Introducing: Sid the Stoner Snail

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Inspiration can come from anywhere. And a seemingly random conversation between actor, writer and director Nathan Bryon and his equally talented director extraordinaire girlfriend Theresa Varga, about Nathan's habit of moving snails off the pavement was actually the inspiration for the hilarious comic book character Sid The Stoner. "What if you're actually moving the snail miles and miles of snail miles away from its destination?" wondered Theresa. 6 months, some creative genius from Bryon and some dope illustrations from Daniel Young later, the comic book was born.

Here at Shanika Says I'm all about promoting and bigging up genuine talent and hard work and Nathan Bryon is one of those talented multi-taskers you either hate coz you're jel or love. I love his passion and work ethic! You may remember me reviewing short films by both Nathan and Theresa on the blog here

Sid the Stoner Snail is a comedy comic about a great African snail called Sid who lives with his stoner human mate Wally and all the crazy adventures they get up to. It's definitely a comic for adults and the stoner jokes made me LOL. Sid's x-rated Akon 'Lonely' remix is brilliant!

First episode 'Sid Links Tinder' is, you guessed it, all about Sid's foray into online dating with ruthless dating app Tinder. Bet you didn't know a snail could get catfished?

Currently on sale in Orbital Comics in Leicester Square and Area 51 in Bristol you can also purchase a copy online from The Joke Pit. Support the comic if you wanna see more from the stoner snail!

Instagram Lately

Monday, 27 October 2014

Here are a few pics I've posted on Instagram lately. As well as selfies and pics of what I'm getting up to, I actually post some dope slogan messages and pics so I think I might start adding them here too!

You can follow my Insta by hitting the button under the 'Get Social' heading over to the right :)

Style Yay or Nay: Scrunchies

Thursday, 23 October 2014

"Scrunchies are for spotty teenagers playing music from their phones on the bus" I hear you cry!
Well actually, scrunchies are having a bit of a come-back at the moment, part and parcel of the '90's grunge revival that's everywhere right now. Cool girls online boutique La Moda UK even has a whole page dedicated to them here.

Last month I went to Turkey and managed to pick up three scrunchies in really cool colours and materials for less than a quid at the Turkish market, which you can read about here.

I'll wear them with my mom jeans for a true nod to the '90's.

So scrunchies, you feeling them? Style Yay or Nay?

Eat: The Grove Pub and Dining

Monday, 20 October 2014

Autumn is perfect for boots, scarfs and cosy Sunday roasts at a cute pub. Sundays are for relaxing in my book and when I don't have to cook all the better (for me and any potential victims who eat my cooking!). Once a rowdy Irish pub that let underage drinkers in (many a Friday night was spent here as a 16 year old backing Vodka and Red Bulls...ahem...) now there is The Grove, a charming pub overlooking Ealing Green and Ealing Film Studios in West London.

Sleek outdoor signage and al fresco dining area work in partnership with comfy traditional pub features; exposed brickwork, overstuffed leather chairs, and wooden tables for this family friendly pub. A central bar buzzes with friendly staff and just beyond that is the open kitchen and dining tables, as the Grove serves up French and English dishes using fresh seasonal produce.

Sunday meant a Roast for the Boy.

Roast Suffolk farm chicken, Yorkshire pudding with bread sauce, potatoes and veg. The Yorkshire was soooo big I had to get involved! Light, fluffy, perfect.

I went for the Cornish plaice wih crushed potatoes, spinach and a lemon and dill veloute.

The fish was light and melted in your mouth and the sauce! Super creamy with just the right amount of zing.

I've been having a love affair with spinach all year and The Grove had steamed theirs to perfection. It compliented the fish and potatoes perfectly.

Sunday wouldn't be Sunday without pudding. I eschewed the heavier tarts and such for a chocolate and salted caramel parfait.

Chocolate and vanilla ice-cream topped with shavings of chocolate, cocoa powder and a sliver of salted caramel, I was a little misled by the name and disappointed there wasn't more salted caramel, but it was beautifully presented and tasted fine.

I'm sure as winter draws closer I'll be back at The Grove for more. Preferably on a Sunday.

Watch: A Streetcar Named Desire ~ National Theatre Live

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

At the weekend I watched a play at the cinema. Yep, not a film, a play. Lemme explain.
A Streetcar Named Desire, the seminal Tennessee Williams play became the fastest selling production in The Young Vic's history earlier this year...meaning I could not get my hands on tickets for love nor money. I was pretty devastated...I tweeted for help. I mentioned it to anyone I could. I even begged an actor I kinda-sorta know who was in the production. All roads led to nada.

So I was pretty bloody chuffed with myself when I began to hear more and more about National Theatre Live, mostly through the power of social media, which is actualy an invaluable tool when it comes to staying in the loop about the arts, which is less publicised than it ought to be, but that's another blog post. Basically National Theatre Live is a pretty incredible project of the National's: it broadcasts "the best of British theatre live to cinemas across the UK and around the world". Pretty awesome. The broadcasts have now been seen by over 3.5 million people in over 1,100 venues around the world, 550 of which are in the UK alone. Live broadcasts are filmed with the theatre audience present, with cameras dotted about the auditorium to get the best possible views. Satellites allow the production to be shown without delay, or they can be viewed later (for those that missed out like me). Past National productions have included The Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Nighttime, War Horse and Danny Boyle's King Lear as well as productions from other theatres like Coriolanus at the Donmar Warehouse and of course, The Young Vic's A Streetcar Named Desire.

Directed by Benedict Andrews, Williams' play set in New Orleans about the collapsing world of Southern Belle Blanche du Bois, when she visits her sister Stella and her new husband Stanley Kowalski. With a modern spin by way of costume and literal spin of the slowly spinning set in the centre of the auditorium (the play was performed in the round), the sticky heat of the French Quarter and powder keg of emotions are played out with incredible tension. Not really knowing much of Gillian Anderson's work other than the X Files, I was blown away by her performance of delicate, fading dame Blanche. Vanessa Kirby was great as Stella and Ben Foster was a study in brutal force and testosterone laden manly scariness...the acting was supreme.

Watching a play at the cinema was odd but in a good way; we could see up close the distress in Anderson's eyes, Fosters' disdain through a curled lip, which is something you don't usually get to witness so closely in big theatres. Obviously, the cinema is not quite the same experience, but in some ways the palpable tension on stage and also with the stage audience, who the cinema audience get to see, translated back into the cinema. We were riveted.
It was almost revolutionary to me, being able to pop along to my local Wandsworth cinema (which was PACKED and in a huge screen) and see the magic of a stage performance. I'd recommend it to anyone who can't get along to the theatre, or like me, just can't get hold of any tickets.

Double Date Thursday

Monday, 13 October 2014

Last Thursday evening involved a nice double date with myself and the boy, Kirsty and her lovely boyfriend Hugo. The fact that I got the boy out on a double date without realising/complaining is a huge achievement in itself so well done me!

We started off by attending #freefoodthursdays at The Hoxton Pony. Free food I hear you cry? Yep you read correctly, every Thursday there is free food given away between 6 and 9pm, with a Moroccan meal night and new winter cocktail tasting session all coming up, for free, over the next few weeks. Thank me later for this perfect after work freeness on a Thursday.

We got chatting to one of the owners of Dub Plates Kitchen (check their Twitter here) and found out a bit about the venture; two friends growing up in London with West Indian heritage decided to 'remix' traditional Caribbean food, adding London influences and coming up with some great new dishes in the process.

Bored of chicken wings? Not when they're in a sorrel chilli sauce you're not! Like beer battered fish? Red Stripe batter only makes them better (the fish was my absolute fave). Sliders are everywhere..but curry goat sliders? My friends assured me they were delicious. I love the idea of presenting Caribbean food with a London twist, the veggie sausage and herby mash were delish as was the gunga pea hummus with fried green banana chips. I'm only sad I didn't get to try the jerk smoked mozzarella and heirloom tomato salad. Dub Plates Kitchen currently run supper clubs and pop-ups so keep an eye out for where they might end up next.

Literally around the corner, Rivington Place is exhibiting Black Chronicles II. A free exhibition, it looks at the presence of Black people in Britain before the second world war through studio portraiture, with all photos taken before 1938. There are over 200 photographs on display, many never seen before, dug up from archives and re-examined. There are incredible photographs of the African Choir, when they toured Britain and many stunning unidentified sitters, giving us a glance at history we are rarely taught about; black and Asian people in Britain years before the Windrush, which is when we are often led to believe was the first time black people set foot on this island.

The exhibition is dedicated to the late cultural theorist Stuart Hall, who I studied at both college and university, and the walls are adorned with beautiful phrases from his keynote speech on archives and cultural memory, actually held at Rivington Place in 2008, as well as audio excerpts playing in the second exhibition space. He spoke a lot about forgetting being an important trope of memory and how we have to do our best to acknowledge and preserve the history of our ancestors in this country. With it being black history month, it's the perfect time to visit and learn a little more about the history of Black people in the country I was born in.

You can't take photos in the gallery itself (although there was nothing they could do about our cheeky ones from outside!) but you can see a few on the Autograph APB site as well as a bit more information. The exhibition runs until 29th November so plenty of time to get down there.

Last stop of the night!

The FatKyds t-shirt launch at Shoreditch House. FatKyds commission an artist to create limited edition t-shirts, that are one off designs and all produced in London. Backing British all the way! They had flute playing beatboxers and alcohol flowing as well as Polaroid girls knocking about. I can't resist a good Polaroid shot, me.

Watch: Dirty Butterfly @ The Young Vic

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Last night I took myself on a date. A bit of background here; I'd realised my theatre game was slipping considerably and tweeted for suggestions of what to see. Someone recommended Dirty Butterfly at the Young Vic...but it was sold out, my only option was to turn up and go on the reserve list. So yesterday I took myself down to The Young Vic, popped myself on the reserve list and tucked into a soft shell crab burger while waiting an hour and half to find out if I could even watch the show!
It was a very last minute thing so I knew people wouldn't generally be free and also I didn't really want to drag friends down there if I couldn't 100% guarantee we would even see the show. So I dated myself and boy am I glad I did!

I got in...just. I was the last person on the reserve list to slip through, even a lovely actor pal David Ajala was turned away, along with many others. I took my seat but I was not prepared for what I was about to see. The show ran at 65 minutes with no interval and I left feeling physically battered; it is such a powerful and visceral piece of theatre.

Written by debbie tucker green and orginally performed in 2003 at the Soho Theatre, this production was directed by Tinuke Craig, the Genesis Future Directors Award winner, who I used to attend the National Theatre youth group with when I was about 14. Brilliant to see her flying like this.

Jason (played by Anthony Welsh) can hear his neighbour Jo (Seline Hizli) through his wall, and so he stays up all night listening. Their neighbour Amelia (Estella Daniels) can hear too, that's why she sleeps downstairs on her sofa now. They play looks at voyeurism and that strange notion we have around domestic violence sometimes of 'not wanting to get involved'. Because one thing that is clear is that Jo is being hideously and regularly physically violated by her husband.

debbie tucker green uses a lryical writting style for working class characters, both Jo and Amelia sound distinctly South London to my ear and the staccato, overlapping rhythmic speech, particularly at the beginning, are spliced with second generation West Indian phrases and speech patterns from Amelia. The characters say all the things that they wished they had said to each other, the things they should have said, the things they wanted to say...

In the second scene the carpets are rolled up to reveal the pristine tiled floor of the cafe that Amelia works in. Hyemi Shin has done a brilliant job of creating a stark clinical white of the floor and lower walls versus a bland brown of the rest of the set; the boringness of reality. The white floors are soon awash with red blood and regret.

tucker green has created beautifully flawed characters. Jason, a stuttering man unable to bring himself to really help; we are sure that he wants to but Jo often hints that his voyeurism has more pervy motives. Amelia presents as harsh and disconnected in all that she says but her actions never quite follow up, she can't be unaffected by what she knows. And Hizli excels as Jo, we pity her but she is not a weak, beaten character; she snarls at and ridicules Jason, aggravates Amelia and slinks or crawls across the stage with a combination of sensuality, depravity and turmoil I was amazed to see all in one actor. Genuinely inspired me to up my acting levels.

Dirty Butterfly only shows until this Saturday the 11th, but if you can get down there and put your name on that reserve list..cross every finger and toe and hope you get in. Well worth it.