P/REVIEW: View From The Sofa 13

Brian Butler June 18, 2020

This week’s offering from the National Theatre is their much praised production of Small Island, adapted by Helen Edmundson from Andrea Levy’s novel about hope and humanity’s confrontation with cold reality in three connected stories .

With a cast of 40, it traces the tangled history of Jamaica and the UK, throughout World War II up to the arrival of the ship Empire Windrush in 1948. It screens on YouTube for a week from the evening of Thursday 18 June.

Courtesy of NBC Universal, the Shows Must Go On series this week gives us the 2014 televised version of the 1954 Peter Pan, the Broadway Musical. With music by, among others Julie Styne and words by the goldmine team of Comden  and Green, it stars Alison Williams as Peter, Christopher Walken as Hook, and features Christian Borle, Kelli O’Hara and Minnie Driver. It’s on for 48 hours on YouTube from Friday evening 19 June.

This coming weekend should have seen the staging of the wonderful annual West End Live, when casts of London shows take to the Trafalgar Square stage for everything that’s best in musical  theatre. Of course it’s had to be postponed so you can catch highlights from the last 5 years staging on Saturday and Sunday – each day different and each available for 24 hours. Full details on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

The innovative Southwark Playhouse are offering free streaming of the musical Wasted, Jesse Briton’s Bound, and Philip Ridley’s The Beast Will Rise, plus a version of Twelfth Night.  Go to

Another of London’s gems of a small theatre, the New Diorama, is offering Contractions by Mike Bartlett, a dark comedy about faceless corporations, nameless management and the boundaries bewteen work and play. They’re also offering  4.48 Psychosis, by Sarah Kane, a lyrical and haunting play about love, isolation and mental health. Go to

To raise funds for the Queen’s Theatre, Hornchurch , the theatre is streaming Howard Goodall’s musical The Hired Man, based on Melvyn Bragg’s novel about a Cumbrian community bewteen 1890 and 1920. It’s on their YouTube channel or watch it here:

Finally I had the privilege to stay in the wonderful home of Joe and Teddie Spano in Abilene , Texas two Christmases ago and I am indebted to them for this daring recipe of octopus salad.  Be brave and try it !

Take 2 to 2 1/2 lbs of whole octopus ; 6 cloves fresh garlic crushed; 2 bay leaves; 1/2 cup olive oil; 1 cup red or white wine; pepper to taste; a little salt.

Make a pouch out of heavy duty foil and insert the contents; do not wrap too tightly. Place in oven at 375 F for about 70 mins, until the base of the body is fork tender. Place octopus in iced water for 10-15 minutes.

For the salad:

Cut the octopus into bite-size pieces – add in a bowl : 1/4 cup lemon juice; 1/4 cup olive oil; 2 cloves of finely chopped garlic; 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley; 1/2 cup finely sliced celery.

For better flavour, marinate in fridge overnight.