The Did It List: Reviews Round-up #2
We told you what to do – and here’s what we did.
Read on for mini-reviews of Amelie The Musical, 1917, Halo Burger Shoreditch & more!
We kicked off our 2020 with a trip to see Amelie The Musical (★★★★½ | The Other Palace | 29 November 2019 – 1 February 2020).
It’s hard to think of a better start to the year – a cold January evening warmed by the genuine heart of this faithful stage adaptation.
Fans of the film need not fear a lousy rehash – great effort has clearly been taken to maintain the enigmatic, quirky and irresistible charms of Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s 2001 classic, now with addition of spot-on songs performed by on-stage actor-musicians.
Audrey Brisson is perfect as the titular Amelie, and the rest of the cast lend faultless support.
It won’t change your life, for but for one night leave all your cynicism at the door and bathe in better version of the world!
When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s Japes (★★★★★ | 22-25 Dean Street, W1D 3RY).
Deep – and we mean DEEP – pan pizza doesn’t come much better than this, in London at least. A trip to Japes on Dean Street will set you back significantly less than flights to Chicago, and will blow any recent Pizza Express visits out of the water!
There are some pretty epic topping combos to choose from, including the amazing Wild Vegan: wild mushrooms, vegan mozzarella, tomato sauce, courgette, red onion, fresh rocket & dried cranberries. But you can keep things simple too, adding toppings of your choice (including Blue cheese, halloumi, buggala mozzarella or anchovies) to a classic Margherita.
Whichever way you go, don’t be fooled into thinking you could eat two – one will leave you rolling out of the door ready to explode. Good job it’s super tasty!
No festive season is complete without a good panto, and Goldilocks and the Three Bears (★★★★ | The London Palladium | 7 December 2019 – 12 January 2020) continued the Palladium’s run of amazing Christmas shows!
The cast is an embarrassment of riches – most pantos in the UK with give anything for just one of Paul O’Grady, Matt Baker, Nigel Havers or Gary Wilmot as a Dame, a Wicked Witch, Buttons or the Fairy Godmother. The Palladium pitches them all together, with Julian Clary as the icing on the cake. The only casting weakness here is with the women – in the past, stars like Elaine Paige have given the boys a run for their money, but Janine Duvitski, Sophie Isaacs and Lauren Stroud instead mostly play second fiddle.
Goldilocks is pretty basic as panto storylines go – you need about five minutes to cover the whole plot – which leaves a good couple of hours for some classic panto schtick. Clary deploys some oldie-but-goodie double entendres, and makes his way through about a dozen costume changes (each more outrageous than the last), while Wilmot gives magnificent dame. O’Grady gamely sticks with a German-scouse accent throughout as the panto baddie, and Matt Baker even shows off some of his impressive acrobatic skills. It’s the pinnacle of panto to which all others aspire but maybe next time they should spread some of the talent around.
The frontrunner for Best Picture glory at the Oscars this month, 1917 (★★★★) is a stunning piece of cinema – not total perfection, but still in an impressive achievement.
At time of writing, 1917 is gearing up for major adulation at the Academy Awards – at least two of the Best Picture, Best Director and Best Cinematography awards are likely heading its way (if you’re reading this after 9th February, be kind…).
It deserves the love – 1917 is a thrilling cinematic experience, which everyone should watch on the biggest screen possible. Prepare to be thoroughly immersed in the story of two young soldiers’ mission to journey through no man’s land to deliver an urgent message to advancing troops.
The much-hyped ‘gimmick’ – the appearance of being shot in one continuous take – may have hogged a lot of the headlines, but it results in a truly immersive, engaging experience. The tension ratchets up with each passing minute, despite the ill-considered trailers giving away the big final sequence.
As a piece of movie-making, and as a unique cinematic spectacle, 1917 deserves the awards and box office heading its way – just see it while you can, because the small screen will not do it any favours.
We made our annual winter pilgrimage to Winter Lights (★★★ | Canary Wharf | 16-25 January) to gawp at some pretty light installations.
We can’t say we were blown away this year – the law of diminishing returns seems to have set in, not least because many of the installations areturn year after year with decreasing impact.
That said, we loved the Instagram-friendly The Clew (see picture above), which – as with the best light installations – was to be explored as much as observed.
little-known fact is that we bloody love burgers! And, since we went veggie a couple of years back, places like the new Shoreditch branch of Halo Burger (★★★★ | 105 Great Eastern Street, EC2A 3JD) are our life-support!
Halo Burger have been serving up dirty-good plant-based burgers at Pop Brixton for a while now, and have just launched this East London outpost near Old Street tube.
The Beyond Burger patty is apparently on its fourth iteration – only absolute dedicated burger aficionados will notice the difference between version 3.0 and the new 4.0. But that’s not the point – what Halo excel at is recreating the 2am burger after one pint too many experience. They’ve got it all just right – the patty, the relish, the gherkin, the processed cheese. If you’re off meat and miss that fast-food burger of your dreams, this is it!
Perhaps our favourite Thai restaurant in London, Kinkao (★★★★★ | 8-42 St Davids Square, E14 3WA) is well worth a walk through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel to Island Gardens (DLR available if you’re feeling less adventurous).
We’ll take any excuse to head (just) North of the river to Kinkao, and a family celebration took us there in mid-January. We’ve been visiting since before we went veggie/pescie, and it’s still just as good now we’re not bothering the land animals!
For a group of 10, we chose a set menu which left us absolutely full to the brim! You can’t go wrong with a mixed starter of satay vegetables, vegetables spring rolls, sweet corn cakes, vegetables tempura and deep fried tofu, nor with a fragrant Tom Kha soup prepared with coconut milk, mushrooms, lemon grass, galangal and chilli.
For mains, we loaded up on a selection of tofu & vegetable curries, stir fry’s, noodles and rice – to the point where we could barely move. The problem with such tasty food is that you can’t possibly leave any uneaten!
We popped in to Mercato Metropolitano (★★★★| 42 Newington Causeway, SE1 6DR) for some quick-n-tasty food & drink…
With some time to fill before our trip to The Cinema Museum (below), we met for a tasty Salted Caramel, Chocolate & Milk Stout at Mercato Metropolitano’s German Kraft bar, before gorging on super-tasty street food.
The Founders Without Borders stall was hosting Authentic Uzbek Street Food, where we tucked into a plate of amazing Vegetable Manti’s (dumplings). And while one of us wolfed down an obligatory pizza, the other was shovelling in a mightily impressive spicy prawn noodle dish from the Pad Thai House.
Fully fuelled on tasty food, we rounded off our January with some queer cinema courtesy of Fringe! presents: Zero Patience (★★★½ | The Cinema Museum | 28 January).
To be honest, the main picture – Zero Patience – is a bit of a curate’s egg of a film, perhaps one to see so you can say you’ve seen it. The highlight of the night, however, was a screening director John Greyson’s 1990 short The Making Of Monsters – a spoof behind the scenes documentary of the making of a made-for-TV musical directed by Bertolt Brecht (in fish form). It has to be seen to be believed!
January, you weren’t ALL bad!
Occasionally the To Do List team are forced to work together.
Rupert likes: free, cheap & offbeat London, especially: cabaret, art, theatre, pop-ups, eating out, quirky films, museums, day trips, social enterprise & much more.
Stuart likes: nice pubs, film marathons, not doing real marathons, bad comedy, plays/musicals with shorter second halves, and the Oxford comma.