Friday, 6 March 2015

...but I'm just not there when, when it's coming to a fight

There seems to be a certain contempt for the UK electorate in the way that the Prime Minister is ducking the idea of a televised debate. He doesn't see it like that, of course, and is already spinning the blame to the broadcasters for not getting their act together.

The other parties are saying it's because he's scared, but I reckon it's all part of the stealthy strategy his back office is using in the election run up.

The idea of any form of scrutiny of policy in a format where the bulk of voters might actually pay attention needs to be avoided at all costs.

A televised series of debates could have topics like Health, Education, UK's place in the world (inc EU and immigration), Economy and cost of living, Welfare (inc housing and pensions), UK homeland defence (inc crime and defence), Workforce (inc tax and inequality).

Of course, my made-up working titles could be snazzed up for viewer appeal, and the whole thing has the makings of an interesting series. Seven Big topics. Seven shows? Or even three shows and a finale?

It's completely at odds with the seven or eight people standing format that Cameron would feel more comfortable with, in a two hour show. With 10 minutes of tops and tails, it would give each person maybe 10-12 minutes of main speaking time. Using a modest six topics, that's about two minutes per topic. Just enough to scratch a surface sound bite.

Fascinating that in these days of increased social media and accessibility, that the party in charge appears to want to hide behind a wall.

Cameron's advisors suspect that the party in charge doesn't do well from these shows and so its easier to torpedo them than to build something meaningful.
PM visits Help to Buy housing site
Instead, predictably this week we are getting news clips of politicians adjacent to babies after last week wearing hard hats.
PM delivers long term economic plan for the East of England
Using current projections, the Tories could secretly expect 275 seats, with Labour around 271. That leaves both parties somewhat short of the needed 326 seats for a majority. If the others go 51 SNP & related, 27 Lib Dem and 26 others (inc Greens and UKIP), then it creates a quandary for a divided Parliament with the true balance of power held by the smaller blocks.

For Cameron, an early play of a seven or eight way way debate would illustrate the complexity of managing a non-majority House of Commons. The strategists can rub hands together as this gives more earnest sound bites.

Cameron also knowns he can probably side-step a group debate and still be assured of a personal prime spot where he can say what he likes.

Adding the two events together; confusion from a seven or eight way and then a clear line of earnestly delivered strategist-manufactured crowd-pleasing waffle.

The Tory campaign plan run by Lynton Crosby probably sees it as improving Cameron's chances. As most people become hacked off with the whole system, it could well become the battle of the cartoonish five word sound bites.

That'd be with Cameron in customary truth massage mode. Miliband still learning how to say five words without an Uh or forgetting one. The Greens need to up their horsepower for a broad agenda. UKIP is playing around with self-adapting phrases to suit locale. The Scots have a new Scottish cause-based coherence and Lib Dems have thrown away huge chunks of their supporters.

Cameron's puppeteers don't want to accidentally awaken a new class of voters. They could tip his crowd off to the side.

Popular television broadcasts, electronic voting and things that might disrupt the comfortable seats are all getting the silent treatment.

Thursday, 5 March 2015

serious fraud? Just say 'No'

So now the Serious Fraud Office is apparently having a peek into the Bank of England to see what happened when extra liquidity was needed after Northern Rock's demise.

Prior to Quantitative Easing, which electronically printed huge sums of money, there was another scheme which electronically printed huge sums of money. The Special Liquidity Scheme was when the Bank auctioned a mere £185bn to some banks and building societies, in return for non-liquid unshiftable collateral of £287bn.

This cheap liquidity was supposed to be a rescue scheme, but there's hints that the money may have been loaned via some possibly skewed auction processes and cut price fees. At least one bank appears to have already paid a fine based on their SLS fee reductions. By paying the fine early, they managed to get a 30% discount from the FCA.

Naturally, any rigging would be frowned upon although LIBOR rate tweaks and banging the close on the forex fix are both topical examples where this has happened.

I suppose it's all about finding the choke points and, if so minded in a chatty place like the City, knowing how to manipulate them.

For LIBOR, it's about the way that money gets loaned to building societies and certain sized companies. For the forex fix, it's about setting global exchange rates once or twice a day before they all start to wander. For maintaining UK economic confidence its about the liquidity afforded to big banks.

Then it becomes about leverage. As something massive shifts slightly, how do vested interests pick up a piece?

Small shift in LIBOR = large bonus prospect.
Small discrepancy in forex fix = large daily profits and commissions.
Tweaked access to discounted money = vintage wine all round.

Chancellor Osborne is reported as saying he'll give a blank cheque to the SFO for their investigation. It'll be curious to know where the money used to pay it gets printed?

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

why are spies so heavy on the secret acronyms?

It's a few days until the next round of Apple launches, which will probably include more information about their watch (ask about the battery life), some existing things made slimmer and presumably something news related to their home and television offerings.

They may have some catchup on home offerings. I was mildly intrigued a few days ago when our home central heating published an update to its software licensing agreement (which is via Google). I guess it's the shape of things to come as we all go telemetric.

Around 1/3 of the world now carries smartphones popularly considered akin to the supercomputers of ten years ago. Big business is keen to access all of that interaction and related usage statistics and the trend will only continue as greater access to health and home information becomes possible.

The challenge is to figure out how to use it all for good things rather than bad things.

The Edward Snowdon story (discussed again yesterday in a Guardian briefing) illustrates how movies like Enemy of the State become ever closer to reality. In the recent Kingsman movie the evil overlord manufactures free SIMM cards to get mind control. It's a similar path to the NSA allegedly getting access to phone cryptographic keys to intercept our call meta data.

There's a supposition that the IMP*-ish agencies can tap 1EF* fibre optic cables from tin sheds and then use MVR* with xkeyscore* trigger words to secretly sift through vast content and metadata.

Here's one such architecture award-winning tin shed on the B3315 at what used to be Skewjack Surf Shack: "Web Surf's Up, Dude!"

Theres an awful lot of this 'on the fly' MTI* data for the Nigella* link to cook, so perhaps the content can only be stored for a few days and the metadata for maybe a month?

For regular folk it becomes a question of working out how to live with these fairly unstoppable forces. We'll all have iPhone 8s and their equivalents soon enough. For the politicians, state and big business there's an increasing need to stay in the good space rather than to slither stealthily into a manipulative darkness.

I'm not sure that keeping an old Nokia and some Baco foil close at hand would really provide an alternative.

* MVR = Massive Volume Reduction
* IMP = Interception Modernisation Programme
* MTI = Mastering The Internet
* 1EF = One End Foreign (non USA)
* Nigella = fibre optic wiretap name, operated by FLAG*
* FLAG = Fibre-optic Link Around the Globe, owned by Reliance Communications of Navi Mumbai, India.
* XKeyscore = user friendly, plug-in enabled massive volume search mechanism

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

viewing shed loads of Jason Rhoades : four roads and a V8 engine

I was reading Lady Banana's blog a few days ago where she was discussing the 'shall I/shan't I?' question about whether to keep her blog running.

I have a similar thoughts occasionally, but know that the blog provides a quiet backbeat for my various activities. It was never planned, but it provides a kind of extra stimulus as I go about my various situations.

I'll admit, I sometimes sit down with a blank head and nothing to say. Other times I have a log-jam of ideas and even several partly written posts, many of which don't make it out of draft status.

Take the other day. We'd haphazardly stumbled upon a new show at a gallery, after meeting for coffee.

It's a show of work by the late Jason Rhoades (1965-2006) and officially opens on 6 March.

The first item was a sort of shed containing a V8 engine. I thought it fitting for an artist described as having a lifestyle in the fast lane to have a running V8 engine block amongst the work. Like it had kind of sprung from the car and landed on the wood blocks. An 'almost makes you lose your mind' kind of moment.

This was the kind of show where you could feel like there was a dialogue with the artist. Instead of it being all about "look at what I've made", it was much more a kind of playful discovery.

If the CHERRY Makita - Honest Engine Work looks messy, it is still only on a low setting compared with some of his later work which can feel something like walking through a crash site. There's a piece called the Creation Myth, which takes up a large room and tries to illustrates how humananity processes information, forms memory and synthesises new ideas, whilst simultaneously dealing with the messy process of actual living.

It's a visceral piece, not for the faint hearted and the creative aspects include a hydraulic hay baler which appears determined to fuse with whatever is happening in the next gallery. There's scars on the wall to prove it.

As well as the larger items, there were a selection of smaller pieces; a kind of deflated Jeff Koons silver rabbit re-imagining and a pink reference book which I'm sure would be used on the other 'over-18s' floor of the show. This other floor wasn't formally opened when we visited, and I'm guessing that some of the proposed material may have needed to be carefully considered.

Rhoades seemed to use dissonance and effects to shock and there's a real possibility of some of the over-18s floor being curated out, given these sensitive times.

For an artist who is no longer with us, this adds to the character of the pieces and turns them into a kind of life performance.

I'd provide a warning about this show. I'm pretty sure it will divide people starkly based upon whether they can find the dialogue that the artist probably intended.

Monday, 2 March 2015

a close encounter of the not quite genius kind

Before I arrived:

"That's quite vintage, isn't it?" said the store guy.

This was the second place the machine been taken to attempt to get it running again.

"...We don't support vintage devices."

It was a MacBook Pro 15 inch. Intel processor. The power supply had gone dead. No little orange and green light.

This was after taking it to the nearest dealership on Sloane Square. They'd gamely tried to make it work by plugging in the newer style power leads (which won't fit, of course). They tried three.

"There appears to be something wrong with the socket on the side of the machine," they'd said.

Next stop Regent Street. The mothership. Big beams of light.

An appointment with a Genius.

Clue 1: The machine was handed over. He nearly dropped it. "Whoa, that's heavy!"

Clue 2: "It won't open!"

"No, you need to press the catch."

(fumble and confusion)

"Here, let me do it."

Genius takes a look.

"No, we don't have ones like this, but you might want to try resetting the SMC." Immediately upgrading the level of acronym.

"Is that like the PRAM? - we've already tried that," came the bluffed response.

"Er, can you make an appointment for Monday? We'll have someone else here who may know more."

"No, I'll ask someone else."

Later, I arrive and am told...

"It's dead. It was fine earlier. I don't think the battery is charging - I took it to three stores."

Me: "Let's plug in another charger."

Rummage in bag. Plug in different charger.

Green light comes on. Press power.

It starts working.


Sunday, 1 March 2015

orange, silver and blue/white

Yes, bicycle time again.

The heavier orange bike gets a few outings at this time of wet roads, but in truth the silver bike on the turbo is the one getting the most use until things clear up.

My so-called main bike (white and blue) is resting and in need of maintenance before I dare use it again.

Still, the my TSS Training Stress Score has started to go up again. At least until I ate that cinnamon bagel.

Saturday, 28 February 2015

bun fights at the not-OK corral

I've been watching that television series about the House of Commons.

Add some recent news coverage exchanges from the floor of the House and extracts from the new Caroline Lucas book. Mix with a few of the expense listings from public record.

It continues to paint a fairly dismal picture of the State we're in.

Current news has touched on the sufficiency of MP salaries. At least one MP appeared to not notice he even had a salary from Parliament.

I decided to take a look at MP salary and expense turnover. By casually pivoting the MP IPSA expense records (I used 2013) the average expense amount claimed by an MP appears around £38k per annum, plus generally another £120k for payroll for their staff.

The biggest single item is still accommodation/rent at an average of £8.7k (although for those that claim it is closer to £16k) and office rental at an average of £6.1k. I've included a quick screeengrab from a small part of my Excel on the left.

If we add the £67k salary and the average expenses of £38k together, we're hovering at just over £100k of turnover per MP, before the addition of their staff allowance of apparently around £120k.

I know some MPs are very hard working, but whenever we peek inside, we cannot avoid the impression of a boys' school misbehaviour of braying and paper waving in the Commons.

Add the whips archaic bullying tactics to herd MPs through the voting lobbies instead of having electronic voting. There's a huge industry of paper-based Bills without decent summaries.

The recent TV show illustration included MPs literally camping out in offices for days to get to the front of the line to get a slot for a private member's Bill. Those that get a slot at Prime Minister's Question time are 'encouraged' to ask questions that mean the Prime Minister can trot out polemic.

The Friday Private Member Bills are bullied and traded with the threat of no support or filibustering to talk them out of time if they won't play along.

I know we all call it a democracy and the obvious argument is that it could all be a lot worse.

Agreed it could be a lot worse, but that's no argument to not make it a lot better. It would seem that it is still in the vested interests of those in power to keep it the same.

Cameron has already stated that even if the main Parliament buildings requires refurbishment, he will want to keep it largely as it is. No semi-circular chamber and e-voting when the two party sword-waving serves him and his class so well.

Friday, 27 February 2015

adding some indie movies to my iTunes library using Handbrake and MetaZ

I was recently reminded by blogger Naomi that my DVD player can support multi-region DVDs. Useful if I really want to see something that isn't available in the UK. Mostly, our DVD player hardly gets used because of online films, but I did that thing to get it to work properly for all-region playback again.

It made me think about getting a few more movies that were on my 'want-to-view' list but which were not available on any of the streamed services.

I hit eBay and to my surprise found a random bundle of around 30 DVDs which were nearly all ones I wanted to see. It looked far more curated than most of the eBay 'job-lot' collections which are suspiciously like the unsellable ones from a car boot sale.

So I took the plunge and bought the inexpensive bundle. It turned out the fella selling them was on a meditation retreat somewhere, so they took about three weeks to arrive. Now I've a fresh selection of recent and mainly indie film titles to work through.

I'll add them to my iTunes library as well, so a spot of Handbrake + MetaZ is required to get them converted.

The thing about that particular combination is that it can make the videos looks the same as others downloaded from the iTunes Store, complete with the plot precis, actor and production credits, certificates, run-times etc.

I mainly convert videos on the Mac using Handbrake's 'Normal' setting. It nearly always finds the correct DVD track of the main movie and a couple of decent soundtracks (2 channel and 5.1). Occasionally a movie with a Theatrical and a Director cut will cause it to ask which one to use.

If there's subtitles, dubbing or a director's commentary (like some Swedish films that have an alternative English language dubbed soundtrack, or foreign films requiring subtitling) then there's usually a customisable combination, although for most movies there's no need to tinker with any of the settings.

MetaZ can be run after conversion and adds the same information that the iTunes store includes. It's slightly more fiddly with a TV series, although Handbrake happily handles multiple episodes on the same DVD.

The end result seems to me to be indistinguishable from the iTunes layout, and the video quality can be at the highest level available from the original DVD.

It's a handy way to keep videos catalogued, compared with having them laying around in cupboards and shelves and makes them available on demand, from any device including when I'm stuck on the bike turbo.

Which reminds me...

Thursday, 26 February 2015

How to hold your breath @royalcourt @acgrayling @ZinnieH @maxinepeakenews

A little group of us met at the Royal Court to see How to Hold Your Breath, written by Zinnie Harris and with Maxine Peake in the lead role.

Before the play, we attended the related Big Idea talk, 'How to find the Good' presented by Oxford teacher of Philosophy A.C. (Anthony) Grayling. He defined ethics and morals using classical stories to espouse ways to answer the Socratic question of how should one live one's 1000 months well. Grayling promotes humanism, whilst drawing in this talk mainly upon the gods and philosophers of Greece to illustrate his points.

I like his ideas around secularly finding one's own path although there needs to be a basic supportive context in which to achieve this. He talks of resisting habits which simply consume living without creating high points and of the need to spend the most productive 250 months well. In 45 minutes he was able to open many lines of thinking. A spike to add to my life collection. If we all light up we can scare away the dark.

And then, after pause for refreshment and chatter, I took up a front row balcony seat as the devil had a one night stand with Dana the customer relations expert. Now the devil doesn't like being in debt, but his attempts to pay Dana were rebuffed and led to a ratcheting spiral of descent for Dana in what became an increasingly fractured Europe.

This devil has a Mephistophelian scar across his chest where his soul has been removed. Unlike in Faust, we see Dana apparently having an upper hand because of the debt. In Goethe, Faust is trying to find the essence of life (ahah, an AC Grayling connection) and Mephistopheles manipulates the world to help him see it. In this we see equivalent manipulations as the devil attempts to extract the 45 Euro debt repayment from Dana.

And this devil plays hardball. After low-key initial attempts, he just keeps increasing the pressure. We see the ruin of economic Europe, personal tragedy and horror as the play unfolds.

There's some set-piece staging too, with interventions from a difficult librarian who mainly seems to stock 'how to' guides. There's also a Greek chorus of interviewers for what could be Dana's next job.

Maxine Peake's performance is extremely strong, and the immediate accompanying cast of her sister(Christine Bottomley), the devil(Michael Shaeffer) and librarian(Peter Forbes) all play well. Other characters are less developed and are there chiefly as instruments of the production. In a play that mixes together a wide range of plot-lines, Zinnie Harris creates many themes to deal with in the 2 hour continuous run-time.

When we chatted again afterwards, I said I was really pleased to have seen this - which has been written with quite some ambition. It wasn't what I was expecting, and because of the many different strands, we could take away different elements from the production's ideas. Like Grayling suggested, it's important to have the right personal character to take away the right action from a situation.

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

chilli and the art of proportion

Yet more potentially dodgy dealings revealed from various politicians over the last couple of days. We were talking about some of it in the Cluny a few days ago, over bowls of chilli and maybe a pint or two of Ouseburn Porter.

The current largely two party system evolved back in the 1885s and was supposed to ensure that stuff got done. A multi-way split was considered to be something that could slow down legislation and progress.

Perhaps in a different way than that of the time wasters like Philip Davies, MP for Shipley with landlord interests who stopped the revenge eviction bill, Christopher Chope, MP for Christchurch who delayed the Turing pardon and the floccinaucinihilipilificate Jacob Reeesss-Moggg, who proudly 'talks out' Bills not for, but against, Britain. It'd be interesting to know how many of the electorate actually know what some of those folk get up to?

The First Past The Post FPTP system ensures that, with the right political boundaries, only the Conservatives and the old Labour Party can statistically ever be the main options at an election.

I've taken a the most recent data I could find from election and produced a quick comparison table. It's too early to get a full prediction, but not too soon to show the different leverage of voting percentages across the main parties.

Both Conservatives and Labour get around 8.4 to 8.7 seats per percentage point of the vote. The SNPs get an amazing 11.8 seats per percentage point. That's probably a Conservative strategy to help reduce Labour probabilities, too. Everyone else gets between 3.6 seats and as low as less than 1 seat per percentage point.

We can look at how this plays out.

I've taken a mid-range result, with generally balanced Conservative and Labour outcomes, neither of which is enough to hold a majority. The other three bundles of parties SNP, Lib-Dem and 'Others' are enough to control the votes.

We'd have a kind of quasi-Belgian situation. Their hung parliament lasted leaderless for 535 days, despite students stripping to their underwear and handing out free chips, giant lions and roosters snogging in the street and a national Belgian shaving strike.

For the UK it could mean that the SNP (Scottish) vote controls the balance of power and could tilt the results even on matters only affecting England and Wales, a curious outcome after the Scottish Referendum.

Just for entertainment, I thought I'd recut the graph to illustrate Proportional Representation.

I've simply allocated the seats on a more or less balanced format, which is representative of the way the electorate has chosen to vote.

Many comfortably appointed MPs wouldn't stand for this, of course. Curiously, using the raw stats from my tables, the two main parties lose a huge number of seats and the other five parties combined would hold the majority. They'd never all vote together, of course and it would make getting anything done quite a challenge. Maybe that's the point of the Victorian model and Duverger's law.

It probably means that we'll still get one of two bad choices, perhaps without the surrealism of Belgium. Something to put in the pipe, I suppose.

Monday, 23 February 2015

time to catch up with the live Eastenders action

Adam...Whose line is it?

I don't normally watch Eastenders, but was around whilst a catchup version of the live week was being watched, back here at rashbre central.

The normal game during the unremittingly bad times of Eastenders is to spot how many scenes use expressive eyes instead of dialogue to convey meaning. Sometimes it can be a whole row of scenes and camera angles.

The setup needed to be different for the live shows. For a start they had a big jib crane camera, so they could show the distant Canary Wharf in some of the wide angle shots. Later, in case you missed it, they used a burger joint parked on some wasteland across from the Dome, just to be sure that the viewers spotted the soon to be Qatari owned skyscraper complex (although I didn't notice the HSBC logo).

But, you see, I am getting distracted from the storylines. Because I don't really watch the series, I was under strict instructions to refrain from out loud comments about the to-ings and fro-ings of the most dangerous square in Britain. No wonder it hasn't seen gentrification price rises and rows of parked Porsches and left-hand-drive European cars, no one would dare to live there.

It was sensible, if predictable, to underpin the main narrative with a wedding. The live camerawork could be used during these type of crowd scenes and some over-panning and excess zooming wouldn't look too out of place. It also gave the characters a chance to dress up, which meant that the live scenes inside the Beale household could be filmed in the style of an am-dram play, albeit with slightly more camera angles.

And hats off to Adam Woodyatt, who played the Ian Beale character and acted as a sort of engine to keep the plot driving forward. Sometimes other actors would be woodenly stuck in best Crossroads/Acorn Antiques moments, but Ian Beale kept things on track. I'm still not clear why he looked so drenched wet throughout the show though?

Also fascinating to see that even with all the cameras, there were still bits of the live action with blocked angles and the challenges of filming live, but in ways that you'd not normally see in the crafting of modern soaps. That was until the episodes clicked across to a pre-recorded insert, of which there seemed to be several. Each time the framing would go solid, the actors wouldn't look nervous and I assume behind the scenes the live actors were running around the set.

I'll confess I didn't watch all of it and missed what I presume was the actual wedding, when I gather that Barbara Windsor turned up? If truth be told, there were a few other characters that had re-appeared after sometimes lengthy or even deadly exits, but this was lost on me as a casual viewer. I had to be told that 'Kathy', sighted at the burger bar, was missing presumed dead, but apparently she is now returning.

For regular viewers this would all be great telly, with a proper knees up both inside the Vic and also in the Square. Regular viewers would also say that there's never been a happy wedding in Eastenders and this was no exception, what with a new dead body, a Exorcist-like child killer and even another semi-dead body that has now gone missing. Did one of the ruffians make mincemeat from the one left in a pool of petrol in the bottom of the pub cellar? I doubt it; the arsonist was one of the dancing celebrities from Strictly.

I must admit to a 'things to do in Denver when you're dead' thought when they needed to get rid of the first inconvenient new body and did say out loud 'they need an undertaker' when, amazingly, it turned out that there was actually one having a pint in the Vic! Talk about lucky.

The pan-shots across to Docklands also raised another interesting point. We had Dot doing a Dixon of Dock Green style voiceover part way through across the deserted Square, which usually marks the outer bounds of the show. But not so for the flashback episode. I'd expected the flashback to have been an optional episode, like those More4 programmes, but this was a key component of the denouement. Not only that, it wasn't live - it was on location. A proper location episode with real buses and everything! I don't watch enough of the regular show to know how often they use location scenes, but it immediately added some realism to the proceedings. As an experiment in episode types, I'd pick location over live, even if some of it is just a B-reel team getting some footage. That's what the Americans do, with soaps using short location inserts to add grounding.

But I suppose it's all written into the Eastenders Charter or something. That characters are only allowed to go wild if they move to Australia, Cardiff, Canada or an alleged crime-intensive resort.

I probably won't be watching what happens next, but I can say that I did get some genuine laugh out loud moments from the shows, which is probably a first. Corry is still the show with a sense of humour.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Choirplay and Breakfast Hearts @livetheatre

Along to see a couple of excellent and thought-provoking plays at Live Theatre this week. Written by Robin French and directed by Melanie Rashbrooke.

Choirplay presents a wry dig at consumerism. Society’s individuals were blended to become a chorus of voices as they searched for fulfilment of true happiness.

It's a cleverly arranged piece, which has a sort of flat pack format, where the words and sequencing can be re-arranged to suit the situation.

Indeed, as audience, we were asked to fill in little forms with those stubby pencils, like the type you get in a furniture warehouse, to add our own modest component to the production.
An ensemble cast of Steven Blackshaw, Glen Collier, Jessica Dawson, Amy Foley, Chris Foley, Zoe Hakin, Stan Hodgson,Katie Powell and Alex Tahnée riffed from one another. Parts were in unison, others individual and some of the phrasing sliced into individual words spoken around the group.

Despite this unusual delivery, it was clear to understand whilst packing many consumerism and lifestyle related ideas into a short duration. Some of the thoughts take longer to process than the play's speedy pace. I'm still musing some of it 24 hours later, but I guess that is a good thing.
I'll happily see this again, and thoroughly enjoyed the liveliness brought to the piece by the cast.
Breakfast Hearts was an altogether different kind of play, using a stark minimal set and a kind of hyper-reality to describe a series of situations.

There were some ideas across from the first play that slid quietly into the second one, but this only added to the fun of what was a very dark comedy exploration of human nature.

Reminding me of that Beautiful South track, two couples slice across one another in a dark and offbeat comedic exploration of the need to be loved.

The casting for this was a subset of the earlier cast comprising Alex Tahnée, Stan Hodgson, Katie Powell, Steven Blackshaw, Chris Foley and Amy Foley.

The four main characters pinpointed recognisable human conditions, deploying whacky situations to illustrate varied life moments. Even the amateur magic was a metaphor and took the interactions to whole other places. There were many bursts of laughter and recognition from the audience as erstwhile domestic situations played out.
Notable also was the gusto of the cast as they handled both parts of the evening. There was a sheer energy to both the shows which Live Theatre should be pleased to be cultivating with this type of new production with its different edge and ascending talents.