TV Review: Gentleman Jack Series 1

Gentleman Jack proves a huge success, for Sally Wainwight, for Suranne Jones, for lesbian storytelling, for everyone

“So much drama, always, with Anne”

Even with as reliably assured hands as Sally Wainwright’s at the tiller, I was a little nervous for Gentleman Jack in the pride-of-place Sunday evening TV slot. But I should have been surer of my faith, for it has been a stonkingly good 8 hours of drama, with an epically romantic lesbian relationship at its heart.

Anne Lister (Suranne Jones) is a wealthy Yorkshire heiress whose uncompromising nature about any and every aspect of her life rubs any number of people up the wrong way. Ann Walker (Sophie Rundle) is most definitely not one of them though, she wants to be rubbed the right way and so we follow the path of true love as it winds through the prejudices of the Yorkshire Pennines and Anne’s attempts to break into the coal mining world. Continue reading “TV Review: Gentleman Jack Series 1”

Nominees for The Stage Debut Awards 2017

The Joe Allen Best West End Debut
John Boyega for Woyzeck at the Old Vic~
Anthony Boyle for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child at the Palace Theatre
Andy Karl for Groundhog Day at the Old Vic
Audra McDonald for Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar and Grill at Wyndhams Theatre
Andrew Polec for Bat Out of Hellat the London Coliseum
Imogen Poots for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? at the Harold Pinter Theatre
Amber Riley for Dreamgirls at the Savoy Theatre
Charlie Stemp for Half a Sixpence at the Noel Coward Theatre

Best Actor in a Play
Jack Archer for Nivelli’s War at the Lyric Theatre, Belfast
TJ Jones for The Seven Acts of Mercy at the Swan Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company
Kenneth Omole for Assata Taught Me at the Gate Theatre, London
Abraham Popoola for Othello at Tobacco Factory Theatres, Bristol

Best Actress in a Play Sponsored by Pauline Quirke Academy at PQA Studios London
Anya Chalotra for Much Ado About Nothing at Shakespeare’s Globe, London
Kellan Frankland for The House of Bernarda Alba at the Royal Exchange, Manchester
Grace Molony for The Country Girls at the Minerva Theatre, Chichester
Jess Peet for Alice in Wonderland at the Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh

Best Actor in a Musical Sponsored by Encore Radio
Adam J Bernard for Dreamgirls at the Savoy Theatre, London
Ben Hunter for The Girls at the Phoenix Theatre, London
Samuel Thomas for Allegro at Southwark Playhouse, London
Daniel Urch for 110 in the Shade at Ye Olde Rose and Crown, London

Best Actress in a Musical Sponsored by The Other Palace
Chloe Carrington for Hair at Hope Mill Theatre, Manchester
Emily Hughes for Fiddler on the Roof at Everyman Theatre, Liverpool
Siena Kelly for On the Town at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, London
Miriam-Teak Lee for On the Town at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre, London

Best Composer Sponsored by Trafalgar Entertainment Group
Jonah Brody for Removal Men and This Beautiful Future at the Yard, London
Ruth Chan for Snow in Midsummer at the Swan Theatre, Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-upon-Avon
Dan Gillespie Sells for Everybody’s Talking About Jamie at the Crucible Theatre, Sheffield
MJ Harding for Removal Men at the Yard, London
Stephen Jackson for Roller Diner at the Soho Theatre, London

Best Designer Sponsored by Robe
Rosie Elnile for The Convert at the Gate Theatre, London
Joshua Gadsby for Dreamplay at the Vaults, London and Still Ill at the New Diorama, London
Simon Spencer for The Tempest at the Royal Shakespeare Company, Stratford-upon-Avon
Jessica Staton for Extra Yarn at the Orange Tree Theatre, London

Best Director Sponsored by See Tickets
Sean Aydon for Richard III at the Rosemary Branch, London
Alexander Lass for 46 Beacon at Trafalgar Studios 2, London
Lekan Lawal for Betrayal at Derby Theatre, Derby
Lynette Linton for Assata Taught Me at the Gate Theatre, London

Best Writer
Titas Halder for Run the Beast Down at the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury and Finborough Theatre, London
Asif Khan for Combustion at Tara Arts, London
Katherine Soper for Wish List at the Royal Exchange, Manchester, and Royal Court Theatre, London
Victoria Willing for Spring Offensive at the Clapham Omnibus, London

 

TV Review: Doctor Who Series 10

Episodes, in order of preference
World Enough and Time
Extremis
The Doctor Falls
Thin Ice
Knock Knock
Oxygen
The Eaters of Light
Smile
The Pilot
Empress of Mars
The Pyramid at the End of the World
The Lie of the Land

Top 5 guest spots
1 David Suchet’s Landlord was as perfectly written a character as befits one of our more superior actors
2 Regular readers will know I’m a big fan of Kieran Bew and his astronaut in Oxygen was no exception
3 Nicholas Burns‘ malevolent Sutcliffe was a delightfully Dickensian villain 
4 Another theatrical delight of mine is Anthony Calf, impressive as the pseudo-Victorian Godsacre
5 Rebecca Benson’s young Pict impressively led The Eaters of Light from the front, a perfect vessel for Rona Munro’s vision

Saddest death
Michelle Gomez’s Missy has been a brilliant breath of fresh air and whilst her decision to follow Moffat and Capaldi out the door is understandable, it isn’t any less disappointing. And perhaps the timey-wimeyness of the circumstances around her passing mean that maybe this isn’t the last we see of her…

Most wasted guest actor
I don’t what I expected from the reliably excellent Samantha Spiro in Doctor Who but I didn’t get it from her part in The Doctor Falls.

Gay agenda rating
With Bill onboard, A+!

Re-review: The Girls, Phoenix

“There is nothing in Nepal
More scary than the step from the kitchen to the hall”

So having not gotten round to seeing The Girls for whatever reason (mainly that I didn’t want to), I finally bit the bullet last week and within 24 hours, the show posted closing notices for its West End run. The Girls will then head out on a two year national tour from August 2018, aiming to visit 42 theatres across the UK and if that does perhaps seem a little ambitious, it is hard to shake the feeling that the musical might be more suited out on the road.

Gary Barlow and Tim Firth’s show started life in “the regions” – I saw it in Leeds and my family saw it in Manchester – and away from the cut-throat economics of the West End, it may well thrive again. The instant recognition of the Calendar Girls story has a different currency when there’s only a week’s worth of performances to sell; one gets the sense that the maxim about familiarity breeding contempt may have come into play at the Phoenix. Continue reading “Re-review: The Girls, Phoenix”

2017 Laurence Olivier Awards nominations

Best New Play 
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child – Palace
Elegy – Donmar Warehouse
The Flick – National Theatre Dorfman
One Night in Miami – Donmar Warehouse

Best New Musical
Groundhog Day – The Old Vic
Dreamgirls – Savoy
The Girls – Phoenix
School of Rock – New London

Best Revival 
Yerma – Young Vic
The Glass Menagerie – Duke of York’s
This House – Garrick
Travesties – Apollo Continue reading “2017 Laurence Olivier Awards nominations”

Guest review: The Girls, Lowry

There’s not many people I’d let have a guest review on here but Robert Foster, aka my father, is certainly one of them. I was (pleasantly) surprised when he (and my mum and Aunty Jean) declared that they had really enjoyed The Girls in Manchester and so I thought it would be fun to contrast our reactions – here’s my own review from Leeds and read on for his.

“Look in the eye of your dear fucker uppers”

There cannot be many of you out there who do not know the real-life story of the Calendar Girls. It made national news at the time; the film has been around for more than a decade; and the stage play followed not long behind. Now, author Tim Firth has joined forces with Gary Barlow of Take That (a popular beat combo, m’lud) in a musical version, which mysteriously has shed the ‘Calendar’ and is just called The Girls. For those recently returned from Mars, the story is set in a small Yorkshire town where Annie loses her husband, John, to cancer. Her best friend, Chris, and other Women’s Institute friends rally round to find a way to pay tribute to the man they all loved and decide on a nude calendar. The profits will buy a new settee for the Relatives Room at the hospital where John was treated.

Could this story stand yet another retelling? Well, my answer is a resounding if slightly surprised yes. Firth and Barlow have created a richly entertaining evening, at times gentle, sad and moving whilst being overwhelmingly joyous and funny. Continue reading “Guest review: The Girls, Lowry”

Review: The Girls, Leeds Grand

“It’s not naked, it’s nude”

If all you do each night is pray that you can see a Gary Barlow musical in the UK (I do find it surprising that Finding Neverland hasn’t made its way back over here from Broadway yet) then you’re in luck as The Girls has now arrived. Opting for a premiere at the Leeds Grand and then skipping over the Pennines to the Lowry in the New Year, the show is clearly testing the waters with regards to any potential future plans as it only takes a minute to end up with a big theatrical flop on your hands. 

Not that that seems likely for The Girls (though whoever made the choice to lose the ‘Calendar’ from the title must be living in a world of fools). For it is a musical adaptation of the now-famous story of that group of Yorkshire WI women casting off their inhibitions, and their clothes, to create a nude calendar for a very personal fundraising campaign for Leukaemia Research. Tim Firth has already adapted his film into a successful play and remains onboard here – could it be magic third time round?  Continue reading “Review: The Girls, Leeds Grand”