Into the Woods

The Other Emily spends an entertaining evening at the theatre with this classic Sondheim musical.

As you were all heading out into your bank holiday weekends, I ventured Into the Woods to a dark world of grimly comic Fairy tales.Who else could turn childhood favourites into (even) darker versions of the stories other than Stephen Sondheim? Woven into a modern mash up of wolves, beanstalks, bakers, and princesses, this production is a reprisal of the sell-out show in 2014, and sits easily in the round at the Cockpit Theatre. The forest floor is a generous carpet of wood-chipping, and the eerie woods of Sondheim’s imagination a set of ladders ascending into the sky, and dangling down from the beams of the theatre. I took my place with a bird’s eye view (and out of the way of any possible audience participation) and waited for the Narrator (Jordan Michael Todd) to begin the tale.Director Tim McArthur promises the audience a 21st Century twist with his adaptation, and we certainly get that. Jack and his Maw are Glaswegian Neds; the Baker and his wife are Health & Safety conscious with their hair nets and crocs; Cinderella’s Step Mother and her sisters are straight out of TOWIE; and an Irish Witch & Rapunzel battle over a Mother’s right to control her daughter’s life. Our protagonists are a parade of modern stereotypes, which proves a little gimmicky at times; the paedophilic wolf, portrayed as a wide boy; Jack’s drunk Mother lurching around with thong on display, an overwrought, coked-up Rapunzel rejected by her Chelsea Prince Charming etc.In our world of ‘more’, the characters all wish for something else to fill the void. In a nutshell, the Baker wants a child, but the Baker has been cursed by his friendly next-door neighbour, the Witch. She sends him off into the woods to fetch four magic ingredients to break the curse; a cow as white as milk, a cape as red as blood, hair as yellow as corn, a slipper as pure as gold – see where they all fit in now? Cue the music.And in this production, we are treated, on the whole, to some fine performances. Aaron Clingham, the musical director, steers the discordant score through the woods with a few tonal mishaps from his singers. I was rather taken by the awkward Jack, played by Jamie O’Donnell, clambering to the top of the ladder-cum-beanstalk, plaintively singing ‘Giants in the Sky’. The stand out performance comes from the Witch, Michele Moran, who ably settles into the role of the haggard old crone whose love for Rapunzel is borderline claustrophobic. She steers much of the narrative, finally breaking the curse of the poor old Baker, to the delight of all.End of Act One, and it all looks smooth sailing – the Baker’s curse has been lifted! Little Red Riding Hood and her Granny are safely back side by side! Jack has his favourite cow and Cinders and Rapunzel their handsome princes. But wait – there’s still Act Two to go, and from the opening number ‘So Happy’ we know it’s not going to be a bunch of laughs. Sondheim’s trademark satirical voice reminds us that we just can’t stay content for long, there’s always something else we want.It’s a clunkier second act – which is partly down to the Book, and by the end of the rampage (oh, did I neglect to mention Jack’s Giantess comes down and tramples most of the ensemble?) I feel like I’ve had a fairly large dose of Medieval Morality - face your responsibilities, own up to your choices, don’t become an overbearing parent. The cast unravel a tad, spending much of the act staring up at the imaginary Giant, and the choreography of the Finale is slightly gauche. The intimate set, which worked so atmospherically in the first act, loses its magic, and when the haze from the woods rises, it left me with the harsh reality of black box theatre…I think it will take a few more magic beans for me to become a hard and fast Sondheim fan, though there will be many in the audience. As for the production at the Cockpit, the actors still have to find their footing on the wood-chipped floor and sort out a few rookie mic issues, but, with that aside, it is an entertaining watch.

INTO THE WOODS runs at the Cockpit Theatre until the 24th June.

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Pia Östlund & London Craft Week

Alice went to hear Printmaker Pia Östlund talk during London Craft Week.

London Craft Week ran from 9th-13th May this year, and there was a plethora of exhibitions, talks and activities taking place all over London. You could design your own loafers with TOD's, make a Turkish Iznik tile at the Yunus Emre Institute, watch a demonstration by the Little Globe Company (they make little globes), and even visit a Georgian-inspired kitchen designed by HOWE and Plain English. There was so much making taking place.A number of events caught my eye, and I was sad to miss out on glassmaker Jochen Holz talking at about his exhibition Superficies at Flow Gallery; and Michael Ruh talking about his collaboration 'Edition' with Another Country - take a look at their beautiful 'Cob Decanter' (I have a thing for hand-blown glass, it is just so incredible).Another event I was intrigued by was Dan Cox and The Room Service, in which he spoke about the ceramics he has made for his new restaurant Crocadon (they are super, Paul Mossman made the ceramics, and Dan Cox created the glaze).  And I am now just so so very excited about the launch of The Room Service - essentially an online platform which sells the beautiful items you often spot in hotels and restaurants - and having gone home and hunted high and low for on the inter web, can never ever find. The Room Service may well have them, go and have a look.One event I really wanted to go to, was a talk and demonstration by printmaker Pia Östlund, all about her journey into the lost art of nature printing. It took place on Friday evening, and I got rather a lot of friendly disbelief (you are going to a nature printing workshop and not straight to the pub with us?!).However I stood firm, and at 6.30pm last Friday, found myself on the top floor of Daylesford on the Pimlico Road, surrounded by a number of ladies of a certain age, who had all been enjoying a day out in London, and who happen to be incredibly keen on printing.And I am just so pleased that I went along.Pia, who is Swedish, was wonderful. She was so warm and friendly, and after everyone had finally got the correct cup of tea, gotten over the confusion of what exactly the talk was to be about (nature printing, not flower pressing) and taken a seat - she began.Pia is a printmaker and graphic designer, and has spent 3 years developing her own version of nature printing. She had discovered a book in the Chelsea Physic Garden library containing prints using a process she did not recognise. Delving deeper, she made her way back to the Victorian era and to Bradbury Wilkinson and Company who had used this specific method of printing (having acquired it from Vienna). At that date it had been used extensively for the printing of plants - the Victorians were super keen on their ferns. However, other than this history and the book she had, there was very little further information on the actual printing process itself.So Pia set out to try and recreate this process. She spent two years working with lead, with numerous visits to lead factories. She even went on a trip with The British Pteridological Society, to collect ferns to work with. Eventually finding lead just too soft a material, she ventured to Vienna, where, amazingly, someone dug up some uncategorised copper plates in the Botanic Library - which turned out to be the very ones used to make the prints in the book from the Chelsea Physic Garden. So she turned to copper, and after a period trying out all sorts of processes using metals, has since been producing incredibly beautiful prints of foliage and flora.I really enjoyed Pia's talk, and fear I haven't really done it justice (she has written a book with Simon Prett if you want more detailed info). It was amazing to hear her talk about her journey into re-discovering this lost art of nature printing, her love for her work, the ups and the downs, and her perseverance with it.After the talk, and another cup of tea, we all had a go at a earlier form of printing, recreating the finest details of leaves in oil paint. It was incredibly satisfying, and so easy to do, once you have the right materials.It was such a fun evening, and I am so happy to have spent my Friday learning all about nature printing.Thank you Pia!Alice xxx

Young British Designers

We caught up with Interior Design student Imy Green, and photographed her in her favourite pieces from Young British Designers current collection.

What are you up to at the moment?

Studying Interior Design at KLC School of Design, London

What is your design dream?

I think there needs to be a huge change in hospital design and I am going to make it my life aim to do this (I know it sounds impossible!)

Favourite designer?

Thomas Heatherwick - he’s just so understated but does such clever designs.

Favourite architect?

Zaha Hadid - I thinks she is amazing!

Favourite place in London?

Tate Britain

Which is your favourite piece from Young British Designers collection?

The Dark Romance Skirt by Kelly Love - so light and floaty but also so comfy!

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Young British Designers

Photos Charlie Knight

Location: Chelsea, London

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Talking with Andrew Hunter Murray

Andrew Hunter Murray gets up to all sorts of marvellous things on a daily basis and makes us laugh a lot. He's a QI Elf, a co-host of the No Such Thing as a Fish podcast, a writer for Private Eye, a correspondent on The Mash Report AND a founding member of the Jane Austen themed improv-show Austentatious. Below he shares some wise words and a few of his favourite things.

What did you study?

I was an English student, which was extremely good practice for what I do now - frantically reading large amounts of information before trying to explain it to other people. Except now I get to make jokes instead of having to explain the themes of The Merry Wives of Windsor, which is just as well for all concerned.

Tell us a little about your journey to becoming a writer, actor and QI elf?

By complete good fortune. I got a bit of work experience at QI just after I left university - someone introduced me to the producer, comedy legend John Lloyd, and I then pestered him until he caved and told me I could work there for a month. I spent four weeks finding things beginning with G (we were working on the G series at the time) and presented him with a dossier on Giraffes, Gemstones and Gambia. We’re now on P and they haven’t rumbled me yet.

What do you love most about your work?

When I was young I desperately wanted to find a career where I could a) read and b) write, and ideally c) make people laugh. I didn’t really think that people got to do this stuff for a living, so I’m pleasantly surprised every day to find out I’m wrong.

How do you prepare prior to going on stage / in front of the camera?

I worry, intensely, about whether the stuff I’ve got is funny enough.

What's the best advice you've ever been given?

For god’s sake, if you’re wearing a suit, make sure the flaps of the pockets are out on both sides. That one’s courtesy of my mother. She did tell me something else, but I’m afraid I’ve forgotten it.

Do you have a favourite Fish fact?

After 200 episodes, it’s basically whatever we’ve done most recently. But I do have a long-held soft spot for anything involving animals on parachutes. So, for example: during the second world war, the first allied combatants to parachute into Normandy on D-Day were a few German Shepherds, who were accompanying the first party of soldiers.

Do you have a favourite Jane Austen book?

I have written and deleted my answer to this one about five times. I go back and forth between Persuasion and Pride and Prejudice. The latter is just an absolute Austen blockbuster with all your favourite hits: Persuasion is like her later prog-rock phase where all the themes are being played with greater maturity, and on weirder instruments.

Do you have a favourite writer (other than Jane!)?

Douglas Adams. And P.G.Wodehouse. And Terry Pratchett. Any of the amazing tradition of British humourists who create new worlds and then spend their lives roaming around them. But then again, if it’s Christmas and I fancy a nice murder, I won’t say no to a P.D.James, as she’s the absolute master of nasty murders by well-drawn characters.

What are you watching?

I’ve just finished Detectorists. The opening premise doesn’t sound like much - two middle-aged blokes walking slowly across a field with metal detectors, talking rubbish - and it slowly unfurls into one of the most beautiful, heartbreaking, brilliantly-drawn sitcoms you’ll ever see.

What are you reading?

I’m flipping between a very weird book of sci-fi short stories called You Should Come With Me Now by M John Harrison, and some Grade A Edith Wharton (The Age of Innocence).

What are you listening to?

The background hum of a washing machine. (A couple of my friends are so cool that they probably listen to bands with names like that. Just to be clear, this is just a washing machine).

What are you drinking?

I’ll have a half of cider, please.

Favourite word?

‘Rumble’, but only when preceded by ‘Let’s get ready to’.

Favourite animal?

My first ever pet, Lilt the hamster (1997-1999). In case you’re wondering, she’s not the answer to any of my security questions for my online banking, so good luck with that one, fraudsters!

Favourite place in London?

The water-gate of George, Duke of Buckingham, which is in the Embankment gardens. I frequently bore anyone unwise enough to walk past with me with stories about it, as my rapidly diminishing number of friends will tell you.

Favourite place in the world?

See above. And one interesting fact about the water-gate of George, Duke of Buckingham, is…no, wait, come back, this is good…

If you could have 3 people to dinner dead, alive or fictional who would they be and why?

I would have Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn and James Stewart, and I would make them re-enact all their scenes from The Philadelphia Story until they got angry and left.

Parallel universe career?

If I can pick absolutely anything, I would like to be doing something very very similar, please.

@andrewhunterm

At the Savoy Theatre, London: Austentatious

The podcast on tour: No Such Thing as a Fish

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Valentines Date Night Recipe with Lucy Pea

Lucy Pea shares a delicious, quick and easy recipe, perfect for Valentines Day.

Valentine’s Day – always a controversial day with a bit of a Marmite vibe. Some people love it, some hate it. None the less, it’s a good excuse to get in the kitchen and cook something special for your loved one, housemate, best mate etc. So, here’s a really tasty, quick and easy recipe that everyone will love.So, who am I and why am I here - I’m Lucy, and I’m a self-confessed food lover. I’m literally obsessed. I’d spend every waking moment thinking about, talking about, cooking or eating food if I could. I officially work in advertising, but feeding people is what I SHOULD be doing.Follow me @LucyPea_Cooks and I’ll feed you virtually. DM me with a tempting enough proposal, and I’ll happily actually feed you.This Asian influenced marinated salmon dish is so easy, it’s my go-to when I want to recommend a stress-free recipe to friends. I’ve paired it with a colourful slaw salad, which is well worth the little bit of chopping required. You can easily put this together after work.The slaw champions seasonal ingredients that are readily available in the colder months of February, and the salmon is so easy you’ll (hopefully!) return to this again and again for a post-work feed!Top off your Valentine’s evening with my ready in no time pudding, satsuma segments dipped in chocolate and sprinkled in sea salt.

Asian influenced marinated salmon, with a colourful slaw salad

For the Salmon:

1 stick lemongrass, finely chopped (I cheat and use lemongrass paste)

½ thumb of ginger, finely chopped

1 clove garlic, finely chopped

3 tbsp soy sauce

1 bunch coriander

2 salmon fillets

1 tbsp runny honey

1 chilli, finely chopped

1 lime, zest a quarter

For the Slaw:

2 spring onions, finely chopped

1 cabbage, grated

2 carrots, grated

½ pepper, finely sliced

¼ cucumber, peeled into ribbons

4 radishes, finely sliced

Method:

1.Mix the lemongrass, ginger, and garlic with the soy sauce and lime zest. Rub all over the salmon fillets.  Leave to marinate for an hour if you can, or 4 hours + if you’re really prepared.

2.Pre-heat your grill to 200C. Whilst the salmon is marinating, prep and chop all of the ingredients for the salad, mix all the vegetables together.

3.When you’re ready to cook the salmon, brush the ginger and garlic pieces to the side of the salmon (if they’re on the top, they’ll catch and burn on the grill). Brush the salmon with a little runny hunny and put under the grill.

4.Depending on how aggressive your grill is, after around five minutes your salmon should have a nice dark colour. If, like mine, your grill is a bit temperamental, keep half an eye on the salmon whilst it’s in there so it doesn’t blacken too much and start to burn. Once the salmon has browned on top, turn off the grill, close the door and leave the salmon in there for another five minutes.

5.Pour the marinade from the salmon into a bowl, add the juice of the lime and mix. Serve the salmon and salad, pour the marinade on top, and sprinkle over the chilli and chopped coriander.

If you’re particularly hungry, serve the main dish with cooked rice noodles or sweet potato mash.

If you really want a special evening, the best wine for this dish would be a dry Riesling or a Gewürztraminer, both which should hold their own against the richness of the salmon and the Asian flavours in the dish (I worked in wine before I worked in advertising. I like to pair food and wine…).

And for pudding...

If you want to make a simple pudding, why not make these chocolate-salted dipped satsumas too. They’re a tasty, winter-version of the chocolate dipped strawberry (save this for the summer when you can buy local, juicy-sweet strawberries). They are super simple and only take around half an hour to firm up in the fridge.

Salted chocolate dipped satsumas

250g dark chocolate

2 satsumas

Maldon sea salt

Method:

1.Peel the satsumas and take off the pith and separate out the segments.

2.Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie (aka in a heatproof bowl on top of a simmering saucepan of water).

3.Once the chocolate has melted, dip a half of each satsuma segment in the chocolate, put on a plate and lightly sprinkle with sea salt.

4.Pop in the fridge and bring them out when you’re ready to eat them! These will also keep for a day or two in the fridge so they’re perfect if you want to make them ahead.

LucyPea Cooks

British Brands We're Loving Right Now

Alice takes a look at some British brands, and recommends her favourite pieces.

Blessed London

I love everything by Blessed London, jewellery in bright colours and fun designs, all hand made in London. 10% of every online sale goes to Caudwell Children, a UK charity that provides family support services, equipment and therapies for disabled children.  I love these Queen Bee Tassel Earrings, they are really light making them easy to wear all evening.

Octo Chocolate

I was very kindly given a box of these Craft Raw Coconut Chocolate Covered Hazelnuts recently, and have to admit the idea didn't hugely appeal. However when the cupboard was bare of all types of unhealthy chocolate, my eyes turned to these (a chocolate fix is a chocolate fix, after all), and I have to say I was more than pleasantly surprised, they are quite delicious. So much so, that I can't wait to get my hands on another box. It turns out 'healthy' chocolate can taste good too - YES Octo Chocolate.

William Waterhouse

I am still totally in love with William Waterhouse's mobiles, he now makes a range of combinations, and I have this one very happily hanging from my (just about still living) palm plant.  They are rather magical, although Max assures me he could knock one up in about 10 minutes, I have yet to witness this. So for now, I may be buying another one to add to my collection... and do also have a look at Louisa Loakes' super designs once you've finished perusing mobiles.

Sarah Fennell

I really like Sarah Fennell's designs, beautiful bold brushstrokes of colours, I particularly like her lampshades, perfect for brightening up a room. Each lampshade is first stencilled and then screen printed onto linen using water based inks, and each one is completely unique.  So happy making, I really like this Melba Lampshade, her cushions are fun too.

Milk Tops

Now this isn't something I am currently needing (no babies on the way), but lots of my friends are producing offspring at a rapid rate and Milk Tops does exactly what it says kind of... Essentially they make nice clothes, clothes you actually want to wear, clothes you can wear and look tidy in, when you are breastfeeding. The designs are really nice, I really like their skater dress.

Joanna Cave

Always earrings. I love Joanna Cave's whimsical jewellery, I like that her pieces are often big, with very intricate, delicate looking designs. They remind me of Jan Pienkowski's silhouettes from his book 'The Necklace of Raindrops' - they would definitely be worn by a princess in a fairy take. I like these, Kalysta B, but she does all sorts, necklaces and rings too, do go have a look.

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Natasha Hulse Design

Alice spoke with designer Natasha Hulse about her beautiful floral inspired designs.

I first met Natasha Hulse whilst I was working in a bookshop, she had come in to look for an illustrated book on trees.  We spoke about our mutual love for the English countryside, for plants and flowers, and also for doing things we love, agreeing on the importance of pursuing the things that make you happy.That was January last year, when Natasha was just starting out creating her beautiful bespoke headboards and since then I have been admiring her creations from afar via instagram. And so, this December, it was a real delight to be able to speak with her and take a look at her designs up close.Each of Natasha's stunning floral inspired designs is an intricate work of art, every piece is hand painted on linen, hand-embellished with embroidery and beading, and appliquéd in layers, creating a unique sculptural effect.  Her craftsmanship is exquisite, and the time, care and patience put into each design makes each one even more exceptional.Her bold semi-abstract rendering of plant life is delightfully enhanced by the structural origami-esque composition of each flower, and this unique combination lifts her designs to an almost fantastical level - you might expect to come across one of her flowers in an enchanted forest.  For me they cross the boundaries of design in an incredibly pleasing way, playing with composition, texture and colour. And each bespoke piece differs as her style continues to develop, creating an ever expanding variety, almost as though her evolving designs are imitating real plant life.Her designs, initially, were very neutral, with a timeless appeal, with blues, browns, whites and greens defining her colour palette. But as her style has developed and evolved, she has begun to work with bolder shapes and colours.Natasha enjoys the design generation process the most, and is inspired by nature and organic structures, from the foliage, ferns and mossy carpets observed when walking in the New Forest near home, to the wildflowers found on a trip to the Grand Canyon. She says she endlessly presses flowers, and uses them for design inspiration, her favourite flowers are the Amarylis, big and bold and the Poppy, so delicate yet so strong.  She is constantly discovering new flora, and a recent winter favourite is the bright colour of Barberries.Her first bespoke headboard was created as part of Kit Kemp's interior at the Whitby Hotel in New York, and since then she has worked with Colefax & Fowler on a number of designs. She has most recently branched out into cushions (I love her wisteria cushion) and a wall paper project with Kit Kemp.  Currently all her designs are one of a kind bespoke projects, but eventually she would like to build up a collection of signature designs for clients to choose from. And she is more than happy to branch out, she would love to create designs for covered screens and ottomans at some point.Natasha has been appliquéing garments since she was 13.  She took the BTEC at school, and was initially drawn to shoe design. She went on to study Textile Design at Chelsea College of Arts, and took an Erasmus year in New York where she focused on digital design and pattern cutting as well as taking a ceramics class. After graduating she started her own womenswear brand, and went on to freelance for two womenswear textile studios first in New York, and then in London.She says it has taken her a while to find her aesthetic, and although it has been challenging at times, uncertain which direction to focus on as a designer, she feels that the process has been important. Time and experience have helped her understand which direction she is happiest taking. Working with clients and designers has been an important part of this process, and she says she greatly enjoys the direction and influence of others, allowing her designs to continually evolve, although never wavering from her initial concept.I loved speaking to Natasha about her work, it is truly beautiful, so if you get the chance to see it definitely do, she often sells her cushions at fairs, keep an eye on her insta for all updates. Her love for nature and for creating by hand is so refreshing in our fast-paced digital and all too consumerist society and there is so much to be said for beautiful design that is the result of dedicated craftsmanship.

Thank you Natasha, I can’t wait to see your next designs!

Alice xxx

Natasha Hulse

@natashahulse_design

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Young British Designers + The Natural Swede

Emma Andersson, 28, is from Gothenburg, Sweden and has lived in London for 8 years. She currently works in E-commerce in womens fashion and writes her blog

The Natural Swede

. Her blog focuses on lifestyle, vegan food, travel and fitness, including her training for the London Marathon 2018. Here she wears clothes from

Young British Designers

at Circus West Village.

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Photographs:

Charlie Knight

Black Glitter Great Coat:

Longshaw Ward

; White and Navy Striped Dress: 

Minki London

; Eleni Scarf Dress in Aqua:

Belize

; 'Get Some' Overalls in Black:

Burds

; Bell Sleeved Top in Pure White Cotton:

Teija Eilola

; Celine Lightweight Boxy Jumper in Navy:

Genevieve Sweeney

; Andrea's Old Carpet Tube Skirt:

Simeon Farrar

 - all

Young British Designers.

Lipstick:

NEEK

; Nail polish:

Pacifica

; Shoes and jewellery: Emma's own.

Hair:

Beyond Bronzed

Photographed at

Circus West Village

, Battersea Power Station

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