News: The Mono Box launch The Monologue Library

I mean, just look at this absolute treasure trove of theatrical talent! 

 

I’m off to listen to Patsy Ferran read Tom Wells, and Gabby Wong read Alexi Kaye Campbell, and Sarah Niles read Winsome Pinnock and…and…

This incredible resource is free but like so many creative endeavours right now, would benefit hugely from your donations here

 

Lockdown TV Review: Spooks Series 8

With major fluctuations in the force, Series 8 maintains a strong level for Spooks – you could argue it should have stopped here

“They think you’ve got Harry Pearce in the palm of you hand and you’re making moves”

 

Finally, after too many years of yoyo-ing between good series bad series, Spooks finally put together two strong instalments back to back. I think the shorter run (8 episodes) really does focus the writing which now goes all-in on the serial plot line running through the whole series, yet still finding time to blend in self-contained storylines here and there.

Big betrayals cut deep, harsh on a team barely recovered from Connie’s recent deception. Personnel changes rock the team equally hard, as Malcolm is (metaphorically) sacrificed to bring back Ruth, Jo is (literally) sacrificed for big business and Ros (understandably) goes in hard for Tobias Menzies. And Richard Armitage’s Lucas North gets his arse out – quality TV all round. Should Spooks have gone out all guns blazing here?

Nicola Walker-ometer
She’s back! There’s a measure of contrivance in Ruth’s return to the show, necessary to undo the finality of her previous departure and to extricate her from the cushy life in Cyprus which she’d established forself. So cheerio to handsome new partner (they weren’t married so it’s OK he got killed), sayonara to her step-child in all but name, and welcome back to sweet emotional lrepression with Harry. Continue reading “Lockdown TV Review: Spooks Series 8”

2019 What’s On Stage Award nominations

As we move towards the year end, so award season gets into full swing and What’s On Stage have now revealed their nominations celebrating everyone who works in theatre apart from sound designers and musical directors. As ever, these awards tend to work around which fanbase can weaponise the strongest and so there’s lots of love for shows which might not necessarily be troubling many other shortlists…

Still, am liking the recognition for Milly Thomas and Dust, Es Devlin’s luminous set work for Girls & Boys, and Six and The Grinning Man getting into the cast recording category (though can’t quite work out how Come From Away fits into there as well…). And it’s a bit sad that the way their eligibility period works means that Hamilton comes up against Company, making the supporting actress/actor categories ridiculously difficult to choose between.

You can vote here until 31st January, and winners will be announced on 3rd March.

Continue reading “2019 What’s On Stage Award nominations”

Re-review: Girls and Boys, Royal Court

One of the absolute hottest tickets in town – Carey Mulligan scorches the stage in Dennis Kelly’s Girls and Boys at the Royal Court in London

“I don’t remember exactly when things with us started to go properly wrong – I just remember suddenly finding myself in it.”

A cheeky revisit to a matinée of Girls and Boys and one definitely worth making as knowing what was coming, having the 360 about the subject matter, brings with it a wonderful but terrible weight. New significances emerge, preconceptions are recalibrated, the heart sinks a lot heavier a little earlier.

My review from last time can be read here and there’s not too much more to add, aside from it is well worth stalking the website for returns or putting an early evening aside to queue at the theatre. Oh, and the show was definitely robbed in the Olivier nominations.

 

Review: Girls and Boys, Royal Court

“If it gets difficult – and it will get difficult – I want you to remember two things: remember that this did not happen to you, and that it is not happening now”

Credit where credit is due – Es Devlin’s design for Girls and Boys, aided by Luke Halls’ video work, is simply stunning – the simplest of ideas realised with perfect execution. A modern flat smothered in dreamy turquoise, punctuated at each scene change with a flash of the ‘real’ flat superimposed on top. The effect is literally blink-and-miss-it but somehow sears onto the retina, as if caught in a hallucination or reverie.

But such deceptive simplicity is far from effortless as no less than four associate set designers are credited – Jack Headford, Jed Skrzypczak, Angie Vasileiou and Machiko Weston – and two associate video designers – Charli Davis and Zakk Hein. No matter how the work was divvied up, all should get to take a bow as it is deeply thrilling work (I want someone to write a longform piece on the subtly changing orange objects). It also helps that Dennis Kelly’s monologue, delivered by Carey Mulligan, is exceptional. Continue reading “Review: Girls and Boys, Royal Court”

Review: Pinocchio, National

“Do you want puppets?”

No matter the weather, as you walk into the Lyttelton’s auditorium for Pinocchio, you’ll find that it is snowing. A simple trick but one that inspires just the right childlike wonder for an adaptation of such a popular fairytale, but it is also a sense of magic that John Tiffany’s production of Dennis Kelly’s adaptation sometimes struggles to hold onto, as darkly disturbing as it is exuberantly heartfelt.

That darkness comes from several directions. The narrative cleaves closely to the moral instruction of a fable so Pinocchio’s struggle with the dark side is presented as a straight-up choice between good and evil – make the wrong choice in dealing with the Fox or the Coachman and things could end up pretty grim, as we witness in a particularly brutal bit of puppet mutilation (it shocked even me!). Continue reading “Review: Pinocchio, National”

Re-review: Matilda the Musical, Cambridge Theatre

“Please don’t cry, dry your eyes, wipe away your tears”

Despite naming it my show of the year in 2011 (or maybe because of that), I’ve not been back to see Matilda the Musical since it opened at the Cambridge Theatre four years ago. I had such the perfect emotional journey with the show that I just didn’t want to alter that experience by going back and risking it being something of a disappointment, especially with such impossibly high standards to live up to from that amazing original cast and Bertie Carvel’s iconic Mrs Trunchbull.

Four years is long enough though I think, and when the opportunity to revisit the show presented itself, I accepted the offer with just a little trepidation. Those nerves were quickly dispelled, even as soon as entering the theatre to witness the infectious enthusiasm of an audience of all ages, and the reassuring sight of Rob Howell’s design with its multi-coloured letters strewn across the set. And as Laurie Perkins’ orchestra launched into the familiar strains of ‘Miracle’, my heart leapt and I wondered how I had left it this long. Continue reading “Re-review: Matilda the Musical, Cambridge Theatre”

Review: Debris, Southwark Playhouse

“He is now aware
That there are lives different from ours
Things won’t be the same”

One of Dennis Kelly’s earliest plays, Debris is being revived at the Southwark Playhouse for its tenth anniversary in a co-production between Openworks Theatre and Look Left Look Right and what a spiky little thing it is. A two-hander coming in at just a shade over an hour long, it depicts a brother-sister relationship unlike most others, the dysfunction in their childhood so warped that it could be taken from a Philip Ridley play, sibling rivalry taken to the next level.

Michael and Michelle have been brought up somewhat reluctantly by their alcoholic father after their mother died and it is clear that such trauma has resulted in emotional instability. Harry McEntire’s Michael starts off by telling us the story of his 16th birthday to find his father crucifying himself and then Leila Mimmack’s Michelle relates how her mother died at the time of her birth but it soon becomes evident that these are not necessarily the most reliable of narrators. Continue reading “Review: Debris, Southwark Playhouse”

Review: From Morning to Midnight, National Theatre

“Well, that was a bit odd”

Sometimes, one knows from the first moments of a show that it just isn’t going to be your cup of tea. And so it was with the opening montage of Melly Still’s new production of From Morning to Midnight, a landmark of German expressionism apparently but for me, a hugely ambitious piece of stagecraft that indulges far too much overt theatricality at the expense of dramatic integrity. It is worth noting ‘twas a preview that I saw and one in which understudy Jack Tarlton had to step in for the injured Adam Godley in the lead role.

Georg Kaiser’s 1912 play uses an episodic form to tell the story of an everyday clerk who is jolted from the mundaneness of his existence when a sultry Italian wanders into his bank, inspiring him to seize the day and make a change to his dull family life. That he does by stealing 60,000 marks from the bank with the intention of eloping with this woman but when she rejects him, the clerk delves into a journey of the soul – both actual and metaphysical – that lasts for a day but feels like a lifetime. Continue reading “Review: From Morning to Midnight, National Theatre”