Windrush: Songs in a Strange Land' at the British Library, 20th June 2018

Thursday, June 21, 2018 - by londoncitynights · - 0 Comments

On 26th August 1768, Captain James Cook departed Plymouth aboard HMS Endeavour with the stated objective of observing the Transit of Venus from Tahiti (thus helping determine Earth's distance from the sun), together with a more confidential mission to search the south Pacific for Terra Australis Incognita - the mysterious unknown southern continent. By the time he returned in July 1771 he had redrawn the globe, charting the eastern coast of Australia and New Zealand and had had first contact with multiple indigenous peoples.

The British Library's James Cook: The Voyages displays a wealth of documents, sketches, and artefacts from this first voyage and two subsequent ones to Antarctic waters and his doomed quest for the fabled North-West passage from the Pacific to the Atlantic. 

From the British perspective, these were courageous ventures into a savage land, with Cook's scientific explorations a gateway to the commercial expansion of the Empire. For the indigenous peoples, Cook's boot landing on their shores marks the beginning of their racial, economic and cultural subjugation and exploitation under colonial rule, the consequences of which still reverberate today. 

The exhibition leans into this dichotomy, subverting every bit of patriotic swashbuckling with representatives of the cultures explaining how their ancestors dealt with Cook's arrival. Its impossible to conclude whether Cook's voyages were a net good or evil, with perhaps the best summary being a Maori historian who shrugs with resignation: "It happened". 

As you travel through the various rooms you find yourself weighing up the morality of Cook. Even if you walk in armed with the knowledge of the consequences of colonialism, it's easy to feel an exhilarating Boy's Own call to adventure when you look at an unfinished map of the world with 'Parts Unknown' in the distant corners. Similarly, when you get into the nitty-gritty logistics of the expedition - the navigational methods, keeping the crew alive, methods of communicating with distant peoples and the sheer distance travelled - you begin to understand the scale of what these men set out to achieve.

The emotional heart of the exhibition is a series of sketches and drawings created on these voyages - their impact amplified by the fact that most of these artists died before returning home. An obvious highlight is Sydney Parkinson's tentative sketch of a 'kangooroo', in which you sense how important the artist knew it was to get the details right to communicate this surreal animal to audiences back in Britain. 

Then there are the careful profiles of the facial tattoos of Maori warriors. First contact was violent and relations were uneasy, but there's a respect baked into the artist's precise lines - as if they recognised a reflection of their own martial discipline in this alien culture.

Dramatic paintings from the second voyage by William Hodges also thrill, particularly a fantastically widescreen 'Cinerama' view of Polynesian war canoes on display. They look like science fiction apparitions, scenes that wouldn't look out of place in Moebius' L'Incal. Later paintings of the ships dwarfed by icebergs in the Atlantic make the ship look as if it has breached a strange unknown dimension, a little wooden husk of civilisation bobbing between uncontrollable cosmic forces.

It's easy to get swept up in this romance, but the careful layering in of the consequences of Cook's actions means we're never in danger of hagiography. By the time we get to his death at the hands of a Hawaiian tribe he appears to have waged a pointless war on, it feels like a fitting end to his story.

But, functioning almost as an extended epilogue, the neighbouring exhibition Windrush: Songs in a Strange Land continues some of the themes of The Voyages. We get a quick recap of British slavery, emancipation and Empire in the Caribbean, the historical forces that brought HMT Empire Windrush to Britain with 800 Jamaican passengers hoping for work. It was neither the first nor the last of these trips, but for some reason, it is this arrival that has lodged firmly in the British consciousness (and is obviously extremely timely right now).

What's on display closes a historical circle:  Britain ventures out into the world, exploits and commercialises its resources and peoples, builds an Empire on which the sun never sets, and begins a process of transforming people into mirrors of British values. Of course, cultural cross-pollination was also happening, with Britishness changing to accommodate its new  Imperial citizens - beautifully symbolised by the exhibits showing Caribbean culture in Britain.

It's often said we live in the age of identity politics - if that is true then we need to not only understand what our identity is, but the ways in which it has and will continue to evolve. These two exhibitions let us sip at the primordial soup of the modern Britishness: showing not only how we changed the world, but how it changed us. It's a sentiment beautifully summarised in Michel Tuffery's Cookie in the Cook Islands, imagining Captain Cook transformed by his explorations, with Polynesian features and flowers in his hair.

Captain Cook: The Voyages is open until 27 August. Windrush: Songs in a Strange Land is open until October 21st. Details here.

Thanks to Crafted Media for the invitation.

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