Music, murder and mousetraps

I was doing a spot of washing up while waiting for a friend to get back to me, put the radio on, Elaine Paige was just starting a tribute to Angela Lansbury, good timing! Ah, Miss Eglantine Price was singing about The Age of Not Believing and I sang along with her, all the words still tucked away in my head, I loved that song so much! Bedknobs and Broomsticks, a favourite film from my calfhood, just one part of a varied and illustrious career. Another generation of kids loved her as Mrs Potts the singing teapot in Beauty and The Beast; then just a few years ago she was the Balloon Lady in Mary Poppins Returns (three thoroughly wonderful films that should be seen, no matter what age you claim to be).

Of course, many will mainly know Angela Lansbury for playing Jessica Fletcher in Murder She Wrote on the telly, a role that won her many awards. Elaine, of course, was looking back at Angela’s career in musicals that spanned many years, likewise she returned to theatre work regularly (I would have loved to have seen her in Blithe Spirit as Madame Arcati). My, she kept herself busy! A great lady who obviously enjoyed life, there was always that little twinkle in her eye, I bet she was every bit as lovely as she came across. There’s one final film performance still to come in Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery (just a cameo), out at Christmas, I’ll look forward to seeing it.

And that brings me neatly on to cinema news – the Edinburgh Filmhouse is no more!! The charity that runs the Edinburgh Filmhouse, the Belmont cinema in Aberdeen and the Edinburgh International Film Festival has called in administrators. Like, what?! I didn’t see that coming. They say it was a perfect storm of rising costs and the lasting impacts from the Covid pandemic, many in the entertainment and cultural sector are in for a bumpy ride, there will be more closures for sure. I didn’t go to see anything at the EIFF this year, nothing appealed enough to me, but I do hope it comes back next year (just not in August, I’m busy).

Last week I did get to see See How They Run, a film that is so Wes Anderson but actually isn’t (with smidgens of Edgar Wright). My friend who I mentioned earlier is off to London next weekend and will be seeing The Mousetrap, I’ve recommended him to watch See How They Run. I thoroughly enjoyed it, the whole cast are excellent and the dialogue is so sharp and funny, so many little clever quips and references. It’s a murder mystery comedy set in London 1953, opening with the afterparty for the 100th performance of The Mousetrap when the director of a potential film adaptation is murdered, dur dur durrrr.

Fun facts, the film rights for The Mousetrap were indeed optioned by the film producer John Woolf and there was a clause that the film could not be made until six months after the run was over – haha, sixty years on and still going strong; also, Agatha Christie was inspired by a real life case when writing it. The plentiful use of splitscreens and flashbacks keep things moving fast, you have to pay attention, everything’s important, but don’t jump to conclusions, leave that to the overenthusiatic Constable Stalker played brilliantly by Saoirse Ronan (for me she is definitely the star of the show).

Its very late again and I promised myself an early night, well, I was up very very late last night because Bad Times at The El Royale came on the telly. I shall away to my bed, but I’ll just mention there’s a wee bit of excitement over in Logan’s Close, things are afoot. I promise I’ll share the news with you tomorrow, or you could check it out for yourself on their website, Facebook or Instagram!

Nighty night, sweet dreams!

A Poster Is Not The Show

See what I did there? I’ve heard it said that the songs in Mary Poppins Returns aren’t memorable – poppycock! Ok, so I don’t remember the words much but I often find myself humming them, even whistling them on occasion (when did whistling tunes go out of style?)  Anyways, the song A Cover Is Not The Book has been making Jeremy Lion, a bygone Fringe performer, pop into my head. Why? Because I judged and made presumptions about Mr Lion from the poster.

And here it is in all it’s glory!

2019-02-18 23.11.30Nothing about this poster appealed to me, not even the Perrier Best Newcomer bit – we hadn’t always seen eye-to-eye Pez and I about what funny actually is. This was 2003, the year of God Inc. the only show Bud and I had ever walked out of at that point, and not just because it was running an hour late!! The show we caught after God Inc was thankfully also running late, but it really wasn’t up to much and hadn’t been worth our mad dash to catch it. We’d also had the pain of watching April in Paris (see A Cautionary Tale), I was in no mood to waste more money on a dubious poster!

2019-02-18-23.23.15The following year Mr Lion returned with a new show; The Guardian described it as “Play School meets Hellraiser”. Actually on that description I’m surprised we didn’t give it a punt!

Looking at the posters again now, they are perfect for the show they were advertising; all the colours and tones have an old-fashioned, yester year feel. It’s the 50s and 60s and Butlins again (I do have vague memories of Butlins holidays as a young calf!) He’s the children’s entertainer who wants to be anything but that, but he keeps going with what he thinks is entertaining (and educational) with the aid of the odd drink or two or three or ……

So when he returned yet again in 2005 with Jeremy Lion – What’s the Time, Mr Lion? Bud and I decided we should give him a go, after all, three years in he must be doing something right! Even then we bought tickets for 241 Monday, 18:25 in Pleasance Beyond (by’eck I’ve seen an awful lot of shows in that hut over the years,  worth a post of its own at some point). OMG!!! One of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen to this day! So good we saw it twice, both immediately having agreed that we had to see the show on the last day to check if he was still alive!! Surely no-one could drink that copiously through an entire month and live to tell the tale?! We debated long into the evenings how much may not have been actual alcohol but decided he really was drinking that much, wow. We drank plenty ourselves at the time but even we would have been under the table against old Lion! And the belching – he could have done a masterclass, such was his talent. It wasn’t just about the drinking and the belching though, it was a brilliantly conceived, written and performed show. Total Fringe. We both felt thoroughly miffed with ourselves that we’d poo-pooed his previous shows.

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Did he come back again? He reappeared in 2010 moving over to the other Pleasance presence the Dome. It had taken five years to have sobered up and now be looking back fondly thinking what fun to do it again. Mind in those five years he’d got older, could the liver take such punishment again? He now had the very enchanting Lucy Porter as a wife and a child on the way (she was at show we went to, looking very pregnant). Ah, she’s married to Justin Edwards, Jeremy’s alter-ego, I’m not sure there’d be many takers to be Mrs Lion. He’d obviously taken time to reflect on life, the world, the times, and so his final Fringe show was Jeremy Lion Goes Green, an environmentally-aware show, which as usual with Lion went awry with arguments with his pianist, daft props and, of course, drinking. We did murmur to each other that he wasn’t drinking as much, until, to quote from my Fringe diary “Finding bottles of Malibu in his bit of the desert was the start of the end and the finale was a marvellous rendition of Ten Green Bottles that he decided should be ten empty bottles to recycle – so he drank a lot of them.” I notice I said “a lot” rather than “the lot”, well, the mother of his child was looking on 😆

 

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