Christmas in my heart?

What: A Christmas Carol, adapted from the novel by Charles Dickens

Who: The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC)

Where: Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon

When: December 2017

How can you go wrong with “A Christmas Carol” at Christmastime? The most famous of Charles Dickens’ five major Christmas novellas, well-loved by the nation and the Western world at large. Well, somehow the RSC have managed to make a mess of it all.

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A (Nut) Cracker for Christmas

What: The Nutcracker

Who: Saltmine Trust

Where: Ravenscourt Arts, Hammersmith, London

When: 14th December 2017

This Christmas was Ravenscourt Arts’ 4th annual Christmas production and its most difficult to organise – simply because it was put into the theatre’s calendar very late and, because of that late organisation, then trying fill up the house for a free show for children when schools had so much already organised proved rather difficult, meaning a half full house. This for a show that deserved so much more but fortunately a heart-full of humour made this production a huge success.

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Better a Witty Fool, Than a Foolish Wit

What: Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare

Where: Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon

Who: Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC)

When: 9th November 2017

Who is the central character in William Shakespeare‘s Twelfth Night? In modern times it is very evident that Malvolio is regarded in this way. I’m not so sure that this should be seen as the case. The Malvolio story is one of a number of sub-plots in the story. In truth, I don’t think there is a central character. More than any other Shakespeare play it is an ensemble piece and it is at its best when three or four of the cast are on the stage together and playing off each other.

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Steely Dan – Still a Power House

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Who: Steely Dan

What: The Bluesfest 2017

Where: o2, London

When: 29th October 2017

There is no way of not making mention of the absence in the line-up this week of what Donald Fagen referred to as the Steely Dan Organisation. Steely Dan from their very beginnings have been essentially a duo surrounded by other musicians. One half of that pair, the peerless Walter Becker passed away on the 3rd of September this year. Donald Fagen immediately announced his intention to continue to celebrate the songs he had composed with Mr Becker by continuing to perform with the current group of musicians who have become the Steely Dan band.

After having to cancel a series of solo dates with his own band, The Nightflyers, Mr Fagen has not been slow to keep that promise, meeting all of the Dan gigs that were already booked and if tonight was anything to judge by there is great, great potential for the future.

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Rockin’ Down the Highway

Who: The Doobie Brothers

What: BluesFest 2017

Where: o2 arena, Greenwich, London

When: 29th October 2017

Well, okay, it is a rather predictable title for a Doobie Brothers live review but I’m not going to be too hard on my self. After all, the Doobie Brothers are still, after all these years, most definitely rocking and they are on their way around Europe again so there is some travelling to be done.

The last time I saw the Doobie Brothers was on the very same night (29th October) 7 years ago, when they visited my home neighbourhood of Hammersmith. Tonight, it is a bigger show and they share billing with Steely Dan which was in my estimation a sublime coupling and I wasn’t wrong in my estimate.

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The New York Yankees in September – The Pitchers (2017)

Including 1st October (End of regular season)

The Yankees’ pitching has been amazing in 2017. Every time someone under-performed, someone else stepped up to fill the gap. When Aroldis Chapman lost his way, it just happened that Dellin Betances was on form. When Betances struggled, Chapman regained his form. Adam Warren injured? Chad Green pitches phenomenally to fill the gap. Masahiro Tanaka not quite up to the ace billing? Then here’s Severino doing everything as a starter he couldn’t do in 2016 and CC Sabathia doing more than his aging limbs should allow. Let’s look at the whole picture

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Corn for the rich men only: with these shreds

What: Coriolanus by William Shakespeare

Who: The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC)

Where: The Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-Upon-Avon

When: October 2017

Coriolanus is, in its full form, the second longest play in Shakespeare’s canon. Performed in its entirety it would take up four hours or more of your life. Here at the RSC, it takes 2 hours and forty minutes – three hours if you include the break in the middle for ice cream.

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