Caroline, or Change

blog, event, life, lifestyle, london, Musical Theatre, review, Theatre, West End

Having seen Company the previous night, I had everything crossed that Caroline,or Change would come through for me and it certainly did.

I knew two things going into the Playhouse Theatre.

1.) Graham Norton had tweeted:

screen shot 2019-01-11 at 20.26.21

2.) There was going to be a singing washing machine…

Now, in my mind a singing washing machine evoked an image of a person with a painted up cardboard box flung over their head. This was not to be the case (thankfully). The way in which inanimate objects are given life in this show is brilliant yet somewhat bonkers.

It would in fact be fair to say that the show itself is rather unusual in its choices. Think Mighty Boosh vibes. For me, the moon was the weirdest element of the show, I can’t pretend to understand the involvement of the character but I enjoyed her quirkiness and vocal abilities nonetheless.

It is these vocal abilities that make Caroline, or Change so utterly fantastic. The entire cast deliver flawless performances with voices so beautiful I only wish there was a cast recording. Caroline, played by Sharon D Clarke is mesmerising. Whilst she plays a character who at times should be considered unlikeable to the audience, Sharon overpowers this with her stunning, soulful voice.

Now could I tell you the exact details of the show? No. At times, I felt I had to really choose which character to listen to as I experienced somewhat of a sensory overload. I’m not ashamed to admit it took me a while to connect the dots and realise this is in fact a story about change *I know, the idiocy isn’t lost on me either*. Set in Louisiana in the year 1963 we see Caroline struggle with the repetitive work of a maid in a time of great change in the country around her. I found the moments shared on stage with her daughter Emmie to be particularly moving and impactful.

You may have noticed, I’m not keen to go into too much detail about the show itself because a.) if you’re reading this you probably already have Caroline, or Change on your radar and b.) I personally feel this is a show in which you should go in with little expectation or idea of what it will be.

Once you settle in and get over the initial hit of eccentricity, you find a heartfelt story of family and opportunity performed by some of the best talent I have ever witnessed. So we can skim over the random clarinet playing and singing moon for the sake of a vocal performance of a lifetime from Sharon D. Clarke and her cast.

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Parting Company

blog, celebrity, event, life, lifestyle, Musical Theatre, review, Theatre, trend, West End

I must admit, I’m slightly afraid to post this one.

As a Disclaimer, if you’re thinking I’m going to be bashing any specific names in the next few hundred words, I’m not. The individuals involved in this show were all extremely talented and more than worthy of their place on a West End stage.

I am however going to have to say it…I’m Sophie and I hated Company!

I hated Company so much that I left at the interval. I know this will anger some so let me explain my personal standpoint on leaving shows. I rarely do this, in fact this was only the second time I have ever done so in my entire life. Now, with theatre comes a certain set of unwritten rules. For instance, you would be well within your right to loudly tut a person bringing a burger in as a show snack. You would also be within your rights to boot the bright phone screen of the idiot in front out of their hands should they decide to whip it out at a pivotal moment! But leaving a show has always caused me a bit of conflict. So I kind of judge it by my seating i.e. if I’m front and centre, I ain’t leaving. In my opinion this would be impolite. That being said, I would agree with the viewpoint that it is my money and time and therefore I can make the decision to leave should I want to. And on this occasion, I really wanted to…

Naively, I didn’t do my research on this one. If I’m honest, I was led by the 5 star reviews and glamorous posters lining the escalators of London Vauxhall Station. Company is the show of the moment, the must have ticket and I wanted in.

It was a quick realisation of regret, a bit like when you take a risk on an online order only to discover that the trousers are see-through and it’s less of a camel toe and more like a hoof! *I’ve taken a risk there in assuming that Camels do in fact have hooves and not feet* From the opening number in which various cast members sang Bobbie over and over, I was underwhelmed.

Call me cliche, but I enjoy a musical in which I leave with at least one song stuck in my head and a feeling that I’ve learnt something or taken a message from somewhere. Company is abstract, there is no beginning middle and end (well maybe there is in the second half, you’ll have to let me know). Abstract art and I are like oil and water, we don’t mix *another fact based risk for you there*. I’m very aware that this is a trait shared by some and that others will absolutely love the lack of structure, the audience around me are proof enough that the show is a success to so many!

I suppose I wanted to share my thoughts as the overwhelming feeling I had when leaving was that I lacked culture or intellect in some way. Like I was at a dinner party with a table full of people talking politics in Russian. Like I was left waiting for the punchline when the rest were already in stitches. Company is a beautiful show visually, the staging is phenomenal and I have no doubt that the audience as a whole was feeling that special buzz, I just didn’t.

There is something to be said about the, for want of a better word, ‘snobbery’ that comes with theatre. The idea that more commercial shows are in some way lesser to the ‘classics’. I don’t like that. In my previous post, I mentioned that I believe there is a show for everyone. Theatre is there to entertain and excite. For two hours, you are transported away from your daily life with no distractions and given a story to take with you. It left me wondering, did anyone else in that audience feel the same way as I did and were they perhaps going along with the majority in order to feel accepted in some way? Perhaps not. But personally, I’ll be keeping away from Sondheim in the future and looking for something a little more uplifting.

…Oh and if you’re wondering, the other show I walked out of many years ago was the diabolical, Never Forget. *I like to think that Gary Barlow would have my back on that decision*

Cheap Tickets For the West End!

blog, event, life, lifestyle, london, Musical Theatre, review, Theatre, West End

January in the West End means cheap tickets. There are very few opportunities to bag yourself a ten pound ticket to Phantom or Les Mis but when the country is low on money, the seats still want selling!

Mum and I always like to take advantage of the amazing discounts on offer via Official London Theatre. (I thoroughly recommend taking a look if you are at all interested as there are still plenty of tickets available running through February.)

This year we left it a little last minute and so, on a whim, we decided upon 3 shows. Having already seen several of the ‘big hitters’ including Kinky Boots and Lion King, we settled on Company, Caroline, or Change and Matilda.

Three very different shows with three very different, perhaps controversial, reviews to follow!!

The New Year sale isn’t just for Musical Theatre fans, there are several plays to choose from on the list including the utterly phenomenal Curious Incident Of The Dog In The Night-Time.  I was completely blown away by this show when I saw it a few weeks ago, from the staging to the acting, it was incredible. In fact so good that I feel it deserves a blog post all of its own!

There is a very outdated idea amongst many that theatre is overpriced and unreachable to the masses. This simply isn’t true. I found perspective in a recent trip to the cinema to the value of £18.25!! Obscene! Only justified by the fact that I was watching Mary Poppins Returns. In comparison, two decent seats in the Dress Circle for Caroline, or Change came to a total of £20.

I get it when people say that the theatre just isn’t for them, but I do believe that there is a show for everyone. A two hour experience in which that person finds some kind of connection. There is nothing like the post-show buzz that you just cannot get from a trip to your local Odeon.

If this post has inspired you to book a trip, a great site for good seats at affordable prices is todaytix.com. TodayTix offer daily lotteries to some of the biggest shows in the West End. I myself have been lucky enough to see Heathers, Everybody’s Talking About Jamie and Dreamgirls this way!

If you do decide to see a show, let me know, I always love hearing how different our experiences can be!

 

 

Lolita II

beauty, celebrity, lipstick, look, makeup, review, trend

I warned you in my last post about my love of liquid lipsticks so here is another one for your enjoyment…

The Kat Von D makeup range has been much hyped over the last year or so and it is no wonder. One look at Kat would tell you that galdem knows how to wing that liner!! Unfortunately her makeup range isn’t readily available in the UK so it was at the top of my list when I headed over to the states last year. I picked up the coveted Lock it foundation and concealer and love both. I aimed to grab some of her liquid lipsticks but for some reason I got side tracked and ended up coming home without any. This left me feeling like I was missing out so of course I had to get online and hunt some down.

kvdLolitaIII found Lolita II on Rose’s Beauty Store. This website is a great place to look if you want American brands that aren’t stocked in England (Anastasia Beverly Hills I’m looking at you). I will just say though that the majority of popular stock tends to be sold out and I’m not sure how often it is replenished. Also my packages took a while to be delivered, arrived on different days and I was asked to change an order despite the site showing it was available. However the team were incredibly helpful and courteous when I got in touch and the matter was sorted out super quick! I originally wanted the Kat Von D liquid lipstick in Lolita but this is a well loved shade and very difficult to find in stock. I then saw Lolita II and decided to give it a go.

My thoughts? The shade is nice. A peachy/earthy tone. Nothing to scream home about. The applicator and packaging are lovely and efficient. The formula is fairly long-lasting and not particularly drying. But that’s about it. It didn’t blow me away. It’s just a nice, everyday lipstick. Do I regret buying it? Absolutely not. Has it changed my life? No.

What do you guys think? Do I need to try out any of her other shades? Perhaps there is another product in her range I need to give a go? Let me know!!

Sophie xoxo

Liquid Lipstick Love

beauty, lipstick, makeup, review, trend

Disclaimer: Prepare to see a fair amount of liquid lipstick related blog posts on sophiesnooks, they are my current addiction!

Flashback to November 2015. I was in New York and finally managed to get my hands on a couple of the notoriously brilliant Anastasia Beverly Hills liquid lipsticks. I bought Heathers and Vintage. These aren’t the typical colours I would normally reach for but stock was somewhat limited in Macy’s and I just couldn’t walk away empty handed!!

abhHeathersAs soon as I got back to the hotel that evening I applied Heathers and I have to say since then I’ve been a lot more comfortable wearing a more diverse range of colours. Heathers has a very 90s feel to it which is very ‘in’ at the moment. If you want an alternative to the Kylie Jenner mauve/brown lips this could be what you’re looking for. It is a dark reddish/brown shade.This lipstick will literally suit the lightest to darkest skin tones. Very opaque. Very beautiful. Lasts ages and looks perfect with a simple eye and clean skin. abhVintage

The second shade I picked up was Vintage. This is very much a statement lip colour. I cannot speak highly enough of the formulation of these lipsticks, they are so soft yet incredibly pigmented. Vintage is a bright purple and I like to make it the feature of the look when I wear it. One thing I will say is that it’s important to get the application right with these. On one hand you need to take time to make sure that the shape is perfected but on the other if you take too long you risk any mistakes drying and becoming a nuisance to remove! Once on however, they are long-lasting, non-drying and just really lovely statement lipsticks.

Sophie xoxo

 

My Current Favourites

bargain, beauty, celebrity, essentials, life, lifestyle, makeup, review, skin, skincare, trend

Everything is my favourite at the moment, even the word itself. So I thought I’d share some of my current loves with you all. From television to skincare here are just a few for you…

faves-SQScream Queens – I absolutely love this TV show! I’m watching along weekly in the UK so no spoilers please!! From the cast to the scripting this show is everything I love, but what else would you expect given that it was created by American Horror Story genius Ryan Murphy?! Despite the name it really isn’t particularly scary but it can venture into the gory zone on occasion. The show is set in a sorority house controlled by Queen bitch Chanel (Emma Roberts) and sees the cast being slowly picked off by the ‘Red Devil’. Jamie Lee Curtis is amazing as the slightly crazy, hard-faced Dean Cathy Munsch. Basically if you like pretty clothes, dark comedy and plenty of cliché rich white girl jokes then you need Scream Queens in your life!

faves-cliniqueClinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Oil – This stuff takes my makeup off in seconds. It’s amazing. I was using the Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm but found that it often irritated my eyes, not enough to put me off using it but enough to make me want to explore other options. So I did my research and found the Clinique one to be a suitable alternative. I have found that whilst this is a great first cleanse you really do need to go in with a second one to get that fresh, clean skin feeling. For this I have been using an Elemis one (review coming soon). The Clinique Take the Day Off Cleansing Oil is perfect if you’re in a rush but want to avoid face wipes. 3 pumps for a full face of makeup, a warm flannel to remove and you’re done in seconds. Love. It.

faves-coatMissGuided Padded Faux Fur Hood Jacket– When it comes to jackets, I think I have a serious issue. I just cannot get enough! I feel like I need to have a different style for every occasion (funnily enough my mum disagrees). My justification for this most recent purchase however is that I was seriously lacking in the hood department. This jacket is sooo warm and the giant hood makes it perfect for walks in the rain (a must when you have two dogs). So that’s my reasoning, and I have donated an old one to charity in exchange which is a great idea if you want to rid yourself of a little shoppers guilt. On a side note I just have to say how impressive the MissGuided delivery service is, this arrived next day despite the fact I ordered after 8pm. They also have a great returns policy and bonus points for the 20% discount!!

Adele 25 – Despite spending hours and I mean serious hours attempting to buy tickets to her tour *to no avail* I have made the mature decision to forgive Adele. This new album might actually be my favourite of all her work. Hello is of course the ballad of the year but for me the number one song on 25 is When We Were Young (the video above), I bloody love it! I like the mix of uptempo and slow songs and basically I am just one of millions of passengers riding the Adele train right now.

Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge – I wrote about this in a blog post which you can read here. I won’t bang on about it, but I have just been loving using this to apply my concealer recently. I cover the sponge in setting spray, wait a couple of seconds and then lightly bounce it over the concealer until it has fully blended. This is particularly great for the under eye area and once set with powder there is definitely less creasing than when using a brush. Brilliant and affordable at just £5.99, what more do you want?!

What are your current favourites? Beauty or random I would love to know so please do share them in the comments. Or you can tweet me @sophieaiken.

Sophie xoxo

Clinique Facial Soap

face, highend, review, skincare

This was a bit of a random purchase a couple of weeks ago, I was running low on my Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm and thought I’d try something different. I’m by no means a skincare expert, in fact I have to admit for the last few weeks I’ve been reaching for the devil themselves *facewipes* and I am ashamed!!

What is it?

I bought the Clinique Facial Soap for ‘dry combination skin’ but there are two other soaps available for ‘combination oily to oily skin’ and ‘very dry to dry skin’ . Clinique say ‘our hand-milled non-drying bar soap maintains protective lipids while loosening surface flakes. Leaves skin clean, comfortable, refreshed-never taut or dry.’

Thoughts?

The first time I used this facial soap I wanted to test how well it removed makeup so used it in the way I would use the Emma Hardie Moringa Cleansing Balm. It worked well, my makeup was completely removed but my eyes were on fire! I have very sensitive eyes so to be fair this was a likely side effect for me but they really were quite sore.

I wasn’t blown away by the results this had on my face, it didn’t feel dry but it didn’t feel particularly fresh and clean in the way that it can with other products. At £15 I’m not prepared to let this go to waste. I ended up using it to clean my makeup brushes and it works an absolute dream! I mainly use Real Techniques brushes which have white tipped bristles and this soap was able to get my most used brush *the buffing brush* back to new. So whilst I’m not against using the Clinique Facial Soap on my face I will definitely be avoiding the eye area in future. But mostly I’m just looking forward to washing my brushes again!

Sophie xoxo

Maybelline Master Sculpt

beauty, contour, makeup

You know how it goes…saw the advert, had to buy it! I didn’t need another contour product at all but curiosity won out!

Straight away I can tell you that this is by no means my favourite drugstore contour set, I’d reach for the Barry M Chisel Cheeks Contour Kit over this first. The fallout is pretty bad, one stroke of the brush and there’s powder everywhere! Also I think the highlight shade is more suited to a lighter skin tone but does work if applied with a very light hand on tanned skin.

I do however like the convenience of the Maybelline Master Sculpt, you get your contour and highlight together and when you open it up there is a half decent brush and good quality mirror. So if I needed to pack light I would reach for this. Also the colour pay off of the contour shade is lovely, not too orange but not too ashy either. At £6.99 I think it is fair to say that you’re paying for packaging with the Master Sculpt but then it does do what it says on the tin. With singer Mollie King as the face of this product it’s bound to attract a bit of a following and it’s definitely worth a look if you’re a contouring novice. My advice, swatch in store and see if the fallout is something you can look past.

Sophie xoxo

Snooks&Books – Still Alice

books, review

There have been glimpses of lovely weather here recently so I’ve been spending some time in the garden and what better way to pass the time than with a good book?!

I tend to stick to autobiographies but after reading Gone Girl I decided to branch out a bit. Having been left disappointed by the ending of the aforementioned I quickly moved on to Still Alice. I haven’t seen the film yet but I’m interested to know if it is worth a watch or not? I got through this book so quickly, it’s a real ‘couldn’t put it down’-er! I don’t want to give anything away so here’s the blurb from Amazon

‘When Alice finds herself in the rapidly downward spiral of Alzheimer’s Disease she is just fifty years old. A university professor, wife, and mother of three, she still has so much more to do – books to write, places to see, grandchildren to meet. But when she can’t remember how to make her famous Christmas pudding, when she gets lost in her own back yard, when she fails to recognise her actress daughter after a superb performance, she comes up with a desperate plan. But can she see it through? Should she see it through? Losing her yesterdays, living for each day, her short-term memory is hanging on by a couple of frayed threads. But she is still Alice.’

It’s pretty obvious from the subject nature that this isn’t exactly a lighthearted read but there are real touching moments of happiness, sorrow and humour. I found Still Alice to be so thought provoking, it makes you question your own mortality and how you might react when faced with a life altering situation. But the best thing about this book for me was the ending. Don’t panic this isn’t a spoiler! I’ve had this conversation with a couple of people and there really is nothing worse than reading a good book only to be let down by the final few pages! Still Alice provided an ending that stays with you long after reading it and fits perfectly with where I imagined the story would go.

If you’ve read anything similiar pleeease let me know in the comments, I’m desperate to find another book as good as this!

Sophie xoxo

The Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge

beauty, face, makeup, skin

I didn’t get a long with the Real Techniques miracle complexion sponge for a while, it sat unused in my collection for a good 6 months. Recently I watched a makeup tutorial (can’t for the life of me remember which one) in which the YouTuber sprayed her sponge with a setting spray as oppose to soaking it in water. I gave it a go and have to say I’m a convert! That isn’t to say I’ll be ditching my buffing brush any time soon but for packing on concealer  it’s a definite winner. So what do I do?

I start by spraying a couple of pumps of Makeup Revolution Oil Fixing Spray (read my review here) onto the flat side of my miracle complexion sponge.

Next I apply MAC Prep+Prime highlighter generously under the eyes, on the bridge of the nose, centre of forehead and chin. I then use a patting motion with the sponge to blend this in. This is a little more time consuming than using a brush but the finish is a lot smoother.

I then apply Makeup Forever HD foundation over my entire face and use the same patting motion. Personally I like to build this in two layers in order to gain a medium/full coverage.

Finally, I spray the sponge again and apply the infamous Collection Lasting Perfection concealer in the same places I put the MAC highlighter in order to lighten these areas even further. I repeat the process of patting this in and then move onto the rest of my routine as usual.

I think what I love most about this sponge is that my makeup doesn’t feel like it’s sitting on top of my skin. Often when using brushes I find base products can crease and move but this tool eliminates those problems. Whilst it does require a little more time and effort the result is a flawless face and who can argue with that?!

I haven’t tried the beauty blender as it seems pricey compared to this one but let me know your thoughts, is it even better than Real Techniques?

Sophie xoxo