Midsummer at Soho Theatre is billed not as a musical but "A Play With Songs". How does that work? you wonder. The answer is, brilliantly. A lyrical & erotic story of a lost weekend, a comedy of manic manners, and a mesmeric, moving, metaphor for that extraordinary process we call falling in love. Written by David Greig and Gordon McIntyre, events unfold at an exhilarating pace veering from breathless physicality to tender reflection: moving, funny, unexpected, delightful - 2 hours of theatrical magic enhanced by genius casting: Cora Bissett as the disillusioned divorce lawyer with a penchant for rom com and recklessness, and Matthew Pidgeon as the small-time crook who'd rather be busking, can melt your heart from their first words.
Which incidentally are sung:
Love will break your heart...
but sometimes you want it to...
... and like the parking machine says, change is possible. Contagious midsummer madness that sends you out into the winter night with a luminous smile.
Luke Wright's Petty Concerns turn out to be difficulties around balancing slight conceit with overweening insecurity. His hour-long solo show features 7 poems - all new - among the rapid rueful reminiscences. From the scatter-gun self-assault to the painstaking trawling through Google for disparaging comments by others, this is an ego stripped bare. More than poetry, more than stand-up, his performance has the audience rocking with laughter while showing us humanity as scathingly as Eliot's Prufrock. "The best thing I've seen since.... ever!" said my friend Roger as we left The Old Red Lion Theatre where Luke's foppish buffoon act finishes this week - catch it on tour if you can.
Another reason for my London visit was the annual-ish reunion with two writer friends, both of whom have a book launch very soon: for Christine Coleman, her new novel Paper Lanterns, and for Roger Jinkinson a biography of the Kevin Andrews, another Hellenic travel writer. Roger's Tales from a Greek Island is about to hit Greek bookshops too.
Chris was one of my Plinthathon supporters last July, so we included Trafalgar Square in our itinerary, and found the One-and-Other space now occupied by Air Chief Marshall Sir Keith Park, GCB, KBE, MC, DFC, DCL. So, the idea of breaking the monopoly of militaristic men in the heart of London has melted like a dropped lollypop in the fountains. It's a dreadful statue, too.
Current affairs corner: Christopher Reid is the surprise winner of the Costa Book of the Year for A Scattering. Asked how he planned to spend the £30,000 prize money, he said "as frivolously as I can", which is also surprising since his collection of elegies was reviewed as "understated, elliptical, glowing with restrained passion."
And finally: "Boy when you're dead, they really fix you up. I hope to hell when I do die somebody has the sense to just dump me in the river or something," says Holden Caulfield. No chance of that for his creator. Newspapers this weekend bulge with images of J D Salinger, all movie-star-eyes in his youth and wild-eyed recluse in his old age, together with analyses of his works and his womanising.
The curse of immortality again...