DVD Review: Starter for 10

 “Sometimes it’s not about knowing the right answer”

Starter for 10 may only have been filmed seven or eight years ago but for several of its leads, it feels like a lot longer. For it is a great opportunity to see James McAvoy, Rebecca Hall and Benedict Cumberbatch earlier in their careers and all exhibiting a youthful freshness which has now matured out of their performances. David Nicholls wrote the screenplay from his own novel, about a working class Essex lad to makes it to university in Bristol, the first in his family, and pursues his long-cherished dream of participating in TV quiz show University Challenge

McAvoy plays Brian, the naïf at the heart of the story, looking almost impossibly young and appealingly handsome and there’s fun to be had in his awkwardness at settling into uni life, his pursuit of the brittle TV presenter wannabe blonde Alice, played by Alice Eve and his burgeoning friendship with Rebecca Hall’s politically active student Rebecca. Hall is wonderful here, full of quirky charm and wry humour and as the ‘right’ one for Brian, even though he can’t see it, there’s a great pull to their relationship.  Continue reading “DVD Review: Starter for 10”

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.
Continue reading “Short Film Review: #6”

66th Tony Award winners

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play 
James Corden – One Man, Two Guvnors as Francis Henshall
Philip Seymour Hoffman – Death of a Salesman as Willy Loman
James Earl Jones – The Best Man as Art Hockstader
Frank Langella – Man and Boy as Gregor Antonescu
John Lithgow – The Columnist as Joseph Alsop

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play
Nina Arianda – Venus in Fur as Vanda
Tracie Bennett – End of the Rainbow as Judy Garland
Stockard Channing – Other Desert Cities as Polly Wyeth
Linda Lavin – The Lyons as Rita Lyons
Cynthia Nixon – Wit as Vivian Bearing

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical 
Steve Kazee – Once as Guy
Danny Burstein – Follies as Buddy Plummer
Jeremy Jordan – Newsies as Jack Kelly
Norm Lewis – Porgy and Bess as Porgy
Ron Raines – Follies as Ben Stone Continue reading “66th Tony Award winners”

66th Tony Award nominations

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Play 
James Corden – One Man, Two Guvnors as Francis Henshall
Philip Seymour Hoffman – Death of a Salesman as Willy Loman
James Earl Jones – The Best Man as Art Hockstader
Frank Langella – Man and Boy as Gregor Antonescu
John Lithgow – The Columnist as Joseph Alsop

Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Play
Nina Arianda – Venus in Fur as Vanda
Tracie Bennett – End of the Rainbow as Judy Garland
Stockard Channing – Other Desert Cities as Polly Wyeth
Linda Lavin – The Lyons as Rita Lyons
Cynthia Nixon – Wit as Vivian Bearing

Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical 
Danny Burstein – Follies as Buddy Plummer
Jeremy Jordan – Newsies as Jack Kelly
Steve Kazee – Once as Guy
Norm Lewis – Porgy and Bess as Porgy
Ron Raines – Follies as Ben Stone Continue reading “66th Tony Award nominations”

2012 Laurence Olivier Awards nominations

Best New Play 
Collaborators by John Hodge – National Theatre Cottesloe
Jumpy by April De Angelis – Jerwood Downstairs, Royal Court
One Man, Two Guvnors by Richard Bean – National Theatre Lyttleton
The Ladykillers by Graham Linehan – Gielgud

Best New Musical
Betty Blue Eyes – Novello
Ghost – Piccadilly
London Road – National Theatre Cottesloe
Matilda – Cambridge
Shrek – Theatre Royal Drury Lane

Best Revival 
Anna Christie – Donmar Warehouse
Flare Path – Haymarket
Much Ado about Nothing – Wyndham’s
Noises Off – Old Vic Continue reading “2012 Laurence Olivier Awards nominations”

Winners of the 2012 What’s On Stage Awards

BEST ACTOR IN A PLAY
James Corden – One Man, Two Guvnors at the National, Lyttelton & Adelphi (31.7%)
Benedict Cumberbatch – Frankenstein at the National, Olivier (27.2%)
Jude Law – Anna Christie at the Donmar Warehouse (7.0%)
Kevin Spacey – Richard III at the Old Vic (5.8%)
David Tennant – Much Ado About Nothing at Wyndham’s (22.7%)
James Earl Jones – Driving Miss Daisy at Wyndham’s (5.5%)

BEST ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Vanessa Redgrave – Driving Miss Daisy at Wyndham’s (28.3%)
Eve Best – Much Ado About Nothing at Shakespeare’s Globe – (22.8%)
Kristin Scott Thomas – Betrayal at the Comedy – (18.0%)
Ruth Wilson – Anna Christie at the Donmar Warehouse (11.4%)
Samantha Spiro – Chicken Soup with Barley at the Royal Court Downstairs (7.1%)
Tamsin Greig – Jumpy at the Royal Court Downstairs (12.4%)
Continue reading “Winners of the 2012 What’s On Stage Awards”

DVD Review: All or Nothing

“Love, it’s like a dripping tap”

First up was 2002’s All or Nothing, though it was a little of an inauspicious beginning, as I’m not sure how much I actually liked this film in the end. Set on a modern-day London council estate, it circles the fortunes of three working-class families and their everyday lives, so far so Leigh, but it doesn’t really develop into anything that gripped me. There are several outstandingly strong elements in here, but they never really coalesce into an effective whole but rather remain too separate and thus end up losing some impact.

The focus settles on one of the families: Phil, Timothy Spall, is a taxi driver who has long lost ambition for life and is reduced to scraping pennies from his family in order to pay his retainer for the taxi firm; Penny, Lesley Manville, works the checkout at a supermarket and is struggling to remember what it is she ever loved about Phil. Alison Garland plays their daughter Rachel who works as a cleaner in an old people’s home and is being semi-stalked by Sam Kelly’s much older colleague and James Corden is their unemployed and belligerent son. There’s a whole lot of misery, which is then alleviated by tragedy, which ultimately suggests that life might hold something more. Continue reading “DVD Review: All or Nothing”

The 2011 Manchester Theatre Awards nominations

OPERA
Albert Herring, Royal Northern College of Music
Gianni Schicchi, English Touring Opera, Buxton Opera House
Lucia di Lammermoor, Clonter Opera
The Portrait, Opera North, The Lowry
Utopia Ltd, Gilbert & Sullivan Festival, Buxton Opera House

DANCE
Carlos Acosta, The Lowry
Cinderella, Birmingham Royal Ballet,The Lowry
Danish Dance Theatre, Triple Bill, The Lowry
Richard Alston Dance Company, Triple Bill, The Lowry Continue reading “The 2011 Manchester Theatre Awards nominations”

2012 What’s On Stage Award nominations

BEST ACTOR IN A PLAY
James Corden – One Man, Two Guvnors at the National, Lyttelton & Adelphi 
Benedict Cumberbatch – Frankenstein at the National, Olivier 
Jude Law – Anna Christie at the Donmar Warehouse 
Kevin Spacey – Richard III at the Old Vic 
David Tennant – Much Ado About Nothing at Wyndham’s
James Earl Jones – Driving Miss Daisy at Wyndham’s 

BEST ACTRESS IN A PLAY
Vanessa Redgrave – Driving Miss Daisy at Wyndham’s 
Eve Best – Much Ado About Nothing at Shakespeare’s Globe 
Kristin Scott Thomas – Betrayal at the Comedy 
Ruth Wilson – Anna Christie at the Donmar Warehouse 
Samantha Spiro – Chicken Soup with Barley at the Royal Court Downstairs
Tamsin Greig – Jumpy at the Royal Court Downstairs Continue reading “2012 What’s On Stage Award nominations”

Review: One Man Two Guvnors, National Theatre

“My honour has been fiddled with”

I’ve spoken before about the unwiseness of booking for shows that you don’t fancy even though they have very appealing casts and that goes double when it is a form of theatre that you know you can’t stand. Yet despite this, I still booked a pair of £12 tickets for One Man, Two Guvnors at the Lyttelton in the vain hope that I might be won over. For as you may or may not know, farce is one of my least favourite styles of theatre, I rarely find it funny, though I have tried, but this is compounded here by the casting of James Corden in the central role, a man whose ubiquity and public persona I find most objectionable. So why on earth did I book? Good question, but it was in the interests of trying to keep my theatrical experiences as broad as possible, the promise of a wonderful sounding supporting cast and the intriguing addition of songs by Grant Olding being introduced into the mix.

Based on the Italian comedy The Servant of Two Masters by Carlo Goldoni, Richard Bean has relocated the play to 1960s Brighton, thus mixing its commedia dell’arte origins with a British sitcom sensibility and augmented by the ever-present in-house band The Craze who provide musical entertainment before the show starts and during the interval as well as interspersing the action. The plot, for what it’s worth, concerns Francis Henshall, a (assumedly) cheeky chappy who’s down on his luck with no money and a huge appetite. He falls into a job as a minder for a gangster Roscoe Crabbe who is in town to collect £6,000 and then as chance would have it, he gets a second job working for a guy called Stanley Stubbers who is staying in the same hotel. But all is not what it seems: Roscoe is actually his twin sister Rachel in disguise as Roscoe was murdered by her boyfriend and she wants to collect the money to run away with her beloved, who just happens to be Stanley who is in hiding from the police. This being a farce, Francis then has to keep the two from discovering each other though they are staying in the same pub as he wants to keep the two pay packets and thus be able to eat and get his end away. Continue reading “Review: One Man Two Guvnors, National Theatre”