The Tortoise Soup Awards 2012

Dear reader, thank you from the bottom of my heart for supporting the Tortoise Soup blog throughout 2012. The sheer number of views has amazed me and I know that this blog will continue to go from strength to strength in 2013. As this old year is shuffling away into the sunset let us reflect on some of the brilliant achievements throughout 2012. I am proud to present the inaugural Tortoise Soup awards!

‘The Last Of The Haussmans’ (National Theatre)
This remarkable debut play by Stephen Beresford had it all – tears, infidelity, betrayal, love, yearning, death and lots and lots of laughter. Julie Walters tour de force as the disintegrating matriarch was more than ably supported. A truly brilliant new play, that will surely become a future legend.

'The Last of the Haussmans' play at The Lyttelton Theatre, London, Britain - 18 Jun 2012

‘Cardenio’ (The Rose Theatre)
Cardenio is the ‘lost’ play of William Shakespeare, or so we are led to believe. For my mind it has much more in common with the Jacobean revenge tragedies of Thomas Middleton. Whoever wrote it, this Autumn’s production at the Rose Theatre was as spectacular as it was intimate. I urge you all to visit the Rose whenever you are in London. Just down the road from the Globe Theatre, the Rose is still being dragged back from the past. As such, it is still very much an architectural site as well as a theatre but it will give you a theatrical experience like no other. Well done to the Aporia Theatre Collective for bringing this difficult and blood soaked classic to life.


‘Rats Tales” by Carol Ann Duffy (Manchester Royal Exchange)
This is not just a play, it is a theatrical event. Nightmares mingle with fairy tales and the result is pure magic. It would have been impossible to separate this from ‘Last Of The Haussmans’ as the best production of the year. If you want to introduce children to the theatre, you could do no better than start here.

LS Theatre
There is national theatre, and there is regional theatre, but there is another tier that I call ‘local theatre’. The tiny companies that scrape together enough to put on productions at the smaller theatres that still exist across this country.
LS Theatre are a wonderful example of such a company. Based in Barnsley, South Yorkshire they have no shortage of ambition. This year has seen a range of quality productions from them, but the stand out was their ‘Little Shop Of Horrors’ musical. LS pushed the boat out and got in a bone fide West End star in Rachel Leskovac to play Audrey. Audrey 2 (the man eating plant) was just as impressive, and the whole show was a great demonstration of what can be achieved with a small budget but huge determination.


‘Coppelia’ (The Dancehouse, Manchester)
Manchester City Ballet did a great job in bringing Delibes magic to life at The Dancehouse. Airi Koike was particularly impressive, and I look forward to seeing her performances in future. Larger stages surely await for her.

‘The Ring Cycle’ (Royal Opera House)
Watching a ring cycle should be on your bucket list. I saw my first cycle this year and I was not disappointed. The cycle is an incredible achievement, both artistically and physically. Wagner’s music is so fast, so frenetic, so loud that to play 17 hours of it over four amazing nights must be unbelievably draining for the orchestra. Sir Tony Pappano cemented his legendary reputation with flawless conducting, and the huge cast stepped up to the plate in style. Which leads me neatly onto…

Bryn Terfel (Wotan/The Wanderer, Royal Opera House)
There is no bigger role for a bass, but with Bryn Terfel we were in safe hands. It is so hard to strike the right balance between complete power and complete vulnerability but Terfel was faultless. His performance in the final act of Die Walkure was emotionally charged as he sacrifices his own daughter to fate. As the final, beautiful note faded the woman alongside me kept repeating, ‘Oh, wow! oh, wow!’ That said it all.



The Lighthouse (Alison Moore, Salt Publishing)
This is a debut novel to cherish. A real page turner that is achingly crafted and where the prose is so beautiful that it hurts. Moore was unlucky not to clinch the Booker Prize with this one, but awards will surely rain down on her in the future.


‘The Moomins And The Great Flood’ (Tove Jansson, Sort Of)
There have been so many wonderful new books for children this year so why have I selected a book that was written nearly 70 years ago? Well although this was written in 1945 it has never been published in the United Kingdom before 2012 so it was eligible and a worthy winner. Jansson was the greatest children’s author of all time and this is a must read for all Moomin fans.

‘Some Things Matter’ (James Nash, Valley Press)
James Nash has reinvigorated the sonnet form in this wonderful new collection. Yorkshire’s finest poet examines the nature of life itself, distilling it into fourteen line vignettes that teach us what it is like to experience the world around us.


We have recognised some incredible achievements above. They all richly deserve the prestigious ‘Golden Tortoise’ that is winging its way to them. But, no review of 2012 would be complete without two special awards.

Cecilia Giminez
Spain has produced many great artists from Goya to Picasso. But this year introduced the world to a remarkable new talent: Cecilia Giminez. This octogenarian from Zaragoza decided that the priceless work of art in her local church needed a bit of love, a gentle restoration. She went to work on ‘Ecce Homo’ by Elias Garcia Martinez and the results brought the work right into the 21st Century. Cecilia seemed bemused at the uproar that her ‘repairs’ caused, but they do say the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Thanks to Giminez the work went from ‘behold, the man!’ to ‘behold, the chimpanzee!’. At least she had a go.

Cecilia Giminez Spanish mural before and after

Cafe del Soul, Marin, California
Is this refreshing honesty or business suicide? Here is the report from the Marin Independent Journal. You decide.
“If I can’t tell the truth to my customers then why have a restaurant?” manager Sandro De Oliviera asked reporters in his ‘natural and organic’ Cafe del Soul in Marin County, California. “Our mission is to give every person who walks through our doors a sense of feeling better than they did before, and that means being honest with them. That’s why we put up a sign informing them that our kitchen is infested with German cockroaches, that we’ve been fighting a losing battle against them, and that we have reported ourselves to the Health Department.”
Bon appetit!

Thank you again, have a wonderful New Year. 2013 will be a very special year for me as I work towards the publication of my children’s novel ‘Tortoise Soup’. I hope that your year will be just as good! Please comment below and let me know what you think have been the highlights of 2012.


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