Wednesday, 18 November 2015

LETTERS OF NOTE: Shelagh Delaney


My second Letter of Note piece this week concerns one of the major talents of 20th century British theatre: Shelagh Delaney, the Salford-born playwright behind A Taste of Honey, one of the lynchpins of the British New Wave.
Born in 1938, Delaney was just 18 years old when she wrote the work that would become her masterpiece. In the same year that John Osborne's Look Back in Anger broke the boundaries and created the concept of "angry young men", Delaney's A Taste of Honey was shedding light on the myriad social injustices that could befall young women in British society. In 1958, the play was first produced by Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop in London, opening to strong reviews and transferring from Stratford East to the West End. Delaney later adapted the play for the 1961 film directed by Tony Richardson, which also received positive reviews.
None of this would have come about if Delaney hadn't have had the confidence and self-belief to send her play to Littlewood, accompanied by a short but spirited letter which can be read in full here. By sheer coincidence, given my last post involving Mark Twain and typewriters, the letter was composed just two weeks after Delaney had first started using such an instrument.
If you want more information on the British New Wave, you can read my review of Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, which gave Albert Finney his first break. Alternatively I would strongly recommend this excerpt from Free Cinema, a documentary created by the brilliant Lindsay Anderson for ITV back in 1986. The ever-cantankerous director of If.... looks at some of the accomplishments of the British New Wave, including the work of his esteemed colleagues Karel Reisz and Tony Richardson. Enjoy!

Monday, 16 November 2015

LETTERS OF NOTE: Mark Twain on Typewriters


It's been a little while since I've done a blog about Letters of Note, Shaun Usher's excellent website about historic correspondence, and nigh on two years since I last posted about Mark Twain. So, in a pause from my NCTJ journalism exams this week, I thought it would be good to kill two birds with one stone, via the now antiquated medium of typewriters.
To people of my generation - especially those working in my profession - typewriters can often seem as ancient and obsolete as reel-to-reel tape recorders or record players. But there was a time, like all technology, when it was at the cutting edge and novelists who had once settled for pencils or fountain pens were having to adjust to this brave new world. In 1874, ten years before he published The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Twain was one such writer, wrestling with the ins and outs of his "new-fangled writing machine".
The first letter that Twain wrote on his new Remington No. 1 typewriter was to his brother, Orion. It can be read in full here, with a multitude of spelling and formatting errors which Twain's novels are thankfully without. But Twain persevered, and in 1883 he became the first person to write his memoirs, Life on the Mississippi, entirely on a typewriter.

For more gems from Letters of Note, or to order copies of the Letters of Note books, visit Shaun's website here. You can also check out my Blog Spot that I created about Shaun Usher's work here, and click here for more things Mark Twain.


Wednesday, 4 November 2015

DRAMA: Fifty Shades of Grey (2015)


Fifty Shades of Grey (USA, 2015)
Directed by Sam Taylor-Johnson
Starring Dakota Johnson, Jamie Dornan, Eloise Mumford, Jennifer Ehle

It's hard to think of another film in recent times which has caused more headaches for film fans than Fifty Shades of Grey. Long before its release, cruelly and cynically timed for Valentine's Day, the internet was flooded with more casting rumours, whingeing fans and craven speculation about how raunchy it would be than you would get at a decade's worth of ComicCons. In a frighteningly short space of time, E. L. James' trilogy has become all-pervasive in our culture: it's been embraced, over-indulged, parodied and run into the ground in everything from greetings cards to books about sheds.
As film fans, we always strive to wade through the Augean stables of ill-deserved reputation. While many in the media are content to wallow in meaningless hype, we aspire to rise above it and approach any given offering with a refreshing dose of perspective. We may not always be the rivers that can wash away all the filth from said stables, but you'd be surprised what a few little streams can achieve. In the case of Fifty Shades of Grey, the biggest surprise is not how far it goes; on the contrary, the film's biggest problem is that, both narratively and sexually, it's pretty tame.
Before we dive into the sexual politics of the film, it is worth addressing the reputation of the film within a wider context. An awful lot has been written about the book and the film purporting to encourage or condone abuse towards women, something which can never and should never be excused for the sake of entertainment. The concerns of campaigners like Natalie Collins, who say that the film "romanticised and celebrated" domestic violence, should be taken seriously; we should not try to devalue or demean real victims of abuse just because their life experience doesn't gel with our attitude towards a piece of media. Equally, however, it is possible to have a positive experience of the film while being mindful of these concerns, as well as noting those voices, like star Dakota Johnson, who believe that there is an emphasis within the story on consent and empowerment.
People I have encountered who have read the book (including my fiancee) have led me to believe that Anastasia enjoys more agency in the source material than is immediately evident on screen. They hold that there are more sequences of her saying no to Christian without it resulting in punishment, with more emphasis being on the boundaries put in place by mutual consent. This suggests that Fifty Shades of Grey primarily fails because it is a poor adaptation rather than anything else; certainly the final scene between our two protagonists is bizarrely cut short. But considering the unintentional hilarity that results from much of the dialogue and its delivery, I have a hard time believing that the book is a masterpiece by comparison.
As with many films which tread the fine line between erotic drama and straight-up pornography, Fifty Shades of Grey wants to market itself on the raunchiness of its sex scenes - and like most of these kinds of films, it comes up short. Whatever is described in the book, the fact that these kinds of scenes generated such a furore is more a damning indictment of how prudish our society remains than anything else. The sex scenes in Basic Instinct or even Goldeneye are steamier than anything here, and in most cases they are better written too. there is nothing that James attempts here that wasn't handled a hundred times better years earlier by the likes of D. H. Lawrence and Anais Nin.
No matter what the trailers would have you believe, there isn't a great deal in Fifty Shades of Grey which merited it being seen as a top-end 18 certificate. Notwithstanding the false advertising on the part of the studio, it is good that the film is at least trying to focus on drama and character development, rather than just knitting together a series of sex scenes with pointless dialogue. But all the scenes where flesh is present are shot all too tastefully, with little full frontal nudity or associated swearing. Far be it from me to demand more flesh on screen in a culture already sexualised to the hilt, but if a film claiming to be this risqué can be passed uncut, then it's clearly not worthy of its reputation.
Another big Hollywood problem which lumbers the film is its lack of understanding regarding how S&M relationships work. Hollywood has consistently misunderstood the dynamic of S&M, believing that the sadist's job is to beat the living shit out of the masochist, while the masochist just takes the pain and does what they are told regardless of whether they benefit. The reality is that the submissive partner is always in control, whether through safe words or pre-arranged routines, and the pleasure is more mutual and evenly spread. To this extent, the film does rob Anastasia of some agency; we get the contract scene, but too few other examples of her exerting the influence which she technically possesses.
Because of both its relatively tame sex scenes and its lack of S&M knowledge, the film fails to be a meaningful or compelling examination of sex and its role in relationships. In my review of The Look of Love, I said "it is possible to make a film which will arouse an audience in more ways than one, provided that said arousal is supported by a discussion of the issues that surround it." But instead of using its reputation or characters as a means to discuss sexual issues, the film just sits there, giving us more of the same for an hour and a half without a clear sense of direction to its action. This is to The Look of Love what The Da Vinci Code was to The Ninth Gate: well-meaning incompetence, rather than active contempt.
Much has been made of the fact that this film, unlike Basic Instinct or other erotic films of note, was scripted and directed by women. Sam Taylor-Johnson's debut feature Nowhere Boy had a lot of interesting features, and screenwriter Kelly Marcel did a great job on Saving Mr. Banks. But while it's interesting from an industrial standpoint, the film doesn't consciously reflect the talent behind it; it still feels like a film made by a committee who were both afraid of hurting the fans and coy about the subject matter.
Despite Marcel's good work elsewhere, the script for Fifty Shades of Grey is downright risible. Some lines are laugh-out-loud poor, such as Ana asking "What are buttplugs?" during the negotiation. But most of the time the dialogue is laughable because of how inept and dull it makes the story. Both Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan are clearly trying to make something out of a script which gives them precious little in terms of character construction and little development outside of the bedroom. But even then they seem awkward and lacking chemistry, with all of Johnson's lines being delivered in a irritatingly breathy whisper and Dornan being inconsistent in his temper and charisma.
One aspect of Fifty Shades of Grey which hasn't been so widely discussed is its relationship to vampire fiction. The fact that James' work started out as Twilight fan fiction has been picked up by many wanting to make a cheap joke about its quality, or lack thereof. But the connections run much deeper than this, with both the book and the film having unintentional undertones which tie them very strongly to Dracula.
Both Bram Stoker's magnum opus and Taylor-Johnson's film have exactly the same character dynamic: a rich aristocrat or other wealthy figure who preys upon poor, vulnerable and virginal women in awe of him, cementing a bond which costs both parties. Fifty Shades of Grey seems unaware of this comparison, but because it fails to properly depict a balance of power between the characters, these similarities do come to the fore. The references to Thomas Hardy are also very telling; Tess of the d'Urbervilles uses a similar dynamic of the rich, cynical, urban man having his wicked way with the simple, rural woman in both a literal and metaphorical rape of the countryside. Suffice to say, Taylor-Johnson doesn't attempt any detailed analysis of this, and the film lacks the political depth that Paul Morrissey achieved on Andy Warhol's Dracula.
With all of this taking into account, you have to give Taylor-Johnson credit for what she has managed to salvage. The film still looks very sleek, with a cold metallic quality nicely contrasted by all the exterior shots full of foliage. The soundtrack is pretty good too, though Annie Lennox's rendition of 'I Put A Spell On You' is far more spellbindingly memorable than Ellie Goulding's contribution. Most importantly, Taylor-Johnson strives to keep the characters central to the action; even if the performances are not the most convincing, we always get the impression that this is a film about people and not entirely about sex.
Fifty Shades of Grey is a surprisingly tame and somewhat disappointing adaptation which neither delivers when it needs to nor turns out to be so-bad-it's-good. Taylor-Johnson strives to keep the characters central and tease out development and intrigue where she can, but she's fighting a losing battle against poor dialogue, flat performances and a peculiar coyness about the subject matter. Whatever happens with the sequels, this remains a sub-par effort which doesn't linger long after viewing.


NEXT REVIEW: The Day After Tomorrow (2004)

Thursday, 29 October 2015

UNDERRATED: Inkheart (2008)


Inkheart (Germany/ UK/ USA, 2008)
Directed by Iain Softley
Starring Brendan Fraser, Eliza Bennett, Paul Bettany, Helen Mirren

Iain Softley has to be one of the most underappreciated directors working today. His films span multiple genres and have featured many of Hollywood's most bankable stars, from Angelina Jolie and Helena Bonham Carter to Kevin Spacey and John Hurt. But notwithstanding the cult status which Hackers now enjoys, his films have consistently underperformed at the box office, with much lesser films taking the limelight away from his often sterling efforts. 
Inkheart follows this somewhat depressing pattern, being a family fantasy film with a bankable star which failed to set the world alight when it was first released. The film was steamrollered at the December box office by Bedtime Stories, a Disney film with a similar premise run into the ground through lazy scripting and a typically poor turn by Adam Sandler. Revisiting Inkheart nearly seven years later, it has its fair share of problems, but also sweeps you along with wonder and invention in a way that Sandler could never conceive.
One of the most important things that any fantasy story must do is to have confidence in its own identity. Fantasy hinges so strongly on creating a special, all-enveloping world into which an audience can enter, and to achieve this properly there is no room for being self-conscious or half-hearted. It's still possible for a fantasy film to be snarky or satirical, along the lines of Shrek or The Princess Bride, but both of these films still go through a lengthy process of world-building, even as they send up the bricks and mortar they are using to build.
On top of everything else, Inkheart succeeds over Bedtime Stories because it isn't afraid to be earnest and dive in head first. Bedtime Stories constantly got cold feet, feeling the need to pull back to Sandler to dimly remind the audience that everything they were seeing was artificial and therefore not worth caring about. Inkheart rejects this approach, asking its audience to accept a lot of fantasy iconography (and a few leaps in logic) and be swept along over the course of its running time. Comparing the two is like choosing between a slow, pedestrian stroll and an occasionally bumpy ride on a magic carpet.
Having established its confidence credentials early on, Inkheart then attempts to tackle one of the oldest tropes in fantasy fiction: characters from the fictional world coming to life in the real world. Not only is this one of the oldest characteristics of the genre, it is also one of the most overdone and often most lazily executed, whether in animated children's fare like The Pagemaster or horror films like Stay Alive. The blurring of fantasy and reality is such a staple of these kinds of stories that any film that seeks to play it completely straight must bring something very special to the table.
As before, Inkheart comes up trumps by virtue of its own self-confidence. A lesser film would have devoted a lot more time to explaining very specifically the mechanics of silver tongues, in a way that may have made sense but would have been less engaging from a dramatic standpoint. Inkheart opens with this fascinating concept and uses it as one of the film's foundations, asking us to build upon it for the rest of the running time. Crucially, it keeps an element of mystery to Brendan Fraser's condition while still putting limitations on his power, ensuring that the film neither shows its hand too soon nor descends into nothing but rule-breaking and improvisation.
By centring its plot on a man who can literally bring pages of a book to life, Inkheart achieves the rare feat of being a film about literature which is actually quite cinematic. Writing or reading is not the most interesting activity to watch on film; it's very hard to convey the creative process without going overboard with multimedia (along the lines of Howl) or slipping into well-behaved tedium (Bright Star). Normally such an earnest approach to a subject matter could make the film unintentially hilarious; it would sound like the Monty Python writers' sketch without the irony. But Inkheart pulls it off, creating a memorable paean to reading which is also a really fun ride.
The film conveys its theme about the power of reading and imagination in two distinct ways. The first way, at the beginning of the film, focusses on the intricate craftsmanship of the written word, including the visual artistry of a given book. The scenes of Mo and his daughter searching through the dusty bookshop for a copy of Inkheart reflect both the physicality of literature and its bespoke nature - qualities which our digitally homogenous culture is in danger of losing forever. The search for Inkheart is like a more uplifting version of Roman Polanski's The Ninth Gate, but without the outright contempt for the audience's intelligence.
The second stylistic decision that Inkheart employs lies in how its visual world is rendered. Like Christopher Nolan, Softley was very keen to do as many of the special effects as possible using old-fashioned mechanical techniques, again ensuring that artists' creativity would be on show in a bespoke manner. On the one hand, this gives the film more of a grounded feel, again preventing the fantasy world  from feeling adlibbed; on the other hand, it prevents the film from feeling generic, avoiding visual similarities with something like the Harry Potter films which rely much more on digital effects. Coincidentally, most of the CG effects shots are provided by Double Negative, who would later work on Nolan's Inception.
With all of this hard work in place, Inkheart steadily builds into a pretty detailed examination of the pressures of creativity and how it can be exploited for evil ends. Again, we are in very familiar territory; there are dozens of films in which a protagonist struggles to control a gift or power bestowed upon them. But rather than focus on the plight of Mo on a small scale, as most coming-of-age films would do, Softley puts the issue on a big stage, creating stakes which are huge and yet intimately tied to the characters.
One of the reasons why this works so well is the casting of Brendan Fraser. Ever since the success of The Mummy and its sequels, Fraser has appeared in a whole range of films in which he often seems unwilling to be there. Like Bruce Willis, it's relatively easy to read how committed to a given project he is, with both actors losing a lot of energy and coming over as more needlessly acerbic when their heart isn't in it. Here, however, any discomfort that Fraser had about the project actually plays into the hands of the character; it makes all the awkwardness and reluctance surrounding his power all the more palpable. It may even be his best all-round performance since the far-too-little-seen The Passion of Darkly Noon.
Fraser is well complimented by the cast that surrounds him, with Softley continuing his knack for spot-on casting. Andy Serkis has played villains and thugs on numerous occasions, but he still brings a bespoke quality to Capricorn, and his impulsive, ruthless streak plays off Fraser's lethargy very nicely. Helen Mirren is increasingly becoming pigeonholed as a somewhat bitchy pensioner who kicks arse (see Red 2, for instance), but here her sardonic qualities make for welcome comic relief. And Paul Bettany remains as watchable as ever, bringing a weight and desperation to Dustfinger which keeps the plot moving (watch out, too, for a brief appearance by his real-life wife Jennifer Connelly).
For everything that Inkheart gets right, it is somewhat blighted by a couple of flaws. The first involves its plot, which in spite of everything feels convoluted and derivative in places. David Lindsay-Abaire has a mixed record as a screenwriter, having previously penned Rabbit Hole (both for stage and screen) as well as Robots and Oz the Great and Powerful. It's clear that fantasy isn't his natural game, and at times he wrestles unsuccessfully to make the story rise above all the references to other works.
The second problem with the film is one which it shares with the opening act of Stardust: the story and action often doesn't feel 'big' enough to be on the big screen. The storytelling style of Inkheart is undoubtedly cinematic, and yet the early action and quirky production values lend themselves just as much to television. Like Stardust the film eventually gets into its stride and begins to justify itself much more adequately, but things do begin in a manner which doesn't instill a lot of confidence.
Inkheart is a very solid and underrated family fantasy which makes the best use of its cast and is entertaining throughout. Despite being partially hamstrung by its script and style of storytelling, it raises a lot of interesting issues about creativity and imagination, engaging an audience with both brains and spectacle. Ultimately it's neither the most original nor the most compelling fantasy film ever made, but it certainly didn't deserve to be quite so overlooked.


NEXT REVIEW: Fifty Shades of Grey (2015)

Wednesday, 7 October 2015

FIVE STAR FILM: The Imitation Game (2014)


The Imitation Game (UK/ USA, 2014)
Directed by Morten Tyldum
Starring Benedict Cumberbatch, Keira Knightley, Matthew Goode, Rory Kinnear 

IMDb Top 250: #223 (7/10/15)

In my review of The Great Gatsby, I said that director Baz Luhrmann "has always been more interested in drawing comparisons between different themes and cultures than he has ever been in historical fidelity." Luhrmann often went out of his way to suggest parallels between our world and the Roaring Twenties, whether in his contemporary soundtrack choices or the speeds at which Gatsby's car could travel. 
We approach a similar dilemma with The Imitation Game. It differs from Luhrmann's film due to its basis in historical characters, and if viewed narrowly as a biopic, it definitely has some issues. But if we look beyond the familiar beats of Oscar-bait films, seeing this as less of a portrait than a lens through which to view something else, the film gracefully and poignantly vaults over all its hurdles and emerges as one of the very best of the year. 
The Imitation Game certainly does raise the question of whether historical accuracy should come before dramatic tension. There are clearly many examples in Hollywood where embellishment for the sake of dramatic effect has gone too far, often for no good reason except to make America look good - think of U-571 or Pearl Harbour in recent memory. And it's not just Hollywood that falls into this trap; as much as I praised The Impossible, I still had reservations about the way it potentially marginalised the indigenous victims of the Boxing Day tsunami.
If The Imitation Game had proclaimed itself to be a documentary or a docudrama, then many of the criticisms made about its accuracy would carry more weight. Speaking purely as an historian, it is frustrating that Joan Clarke's means of joining the team is made more fantastical, or that Alan Turing's machine wasn't called Christopher, or that Commander Denniston becomes more of a villain than his relatives claim. But to obsess over these details to the point of rejecting the film entirely is to misunderstand the true intentions of the filmmakers.
Screenwriter Graham Moore, who won an Oscar for his efforts, said repeatedly in interviews that he wanted to "honour" Turing's work and memory. The criticisms that the film glosses over the character's homosexuality are very misleading: drawing attention to his sexuality over and above anything else would be much more of an insult than completely ignoring it. But more than that, these and similar criticisms miss what Moore and director Morten Tyldum were trying to do: rather than faithfully reprint every part of Turing's life, they wanted to use his work as a springboard into complex themes and ideas.
An equally helpful, if unusual, point of comparison would be with Apocalypse Now. I said in my now-antiquated review that, from a coldly rational standpoint, there are many aspects of Francis Ford Coppola's epic which are problematic; it's overly long, over-indulgent, Marlon Brando is poorly directed, a lot of the characters aren't properly developed, and it contains one scene of actual animal cruelty. But in spite of all these things, the film is a masterpiece because it explains the horrors of the Vietnam War in a profound and powerfully visceral manner. 
What The Imitation Game does so brilliantly is to take Turing's extraordinary achievements and use them as a foundation for a compelling and ultimately tragic examination of secrecy. The title refers not only to Turing's famous test around artificial intelligence, but also to the lies which those working at Bletchley Park are forced to live in order to do their work and save people's lives. The film is a great examination of the ethical problems of lying to protect people, and how secrecy and denial can eat away and destroy a person's very self.
Perhaps the best scene in the entire film comes immediately after the team have cracked Enigma. After the cheers and tears have subsided, it suddenly dawns on the group that they cannot share their discovery with the outside world; if the Germans find out they have broken the code, they will adopt a new code and all the codebreakers' efforts will have been in vain. In order to protect their discovery, they have to withhold information and still let some ships be sunk. In a split second abstract mathematics becomes the reality of human lives, and we are shattered just as much as the characters.
This scene also illuminates the skill of Moore and Tyldum as filmmakers. In a more overtly Hollywood effort, the film would have climaxed with Turing's Eureka moment, before flashing forward to the end of the war and everyone going home. But like A Beautiful Mind before it, The Imitation Game tempers its triumphs with the frailty of human emotion. It adds conditions and consequences to the brilliant achievements of Turing and his team, and it has the confidence (unlike Ron Howard's film) to end on a deeply bittersweet note.
Secrecy and deception follow Turing throughout his life. His relationship with Christopher becomes so strong because he doesn't have to pretend to be anyone else when they are together. Christopher's death gives birth to the adult Turing, who is constantly having to pretend to be someone else, covering up not just his sexuality but his innermost feelings, and projecting an image of distance or aloofness. Turing never celebrates his contribution to the war effort because his triumph is balanced by his inner conflict, and his advances in computing could be interpreted as him atoning for his own flaws. In trying to make machines think, and think faster than humans, he is subtly showing his hand about his own feelings of inadequacy.
For all the skill of Moore's script, precious little of this nuance would have come out without Benedict Cumberbatch. From the first second you see him, you instantly accept him as Turing; the physical resemblance is palpable, and there is an intriguing sadness in his eyes which demands your attention. He inhabits Turing, shrinking into his every pecular foible and tic, and lacking any of the self-consciously showy nature of many 'awards worthy' performances. It solidifies his reputation (as if such a thing were necessary) as one of the most consistently arresting actors of our age.
One of the other pleasant surprises about The Imitation Game is its playful side. When Turing states bluntly to Joan Clarke what they are going to be doing, Clarke pauses and then simply says: "Oh." Many similar period dramas would have overegged the British stiff upper lip, reducing all the intrigue and high stakes to a mere comedy of manners. But this film has fun with the more rigid social mores of the 1940s, and Keira Knightley does a very good job with the scenes she is given.
On top of all that, The Imitation Game looks glorious. Tyldum proved in Headhunters that he can utilise shadows and composition to create tension, and here he directs with a steady and thoughtful hand, allowing things to unfold at a pace which is neither rushed nor ponderous. He is ably assisted by cinematographer Óscar Faura, who shot The Impossible alongside genre hits like The Orphanage and Julia's Eyes. The period details are immaculately captured, particularly the dark greens and browns of Bletchley Park and the stiff, starchy white of the men's shirts. As before, it never goes overboard with the period detail, but everything still looks and feels as it should. 
The Imitation Game is a striking and stunning film which uses Alan Turing's achievements as a starting point for a detailed and heartbreaking examination of secrecy, ethics and human nature. For all the arguments about the film's resemblance to the real-life story, Tyldum's creative decisions pay off in spades, resulting in a beautifully mounted, well-told drama which is at turns distressing, thought-provoking and heartbreaking. It remains one of the best films of 2014, as well as an essential and compelling piece of cinema. 


For more on Keira Knightley check out my WhatCulture! article on her career here.

NEXT REVIEW: Inkheart (2008)

Monday, 28 September 2015

Riding Lights: Baked Alaska


It's been about three months since I last touched base about Riding Lights Theatre Company, and they've been very busy in the meantime. Having put another successful Summer Theatre School to bed, they're now heading out of their Yorkshire confines out into the wider UK for another tour - Baked Alaska.
Embedded image permalink
Co-written by the company's artistic director and all-round swell guy Paul Burbridge, Baked Alaska is a sharp and entertaining drama about humanity and the extent of climate change. Bringing together stories from different countries and continents, the show effortlessly drifts from Biblical times to modern-day Bangladesh, encompassing scientists, oil barons, protestors and prophets in a struggle for power, the planet and the soul.
I'm guilty of being very slow out of the blocks with this one; normally I like to promote a tour way before it's started, but in this case the company are already on the road, and will be coming to a church or other venue near you very soon. In any case, Baked Alaska is a show that you really can't afford to miss - even (or especially) if you're not a fully paid up member of Greenpeace. It continues the Riding Lights tradition of marrying humour and pathos to create a show which is bold, memorable and spiritually provocative. If you've been put off in the past by the likes of Ferngully, Avatar or An Inconvenient Truth, this could be just the alternative you've been looking for.
The full list of tour dates for Baked Alaska can be found here. If you live in the South West, as I do, you can catch the show in Gillingham on October 9th, Exeter on October 10th, Truro on October 12th or Frome on October 13th. Tickets cost £12 for adults or £9 for concessions, and can be booked via the link above or by calling the Riding Lights box office on 01904 613000. If you need any further persuading, I advise you to check out the trailer below - but beware its insanely catchy tune...