Share this page on

blue Status blue (Level 3/10)

iainc

iainc

No member profile available. The person you are looking for is no longer a Ciao member.

Reviews written

since 17/02/2003

35

Disneyland, Paris, Paris 10/09/2007

Disney quite do it for me...

Disneyland, Paris, Paris UPDATED - September 2007 --------------- --------------- ---------- Please note that this review constitutes the opinion of the reviewer. Disagreeing with this opinion does not make the review invalid or unhelpful). We visited again this summer to take our 9 month old daughter for a bit of Disney Magic. Sadly not much had improved since our last visit. A top tip would be don't visit on August Bank Holiday - it was very busy (French holiday as well). It remains however, that Disneyland Paris is not as well managed, looked after or as well run as Florida. Smoking is still permitted just about everywhere (a useful phrase for queues is "pardon monsieur / madame, mais il est ecrit dans la signe, defense de fumer, c'est pas gentil"). Queuing is very badly organised with lots of cutting in. Even the Character Dinner suffered from parents allowing their children to mob the characters, rather than waiting for them to come to their table. Another handy phrase - "Monseiur/ Madame, vous avez coupe la ligne. La ligne est ici.". Shouting it quite loundly in French works well as the staff will usually back you up and explain to the ignorant person in their own language (often italian) that they are required to queue up with the rest. Information is also badly managed. Crunch's coaster broke down after 45 minutes of queuing but no information passed to the queue for another 45 minutes (at which point the attraction was closed). New for the winter is Candleabration - you can ...

Jerry Springer The Opera, London 30/11/2004

Dip me in chocolate...

Jerry Springer The Opera, London “This is my Jerry Springer Moment, I don't want this moment to die so dip me in chocolate and throw me to the lesbians I don't want this moment to die” An anthem for our times, this verse sums up for me what Jerry Springer the Opera is all about. I went to see this show a few weeks ago, on a wet Monday night, on some half-price tickets from TKTS and I am so glad that I did. This is probably one of the cleverest original pieces of Musical Theatre / Operetta / Opera of all time. JSTO has a rich score which cleverly contrasts musical theatre with Opera and which challenges the audience to think about the world of Springer, the world of television and why these programmes are successful. It challenges our values, our morals and asks where we will end up. Alternatively, it’s also a demonstration that it’s really funny to have opera singers swearing and being rude. --------------- ---------- Synopsis & Analysis --------------- ---------- The show has a very clear framework. In Act 1, we watch an entire Jerry Springer show, as a member of the audience would see it at the studio. The show actually starts while the audience take their seats, as the Security team take their places at the head of the aisles in the Stalls. The overture is the arrival of the guests – typical redneck Americans out for blood. We are then introduced to the warm-up man. Of course, he isn’t very good and the audience isn’t very happy with him. They want “Jerry”. We are almost ...

The Woman in White, London 24/11/2004

The Woman who wails

The Woman in White, London Well, I decided to treat my wife to a visit to Lloyd-Weber’s latest “epic” – the “Woman in White” last night which was an interesting but sadly disappointing experience. Having seen a few of his previous shows – Cats, Starlight Express, Joseph, Phantom, Sunset Boulevard, I had thought that the quality was improving, and his shows are usually entertaining if nothing else, so I was looking forward to a pleasant evening and forked out for 2 top price tickets. Quel erreur! Based on the novel by Wilkie Collins, the show is supposed to be a mysterious, suspenseful psychological thriller, which the press quotes would have you believe is a well written masterpiece full of lush romantic melodies. To be fair – one should always ignore the press quotes though. For example the quotes from the Telegraph are:- 1) "Big, lush romantic melodies" from this sentence:- “It therefore gives me no pleasure at all to report that The Woman in White is a terrible disappointment. Yes, there are moments when Lloyd Webber comes up with the big, lush romantic melodies that are his forte, though these days they tend to sound alarmingly like retreads of his own earlier work. The composer once accused of plagiarising others now seems content to plagiarise himself.” 2) "Maria Friedman is a great musical actress" now finish the sentence… “Maria Friedman is a great musical actress who seems doomed to appear in second-rate shows.” And… 3) "Michael Crawford..undeniably ...

10 Best Musicals 23/11/2004

Iain's 10 best, worst and most wanted...

10 Best Musicals 10 Best Musicals. I just found the topic, and as I’m a compulsive Musical Theatre fan and reviewer, I couldn’t help but look at the other reviews and offer up my own top 10. Actually two top 10’s. As well as the best, I have also taken the liberty of listing the worst, and the shows I’d most like to see. Before launching into the list though, I think that this is quite a subjective topic, as it really depends what your definition of Musical Theatre and what makes a good musical is… In my opinion, Musical Theatre is best defined as a dramatic presentation where the medium of song is used to enhance the drama, and where the song is essential to the dramatic understanding of the piece. If you can take the songs out and still understand the show, it isn’t musical theatre. Good musical theatre pieces have memorable and moving songs which come naturally (to a degree) from the characters on the stage. The best pieces use music on several levels, to define characters, to change the perception of the characters or perception of their dialogue and to fold a show into a contiguous whole. Good musical theatre takes the audience on a journey and keeps them enrapt in the plot without boring them. Finally, the very best musical theatre makes comment on social or political situations and attempts to educate the audience or at least make them think as well as entertain them. Bad Musical Theatre in my opinion is where the composer has put in songs for the sake of it, where the ...

B&Q Flatpack Kitchens 08/09/2004

You can do it if you B&Q it - just not quickly.

B&Q Flatpack Kitchens B&Q Kitchens Dear readers… you are about to embark on a terrifying journey… the terrible story of one man, one kitchen, and an awful lot of hassle… --------------- --- Introduction --------------- --- B&Q make kitchens. So do Homebase, Ikea etc. My wife and I decided to purchase a kitchen at B&Q as, after working out what units we wanted and what we would need, it worked out at the cheapest deal. We decided to do-it-ourselves. This is HUGELY less expensive than an installed Kitchen, but of course much more difficult to do. In fact hugely more difficult if you use B&Q. Why? Because you have to order exactly the right things, and because lots of information is inadequate or just plain wrong. And they don’t plan on making it easy for you… --------------- --- Styles --------------- --- B&Q carry around 20 different styles of kitchen, 3 of which you can buy off the shelf (and which are fairly nasty) and between 5 and 10 of which are usually on “special offer”. The range is good, and there is a wide variety in the pricing from relatively cheap but durable laminate doors to expensive solid wood doors. We chose Modern Cherry, an order only Kitchen, which was 50% off. ----------- Planning ----------- The most important first step in buying a B&Q kitchen (or any kitchen) is planning. I cannot emphasis this enough. Measure the walls of the kitchen and decide how far you want units. Then it’s down to the boring job of deciding which units to put where. B&Q ...

B&Q Flooring 05/02/2004

If at first you don't succeed

B&Q Flooring ---------- Update ---------- Well the floor has been down for some time now and I am very pleased with it. It's very easy to clean, even paint spills come off easily as long as you dont get stuff in the interlock. It seems to be wearing well, and it looks pretty good!! --------------- --------------- --------------- --------------- --- I bought a flat recently with my finaceé and am presently in the process of turning it into a mini palace. Having done the ceiling, the coving, the rubbing down, the ripping up, the filling in, the knocking down of walls and building of new ones (with a little help from future pa-in-law) it was time to approach the floor. Now, we had intended to go for laminate, and we discovered that B&Q had a new product, "Floormaster Loc laminate flooring" which was REALLY CHEAP. Only £11.99 per pack. Darn good value when everything else was in the £20-£30 league. We got underlay and 8 boxes of the stuff and took it home. There was still lots to do, so the laminate sat there acclimatising and being flat until it became time for laying. --------------- ---- The process --------------- ---- Floormaster Loc Laminate is a glueless floating laminate floor. This means that it slots together with a minimum of effort. Apparently. Now we had already decided on new skirting board and removed the old stuff from the walls so all we had to do was the laying - wall to wall. An expansion gap of 5-10mm is required around the edge of ...

The Ritz, London 27/01/2004

Tea for 32?

The Ritz, London This review pertains only to that quintessential London dining experience known only as "Tea at the Ritz". So if you want to know all about the hotel - you're reading the wrong review!! Tea at the Ritz is a dining experience best experienced with someone else. Take your wife, spouse, fiancee, girlfriend, mother, granny, husband, boyfriend, partner, or granddad (but not your pet gerbil), and they will enjoy one of London's most unique dining experiences. --------------- --- The Location --------------- --- The Ritz is to be found in the St James area of Central London, adjacent to Picadilly. The tube station of choice is Green Park and the Ritz is a very short walk from the station. Tea is taken in the Palm Court at the Ritz hotel. Lest you be uncertain of the route from the side entrance to the Ritz (which is now the main entrance) there are plenty of staff willing and able to direct you through the lobby. The hotel is elegance itself in Louis XVI style, and you will enjoy looking at the fine jewellery on offer and counting the zeros attached to the price tags. As you walk into the palm court area the decor changes subtly. The palm court has a mirrored wall behind, and a glass ceiling from which elegant chandeliers are suspended. The central area is raised and you climb polished marble steps and pass between two huge marble columns as the maitre d'table shows you to your place. The are is bright and open, with Louis XVI furniture (which is surprisingly ...

Thoroughly Modern Millie, London 26/01/2004

Thoroughly bland

Thoroughly Modern Millie, London Thoroughly Modern Millie is a musical stage adaptation of the film musical of the same name. Currently playing in London's West End, it won 6 tonys and 4 drama desk awards on Broadway before opening in the Shaftesbury Theatre. -------------- The Plot -------------- Set in the roaring twenties, Millie (Amanda Holden) is a country girl who wants to make it big in the city. Her intended method of doing this is to marry a millionaire (in a rather Breakfast at Tiffanysesque manner). She arrives in New York and runs into Jimmy, a young gentleman of questionable reputation and indeterminate employment. He tells her to check into a boarding house for aspiring actresses which is run by Mrs Meers (Maureen Lipman) who is an American conwoman badly disguised as a Chinese madam. She is in the business of selling aspiring young actresses into slavery in Hong Kong. She has two comedy assistants who speak only Cantonese. Millie gets a job as a Stenographer to a Trevor, a millionaire businessman, but keeps meeting Jimmy for elicity partying and of course, falls in love with him. Especially when he takes her to Miss Mussy Van Hosmeer's private party. Mussy becomes another one of Millies friends. The romance sets up a dilemma though - should she still try and marry Trevor or should she continue romancing Jimmy? The problem is solved when she brings her best friend, Miss Dorothy to the office - and Trevor falls instantly in love. Miss Dorothy disappears and Trevor, ...

Pacific Overtures, London 21/10/2003

It's all over

Pacific Overtures, London I thought I would write this review at some point before the show closed in the West End, but in the event I did not get to see it until the final week. However, I thought it still merited a review, and thus... here it is! Written by Stephen Sondheim with a book by John Weidman, the show looks at the way in which Japan was forced to leave a self-imposed seclusion from the world and westernise its ways in the face of increasing commerce and world exploration. The play is narrated by the Reciter and serves as a fascinating history lesson as we follow the fate of Kayama Yesaemon a minor samurai, and Manjiro a young man who returns from America, where he has studied to warn the Kingdom of Nippon that American Warships are on their way. He is received as a prisoner. The warship arrives and panic breaks out in Nippon. Kayama is elevated by the Shogun to Chief of Police and is sent out to tell the warships to go away. He returns home to say goodbye to his wife Tamate, and sets out, sure that he will die. He talks to the warship and asks the Americans to leave. They do not, and insist on speaking to the Emperor. Kayama persuades the Shogun (who is the voice of the Emperor)that anyone could go out to meet the ship, dressed in regal costume. Manjiro is called from the cells and dressed up, as he has extensive experience of the Americans. They visit, but return with the message that Commodore Perry will come ashore and present a formal treaty in 6 days, or "blow ...

We Will Rock You, London 15/09/2003

How to get away with murder...

We Will Rock You, London Hmmm, an interesting review to write... Let me start by saying that this show is a huge amount of fun, and very entertaining. OK? I *did* enjoy the show! BUT... It is also the biggest pile of rubbish I have seen on the West End Stage since I saw a Heather Brothers Musical (which are also quite successful, but awful!). Ben Elton demonstrates in this show that he has absolutely no idea how to write for musical theatre. The whole plot is a weakly linked contrivance to permit the use of as many Queen hits as possible. Where he succeeds is in the scenes himself. Each scene is nicely crafted, and the dialogue is witty and entertaining. A great deal is Elton one-liners, but the characters do build up (apart from the lead character Galileo Figaro who is so thinly written, you could be forgiven for forgetting his existance at times). -------- The Plot -------- It is 300 odd years in the future (very odd years), and all musical instruments and free improvisation has been banned. The only music permitted is that of manufactured digital bands. This is referred to as the Ga-Ga music. Anyone trying to be individual, or demonstrating rebellious behaviour is captured and reprogrammed by Globalsoft Corporation. Those who are captured include our hero, Galileo Figaro, who hears strange words in his head which belong to ancient song lyrics, an aging Hippie (Nigel Planer) called Pop,and a neurotic goth style girl who does not posess a name that I remember, but is given ...

Bertorelli's, London 23/07/2003

What customer service SHOULD be like!

Bertorelli's, London I thought I'd review Bertorelli as I have been to two different branches in the last week. Bertorelli is a chain restaurant in the same group as Chez Gerard and Livebait. As you may have guessed from the name (and the section this review is in), Bertorelli specialises in italian / meditarrenian cuisine. The first Bertorelli I visited was on Frith Street, as it was convenient for the Gielgud theatre which we were visiting afterward. I made reservations although it was quite apparent that there was really no need once we arrived there. I suspect that the restaurant is busier on weekends and later in the evening. The frith street restaurant is very much continental café style downstairs, although there is a more formal restaurant upstairs. We weren't asked about going upstairs, and I presume that the first floor is only opened when the place is busier. The atmosphere was great however, and the customer service prompt and friendly. We ordered red wine. The first bottle we were served tasted corked, but our waitress immediately removed the bottle and replaced it. Complimentary bread sticks are given to each table (which are very moreish indeed - we easily consumed them all!!). I ordered had a rather pleasant pizza and my finaceé ordered an omlette. As we waited, the restaurant did fill up a little bit, but the meals did appear to be taking a long time. Just as I was about to ask however, the manager came over to our table and apologised that the chef had ...

Calamity Jane, London 23/07/2003

Yehaaaaaa - no deadwood here!

Calamity Jane, London Wow! - probably the best way that I can describe this rip-roaring production of Calamity Jane. Starring Toyah Wilcox, this is one of the highest energy productions I have seen for a long time. It is also a show which touched me with a little sadness. Why? Because in the programme, they felt the need to put in a little card asking the audience to invite their friends to come at a special offer price. If ever there was an indication that audience numbers are dwindling, this was it. So - GET OFF YOUR DERRIERES AND BUY TICKETS! If you want musicals to see, you must get out there and see them - and this show is one worthy of full houses every night, not half empty theatres. --------- The Story --------- The story follows Calamity Jane (Toyah) as she tries to help out Henry Miller who mistakenly books an actor instead of an actress to play at his saloon. She tells everyone she'll get Adelaide Adams, the famous star, and sets out for Chicago to get her. Of course, she makes an error and comes back with Adelaide's maid, Katie. Katie is soon welcomed by Deadwood, and then its romance time, as everyone falls in love with everyone else. Calmity falls in love with Lieutenant Danny Martin and Wild Bill Hickock, despite her tomboyish go-get-em dishevelled appearence and love of action and tall stories. Meanwile Danny and Bill are falling for Katie The songs include The Deadwood Stage and The Black Hills of Dakota, tunes familiar to quite a few people if ...

Tell Me On a Sunday , London 07/07/2003

Tell me when it's finished...

Tell Me On a Sunday , London "and clear..." "try again doctor..." "charge... and clear..." No - not dialogue from Casualty, but the sound of Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Don Black trying to give CPR to this one act show. ------------ Some History ------------ Tell me on a Sunday started off as a concept album, music by Lloyd-Webber and lyrics by Don Black. Lloyd-Webber had also written Variations on Paganini's Caprice in A Minor. After writing the songs, they decided they wanted to stage the album as a show. The problem was it was too short. So, ALW dug out Variations and it was decided to set them as dance numbers. A two act show was born. The show ran for about 3 years in the West End - mostly off the back of the hype about ALWs other shows. The decision was then made to take the show to Broadway, and ALW decided it needed major revision if it was going to work in front of a decidedly more critical audience. He contacted Richard Maltby Jnr, and he agreed to revamp the show. Maltby cut out most of the more awful songs (I'm very you, you're very me; The last man in my life (which got stuck into Aspects of Love - I think; and a few others) and added some new ones - like Unexpected Song. The show was built around Bernadette Peters, and a very strong cast. This was fortunate, because Bernadette Peters was the only thing the critics liked about the show - and it ran for 2.5 years on Broadway as a result. --------------- Anyway - to the present day, and ALW decides to dust off the ...

Does Britain still need a monarchy? 24/06/2003

Rex Immortalis Est (sorry about the Latin)

Does Britain still need a monarchy? Does Britain still need a monarchy? An interesting question. I have enjoyed reading some of the opinions on this topic, but it surprised me that most of the focus is on the members of the Royal family rather than the constitutional, political and economic implications. The modern monarchy dates from the death of Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of the Commonweath and the Restoration of the Monarchy that followed, where Charles II agreed to rule, but in an arrangement which shared power with Parliament. Monarchy was restored primarily because no-one could think of a better way to establish who should be in absolute charge of the country. By power sharing, Parliament had power over the Monarch and vice versa which ensured a stable rule after many years of chaos. Power was shared because of the previous abuses of both Charles I and Oliver Cromwell who both used and dissolved parliament as they wished to achieve their own aims and ambitions, rather than for the good of the country - most of these ambitions were to do with control and religious persecution. Since that time, the monarch has retained the ceremonial duties of appointing a first minister to be his or her leader of parliament, and each year the monarch recalls Parliament into session, along with many other duties. Parliament in turn runs the country on behalf of the monarch. All Members of Parliament must swear allegiance to the monarch before they are allowed to sit in Parliament. This is important as ...

Magician - Raymond E. Feist 24/06/2003

Magical

Magician - Raymond E. Feist Magician is the first book in a series of books about the lands of Midkemia and Kelewan. Specifically it is the first of 3 books that make up "The Rift War Saga". There are two versions of the book available, as the book was revisited by the author and re-edited to restore material which the publishers had insisted on cutting for the first issue of the book (they felt it was too long, and had problems binding it because of the thickness of the book). In the USA, Magician is still released as two separate books. I read a lot of Fantasy and Sci-Fi books, and Magician has been a firm favourite that I have read and re-read many times. ------------ The Story ------------ Initially, the story concerns two young boys, Tomas and Pug, who live in a border castle at Crydee, an outpost of the Kingdom. Pug is an orphan, adopted by the Baron of the Keep, and Tomas is his best friend. They both dream of becoming soldiers and much of the early story is about the keep and their adventures. This all changes however with the appearance of a boat, on the rocks, which is discovered by Pug and Tomas. The boat is like nothing anyone has seen before, and contains strange men who speak a language not known on Midkemia. At the same time, the goblins and dark brothers (dark elves) are moving in large groups through the mountains near Crydee, and making more frequent attacks on outlying villages. Tomas is apprenticed to become a soldier, and Pug is apprenticed by Kulgan the Court ...
See more reviews Back to top