Creatives’ London

'Singing for your supper at Sarastro, while Closer to Heaven throws everything into the pot.'

Alan Miller

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In a world where soundbites dominate, I shall attempt to avoid falling into the dreadful pit of cliché – oops. Food has been presented as the new rock’n’roll – enough, one might suppose, to put off the most gastronomically ardent.

However, Sarastro is one restaurant in London’s now teeming scene that seems to have managed a tour de force, by combining an ambience of Byzantine splendour (if a little gregarious), with wonderful recitals from members of the Royal Opera House. Reminiscent of a scene from Caligula or some Bacchanalian debauchery, it is the perfect setting for a night of indulgence.

With the owner’s disposition for a full-bodied wine, the revelries often run past the impressive arias. I even feared he might break into the Masters of Ceremonies when holding court there recently. One can just imagine ‘We’re lovin’ it, lovin’ it, lovin’ it’ going down as well as the proverbial bacon butty at a bar mitzvah.

Congratulations, though, to the Pied Piper, DT and the crew with their huge summer success and the broader recognition of UK Garage music. Superlative it may not be, fine tune it certainly is. Music, food, fashion, opera…well, why not attempt a bash at it all, as the play Closer to Heaven does at the Arts Theatre? Sitting at the opening night, among an eminently famous audience, including Sir Elton John, Sir Ian McKellen, Simon Callow, Boy George, Janet Street-Porter…er, Keith Allen….

The publicity machine has been working overtime, and it reminded me of the UK general election campaign. Once again, brilliant choreography from Peter Darling and Lynn Page, hot off the heels of their successes with Billy Elliot and Merrily We Roll Along at the Donmar; but with a poor script displaying somewhat exhausted ideas and a group of characters that we don’t care about, despite some impressive performances. Nobody can seem to make any sense of the past, present or future here – but hey, gay is the new straight so let’s just parddddy.

Partying has been the mainstay for Mark Armstrong for the best part of 15 years. He has managed to pull off the double whammy of being paid to have a large amount of fun. Credited with Restaurant Awards and Club Awards, he has come up with a new angle that is sure to be a winner. The Bacardi Clubmasters. Of course!

When election gloom hits town, what better than to dive into a game with the real players – from Steve Strange to Kate Moss, Meg Mathews to Piers Adams, Ian Schrager and Sir Richard Branson…all to be displayed as art at Terry Pullen’s latest 10 concept, at the Connaught Rooms. Bravo Mr Armstrong!

With celebrity being the number one aspiration today, form so hugely overshadowing content, it was very refreshing to take in the mammoth Henry’s at the Barbican and Young Vic recently. With such a diverse range of directors, it was a feat of the imagination indeed. Although, one could not help but wonder what had happened to the sense of history-making that prevailed not so long ago.

A world of doom and gloom, therapy and not-so-famous-celebrity can only be with us for so long. Can’t it?

Alan Miller is managing director of the Vibe Bar on Brick Lane, east London, co-creator of the Old Truman Brewery, and author of the novel Seven Days in A Decade. Buy this book from Amazon (UK)

Sarastro, 126 Drury Lane, London, Monday evenings – opera menu and singers.

Closer to Heaven is at the Arts Theatre, 6-7 Great Newport Street, London.

Clubmasters is on show at 10 Connaught Rooms – the press launch is on Tuesday 19 June.

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