Film Review: Cats (2019)

Against a barrage of bad reviews, I tried to give Cats a fair hearing. There may have been wine involved…

“I remember the time I knew what happiness was”

I wanted to like Cats, honest. But…but…everytime you look at a detail in this unexpected horror film, there’s something ungainly or odd that distracts you inordinately:

  • the scale of the damn thing. The mind boggles as the cats change from being tiny compared to railway tracks to almost human-sized at Nelson’s Column, bringing almost any object into screen ends up pulling focus as you try and work out wtf is going on
  • why do some of them wear shoes (the ‘street’ cats in trainers, TSwift in heels…?) and of those who don’t, what’s with the toes
  • in fact the whole anthropomorphic thing. There’s cleavage and six packs but no genitals or anuses. You wouldn’t think it would bother you so much but there’s so many lingering shots of these places…! 
  • the dancing cockroaches in danger of being eaten. Whyyyyyyyy?!
  • it’s rather amusing that pretty much every reaction shot of Dench is her looking aghast, we know how you feel Judi

An unfortunate waste of talent all-round I’m afraid.

Book review: The Half – Simon Annand

The Half – Photographs of Actors Preparing for the Stage by Simon Annand

Just a quickie for this book as The Half – Photographs of Actors Preparing for the Stage by Simon Annand was released in 2008. But with an imminent new exhibition of these photos and a bargainous copy of the book popping up on Ebay, I thought I’d take the plunge.

And I’m glad I did as it is a proper work of art in its own right. Annand has been photographing actors for over 25 years and as such, has a veritable treasure trove of shots to share with us, resulting from the trusting relationships he has built up with so many, from the new kids on the block to veritable dames. Continue reading “Book review: The Half – Simon Annand”

News: Cats trailer released

The only good thing to come out of the release of the trailer for the forthcoming movie adaptation of Cats is Twitter’s collective response

 

And if you must see the original for yourself…

 

TV Review: Unforgotten Series 3

The third series of Chris Lang’s Unforgotten is another corker, and not just because of Nicola Walker, honest!

“We’ve all done things of which we are ashamed”

The cold cases of Unforgotten have rightly proved a success for their alternative tale on crime drama, putting a real focus on the victims rather than the crimes, a neat corrective to the sometimes exploitative gaze that can characterise this genre. And this third series maintained that strong record (quick review of episodes 1 and 2 here)

A measure of the regard in which Unforgotten is held is the sheer quality of its cast. With James Fleet, Alex Jennings, Kevin McNally and Neil Morrissey as its lead quartet, it added Sasha Behar, Emma Fielding, Indra Ové and Amanda Root as their partners, and then threw in Siobhan Redmond and Sara Stewart as exes as well.  Continue reading “TV Review: Unforgotten Series 3”

Album Review: Goldilocks and the Three Bears

“Beware, beware, for bears can be scary”

Naturally, Stiles & Drewe are big in Singapore, why wouldn’t they be?! Goldilocks and the Three Bears was originally commissioned by Singapore Repertory Theatre’s Little Company and slots into the composing duo’s trilogy of trios, which will eventually see three mini-musicals based on fairytales that can be performed by the same ensemble of five actors. The third, The Three Billy Goats Gruff, will come in 2016, the first The Three Little Pigs will be seen at the Palace Theatre throughout August having previously had a cast recording released and this, the second, now gets a similar West End studio treatment through SimG Productions

As a family show, there’s something of a simplicity about the song-writing here but there’s certainly no dip in quality. Stiles & Drewe’s propensity for a bright, direct melody is ideal for this format and the decision to focus the book on the family of bears is a clever one, allowing for a cracking opening trio of songs. ‘A Family of Bears’ introduces the tight family unit of Mother Bear, Father Bear and Baby Bear, ‘Porridge’ neatly covers a breakfast cooking lesson but ‘Beware’ sets up the most interesting notion, the parents warning their child about the scary humans who sometimes invade the woods that make up their home. Continue reading “Album Review: Goldilocks and the Three Bears”

Review: Molly Wobbly, Phoenix Artists Club,

“My dreams are as dead as this romance is”

Molly Wobbly’s Tit Factory was originally scheduled to receive a full production at the Hackney Empire last year but a last minute financial crisis saw it cancelled. Now trimmed down to Molly Wobbly and slimmed down to a staged concert, it has resurfaced at the Phoenix Artists Club, with some of the cast returning together with some newcomers, to give Paul Boyd’s musical another chance at airing in London.

And it has to be said that the intimate venue feels a much better fit than the Empire would ever have been. The show clearly has visions of cult status, its bizarrely eccentric book incorporating boob jokes aplenty, cross-dressing angels and tales of sexual deviancy alongside the marital trials of three couples who live on Mammary Lane whose lives are changed with the arrival of a mysterious lime-green-haired stranger bearing a vial of orange potion. Continue reading “Review: Molly Wobbly, Phoenix Artists Club,”

Review: You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown, Tabard

“I really don’t think you have anything to worry about Charlie Brown”

Out in West London, the Tabard is a theatre that hasn’t really managed to work its way into my regular theatregoing: I’ve enjoyed things there, last Christmas’ Just So in particular, but it’s always been a bit on the wrong side of town for me to merit multiple trips, the nature of fringe theatre being essentially so variable.

But an interesting looking cast for You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown meant that I made the trip to Turnham Green once more. A musical comedy based on the famous Peanuts comedy strip, this is a revised version of the show by Clark Gesner, with additional songs and dialogue from Michael Mayer and Andrew Lippa and in another factor that convinced me to go, is directed by Anthony Drewe. Continue reading “Review: You’re A Good Man Charlie Brown, Tabard”

Christmas Music Review: Kristin Chenoweth’s A Lovely Way To Spend Christmas & Christmas in New York

It’s CHRIIIIST-MAAAS! Well not really, but in honour of Advent starting and all of the snow in London, I’d thought I’d write about two of my favourite Christmas albums with musical theatre connections. 

There are certain performers who I really do want to see live at least once in my life and somewhere near the top of that list is Kristin Chenoweth (so any producers reading, get her over here pronto, please), not least because she seems so fricking adorable in everything I’ve ever seen her in and I would just die if she tugged my hair like she does at 5:18 in this clip of her and Idina Menzel performing ‘For Good’. So I’ve had to make do with her TV shows, YouTube clips and her CDs, the Christmas one of which, A Lovely Way To Spend Christmas, became a fast favourite when it was released a couple of years ago.

The best track, and if you only download one I’d make it this one, is a gorgeous version of ‘Do You Hear What I Hear’. Building slowly with an angelic vocal, enhanced by the insertion of the Gloria refrain from ‘Ding Dong Merrily On High’, it is sweet and perfect and often on repeat play on stressful December commutes. ‘What Child Is This’, to the tune of ‘Greensleeves’ and ‘I’ll Be Home For Christmas’, both staples of US Christmas albums are both well-performed but a slowed version of ‘The Christmas Waltz’ is really lovely and the medley of ‘Sleep Well Little Children’/’What A Wonderful World’ is another flawless wonder. Continue reading “Christmas Music Review: Kristin Chenoweth’s A Lovely Way To Spend Christmas & Christmas in New York”