TV Review: Harlots Series 1

The best TV show you haven’t heard about? Harlots just might be it!

“When the time comes, I hope your quim splits”

I suppose that it is good that we have so many more options for good television to be made these days. The flipside to that is that it can be harder to keep track of it all. Harlots is fricking fantastic, a hugely enjoyable and high quality drama but airing on ITV Encore (and Hulu in the US),  it has languished in the doldrums of the unfairly unheralded.

A glance at the castlist shows you how much of a waste this is. Samantha Morton and Lesley Manville at the head, Jessica Brown Findlay, Hugh Skinner and Dorothy Atkinson among the supporting, Fenella Woolgar, Danny Sapani and Kate Fleetwood popping up now and again too. This is luxury stuff and yet criminally few know about it. Continue reading “TV Review: Harlots Series 1”

Short Film Review #40

I was lucky enough to catch Louis Garrel on stage in Paris recently and exploring his film work has been something of a pleasure, he’s an intriguing actor who I definitely haven’t seen enough of. Diarchy (or Diarchia) is a 2010 short by Ferdinando Cito Filomarino. Garrel and Riccardo Scamarcio play Luc and Giano, two friends whose complex relationship is tested when they take shelter in Luc’s family villa during a storm. Their competitiveness comes to fore, along with a delicious hint of homoeroticism, and the whole thing is beautifully shot by Filomarino. 

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Short Film Review #39

WOW 2014 – A Day In Detention

 

Not a short film as such, but utterly essential. The Women of the World Festival took place at the Southbank Centre in early March and A Day In Detention was part of that event. A piece of verbatim theatre pulled together by Nell Leyshon and directed by Jessica Swale, it looks at varying experiences of refugee women in the UK asylum system with an unblinking eye and a near-shocking straightforwardness. The harsh reality of what they are forced to go through, after escaping untold horrors in their own country, is appallingly bleak but there’s a beautiful dignity to the way in which their stories are told, both in the way they have been captured and also in the stunning performances of Juliet Stevenson, Bryony Hannah and an unbearably moving Cush Jumbo.

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Review: The Girl’s Guide to Saving the World, HighTide

“Do you think – deep down – that all men secretly hate women?”

Elinor Cook was the 2013 winner of the George Devine Award for Most Promising Playwright and so it is a natural fit that her play The Girl’s Guide to Saving the World should premiere at HighTide this year. Billed as “a frank and funny new play about friendship, feminism and what it means to be successful”, it’s a tale of nearly-30-something angst as Jane, Bella and Toby deal with the difficulties of accepting adulthood and what that means for their lives.

For Bella, it is calming down her chaotic sex life, just a little, and figuring out how to become the writer she wants to be rather than an in-house retail magazine scribe; for Jane and Toby, it is first recognising and then reconciling the huge differences in what they want from their partnership; and Jane’s relationship with longstanding best friend Bella is also under threat as their interests diverge even as they work together to tackle cultural representations of women via the medium of a blog. Continue reading “Review: The Girl’s Guide to Saving the World, HighTide”

Review: Boiling Frogs, Southwark Playhouse

“Do you have a problem with authority?
‘I have a problem with authoritarians…’”

The title of Boiling Frogs refers to an alleged phenomenon which should be familiar to fans of Christopher Brookmyre’s books and is an apt metaphor for this, The Factory’s first ever full-length original play. Usually known for reinterpreting classic plays and hugely interactive scenarios (the audience bringing along random props to be used and getting to pick who will play each part), Steven Bloomer has written a play set in a police cell in a world not too dissimilar from our own but where global warming has hit hard, the fallout from a riot called the Battle of Birmingham is on everyone’s lips and capital punishment is being introduced for terrorists.

The first people we see in the cell are Mark, a keenly intelligent professional protester arrested for impersonating a police officer and the policeman who is trying to interview him and avoid getting himself tied up in Mark’s word games and constant assertions of his civil rights. As the play progresses, George is then thrown into the cell, another protester who was at the same picnic in Parliament Square and then Tom, a policeman being held for overstepping the line. A sergeant also appears periodically to ratchet up the tension as the walls both metaphorically and literally begin to close in and the three prisoners are forced to face up to what they have done and what they believe is right. Continue reading “Review: Boiling Frogs, Southwark Playhouse”