Events pivot around Charles Thoroughgood (Charlie Cox), a wet-behind-the-ears MI6 agent whose university friendship with Russian diplomat Viktor Koslov sees him fast-tracked into the middle of a urgent campaign to undermine Operation Legacy, a Soviet plot to destroy British infrastructure. But what will he find in this dark hinterland? Clearly peril and betrayal, but also shocking information about his own family and – via unhappily married espionage widow Anna (Romola Garai) – an insight into the emotional hazards of a life lived in such shark-infested waters.
Like most of Milne’s work it’s earnest to a fault, but also psychologically credible thanks to Cox and Garai’s expressive and committed performances. It also looks great: the permanent dusk of blackout 1974 is exploited to maximum effect.
In case you didn’t know, Scandinavia is cool right now. The food, the fashion, the facial hair – plus the Vikings have invaded the British Museum. All we need next is a healthy economy, a reliable public transport system and a sense of social justice, and London will be indistinguishable from Oslo. Meanwhile in Hackney, there’s yet another Northern European-inspired incursion. Or apparently so: the website claims this bar-restaurant-club draws on ‘a Nordic aesthetic’, although it’s not immediately obvious within. Oslo occupies the previously deserted old Hackney rail station and takes on a bit of a railway theme with its luggage-rack lighting, plus there are industrial stylings that give the whole place a Janet Jackson ‘Rhythm Nation’ video feel. The restaurant part is rather fancy, its food incorporating a few of the forages, pickles, jellies and marinations of New Nordic cooking. The kitchen is regularly given over to guest chefs, and you have to book – it’s always heaving. Eat in the bar and the food is more straightforward. Where once the standard snack in pubs was a toastie, sausage roll or pork pie, now it’s the slider or fried chicken. These are served alongside frankly obscene portions of chips, slathered with the likes of cured bacon fat and bacon salt, or braised oxtail, gravy and cheese. There’s a commendable range of craft beers from the vicinity, including a couple from Five Points Brewing just five minutes up the road at the Downs.Head upstairs and you’ll find a
Venue says: “Join us every Thursday night until late for Soul Soul Soul – a night of vinyl appreciation with DJs playing soul, funk, disco and more.”