“There’s more to this magical life than the love of the ladies”
It has been impossible to ignore the reception of Ivo van Hove’s Obsession, the slight sense of glee (from some) at being able to dole out a critical drubbing to the feted director. And so I went into the Barbican with a slight sense of defensiveness – I’m only human after all – albeit with the knowledge that no-one is infallible. And whilst Obsession isn’t necessarily van Hove at his best (and lord know we’ve been spoiled there), it still makes for a fascinating piece of theatre.
Based on Luchino Visconti’s 1943 film, adapted by Jan Peter Gerrits and crucially, having its English version written by Simon Stephens, this is an altogether more abstract and expressionist affair than perhaps some were expecting. A tale of sex and murder, whose muscularity and moodiness sprawls over the vast stage with stylish languour, there’s a brooding beauty to the intensity here, captured excellently by two striking lead performances from Jude Law and Halina Reijn. Continue reading “Review: Obsession, Barbican”
An amusing tidbit from Paul Chahidi’s Twitter takeover for the Donmar Warehouse, promoting his show Limehouse and the commitment its actors have to the art of the warm-up.
— Paul Chahidi (@PaulChahidi) March 25, 2017
2017 is only just over a week away now and the reviewing diary is already filling up! All sorts of headline-grabbing West End shows have already been announced (The Glass Menagerie, Who’s Afraid Of Virginia Woolf, Don Juan In Soho, The Goat, Or Who Is Sylvia) and the National look to continue a sensational year with another (Twelfth Night, Consent, the heaven-sent Angels in America), so this list is looking a little further afield to the London fringe and some of the UK theatres I hope to get to throughout the year.
1 The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Bolton Octagon
After hearing Elizabeth Newman speak passionately on a panel discussion about women’s theatre, I kinda have a big (intellectual) crush on her, so I’m very keen to see her tackle a new adaptation by Deborah McAndrew of the classic Anne Bronte novel in a theatre that is very close to my heart.
Continue reading “20 shows to look forward to in 2017”
The Young Vic has released the latest instalment in their intermittent YV Shorts series, filmic responses to the shows they’re producing, often attracting some of the more luminary names in their Rolodex. This time, we have The Roof, a comedy in brief by Nigel Williams and directed by Natalie Abrahami. It is neatly conceived and wittily done, though it does feel very much more targeted at theatregoers than the others, full of self-referential in-jokes as it is.
Beginning in the offices of the Young Vic where Kobna Holdbrook-Smith’s admin bod passes on the message to David Lan (Artistic Director of the venue, should you not be sure) which gets a little bit lost in translation (with years of admin experience under my belt, this rang particularly true) and results in a mammoth misunderstanding of mixed identities at the very time a noted theatre director is showing up for a book signing, with a phalanx of fans eager for the chance to get close to their hero. Continue reading “Short Film Review #63 – The Roof”
“This war, this awful war, will have changed us both beyond all reckoning”
You gotta love Hollywood – who else to lead a film about the American Civil War than a Brit and an Australian directed by another Brit. But such is Cold Mountain – Jude Law and Nicole Kidman starring for director Anthony Minghella – a surprisingly enjoyable watch for someone who doesn’t really like war films nor has that much interest in this period of US history. It tells the story of a wounded deserter (Law) from the Confederate army close to the end of the war, who is on his long-winded way to return to the love of his life (Kidman).
The road-trip element of the film allows for some beautiful episodes to emerge as Law’s Inman treks across the country – Eileen Atkins’ gruff goatwoman with her healing compassion, Natalie Portman’s distraught young widowed mother, Cillian Murphy’s conflicted Yankee soldier, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s perverted man of God, Giovanni Ribisi’s opportunistic hustler. Through them we see how the conflict is reshaping the nation and the lengths to which people are forced to go in order to get by in war-torn society, not least Inman himself. Continue reading “DVD Review: Cold Mountain”
“This after all has been a very careful election”
A fascinating experiment from James Graham and Josie Rourke, The Vote was a “play for theatre and television” which after two weeks of performances at the Donmar Warehouse – for which you had to enter a ballot for tickets – aired live on More4 at the very moment that it was set, the night of the UK general election. I wasn’t one of the lucky few in the ballot and am rarely inclined to dayseat (though I know several people who managed it) so I’ve only just got around to catching up with it on All4 (formerly 4OD) where it is on for another couple of weeks.
I’m glad I did get to see it as it is very funny and pulled together an extraordinary cast, the vast majority of whom spend mere moments onstage. Graham’s play focuses on the trials and tribulations of a South London polling station in the 90 minutes before voting closes and though there’s a farcical plot that holds the play together in the larger sense, the real joy comes in the microstories of the various voters who come in to exercise their democratic right as best they see fit. Drunks losing their polling cards, giddy lesbians brandishing selfie sticks, teenagers asking Siri who to vote for, all amusing slices of life are represented by a stellar cast who seem to be having just as much as the audience. Continue reading “TV Review: The Vote, Donmar Warehouse via All4”
“Have you ever transcended space and time?
‘Yes. No. Uh, time, not space…
No, I don’t know what you’re talking about.’”
It makes complete sense that Isabelle Huppert would choose something as challenging as David O Russell’s I ♥ Huckabees to make a rare foray into acting in English. The movie is deliciously off the wall, a philosophical mind-trip that was as difficult to make (as Lily Tomlin would attest) as it is to watch but if you’re up for the task, then it is also something quite rewarding, especially if the idea of Huppert getting jiggy with Jason Schwartzman in a pool of mud is up your street!
What is the film about? Who knows. Tomlin and Dustin Hoffman play a husband and wife who are existential detectives who are hired by Schwartzman’s environmental campaigner to investigate a series of coincidences involving a very tall African man. Huppert is Caterine Vauban, one of their biggest rivals from an alternative school of thought and they end up doing battle over their patients (including an excellent Mark Walhberg) in pursuit of the meaning of life. And Shania Twain. Continue reading “DVD Review: I ♥ Huckabees”
Best New Play
Chimerica by Lucy Kirkwood – Almeida / Harold Pinter
1984 by George Orwell, adapted by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan – Almeida
Peter and Alice by John Logan – Noël Coward
The Night Alive by Conor McPherson – Donmar Warehouse
Best New Musical
The Book of Mormon – Prince of Wales
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory – Theatre Royal, Drury Lane
Once – Phoenix
The Scottsboro Boys – Young Vic
Ghosts – Almeida / Trafalgar Studios
Othello – National Theatre Olivier
Private Lives – Gielgud
The Amen Corner – National Theatre Olivier Continue reading “2014 Laurence Olivier Awards nominations”
“Many of the hotel’s most valued guests came for him”
At a smidge over £50 a head, the latest incarnation of Secret Cinema certainly isn’t cheap. But they are doing things differently this time around – the location is secret as always but the film has been identified in advance as Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel and the immersive experience into which they plunge the audience will be running for over a month, to allow many more people than usual through the doors of this plush establishment and into its fabulous world.
For where we end up is The Grand Budapest Hotel itself, an evocation of Mitteleuropäische largesse to which we are guided by purple-suited bellhops. Instructions issued beforehand identify the dress code as evening dress, urge you to practice your waltzing and give a list of props to bring along. It’s all voluntary but as with any immersive experience, one gets so much more from it by diving headfirst into the universe that has been so lovingly created. Continue reading “Review: Secret Cinema, The Grand Budapest Hotel”