Round-up of news and treats and other interesting things

This year’s iteration of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival 2017 runs from 12 – 28 May and with it comes a substantial programme of circus, literature, classical and contemporary music, dance, family activities, performance, theatre, visual arts and The Adnams Spiegeltent that befits the fourth biggest arts festival in the country.
Eyecatching inclusions include

DVD Review: To Kill A King

This is not war…”

As with many historical films, it is easy to get caught up in matters of accuracy with To Kill A King’s portrayal of Oliver Cromwell and the puritan movement he led with Thomas Fairfax which ultimately saw the trial and death of King Charles I. The casting of Tim Roth instantly points toward the direction Mike Barker’s film leans in and before even a word is spoken, we’re left in no uncertain terms about the psychopathic tendencies of this interpretation of Cromwell. But written by Jenny Mayhew, the film’s focus is actually on the relationship between the two friends and the strain it faces as they set about rebuilding a nation.

And in that respect I think it is quite a successful piece of work. Roth’s furious intensity as he fights for a republican ideal is tempered by Dougray Scott’s intelligent ambivalence as Fairfax, less inclined to shake up the societal order that is such a major part of his and his family’s life, not least his wife Lady Anne, played excellently by Olivia Williams. The way in which the two are slowly pulled apart as their political ideals are twisted by the realities of negotiating with a recalcitrant Parliament and a manipulative King, active even after his deposition, is compellingly told and engagingly performed. Continue reading “DVD Review: To Kill A King”

Review: Bomber’s Moon, Park Theatre

“That’s the one thing about getting to this f*cking age, you can get away with anything”

It’s a rare occasion that I can get to the theatre without knowing anything much about the play I’m seeing but somehow, I managed it with Bomber’s Moon which has just opened at the Park Theatre. I knew it had James Bolam and Steve John Shepherd (who will always be Jo from This Life for me, especially as I don’t watch Eastenders) and it involved the Second World War somehow, and that was enough for me. And I’m glad I resisted the temptation to find out more as the element of revelation added hugely to my enjoyment of a beautifully written piece of theatre.

The opening quarter of an hour or so is just hilarious. Cantankerous former RAF gunner Jimmy is raging against the dimming of the light (“If I were a shop, I’d have ‘last few days’ written all over me”) and his new care assistant David is having a grim first day at work (“I tried to spoon porridge in her mouth but she was dead”). Slowly but surely though, a touching relationship develops between the two men which helps to deal with their respective but substantial demons. It is simply done but hugely effective, I was gripped from the off and wiping tears away by the end.  Continue reading “Review: Bomber’s Moon, Park Theatre”

DVD Review: He Knew He Was Right

What could be more innocent than visiting the vicar of Cockchaffington?”

So having completely tumbled for the charms of The Way We Live Now, I turned to the following BBC Anthony Trollope adaptation He Knew He Was Right which was also reworked by Andrew Davies and broadcast in 2004. Trollope’s main concern here was the corrosive effect of jealousy and particularly on his lead character of Louis Trevelyan whose marriage and family are broken up as he struggles to deal with the independent mind of his wife Emily as he suspects her of having an affair, and suffers the consequences of a gossipy Victorian society.

And thus the problems started for me – I never once found myself believing or really caring for Louis or Emily or their relationship. Oliver Dimsdale and Laura Fraser both struggled with the likeability factor for me and so as a central plot point, the story lost me from the beginning. More engaging was Emily’s younger sister Nora’s romantic travails as she falls for a penniless writer – Christina Cole and Stephen Campbell Moore just lovely together, and another love story as a kind but poor young companion falls for her mistress’s great-nephew against society’s rules. Continue reading “DVD Review: He Knew He Was Right”