It was rather nice to have an excuse to go to Islington, I tend not to venture there that often but I do like it rather a lot. It is definitely an area of London I still need to discover, I hardly know it at all. One of my favourite things about living and working in London 🎡, is discovering new places 💃. I have always lived south of the river 🚣 – Battersea and Wandsworth, but have worked in Covent Garden 💐, Fitzrovia 🎓, Kentish Town 🎶 and Chelsea 👸 and I always love getting to know a new place. The initial discovery of a new and exciting place for lunch 🍝or coffee ☕, and then getting to know the people who run the café, once your favourites have been established. Favourites have been Spud 🍲in Covent Garden – gourmet baked potato for lunch (it has now closed, but don’t worry, there are other potato selling places), Attendant in Fitzrovia – a great bacon 🐷 sandwich, Kaffeine for their banana bread 🍌 and coffee ☕, Yumchaa for their brownies 🍩 and green tea 🍵(a superb combination) both in Fitzrovia, Meat in Tufnell Park – great sandwiches 🍞 and a bottle of wine 🍷 if you need one for dinner that evening, and Artisan du Chocolat in Chelsea for a hot chocolate pick me up ☕🍫. And of course Piccolo’s on Sloane Street. If you are ever at Sloane Square need anything they seem to have it, I have begged lemons 🍋🍋 from them on multiple occasions (don’t ask) and they’ve even produced a chocolate cake 🎂 short notice for a birthday.
So to Islington, where I met Nikki, and we went to watch Russian Dolls👭 by Kate Lock, at the Kings Head Theatre 👑 👨, which is through a door at the back of this rather nice little pub.
The last time I went to see a play in a small venue, a friend and I made the mistake of consuming a couple too many drinks 🍷🍷 before we took our seats and we happened to be sitting on the wrong side of the stage. Short play, no interval – and I have to say (although it was a very good performance) we spent the last 20 minutes desperately trying to decide if we could dash across the stage to the exit 👯, in between scenes. We didn’t, but I was better prepared this time – not too many drinks beforehand.
I liked Russian Dolls 👭 very much – it is the story of a relationship between Hilda 👵, an elderly lady who has suddenly gone blind, and her accidental carer, the young and very mouthy Camellia 👧(what a great name) – they initially meet when Camellia burgles Hilda. The character of Hilda is based on a lady who lived locally in Islington – she had spent her entire life fostering children, and in the play unofficially takes Camellia under her wing.
It is a clash of personalities 🙅🙆💁, between two women of very different generations living in London. Hilda lives alone, her husband has died and she never had any children. Although she is blind she still carries on cooking 🍝, all sorts of homemade things – lemonade 🍶, cakes 🍰and toad in the hole 🍲. Camellia is 17 and has just left a young offenders unit, and is one of a number of children who have all been removed from their mother – she now spends most of her time with her brother’s gang, who often treat her quite brutally 🙍. Both characters are people we perhaps push to the back of our minds too often – the homeless girl on the street, and the elderly lady living alone, with no company but her daily carer.
It is a really intriguing and moving interaction between two very strong characters, the lonely, but brave Hilda 👵 who dearly wants to help Camellia, and Camellia 👧who is brash with a harsh survival instinct. For Camellia, stealing from an old lady is just a way to ensure she gets her next meal – she has no one she can rely on, or who cares for her, except the rather strained relationship with her social worker.
The story is shocking in places, and you never know what might come next. The performances are very very good, Mollie Lambert plays Camellia 👧 and Stephanie Fayerman Hilda 👵, the way the characters play off each other is absolutely captivating. This unlikely relationship between two very different members of our society works surprisingly well, they are able to share things, that the other may never have achieved on their own – Camellia learns to cook🍝, Hilda gets a guide dog 🐶. And it also puts into perspective how much has changed between generations – they are two women, living in the same city with completely different values, priorities and ideas about life, and very often they just can’t comprehend the others actions or thoughts.
If you are looking for something to do today or tomorrow, I definitely recommend going to see it – Russian Dolls, King’s Head Theatre 👭👨👑.