Sunday, 9 October 2011

Culture on the London Overground

The London Overground has proved to be very useful in getting about in and around London.  Recently I was approached by one of the staff offering some assistance.  I had been wondering for a while about changing lines at Highbury and Islington so asked if Canonbury might be simpler.  London Overground radioed ahead and I was met at Canonbury and shown the lifts and footbridge.  From my point of “view” it is easier to change to the East London Line section at Canonbury.  You may have to be non-sighted and a bit of a transport nerd to appreciate this!  I am beginning to make sense of Whitechapel and have done the switch to Southern at West Croydon; you stay on the platform and listen.

There are close on 100 cultural sites and sights to visit and enjoy around the London Overground.* (

Recently I have been to Richmond Theatre.  The theatre is on Richmond Green and is a short walk from the railway station which is well served by the District Line, Overground and SWT.  There is a side exit which avoids the steps otherwise the station approach is near a zebra crossing and if you cross the road and turn left any lane on the right hand side will take you to Richmond Green. 

Richmond Theatre ( has been lovingly restored and has a mixed rep (reputation and repertoire).  With matinees twice a week on Wednesday and Saturday it is well worth checking out.   The theatre has front stall seats which come with a warning “May have to look up”.  These seats are not the most sought after, though I found them suitable.  There is legroom and I enjoyed the proximity to the stage as my peripheral vision could make enough, though I had to use sunglasses with the glare of the lighting. 

Recently I went to see Keeler by Gill Adams.  This is a play about Christine Keeler and the role of Keeler was played by Alice Coulthard.  The part of Stephen Ward was played by Paul Nicholas, who also produced and directed the play.  I can just about remember the Profumo affair which erupted in 1963 and involved the usual kiss and tell stories, corruption and politics.  Knowing the back story there was no problem following the plot.  Stephen Ward was not a likeable character and few of the other roles are portrayed as such.  Keeler is hardly the “tart with a heart”  Some of the scene changes are captioned but the dialogue can differentiate between Cliveden, Dolphin Square and a coffee bar off the Edgware Road.

Another play I saw on 8th October was Tartuffe by Moliere.  This production was performed by English Touring Theatre (ETT) and is based on an adaptation by Roger McGough from Liverpool. This production is performed in rhyming couplets and just approaches an unacceptable level of ham and pastiche and withdraws.  It is very well performed and though some of the jokes are “truly awful” there is enough of the Mel Brooks and dare I say “Carry on” comedy to carry the plot forward.  On hearing one of the actors playing the maid Dorine, I whispered “That sounds like Kirsty from The Archers”.  I was suitably silenced but on the way back home on the London Overground the programme was duly checked and I was vindicated.  Annabelle Dowler played Dorine and very well too.   I can’t put a face to some politicians and actors and not having a television makes one clueless with some of the soap stars.  The rest of the cast were very good including: Joseph Alessi, Eithne Browne, Simon Coates, Rebecca Lacey and Colin Tierney in the part of Tartuffe.  A very enjoyable production. 

Camden Arts Centre ( is near Finchley Road and Frognal Station and is not far from Finchley Road Underground station.  Bus stops for 13, 113 and 82 are near.  I recently went to a talk on the exhibition of the work of Mathilde Rosier.  This was moderated by the writer Deborah Levy.  One of the works I liked was ‘Regard, don’t le jaune 2011’.  Rosier has an admiration of birds especially owls and much of her work involves triangles.  I can usually pick up geometrical shapes and though I can paint blur I can’t  see it. One of the installations involved a masked ball event.  On wearing a mask many people act in a disinhibited way. This may be familiar to some blind and partially sighted people who can’t pick up some non verbal communication!

On Thursday 6th October I went to the opening of two exhibitions at Camden Arts Centre.  Haroon Mirza has an installation “I Saw Square Triangle Sine” In case you are sighted this is NOT a typo. I did not mean sign. (Those using a screenreader will know)   Haroon Mirza was introduced by Lisa Le Feuvre who is Head of Sculpture Studies at the Henry Moore Institute.  Haroon Mirza works with sound a lot and we were encouraged to add to the noise or was it sound of the installation. I would encourage any person with sight loss to try this out.  We have to triangulate with close attention to sound and noise.  I was able to chip in with a remark about noise attenuation which impressed the less geometrical in the crowd for a nanosecond.  I found Mirza’s work accessible which is more than I can say for ‘A World of Glass’ by Nathalie Djurberg with music by Hans Berg.  It must have been the sight of the whitestick as I could sense “concern” as I approached the “glass ware” arrayed on tables.  This part of the installation reminded me of the sculptures in the Wieliczka Salt Mine near Krakow in Poland which I visited in 1975.  There are animated films running in the background and though the sighted may enjoy this installation it somehow left me cold even though the work was explained.  

However, be warned: the website is very visual, requiring you to click on icons.)