Comus - a Masque in Honour of Chastity

Shakespeare’s Globe

Lucy Bailey directs a typically raucous adaptation of John Milton’s 1634 masque in praise of chastity, written for and originally performed by the Bridgwater family as an assertion of their moral right to govern Wales (yes, really). Virginal Lady Alice is menaced in a wood by Bacchus’s lusty son and must fall back on divine intervention rather than her wet younger brothers. Patrick Barlow supplies a framing prologue and feminist epilogue to make the play’s doggerel moralising - and jokes about ravishment - palatable. Emma Curtis and Danny Lee Wynter are an insipid Alice and Comus amid the rackety comedy, but it’s an engaging curiosity. Just what the Globe should be doing.

The Savoy Hotel


I was the first journalist into the Savoy after its refurbishment in 2010. Not quite ‘first into Goose Green’ or ‘last chopper from Saigon’ but still. I love the place and have stayed twice (if I’d sublet the suites I’d been comped, I could have bought a car). I love the way it slopes downhill, the mix of deco and Edwardian, the way it squanders its river views. During the refurb they found the rear wall holding the balconies was merely suspended from the roof. Love that, even more than the famous guests and the lore of Basil the cat. The Savoy proves that great hotels are never planned; they evolve.

All the angels: Handel and the first Messiah

Shakespeare's Globe

Handel’s Messiah, that transcendent work, began in a Chester pub, moved to a Dublin music hall, its star an actress with a scandalous past and its composer stricken by failing health and professional disaster. This is the grist of Nick Drake’s play, in which the music and the story work rather better than the script and performances. David Horovitch grumps Germanically around as Handel, the character of the doorkeeper/graverobber Crazy Crow is an awkward chorus, and Kelly Price is stiff as the wronged and shamed Susannah Cibber. But boy can she sing, and the music, as always in the Wanamaker Playhouse, takes flight.

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