TV Review: The Crown, Series 3 Episodes 1-3

The Crown returns with Olivia Colman and Tobias Menzies at the helm, and Helena Bonham Carter stealing the show

“Everyone at the Post Office is delighted with the new profile”

Gotta get those hits…who knows how far behind I am, given I’m 9 hours ahead of the UK at the moment, but I thought I’d jot down my initial thoughts on the first three episodes of series 3 of The Crown (all written by Peter Morgan and directed by Benjamin Caron), as Netflix kindly offered them up as holiday entertainment. (And since I’m away, I’ve been a little insulated from all the Prince Andrew drama, which from over here almost feels like a random bit of guerilla marketing).

  • I wonder if I have a little hangover from just how good Claire Foy was, but I’m 100% feeling Olivia Colman in the role yet. She doesn’t seem quite as subsumed into the character, in the way that Foy’s every minutely detailed movement seemed to be. That said, there’s some scorching moments when Jason Watkins’ Harold Wilson dares to suggest her response to the Aberfan tragedy is lacking.
  • The excellent Tobias Menzies hasn’t really had enough screen time yet to have his Prince Philip make an impact, though I’ve every faith.
  • The casting of Helena Bonham Carter as Princess Margaret is inspired, the extravagance of the character is perfectly suited to her but she’s bringing a real depth at the same time. 
  • And I have to say I miss Matthew Goode’s hugely erotic insouciance as Antony Armstrong-Jones, Ben Daniels’ much more wearied take hasn’t quite ticked my boxes yet.

Elsewhere, the headlong rush through the years means that we’re doomed to the smallest contributions from some excellent actors – Samuel West’s Anthony Blunt and Angus Wright’s MI5 bod were gone too soon, though I live in hope of more from Penny Downie’s Duchess of Gloucester, Aden Gillett as Richard Crossman and Sinéad Matthews as Marcia Williams (seriously, her accent is a thing of pure beauty).

And given the budget is allegedly in the many millions, it certainly looks a treat once again. From glistening palatial lushness to agonisingly destroyed villages, these are fully realised worlds no matter how short a space of time we end up spending in them. Caron’s direction also makes room for a more uncomplicated cinematic as well though, choosing iconic visual to close out each episode – the regal silhouette, juxtapositions of Margarets old and new, the children playing. This is a Crown that has lost none of its lustre.

Photo: Sophie Mutevelian

Review: Howl’s Moving Castle, Southwark Playhouse

“I don’t cook! I’m a scary and powerful fire demon!”

Though not intended to be, this is a review of a preview. I was booked into the press night for Howl’s Moving Castle at the Southwark Playhouse but the creative team behind the show needed more time to work through some technical challenges and so the press night was delayed by a few days. My diary being what it is, I could not reschedule. This is the first stage adaptation of one of Diana Wynne Jones’ novels – though this was memorably animated by Studio Ghibli into a gorgeous film version – and director/designer team Davy and Kristin McGuire have taken a massive step up from their miniature theatre show The Icebook which combined paper cutouts with video work to create an exquisite pop-up book to create a full-scale festive show at the Southwark Playhouse. The ambition at work here is quite considerable and the initial impact of the design with its giant cut-out storybook castle is fantastic. And as the video work starts on the blank screens either side of the castle, it’s clear that this is something quite different.

It’s not a story that immediately springs to mind as one that could be transported onto the stage but Mize Sizemore’s adaptation is cleverly done, paring back the tale to just four characters. Sophie is an 18 year old girl working in a hat shop who unintentionally angers the Witch of the Waste who then casts a spell, turning her into an old woman. To try and break free, Sophie ends up in the home of mysterious wizard Howl, whose flying castle can move between time, space and all manner of dimensions but along this journey, she discovers that she is not the only one in need of rescue. Continue reading “Review: Howl’s Moving Castle, Southwark Playhouse”