Tag Archives: Mark Gatiss

Coriolanus NTLive (Encore) Screening

Coriolanus is one of Shakespeare’s plays with which I was not previously familiar.  So in anticipation of this National Theatre Encore Screening, I made a point of reading the text.  I’ve discovered that when I’m not forced to read Shakespeare because I’m later being tested, I actually enjoy it!  Reading without the stress = a lovely time.

With thanks to some of the contemporary artists who are now making these plays more accessible to the lay-person (i.e. me!), and no doubt my (slightly) advanced age; I’m both interested and excited by both Shakespeare and literary prose.  It’s been a while since I was at school, and all I remember from back then was it taking forever to get through the text, and not understanding a word.  So my thanks goes to Joss Whedon (for Much Ado About Nothing), the BBC for The Hollow Crown and for the David Tennant version of Hamlet, Tom Hiddleston & Mark Gatiss (for being in this one!), and Benedict Cumberbatch for the latest production of Hamlet at the Barbican (I have tickets for later this month!).

I was intrigued to find out how relevant the story of Coriolanus is to us today.  Politics and politicians have been two-faced and back-stabbing for millennia, it seems.  So far, so obvious.

Coriolanus is a character who remains true to himself throughout the whole story.  He will not compromise for anything, nor anyone.  This is a sign of both his strength of character, his stubbornness, and ultimately causes his downfall.  Winning at war is very different from winning in politics.  You need very different skills.  Coriolanus will either learn to play this new game – or he will not.  Guess which outcome is more likely!

With such an epic story to tell, it was brilliant to see the extremely efficient use of space.  The Donmar Warehouse stage is very very small.  The audience is right on top of the action.  And for a certain scene, the fake blood was all over the audience! Which made me chuckle – because I was at the Leighton Buzzard Library Theatre watching a recording, not getting covered in it myself; but at the same time that scene was difficult to watch as Tom Hiddleston played the intense pain felt by Marcius from his injuries.

All in all, this was an excellent play.  Very well directed, brilliantly acted, and very cleverly constructed.  A round of applause to all who were involved.


SHERLOCKED – London ExCel 24-26 April

Wow, what an extremely busy weekend that was!  For two (and a half) days, the London ExCel Centre was inundated with deerstalkers, cosplay, and crowds of hundreds (thousands) of excited people.  Those marathon runners, who were also there on Friday and Saturday for their own registration, had no clue what was going on!  And when I wandered around the marathon exhibition on the Friday whilst waiting for the con’s doors to open, I looked so out of place! (but I didn’t care).

Here’s how I got on throughout the con; I attended on my own, and decided to get the train there and back each day (I’m only 40 mins outside London) rather than getting a hotel – because it was way cheaper.  This was also my first time buying a “Gold” ticket to any con or event.

Friday (preview evening):
I’m glad I came down for the Friday evening opening. I got my registration out of the way, and the venue wasn’t too busy once the doors opened at 6pm. All of the sets and exhibition pieces were up and ready, and we could leisurely walk around and take lots of photos of the props, clothing, and special effects. This meant that come Saturday I didn’t have to worry about missing out on these displays, I could concentrate on getting where I needed to be, hopefully on time! The Gold pass holders also received a “goody bag”with some lovely special edition art print, a Sherlocked event poster, some other art cards; and on Sat we also picked up the autographed pictures from Benedict Cumberbatch and Mark Gatiss (which hadn’t been sent through in advance). The Gold pass holders did get photo opportunities with the lead guests, but we didn’t get to have an in-person signed autograph (for that you had to buy either the “Platinum” or “VIP” tickets – which were out of my price range!).

Here’s a selection of the displays that were available (click to enlarge and display as a slideshow):

Well, Saturday was the first big day, and it certainly was big, and busy, and fun, and many other adjectives that I can’t currently think of! I was in autograph group C, with the Gold package, and I think I must have been quite lucky not to have a number much higher than 200 (I was 204!), so that when my number was “called” (so to speak) I hadn’t been waiting too long, and it therefore didn’t create too much of a problem with the clashes. I did miss the photo op with Una Stubbs on the Saturday, but I was able to go to the next timeslot on the Sunday. I would also have liked to have sat and listened to all of the talks, but in the end I attended the Benedict Cumberbatch talk (of course!), and the Andrew Scott talk; both of whom were kind, articulate, and gave heartfelt responses to the audiences’ questions.

Also, I must give a “shout-out” to my queue-buddy for the day, Anne-Marie – you know who you are! Thanks for keeping me company! ❤

Here’s a small selection of my photos from  Friday/Saturday, and my “loot” (click to enlarge, etc.):

Don’t be fooled by thinking that the Sunday would be any less busy than the Saturday for an event like this one… I was just as run off my feet, trying to fit everything in, as I was on Sat. During the one “free” moment in the afternoon, I managed to sit in to the talk by creators and writers Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss; who were immensely entertaining, and exuded intelligence and love of the subject of Sherlock Holmes, and gave some brilliant advice for prospecting writers:

(I’m paraphrasing from memory, but the gist is..)

Steven Moffat: “Each sentence that you are writing must always keep the reader anticipating the next. As long as the previous sentence makes you desperately want to read the next one, then you’re on the right track. This applies to dialogue, to exposition, or a descriptive piece. Keep the reader wanting more.”

That’s great advice, and I shall remember it, and try to adhere to it from now on. *goes to check back the content of this blog post* – I guess you’ll have to let me know if I’m keeping you interested..!

The rest of my time was spent running around trying to get all of the photos and signatures from my group allocation before my time was up. The only person I didn’t get a signature from, was Louise Brealey, but I’m not disappointed as I did get a photo with her the previous day. Louise seemed to want to spend a “good” amount of time with each of the fans, one by one (she gets points for that!), but consequently the queue was just moving too slow and I had to go and catch my train home! It’s fine, I managed to get to everything else I was supposed to do. The Gold pass included the photo on the Mycroft’s Office set, but I also wanted to sit in the 221B living room set – because, of course I did, so I paid extra for that (it wasn’t expensive, luckily). Sadly, I didn’t get a chance to enjoy the offerings from the “Second Stage”, but we could hear some of what was going on from our vantage points in the queues and it seemed like they were having just as much fun with the cosplay and podcast recording, as well as the fan-oriented talks and panels. Good job guys!

So here’s the final photo-set from Sunday’s activities:

Event Organisation Feedback:
What went well:
Generally speaking, I enjoyed my time immensely at the con, and along with the great atmosphere amongst the attendees, the volunteers and staff were all very friendly and helpful.  Once you got to the front of a photo queue, the process of clipping/collecting tickets, dropping off bags, and picking up the photos was (for the most part) efficiently handled.  The talks were well organised, and I liked the efficient use of the “paddles” so that the MC on stage could easily identify where the next question was coming from.  And best of all, the guests seemed genuinely pleased to see you and gave their time graciously to us crazy fanatics (OK, I’ll rephrase – we’re not crazy, we just know what we like and are PROUD to be involved in some small way).

What could be improved upon:
Whereas the front of the queue was efficiently handled, the back end of the queues could have been organised slightly better; for example, the queue zones were far too small for the number of people expected at any one time, and therefore the lines began to spill out into the main floor areas, and sometimes blocking walkways. The one guy operating the queuing “system” in Photo Area 1 gets a special mention, as he was trying his hardest to keep the eager fans in some sort of order! He also will likely need extra recuperation time for his sore throat – by the end of Sunday he could barely speak, poor thing! With the main guests in photo area 1, I think perhaps that rather than a single block of time allocated for you to just “turn up”, allocating 1/2 hour time-slots by ticket number beforehand would have given you an idea of the best time to start crowding around the general area, before being allowed actually in the queue. Also, if a person is forced to shout for 2 days, they should really have been provided a microphone or similar to reduce the strain.

An extra mention for those volunteers who were punching the holes in our plastic tickets all day long, they will all have RSI claims coming through next..

I purchased a Gold package for this event, because having considered all the fine-print for the various packages, I decided that this one gave the best value for money. Unfortunately, a large number of people must have come to the same decision as there appeared to be more Gold pass holders than I’ve ever seen before at a Showmasters-run con. Did they perhaps “over-sell” this particular package? For the autograph and photo op queues it seemed that the queuing process was very similar to the Collectormania cons and the “virtual queue” system, except that you’re number was pre-allocated. I wonder if anyone who just turned up for the day, managed to get anything signed?

The only other tiny niggle of the set-up was the colour scheme. Grey. Lots of grey. All the dividers were grey, the floor was grey, the signs were black and grey.. muted colours all-round. Except for the bus, which was red, of course! It’s only a small point, but once I got outside again, my eyes were assaulted by the onslaught of so much colour! Perhaps a cheery colour scheme, next time!?

All in all, I had an exhausting, but really good time at the con. The guests were lovely, the attendees were very lovely. I made some new friends, and twitter followers! And I came away not just with some nice pictures and other loot, but some great memories that I will treasure forever.

See you all at the next one!

Black Butterfly by Mark Gatiss

Black Butterfly (Lucifer Box, #3)Black Butterfly by Mark Gatiss

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A both amusing and fitting ending for our friend Lucifer Box. A few decades have transpired since the recounting of Lucifer’s last case. So many other cases and incidents are hinted at throughout the course of all three novels, that it feels as though we only ever scratch the surface of the escapades of our protagonist.

Several suspicious deaths of prominent and influential people, and the mysterious involvement of “le papillon noir”, or Black Butterfly, leads Lucifer once again into the field. He’s completely addicted to adventurous situations, both in his professional and personal life; only old age is beginning to get in the way. Until he discovers that his limitations are down to being only as old as you feel…

Mark Gatiss always delights with his colourful writing style. I very much enjoy his inventive character names, too many of which to recount, but just in this novel we have a gentleman with a stand-out name of “Kingdom Kum”! The fact that this book completes a trilogy that spans an enormous length of time, but only touching on three cases decades apart, leaves me wanting to know more. I’d love to read how Lucifer filled his time with other cases, and other personal encounters! I guess that’s the trick.. always leave them wanting more!

Format reviewed: Kindle ebook.

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2014 Review Plus My Favourite Things I Didn’t Write About

2014 was a great year for Movies and TV.  I got the chance to make a dent in my “To Read” pile, visited an exhibition or two, and I got to see Frankenstein NT Live Encore Screening at my local theatre.  Most importantly, I made a proper attempt to blog more regularly here!

Here’s a summary of my favourite posts from this past year, and some honourable mentions for other stuff that I have also enjoyed, but for whatever reason I didn’t actually write about!

My favourites from Existing Posts:

Only Lovers Left Alive
The Imitation Game
Frankenstein NT Live Encore Screening
Sherlock Holmes Exhibition at the Museum of London
For The Win by Cory Doctorow
The Vesuvius Club by Mark Gatiss


Honourable Mentions:

Hannibal Seasons 1 and 2
This show is deliciously dark!  Mads Mikkelson is a brilliant Hannibal Lecter.  Hugh Dancy is a slightly different take on Will Graham where he has a more intuitive insight into the mind of a killer based on his introspective social anxiety or Asperger’s type disorder.  Supported excellently by Laurence Fishburne, Caroline Dhavernas and a host of talented others.

Set before Hannibal is caught for being his own brand of serial killer, there are twists and turns aplenty in both the crime of the week, and the ongoing arc.  And if you’re a foodie, this show presents more than enough food-porn to whet your appetite.  Even when you know what they’re supposedly eating!

Both seasons 1 and 2 kept me enraptured, and I can’t wait for season 3.

Penny Dreadful Season 1
I was pleasantly surprised by this series.  Initially it sounded like the usual re-hash of old standard horror stories into a single show, which had the potential to devolve into a jumbled mess.  Actually, this show was well-staged, and the stories were cleverly intertwined.  Timothy Dalton and Eva Green brought an air of sophistication to some of the wilder moments.  And the fact that this show did not shy away from some pretty startling imagery and possession-induced bad language!  I’m eagerly anticipating the next season for more lovely tangled tales.

The Walking Dead Seasons 1 to 5
I’ve followed this show since it’s beginning, and although these later seasons seem to have slowed down a little, the main characters are still well worth watching.  Previous years have shown us that even the title characters are not guaranteed to get out of any situation alive.  The jeopardy started high and had remained so.  It’s not the zombie horde you have to worry about!

Breaking Bad Seasons 1 to 5
I am guilty, like many others I am sure, of mainlining this show from start to finish on Netflix.  I don’t think this has ever aired on UK television, and yet I know of many people who have sought it out after hearing about it through word of mouth, or from the good old internet!  If you haven’t heard of this show, you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years.  Just queue it up and watch it already!

Guardians of the Galaxy
One of the few movies actually worth seeing in 3D.  There are some directors who I think understand the medium of 3D more than others.  You can often tell whether a movie was designed to be in 3D from the start, and those where they decided to add in the 3D gimmick at the last minute, through the framing of many of the shots.  For 3D to actually add something to the experience of the movie you need to barely notice it’s being used at all, if you’re immersed in the environment then it’s working.  If you’re just waiting for something to pop out of the screen and poke you in the eye, it’s a waste of time!

This movie has a great story, has loads of hidden gems related to other movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, has characters you really care for, and is crammed with comedic moments.  Because it was created from a lesser-known comic book, it’s likely to be a new story for most of the viewers, so there’s no requirement for fore knowledge of any of the comics.

I generally don’t read comics; not because they’re not any good – clearly they are – but I read text really quickly and therefore skip through comics too fast.  You’re supposed to slow down and appreciate the artwork.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
The main thing to say about this movie is how brilliant the performance is by Andy Serkis in the role of Caesar.  Motion capture has come a very long way, and you can barely tell that the apes are computer generated.

MARVEL’s Agents of SHIELD Seasons 1 and 2
Continuing and expanding on some of the plots and enemies from the MCU, Agents of SHIELD is a fairly light-hearted addition.  Focusing on the human perspective and policing a world where superheroes and villains are the norm.  Both stories of teamwork and stories of betrayal keep you guessing each week.

Sherlock Seasons 1 to 3
Sherlock has quickly become one of my favourite shows of all time.  The fact that you only get 3 episodes per season means that, for me, it always stays fresh and new.  Sherlock the series, not just the man, is super intelligent and I’ll be eagerly awaiting new cases every year (or two!).  I don’t mind that there’s a long wait between series, the anticipation and speculation is half the fun.  We know that the show is created by super-fans in Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss, so as long as they’re all enjoying making the show, the outcome will always be great.

The 2015 special is currently in production, quite possibly as a one-off out of the timeline of the regular show.  This should be interesting!

Game of Thrones Seasons 1 to 4
Another show where the main cast of characters are in constant jeopardy.  The fight to claim the throne of the 7 kingdoms is a bloody one.  It’s epic in scale, violent, and sexy.  What’s not to like!

The Devil in Amber by Mark Gatiss

The Devil in Amber
The Devil in Amber by Mark Gatiss
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I love Lucifer Box. I wish he were a real person. Dashing, intelligent, artistic, a spy, and assassin.

In this, the second of his (recorded) adventures, Lucifer is pitted against the megalomaniac Olympus Mons, his Amber-shirt-clad minions, and certain duplicitous members of the Royal Academy. Accused of a murder he did not commit (at least this one particular murder was not his doing) Lucifer flees back to England and must decipher the mystery of “The Lamb and The Prayer”. We are also introduced to Pandora Box, sister to our gallant hero, entangled in her own web. And then the story takes a turn for the somewhat supernatural.

Witty as ever. Fun and naughty. I feel as though Arthur Conan Doyle and Tom Sharpe had a literary baby in Mark Gatiss!

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