Author Archives: Chris Stagg

Treadwell’s Books

Down an unassuming street, off Tottenham Court Road, amongst the bars and restaurants, you will find Treadwell’s bookshop. It’s difficult to categorise Treadwell’s as just a bookshop, because from first stepping through the doorway, it is obvious that it’s so much more. “This is the all-surpassing Lady Wisdom, who with her right hand penetrates the East, with her left hand the West, and who embraces the whole Earth.” So writes Michael Maier in his 1617 alchemical work, ‘Atalanta Fugiens’. A fitting patron spirit then, for Treadwell’s to adopt. Because at its core, it is a place of spiritual learning, discovery, exploration and tolerance.

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I first learned of Treadwell’s about 18 months ago, but I only plucked up the courage to actually visit the shop fairly recently (I have been a regular now for 3 months or so and have met some wonderful people). When I first visited, I actually hung around outside, concerned with what I might find within. What would they be like? What would they make of me and my questions? My worries were of course completely unfounded. I had become over anxious with an irrational fear of what a stockest of occult books might be like, and I greatly regret now not visiting sooner, as it has become a favourite haunt of mine after work.

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This might sound rather cliché, but when I first stepped inside Treadwell’s, it just felt like home. Warm, relaxing, comfortable and welcoming. These feelings are created by the soothing low music, the dragons blood incense, perfect lighting and most importantly, the friendly staff. I can’t emphasis enough how brilliant the staff are. Treadwell’s could be in a warehouse or a market stall and it wouldn’t matter, because all the people I have met who work there, have been wonderfully welcoming, knowledgeable and friendly.

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I feel I have to expand on the staff at Treadwell’s a little more, because they are a hugely important part of what makes it so special. Treadwell’s Books was founded and is run by Christina Oakley Harrington, who clearly has a loving passion for the exploration of knowledge within paganism and wider spirituality. It is to Christina’s credit that she has created a working environment that has attracted devoted staff, who share her love and passion for the shop. It is more akin to a family than a team of colleagues, and it is that relationship that has made Treadwell’s the incredible place that it is.

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Treadwell’s has a huge stock of books on subjects as diverse as traditional religion, history, folklore, magic, divination, spiritualism and contemporary culture. They also stock rarer books and regularly refresh their stock, with a larger collection online. They have a large apothecary section and also stock a number of magical items for spellwork and ritual.

Like many independent bookshops, Treadwell’s offer a host of other functions beyond book selling. They have a very vibrant (and often sell out) programme of talks, classes and workshops. In addition, they host book launches and even music events. They can also offer a unique space for hire for corporate meetings or private events, and are a great choice for a film or TV bookshop location.

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At the beginning of this article I said it is difficult to categorise Treadwell’s as just a bookshop. This is a place of discovery, where you are made to feel incredibly welcome and have your questions answered. They are a hub for a community of spiritual explorers, and you will find many leaflets and postings on a whole host of exciting topics. So step in, enjoy the atmosphere and have a chat with Christina and her wonderful team. As bookshops go, this one is simply magical.

Chris

@CW_Stagg

Look out for Christina, joining me on the Words & Sound podcast for Phoenix FM very soon.

Treadwell’s Bookshop, 33 Store Street WC1E 7BS, London

Hours: 11-7pm weekdays | 12-7pm Saturday and Sunday

Telephone: 020 7419 8507

Email: info@treadwells-london.com

www.treadwells-london.com

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TFI90s 021117

TFI 90s Radio show with @CW_Stagg on Phoenix FM from 02.11.17

Playlist:

Suede – Animal Nitrate

Snow – Informer

B*Witched – C’est La Vie

Black Box – Ride on Time

Soundgarden – Fell On Black Days

Pearl Jam – Black

Ocean Colour Scene – The Riverboat Song

Reef – Place Your Hands On

Stone Roses – Fool’s Gold

Stone Roses – She Bangs The Drums

Stone Roses – I Wanna Be Adored

The Verve – bitter Sweet Symphony

Oasis – Some Might Say

Nirvana – Smells like Teen Spirit

The Offspring – The Kids Aren’t Alright

Coolio – Gangsta’s Paradise

Space – Female of the Species

Run Dmc vs Jason Nevins – It’s Like That

Jamiroquai – Deeper Underground

REM – Shiny Happy people

Backstreet Boys – Everybody (Backstreets Back)

Aerosmith – Livin’ On The Edge

Barenaked Ladies – One Week

Skunk Anansie – Weak

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The Invisible Man Review

On Tuesday I had the pleasure of attending an adaptation of H G Wells classic tale, The Invisible Man, at Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch. If you are unfamiliar, The Invisible Man is set in the late Victorian period and follows physicist Jack Griffin, as he completes his refraction obsession by turning himself invisible and then tracks his quest to make himself seen again.

This is an absolutely stunning production. I have rarely (if ever) seen a production anywhere else that has put more effort into it’s staging. The performance comes with a sharp warning that should you leave the theatre, you cannot return until the end of the act because of the complexities of the performance.  This is justified as throughout the play, there are frequent uses of light and shadow to give the invisibility affect.

Matthew Spencer in The Invisible Man - Queen's Theatre Hornchurch. Photo credit Mark Sepple

Unfortunately I found the performances a little flat and I found it hard to engage and empathise with the characters. I also found the frequent musical breaks quite jarring too and felt they slowed the pace of the story. Which is unfortunate, because it is clear this is a really well considered piece of theatre.

That said, it is still a great production and an enjoyable play to watch. Paul McEwen and Sophie Duval as Dr Kemp and Mrs Hall are excellent and the runaway unintentional stars of the show. I found myself longing for their next scenes. For me though, it does fall short of previous 5 and 4 star shows I have seen here.

3/5 stars.

Chris

@CW_Stagg

Performances | Mon – Wed | 7.30pm

Thu – Sat | 8pm

Matinees | Thu 2 Nov & Sat 11 Nov | 2.30pm

Audio Described Perf | Sat 11 Nov | 2.30pm Sign Language Interpreted Perf | Wed 15 Nov | 7.30pm Talk Back | free | Wed 8 Nov (after evening perf) | A chance for audiences to meet and question cast and creatives.

Queen’s Theatre, Billet Lane, Hornchurch, RM11 1QT Tube: Hornchurch Tickets: £12.50 – £29 | Under 26s £10 at certain performances Box Office: 01708 443333 Website:

queens-theatre.co.uk

All images (c) Mark Sepple used with permission of Queen’s Theatre.

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W&S Scares – Thorpe Park Horror Mazes

Welcome to a new series of blog posts from the Words and Sound podcast… W&S Scares! I am taking in some of the best, some of the most frightening (and in some cases, some of the worst) horror experiences you can have around the country. We will be looking at live action experiences, horror mazes, escape rooms and a couple of more unusual horror offerings too. In this first installment we look at this years 5 horror mazes at Thorpe Parks Fright Night.

I have to confess, this one was a bit of an afterthought and I wasn’t going to include it, given how few days are left, but if you are quick or if you are planning to go anyway, you still have a few days to experience this yourself… and believe me if you are going on the horror mazes at Thorpe Park this year, you will want to read this first! After years of doing these mazes, you would think they would all be awesome by now… unfortunately that is not the case!

Lets start off with the worst of the worst – Sanctum. Absolutely terrible. Seriously, it’s like this one has been shoehorned in by people wishing to advertise 5 mazes, so shoving this one in a corner of the park with little thought given to it. I’m not entirely sure still what the premise was. Look online and you will see amazing pictures of it. It’s not accurate at all. To be fair, I did this one in daylight, it’s possible it’s scarier in the dark… maybe? Aesthetically it looked horrible. Bits of tarpaulin and makeshift barriers. I mean I get it, it’s supposed to be post apocalyptic and that should add to the immersive experience. But it doesn’t. It’s just obviously cheaply and quickly thrown together. The live actors were not intimidating. The story was confused. You could get better props in a bargain pound shop. The worst thing though is this is one of the two that has the Walking Dead logo. I would be very concerned if my branding was on this one. Avoid! Best bit was leaving. 1/10 stars.

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Thankfully Sanctum is by far the worst and things get much better from here. Let’s move to Platform 15. This one is pretty simple. A train crashes via an insane driver, everyone dies and haunts the place. Standard so far. It started off pretty poorly and cheaply to the point where I thought this is another Sanctum. (A Victorian ghost wearing Reebok Classics?) Half way through though, the production value increases and you are lead through a very small house, that was reminiscent of a few good horror films. The jumps were short lived though as it took only 30 seconds to walk through. The maze ends with a a long tunnel. This was the best part and actually reasonably unnerving depending on what scares you. It takes a good while to walk through in complete darkness with the odd actor appearing in your face with a torch from time to time. Worth a look, but don’t panic if you don’t have time to do this one. Best bit was the tiny house. 4/10.

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The Living Nightmare is the second new maze along with Sanctum. This one is the main Walking Dead maze. Once you eventually get inside, you really feel like you are in the show. Deep south sheriffs and baseball bat wielding hicks order you on your knees and demand to know who’s in charge. You then get pushed through into the rooms where zombies come at you from every direction. This one was a lot of fun an I particularly liked the groups getting segmented into smaller gatherings and then lined up at the end for a final scare. You are told you get a 5 second head start before a snarling zombie with a bad skin condition is let loose on you and chases you out of the maze. I desperately didn’t want to look back at it, but I did (and I was glad I did so). Top bit was walking through the bus… are they all dummies in the seats?… 7/10

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An old classic now that Thorpe Park have put on for years. Saw Alive. This one is really good and quite scary. If you know the films you will love looking for the traps and puzzles in each room. I found myself at the front of the group in this one, and I was glad to be there as I loved it. Edging my way round a bed with a gory man writhing around on it. People chained up or in cages trying and pleading for escape. Meat bags hung up from the ceiling, and people zombified walking around a cramped room where you have to decide which is best to squeeze passed. Each room is a nightmare in this one and in places you are groping around in the dark. This maze is well trodden with very high production values. It didn’t have the impact it once did, looking back its the anticipation because of the iconic film references that make it really scary. My favourite bit is probably the room just before you start your walk through where you are lined up in Jigsaws control room. Press a button and he tells you he “wants to play a game…” 8/10

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My number one is Big Top. This is a few years old now and they have really perfected it. It’s frantic, fun and disorientating and offers something very different to the other mazes, which are very similar (apart from effort the park has put in – Sanctum I’m looking at you!) This ones is all set inside a circus big top. Even as you queue, a horrible demon voice warns you of whats to come as you head inside through the giant clown face door way. If you are scared of clowns, this will absolutely terrify you. If not, you will find it incredibly fun. When you are inside it is a maze of caged walls. It’s dark but there is pounding music, strobe and coloured lighting like a sinister rave. The clowns appear behind the cage walls, but also behind and in front of you. They do touch you and the experience depends on which actor is on that day. We had a friendly clown who offered some respite from the insanity of the others, he was more playful than scary and actually it was a nice contrast. the groups get pushed and shoved in different directions so at one point I found myself with the group who were in front coming from another direction. very disorientating. Then at the end there is a particularly enthusiastic clown with a chainsaw who chases you out the big top. It’s hard to say how they could improve this one… making it longer would be great. Best bit…all of it! 9/10

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So there you have it… this year’s Thorpe Park Fright Night horror mazes. Still a few days to experience them and if you do and you are time limited, head straight for Saw Alive, The Living Nightmare and Big Top. Let’s hope next year the extra too are much improved. Happy Halloween!

Chris

@CW_Stagg

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TFI90s 26.10.17

TFI 90s Radio show with @CW_Stagg on Phoenix FM from 26.10.17

Playlist:

Manic Street Preachers – You Stole the Sun from My Heart

4 Non Blondes – What’s Up

Republica – Drop Dead Gorgeous

The Beloved – Sweet Harmony

MC Hammer – U Can’t Touch This

White Town – Your Woman

The Shamen – Ebeneezer Goode

Lisa Stansfield – All Around The World

Sinead O’Conner – Nothing Compares 2 U

Kriss Kross – Jump

Prince – Cream

Madonna – Justify My Love

U2 – Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me

Annie Lennox – Love Song For A Vampire

Pulp – Mis-shapes

Skunk Anansie – Brazen (Weep)

Mansun – Wide Open Space

Oasis – Stop Crying Your Heart Out

Space – Avenging Angels

Blur – There’s No Other Way

Jamiroquai – King For A Day

Jamiroquai – Canned Heat

Jamiroquai – Deeper Underground

The Prodigy – Out Of Space

Babylon Zoo – Spaceman

Suede – Trash

Various Artists – Perfect Day

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TFI90s 19.10.17

TFI 90s Radio show with @CW_Stagg on Phoenix FM from 19.10.17

Playlist:

Skunk Anansie – Charlie Big Potato

The Shamen – Boss Drum

East 17 – House of Love

The Stone Roses – I Wanna Adored

Baby D – Let Me Be Your Fantasy

Snap! – Rhythm Is A Dancer

Jamiroquai – Deeper Underground

Simpy Red – Stars

Blur – There’s No Other Way

Roxette – Joyride

Haddaway – What Is Love?

Space – Female Of The Species

Fine Young Cannibals – She Drives Me Crazy

Coolio – Gangsta’s Paradise

Snow – Informer

Suede – Animal Nitrate

The Prodigy – Out Of Space

The Prodigy – No Good (Start The Dance)

The Prodigy – Breathe

Republica – Drop Dead Gorgeous

Big Mountain – Baby, I love your Way

Take That – Could It Be Magic

Soundgarden – Fell On Black Days

Aerosmith – Livin’ On The Edge

Green Jelly – Three Little Pigs

Mike Flowers Pops – Wonderwall

David Bowie – The Hearts Filthy Lesson

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The Souless Ones

Hammer. Even to the non-horror obsessed, that name alone strikes images of sweeping moors, crumbling Gothic castles and Peter Cushing defeating Christopher Lee’s Dracula by opening the curtains (Dracula 1958). The name Hammer is quite simply, synonymous with Horror. And if you love horror, then you will love Hammer’s brand new live action theatre production; The Souless Ones.

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Horror theatre seems to have made a bit of a revival recently, but here we are offered something different. The immersive experience. The Souless Ones is live throughout October in Hoxton Hall, a very atmospheric 19th Century music hall. Expect as you pass through the doors to be enveloped by the heady Victorian Atmosphere. Abandon all hope as you cross the threshold and prepare to spend 2 hours in the company of mad scientists, psychics and supernatural beings and accompany them to their shocking final destination.

The setting for this production could not be better and as you would expect from hammer, the attention to detail is very high. Hoxton Hall is a large building and you are invited to explore it at your leisure throughout the course of the evenings entertainment. The Hall is packed with characters, who will let their stories unfold before you. You may chose to visit only a couple or rooms and let the actors come and go. Or you could wander around for the evening taking in as many of the different rooms as possible. Or maybe you will pick one character to follow around? The point is that you could see this show several times and never have quite the same experience twice.

Hammer House of Horror Live - The Soulless Ones

Whether you are a horror fan or not, for a truly unique, fun and scare filled evening then The Souless Ones is for you. But be quick! The vampires will be flying away by Halloween!

The Soulless Ones – Hammer House of Horror Live – 3rd to 31st October 2017 Hoxton Hall, 130 Hoxton Street, London, N1 6SH www.hammerhouseofhorror.com #hammerlive #thesoullessones Over 18s only Performances from 8pm.

Tickets and Booking info: Standard price tickets (Sun, Tues, Weds) £48.50 Weekend price tickets (Thurs, Fri, Sat) £52.50 28th October performances £55.00 Premium tickets £100 Book now at: www.hammerhouseofhorror.com or www.hoxtonhall.co.uk Box Office: +44 20 7684 0060

Chris

@cw_stagg

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The Ladykillers

I recently attended the press night of The Ladykillers at the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch. We were told we would be serenaded by a string quartet (which would be come obvious why, later in the show), while we took afternoon tea and cake in the bar. Dressing in 50s glam optional but encouraged! An incredibly special and atmosphere educing pre-show environment that was to perfectly prelude the feast to come!

The Ladykillers at the New Wolsey Theatre. Photo Mike Kwasniak (2)

First things first the staging. Queens Theatre is a remarkable place. Not a particularly large stage, and I would assume they operate on a fairly tight budget. No matter what I see there, the stage set is always very very good. But for The Ladykillers, it really is something special. There is a huge house in front of, which turns round and opens out to give a view of the settings inside. In a small space we are front garden, side street, rooftop, railway yard, hallway, living room, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. The level of detail has been painstakingly worked on and everything run very very smoothly in the transformations. I really can’t applaud this aspect of the show enough.

Clockwise from left - Damian Williams, Anthony Dunn, Graham Seed, Sam Lupton and Steven Elliot (centre).

For the play itself, when Mrs. Wilberforce puts a sign in her newsagent’s window advertising ‘A Room to Let’, she’s delighted when the mysterious Professor Marcus proclaims it perfect for rehearsing his unorthodox string quintet. She soon discovers that she is not making tea for a motley band of musicians, but harbouring a hardened gang of criminals and conmen planning the great Kings Cross Train Robbery!

There are some real laugh out loud moments in this production, and while for me, Professor Marcus (played by Steven Elliot), steals the show, the entire cast was fantastic, each bringing something very different, to each of their respective very different characters – be it the dress wearing Major Courtney to the lovable heavy One-round.

I highly recommend this production and it really rates as one of the best I have seen at the Queen’s Theatre. Catch it while you can before it finds itself on the train to Newcastle!

Chris

@cw_stagg

All images (c) Mike Kwasniak used with permission of The Queens Theatre

The 'Musicians'. The Ladykillers at the New Wolsey Theatre. Photo Mike Kwasniak

The Ladykillers runs at the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch from 3 – 21 October. Tickets are £18 – £29 with £10 tickets available for under 16s at certain performances. For more details and to book, call the Box Office on 01708 443333, visit the theatre in person or go online at queens-theatre.co.uk.

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TFI90s 310817

TFI 90s Radio show with @CW_Stagg on Phoenix FM from 31.08.17

Playlist:

David Bowie – The Hearts Filthy Lesson

Prince – Cream

Jamiroquai – King for a Day

Kate Bush – Rubberband Girl

Skunk Anansie – Hedonism

Ugly Kid Joe – Cats in the Cradle

Soundgarden – Black Hole Sun

Ocean Colour Scene – The Day we Caught the Train

Depth Charge – Shaolin Buddha Finger

Pear Jam – Black

The Shamen – Boss Drum

Pulp – Mis-Shapes

The beloved – Sweet Harmony

East 17 – Someone to Love

Happy Mondays – Fools Gold

Bjork – Play Dead

Alice Cooper – Feed My Frankenstein

The Prodigy – Breathe

The Stone Roses – I Wanna Be Adored

Roxette – Joyride

Annie Lennox – Walking on Broken Glass

U2 – Hold Me, Thrill Me, Kiss Me, Kill Me

Republica – Drop Dead Gorgeous

Madonna – Justify My Love

The Offspring – The Kids Aren’t Alright

Kriss Kross – Jump

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TFI90s 200717

TFI 90s Radio show with @CW_Stagg on Phoenix FM from 20.07.17

Playlist:

DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince – Fresh Prince of Bel Air Intro

Michael Jackson – Stranger in Moscow

Supergrass – In It for The Money

Sheryl Crow – Tomorrow Never Dies

Various Artists – Perfect Day

Metallica – Nothing Else Matters

Blur – Girls and Boys

Apache Indian – Boom Shack-A-Lak

Prince – Cream

Depth Charge – Shaolin Buddha Finger

The Shamen – Ebeneezer Goode

The Prodigy – Breathe

George Michael – I Can’t Make You Love Me

Ocean Colour Scene – The Day We Caught Train

East 17 – If You Ever

East 17 – Someone To Love

East 17 – Thunder

REM – Nightswimming

The Stone Roses – I Wanna Be Adored

Skunk Anansie – Charlie Big Potato

Suede – Trash

The Happy Mondays – Step On

Bush – Greedy Fly

Soundgarden – Fell On Black Days

Mike Flowers Pops – Wonderwall

Snow – Informer

 

 

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