Short Film Review #8

The best cultural experiences, no matter the medium, is the way that it can make one feel. So where classic Broadway-inspired choreography makes my soul soar, musical comedies make me laugh helplessly and my painstakingly curated iTunes collection can fit any mood I want, this group of shorts contains two films that made me weep for days, I’m welling up just thinking about one of them now, and so I am pleased to be able to them with you. The first and the last are the weepies, with a smattering of less sad films mixed in the middle.

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Short Film Review: #6

An intermittent feature on here over the last few months has been my discovery of the world of short films (you can read my other collections of reviews by clicking on the tag ‘film’ below) and it has been amazing how many links have been sent to me since I started, recommending this film and the other. It may take me a little while to get round to them all, but do keep the suggestions coming in.
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Review: Duet for One, Churchill Theatre Bromley

“I think it is important for you to discover your true feelings about your position at this moment”

It took seeing it again to remind me, but Tom Kempinki’s exquisitely moving two-hander Duet for One is one of my favourite plays. I simply adored the Almeida’s 2009 production which starred Juliet Stevenson and Henry Goodman and so when a new touring version directed by Robin Hurford was announced, I was keen to see if I could make it. As it turns out and I don’t know who is responsible for these things, it is a rather limited tour with only 2 of 11 venues north of Cambridge. And it is doubly a shame as this is an excellent piece of theatre that deserves to be seen by more than the small crowd that made it to this midweek matinee.

Haydn Gwynne takes on the role of Stephanie Abrahams, a concert violinist whose diagnosis with multiple sclerosis has had a devastating impact on her life, not that she is ready to admit it. Now wheelchair-bound and under her husband’s advisement, she starts seeing William Gaunt’s Albert Feldman, a psychiatrist who attempts to start the painful process of dealing with her new situation, what it means for her life going forward and how experiences of her past also have their part to play in her current emotional state. Continue reading “Review: Duet for One, Churchill Theatre Bromley”

Short film reviews #1

This post was originally meant to be the out-of-office message that went on here before I went on holiday, but time ran away from me as I left myself much too much to do and so it was left unfinished. But I liked it too much to abandon it completely, as my entrée into the world of watching short films was far too much fun to go unmarked. So here is a collection of short videos, many of them featuring familiar faces from the theatre, that should hopefully entertain you as much as they did I. Continue reading “Short film reviews #1”

Review: Richard III, Old Vic

“I thank God for my humility”

Something of a rarity for me in visiting the final show of a run, here the final iteration of the three year transatlantic Bridge Project this time taking in just the single show, Richard III. The reason I left it so late was mainly because I hadn’t got a huge amount of will to actually go and see it, Propeller’s anarchic and inventive interpretation being so fresh in my mind especially after revisiting it just as this production opened at the Old Vic, and though my Aunty Jean was most keen to see it, by the time I got round to it, it had predictably sold out. Sod’s law dictates that tickets for a couple of shows in the final week emerged last minute but she couldn’t make it, but I snapped up a £15 bargain in the dress circle to go and see what all the fuss was about.

The big selling point of Sam Mendes’ production was clearly Kevin Spacey in the title role and Spacey rises to the challenge to provide the grandest of performances. So much so that I was initially rather turned off by the overemphatic nature of his opening scenes, it felt akin to being hit by a sledgehammer of acting and left me wondering where on earth he was going to go from this grandstanding. Fortunately, he did calm down a bit to allow the depth of his portrayal to emerge: a malevolent spirit but not one born evil, but twisted that way by life and still able to keep a black humour about him, Spacey excelling with a sardonic rapidfire delivery. Continue reading “Review: Richard III, Old Vic”

Review: Becky Shaw, Almeida

“Were you waiting for me to walk through the door? This isn’t Jane Austen’s England, Susie, you could’ve walked through it too.”

Bringing a much welcomed shot of sharp comedy to a dull January, Becky Shaw is the first play of 2011 for Islington’s Almeida Theatre. Written by American Gina Gionfriddo and directed by Peter DuBois, also over from the States and who directed this show there too, it really is a breath of fresh air and one of the funniest shows I have seen in ages.

Newlyweds Suzanna and Andrew set up her adoptive brother Max with a new work colleague Becky Shaw in an attempt to break his run of three-month relationships, but their matchmaking has huge consequences as a disastrous first date leads to a series of events that causes everyone to seriously question the relationships they have built up with each other and wonder what the future could, or should, hold for them. The play questions their moral obligations to everyone, strangers and family alike. Continue reading “Review: Becky Shaw, Almeida”

Review: Company, Queens Theatre

“Good things get better, bad get worse. Wait, I think I meant that in reverse”

Last up in the programme of Stephen Sondheim celebration events from the Donmar Warehouse was a concert version of their 1995 production of Company. As with Merrily We Roll Along, last week’s offering, this show features music and lyrics by Sondheim and a book by George Furth with astonishingly bright musical direction from Gareth Valentine, but directed this time by Jamie Lloyd.

 The show centres around Bobby, a single man struggling to deal with the realities of adult relationships, and the people around him, his three girlfriends and the five married couples who are his best friends. The show is presented as a set of short vignettes randomly scattered around Bobby’s 35th birthday rather than a linear plot which meant this performance didn’t really come across too well in the concert format especially compared to Merrily… Also, with a much larger cast or rather a greater division of songs amongst the cast, it did mean that there was some considerable variation in the performance level as opposed to the solidity provided by the leads last week. Continue reading “Review: Company, Queens Theatre”

63rd Tony Award nominations

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play 
Jeff Daniels – God of Carnage as Alan
Raúl Esparza – Speed-the-Plow as Charlie Fox
James Gandolfini – God of Carnage as Michael
Geoffrey Rush – Exit the King as King Berenger
Thomas Sadoski – reasons to be pretty as Greg

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play
Hope Davis – God of Carnage as Annette
Jane Fonda – 33 Variations as Katherine Brandt
Marcia Gay Harden – God of Carnage as Veronica
Janet McTeer – Mary Stuart as Mary Stuart
Harriet Walter – Mary Stuart as Elizabeth I

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical 
David Alvarez, Trent Kowalik, and Kiril Kulish – Billy Elliot the Musical as Billy Elliot
Gavin Creel – Hair as Claude
Brian d’Arcy James – Shrek the Musical as Shrek
Constantine Maroulis – Rock of Ages as Drew
J. Robert Spencer – Next to Normal as Dan Continue reading “63rd Tony Award nominations”