Winners of the 2018 Olivier Awards

No real big surprises here though it was a shame that Hamilton’s success (7 awards in total) crowded out Everybody’s Talking About Jamie from nabbing anything. Particularly pleased to see Terera and Atim’s efforts recognised, it’s almost like I saw it coming…

Best New Play 
The Ferryman: Gielgud Theatre and Jerwood Theatre Downstairs at the Royal Court Theatre – WINNER
Ink: Almeida (& Duke of York’s) Theatre
Network: National Theatre – Lyttelton
Oslo: Harold Pinter Theatre

Best New Musical
An American In Paris – Dominion Theatre
Everybody’s Talking About Jamie – Apollo Theatre
Girl From The North Country – The Old Vic
Hamilton – Victoria Palace Theatre – WINNER
Young Frankenstein – Garrick Theatre Continue reading “Winners of the 2018 Olivier Awards”

2018 Laurence Olivier Awards nominations

An interesting set of nominations have been announced for the 2018 Laurence Olivier Awards. Perhaps predictably, the headline grabbers are Hamilton with their record 13 nominations, and The Ferryman which received 8. I’m pleased to see Follies and Angels in America represent a strong showing for the National with 10 and 6 respectively, and also lovely to see Everybody’s Talking About Jamie close behind with 5. Beyond delighted for The Revlon Girl too, my play of the year.

Naturally, not everything can get nominated and for me, it was most disappointing to see Barber Shop Chronicles miss out on any recognition. And with Hamilton crowding out the musicals categories, there was sadly no room for The Grinning Man, Romantics Anonymous and The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole (although I’m unsure of the Menier’s eligibility with regards to SOLT). And I think Victoria Hamilton (Albion). Philip Quast (Follies) and Louis Maskell and Julian Bleach (The Grinning Man)  are entitled to be a bit miffed.

How do you feel about these nominations? And what do you think should have been nominated instead?

Continue reading “2018 Laurence Olivier Awards nominations”

News: Old Vic bicentenary ambassadors announced

How do you mark a significant birthday? My parents are currently (jointly) turning 140 and are celebrating the occasion with a six month program of events, peaking with an all-day party happening very soon. But if you’re the Old Vic and you’re turning 200, you open your contacts and see who is free.

Turns out a fair few people are, and so their list currently includes Nikki Amuka-Bird, Sheila Atim, John Boyega, Cate Blanchett, Bertie Carvel, Kim Cattrall, Lily Cole, Alan Cumming, Judi Dench, Michelle Dockery, Rupert Everett, Martin Freeman, Tamsin Greig, David Harewood, Derek Jacobi, Toby Jones, Cush Jumbo, Ben Kingsley, Pearl Mackie, Helen McCrory, Ian McKellen, Bill Nighy, Anika Noni Rose, Maxine Peake, Mark Rylance, Andrew Scott, Tom Stoppard, Stanley Tucci and Julie Walters.

Continue reading “News: Old Vic bicentenary ambassadors announced”

The 2017 London Evening Standard Theatre Awards

The nominations for the 2017 London Evening Standard Theatre Awards have been released and naturally I have thoughts. Initially, they are:

BEST ACTOR IN PARTNERSHIP WITH AMBASSADOR THEATRE GROUP

Bertie Carvel Ink (Almeida & Duke of York’s)
Andrew Garfield Angels in America (National Theatre)
Andrew Scott Hamlet (Almeida & Harold Pinter Theatre)

NATASHA RICHARDSON AWARD FOR BEST ACTRESS IN PARTNERSHIP WITH CHRISTIAN LOUBOUTIN

Laura Donnelly The Ferryman (Royal Court & Gielgud)
Victoria Hamilton Albion (Almeida)
Glenda Jackson King Lear (Old Vic)

BEST MUSICAL PERFORMANCE

Janie Dee Follies (National Theatre)
Robert Fairchild An American in Paris (Dominion)
Amber Riley Dreamgirls (Savoy)

BEST PLAY IN PARTNERSHIP WITH HISCOX, OFFICIAL ARTS PARTNER OF THE EVENING STANDARD

The Children Lucy Kirkwood (Royal Court)
The Ferryman Jez Butterworth (Royal Court & Gielgud)
Ink James Graham (Almeida & Duke of York’s)
Oslo JT Rogers (National Theatre & Harold Pinter Theatre)

MILTON SHULMAN AWARD FOR BEST DIRECTOR

Dominic Cooke Follies (National Theatre)
Robert Icke Hamlet (Almeida & Harold Pinter)
Sam Mendes The Ferryman (Royal Court & Gielgud)

BEST DESIGN

Jon Bausor Bat Out of Hell – The Musical (Coliseum)
Bunny Christie Heisenberg: The Uncertainty Principle (Wyndham’s)/The Red Barn (National Theatre)/Ink (Almeida &Duke of York’s)
Soutra Gilmour Twelfth Night (National Theatre)

CHARLES WINTOUR AWARD FOR MOST PROMISING PLAYWRIGHT

Branden Jacobs-Jenkin An Octoroon (Orange Tree)
Al Smith Harrogate (High Tide Festival & Royal Court)
Katherine Soper Wish List (Royal Exchange Manchester & Royal Court)


EMERGING TALENT AWARD

Sheila Atim Girl from the North Country (Old Vic)
Tom Glynn-Carney The Ferryman (Royal Court & Gielgud)
Luke Thallon Albion (Almeida)


EVENING STANDARD RADIO 2 AUDIENCE AWARD FOR BEST MUSICAL

An American in Paris Dominion
Bat out of Hell – The Musical Coliseum
Dreamgirls Savoy
Follies National Theatre
School of Rock New London Theatre
The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾ The Musical Menier Chocolate Factory
She Loves Me Menier Chocolate Factory

TV Review: Doctor Foster Series 2

“How does this end Simon?”

In some ways, you can’t blame ’em for trying to replicate the extraordinary success of the first series of Doctor Foster, quality drama that fast became a rare appointment-to-view fixture  with a rare return to weekly instalments.  And given that writer Mike Bartlett is known for his prolific nature, that a second series quickly came into the offing was no great surprise.

But it can be hard to recapture the magic and though all of the key players have returned – most notably warring ex-couple Suranne Jones’ Gemma and Bertie Carvel’s Simon – this set of five episodes has really suffered from a lack of raison d’être. Waves of vicious revenge percolate throughout but with no discernible driving narrative beyond that, it proved far less engaging.

Not even the presence of a veritable treasure trove of theatrical luminaries – Victoria Hamilton, Adam James, Thusitha Jayasundera, Prasanna Puwanarajah, Siân Brooke to name but a few – could rescue the show from the dullness of retreading old ground and a wearying sense of not giving a shit about anyone here, particularly in the interminable longueurs of the final episode.

 

Review: Ink, Almeida

“I should warn you that nobody likes me”

Truth be told, I resisted seeing Ink for the longest time, mainly because I had zero desire to see a play about Rupert Murdoch. I feel the same way about Thatcher – I will never see The Iron Lady (sorry Meryl) or any other Maggie-based drama because I just damn well don’t want to. These firmly held convictions can of course be bypassed by sourcing me a free ticket (I stepped in for an otherwise occupied colleague) and so I was able to get the best of both worlds – onto a winner if it was good, and easily able to sneer (cos yes, I am that person) if it was bad.
And as with so much in life, the truth was somewhere inbetween. I could see how good Bertie Carvel’s performance as Murdoch was, naturally far more than a simple caricature, but I still felt uneasy whilst watching him – and the play in general – about what still felt like a tacit endorsement somehow, of an institution that I believe to be thoroughly reprehensible. Ink isn’t straightforwardly about The Sun though, Graham is far too canny a writer for that. His target is journalistic ethics as a whole, using Murdoch’s purchase of that paper in the 1960s as a tipping point for tabloid behaviour.
Rupert Goold’s all-singing, all-dancing (quite literally) production is strongest in its first half as Richard Coyle’s editor Larry Lamb sets about transforming the rag into the red-top all right-thinking people loathe today. After the interval, you begin to notice the running time a little more, there’s a lot of history compressed in here, and a slightly odd move into thriller territory contrasted with a Page 3 debate that didn’t work for me. All in all, Ink is a vividly effective play about the corrosive effects of ambition and how that concentrated power was able to shape the morality of large swathes of society.
Running time: 2 hours 55 minutes (with interval)
Booking until 5th August, then transferring to the Duke of York’s 9th Sep 2017 – 6th Jan 2018

Countdown to new Who: Doctor Who Series 3

“You 

 

Are 

 

Not 
Alone”
There’s something perhaps a bit perverse in some of the strongest episodes of new Who emerging from the series which (arguably) had the weakest companion. Freema Agyeman was ill-served by writing that couldn’t let her be a companion in her own right, as opposed to the-one-in-Rose’s-shadow, and consequently never felt entirely comfortable in the TARDIS.
Series 3 has real highs and certain lows – the introduction of Doctor-lite episodes (to ease the production schedules) produced the inventive wonder that was Blink (and further proved Steven Moffat’s genius), the unashamed grab for the heartstrings was perfectly realised in the Human Nature / The Family of Blood double-header, and the re-introduction of one of the Doctor’s most enduring foes was well-judged. That said, we also had the inevitable return of the Daleks who already feel like they’re in danger of over-exposure.

 

Episodes, in order of preference

Human Nature
The Family of Blood
Blink
Utopia
The Shakespeare Code
Gridlock
The Sound of Drums
Last of the Time Lords
42
The Runaway Bride
The Lazarus Experiment
Smith and Jones
Daleks in Manhattan
Evolution of the Daleks

Top 5 guest spots

1 Dean Lennox Kelly’s rugged and omnisexually flirtatious Shakespeare was hugely charismatic
2 Almost unbearably poignant, Jessica Hynes’ Joan Redfern’s love story with the human John Smith is magnificently done
3 A pre-Hollywood Carey Mulligan’s Sally Sparrow – the best companion that never was
4 Tom Ellis all stubbly is always a treat
5 Derek Jacobi’s Professor Yana – I still get chills thinking about the epic reveal at the end of Utopia

Saddest death

A tie between the Face of Boe’s heroic demise in Gridlock and Chipo Chung’s gently elegiac and courageous Chantho.

Most wasted guest actor

Bertie Carvel’s three seconds as The Lazarus Experiment’s Mysterious Man is egregious, as is most every choice for Miranda Raison’s New Yoik flapper.

Most important thing that is never mentioned again

 

I think most things in this series made sense or had their time and place, even the paradoxes, after all it’s just “a big ball of wibbly wobbly, timey-wimey….stuff”.

 

 

 

Gay agenda rating

B – Shakespeare and the Doctor makes for the kind of fanfic that (some) people dream of.

 

Review: Strife, Minerva

“There is only one way of treating men, with the iron hand … yield one demand and they will take six”

The list of the NT2000 top 100 plays is an interesting one, full of the sort of plays I wouldn’t ever have chosen to see and so using it as a guide to stretching my theatrical viewing has been illustrative. Which is a roundabout way of saying the latest play I wouldn’t necessarily have chosen for myself that I went to see was John Galsworthy’s 1909 Strife at the Minerva in Chichester, incidentally marking Bertie Carvel’s directorial debut.
Set around an industrial dispute at a Welsh tinplate works where a strike has been running for six months, Strife examines the stresses this places on all concerned. The workers, who don’t have the support of their union; the board, who have travelled from London to thrash out a compromise; and the firebrand leaders of each faction who might not be so different as all that, each equally stubborn in refusing to budge from their position.
Galsworthy does well as showing us the multiplicity of positions on each side – how the privations of strike life affects people in different ways, wearing some down quicker than others, and how business sense and principles are often difficult to hold at the same time. Strife also has the added piquancy that comes with the ever-worsening decline of our contemporary industrial works from Wales to the North-East.
It is tempting to think that Carvel has taken inspiration from his turn in The Hairy Ape, key impressionistic moments are strikingly delivered, not least a stunning opening, but there’s also quiet, simple beauty when needed, as in the fall of snow during a crucial debate. William Gaunt and Ian Hughes spar marvellously as the two leaders, feeding off each other, but the rest of the play pales a little by comparison, lacking a similar effectiveness to really engage us in the wider world of Strife.
 
Running time: 2 hours 10 minutes (with interval)
Booking until 10th September

Leading Man of the Year 2015

I do aim for a relatively professional standard on this blog but there comes a point in the year when you have to surrender to the pretty and once a year, we get a list of the leading men who have caught my attention one way or another.

And far be it from me to deny my readers as these posts habitually end up being among the most read – or looked at – of the year! Naughty  😉


                         

So without further ado, here we go!

Simon Harrison

Shakespeare was surely never meant to be this sexy! So hot in As You Like It, they even put him on the poster


Petr Rykov

Oh wait, Shakespeare is this sexy. Even underwear models are getting in on the plot as in Cheek By Jowl’s Russian Measure for Measure


(c) Johan Persson
 

(c) Johan Persson

Eelco Smits

As revealing as theatre gets, both emotionally and physically, Song From Far Away saw Smits strip naked for a large swathe of the play which was nice. He was also adorbs in the Dutch Glass Menagerie.

Stewart Clarke

A bit of rough never goes amiss and though Stanley Kowalski is most brutish, his appeal is often more than clear.


Bertie Carvel

Carvel beefed up for The Hairy Ape to great effect but still looked strangely hot in a dress in Bakkhai, man is talented.


(c) Manuel Harlan

Jack Farthing

Of course there’s no photos from Carmen Disruption that do justice to how hot Farthing’s rent boy was but rest assured, he did the job!

David Mumeni

Gotta love a guy whose first mention on this blog involved the word pert! Though given his character(s) in Lela & Co., this is definitely a case of  fancying the man not the part.

(c) Tristam Kenton




Nick Karimi

I promise there was more than the promise of spandex that made me go to Lardo


(c) Gus Miller
(c) Gus Miller

Matt Cardle

Somehow, I found myself walking in Memphis once again, wonder why…

Steven Miller

Going right back to the beginning of the year here but Miller’s Iago in Frantic Assembly’s Othello made jealousy look hella sexy



Brucie bonuses

Samuel Edwards 

Purely for those thighs in Xanadu 


Edward Holcroft

A bit of a cheat as he looked a bit of a mess in Les Liaisons Dangereuses but look what he looks like on telly and film!


NB: Photos have been credited where possible, but do let me know if there’re any issues.

2016 What’s On Stage Award nominations

Best Actor In A Play Sponsored By Radisson Blu Edwardian:
Benedict Cumberbatch, Hamlet
James McAvoy, The Ruling Class
Bradley Cooper, The Elephant Man
Mark Rylance, Farinelli and the King
Alex Hassell, Henry V

Best Actress In A Play Sponsored By The Umbrella Rooms:
Nicole Kidman, Photograph 51 
Denise Gough, People, Places and Things
Lia Williams, Oresteia
Rosalie Craig, As You Like It
Harriet Walter, Death of a Salesman Continue reading “2016 What’s On Stage Award nominations”