12 Days of Christmas – Black Mirror 1:1

“Oh for…fucking internet”

On the first day of Christmas, Black Mirror gave to me…a politician fucking a pig.

Can Charlie Brooker ever have conceived that four years after The National Anthem aired, the theme of his first episode of Black Mirror would actually come horrifically to life as Lord Ashcroft’s biography of David Cameron alluded to unsavoury acts with a pig’s head. Continue reading “12 Days of Christmas – Black Mirror 1:1”

Review: Fool For Love, Found111

“You do nothing but repeat yourself”

And so the Found111 experiment comes to an end with this final production in the upper reaches of the former Central St Martins space. Emily Dobbs Productions has put together quite the programme of plays over the last year or so (The Dazzle, Bug, Unfaithful) with some astute casting decisions (Andrew Scott, James Norton, Matthew Lewis) bringing the buzz to the venue from the off. It’s not been unproblematic – its lack of access for one – but one of its issues has now been addressed with the introduction of allocated seating for the final play of this season.

That play is Sam Shepard’s Fool For Love and once again the casting has a hook to it, this time reuniting Ripper Street Series 3 couple Adam Rothenberg (making his London stage debut) and Lydia Wilson as ill-fated lovers Eddie and May. He’s tracked her down to the motel room in the Mojave desert to where she’s escaped and he’s determined to whisk her back to life in Wyoming. But as they squabble and fight, we see that this is a dance that’s been played out before, their’s is the kind of love you can’t live with or without, they just keep on coming back for more. Continue reading “Review: Fool For Love, Found111”

DVD Review: Ripper Street Series 3

“In Whitechapel, they die every day”

When low ratings for series 2 of Ripper Street saw the BBC decide to pull the plug on it, it was something of a surprise to hear Amazon Video would be taking it over (this was 2014 after all) in a deal that would see episodes released first for streaming, and then shown on the BBC a few months later. And thank the ripper that they did, for I’d argue that this was the best series yet, the storytelling taking on an epic quality as it shifted the personal lives of its key personnel into the frontline with a series-long arc to extraordinary effect.

And this ambition is none more so evident than in the first episode which crashes a train right in the middle of Whitechapel, reuniting Reid with his erstwhile comrades Drake and Jackson four years on since we last saw them. A catastrophic event in and of itself, killing over 50 people, it also set up new villain Capshaw (the always excellent John Heffernan) and brilliantly complicated the character of Susan, promoting her to a deserved series lead as her keen eye for business, and particularly supporting the women of Whitechapel, throws her up against some hard choices. Continue reading “DVD Review: Ripper Street Series 3”

2015 Laurence Olivier Awards nominations

Best New Play 
King Charles III by Mike Bartlett – Almeida / Wyndham’s
Taken at Midnight by Mark Hayhurst – Theatre Royal Haymarket
The Nether by Jennifer Haley – Duke of York’s
Wolf Hall / Bring up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel, adapted by Mike Poulton – Aldwych

Best New Musical
Beautiful – Aldwych
Here Lies Love – National Theatre Dorfman
Memphis – Shaftesbury
Sunny Afternoon – Hampstead / Harold Pinter

Best Revival 
A Streetcar Named Desire – Young Vic
A View from the Bridge – Young Vic / Wyndham’s
My Night with Reg – Donmar Warehouse / Apollo
Skylight – Wyndham’s
The Crucible – Old Vic Continue reading “2015 Laurence Olivier Awards nominations”

fosterIAN awards 2014

 WinnerRunner-upOther nominees
Best Actress in a PlayGillian Anderson, A Streetcar Named Desire Chris Nietvelt & Halina Reijn, Maria Stuart (Toneelgroep Amsterdam) Linda Bassett, Visitors
Susannah Fielding, The Merchant of Venice (Almeida)
Denise Gough, Adler and Gibb
Imelda Staunton, Good People
Best Actor in a PlayCary Crankson, The Saints Jack Holden, Johnny Get Your Gun Jonathan Broadbent, My Night With Reg
Chris Connel, Wet House
Harry Melling, peddling
Mark Strong, A View From The Bridge
Best Supporting Actress in a PlayVanessa Kirby, A Streetcar Named DesirePhoebe Fox & Nicola Walker, A View From The Bridge Blythe Duff, The James Plays
Liz White, Electra
Lydia Wilson, King Charles III
Best Supporting Actor in a PlayJoe Caffrey, Wet House Hans Kesting, Maria Stuart (Toneelgroep Amsterdam) Patrick Godfrey, Donkey Heart
Julian Ovenden, My Night With Reg
Hugh Skinner, Thérèse Raquin (Theatre Royal Bath)
Geoffrey Streatfeild, My Night With Reg
Best Actress in a MusicalImelda Staunton, Gypsy Gemma Arterton, Made in Dagenham Charlotte Baptie, Free As Air
Natalie Mendoza, Here Lies Love
Christina Modestou, In The Heights
Sophie Thompson, Guys and Dolls
Best Actor in a MusicalSam Mackay, In The Heights Benjamin Scheuer, The Lion Adrian der Gregorian, Made In Dagenham
Killian Donnelly, Memphis
Jon Robyns, The Last Five Years
Jeremy Secomb, Sweeney Todd (Tooting Arts Club)
Best Supporting Actress in a MusicalJenna Russell, Urinetown Lara Pulver, Gypsy Samantha Bond, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Victoria Hamilton-Barritt, In The Heights
Kiara Jay, Sweeney Todd (Tooting Arts Club)
Zoe Rainey, The Return of the Soldier
Best Supporting Actor in a MusicalJason Pennycooke, Memphis Aaron Tveit, Assassins Damian Buhagiar, In The Heights
Tyrone Huntley, Memphis
Nadim Naaman, Sweeney Todd (Tooting Arts Club)
Jonathan Slinger, Urinetown

2014 Best Supporting Actress in a Play + in a Musical


Best Supporting Actress in a Play

Vanessa Kirby, A Streetcar Named Desire
In the parlance de nos jours, ‘she really made that role her own’. Faced with Gillian Anderson giving the performance of a lifetime as Blanche, Vanessa Kirby more than rose up to the challenge as younger sister Stella in Benedict Andrews’ production of Tennessee Williams’ classic play. I’ve never seen a Stella so dynamic and real and making her so fully aware of her sensuality and sexuality cleverly reinforces the sisterly bond in all its compelling glory. Kirby’s star has been bubbling under for a wee while now but it can’t be long before she goes stratospheric (and theatre loses her!).

Honourable mention: Phoebe Fox/Nicola Walker, A View From The Bridge 
By rights I should have introduced a new category of Best Ensemble so that this whole company could be rewarded but we’ll have to make do here with a joint placing for the two women in the cast. Phoebe Fox’s nubile Catherine, not a girl and not yet a woman (thanks, Britney) and desperately unaware of the effect she wreaks on her uncle, is a sensuous figure throughout. And Nicola Walker as his wife responds brilliantly to van Hove’s direction to make a compassionate and nuanced portrayal of a woman torn by loyalty. Book for the West End transfer now!

Blythe Duff, The James Plays
Liz White, Electra
Lydia Wilson, King Charles III

7-10
Anna Maxwell Martin, King Lear (NT); Jenny Rainsford, The Rivals; Sharon Rooney, Henry IV (Donmar); Jemima Rooper, Breeders

 

Best Supporting Actress in a Musical

Jenna Russell, Urinetown
I though Russell’s Miss Pennywise was very good when I first saw Urinetown but she was downright excellent once the show had transferred into the West End. Maybe it was the freedom of the bigger stage, the fact that we were much closer second time round or a demob-happy spirit as she was in the final week of her run but whatever it was, it worked. Fierce eye contact, vocals on point, broad yet pointed comedy – a performance to treasure in a show that needed more of her.

Honourable mention: Lara Pulver, Gypsy
Though the excitement is all about Imelda Staunton’s Mama Rose transferring to the Savoy with Gypsy, it is just as much her elder daughter’s show, especially in the second act. And Lara Pulver gave great life to the transformative journey of the overlooked Louise into the extrovert Gypsy Rose Lee in Chichester, barely recognisable as the same person and thrilling to behold. I assume she won’t be performing in London (as she’d’ve been announced already?), if so it’s a real loss.

Samantha Bond, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels
Victoria Hamilton-Barritt, In The Heights
Kiara Jay, Sweeney Todd (Tooting Arts Club)
Zoe Rainey, The Return of the Soldier

7-10
Carly Bawden, Assassins; Gia Macuja-Atchison, Here Lies Love; Melanie Marshall, The Infidel; Golda Roshuevel, Porgy and Bess

DVD review: About Time


“Get ready for spooky time”

To criticise a film about time travel for not possessing the most stringent internal logic might seem perverse (though it has never stopped those who watch Doctor Who…); to criticise a Richard Curtis film for being utterly daft feels likewise misintentioned, his work is what it is. But there’s something really rather frustrating about his 2013 work About Time that is determined to have its cutesy cutesy pie and eat it, saccharine sweetness and all.

It is as much a father/son love story as it is a boy/girl romance in which Domhnall Gleeson’s nerdishly appealing Hugh-Grant-a-like Tim, is the son of an upper-class boho family – troubled-but-not-too-much sister (Lydia Wilson), check; slightly doolally uncle (Richard Cordery), check; perfect parents (Lindsay Duncan and Bill Nighy), check. And wouldn’t you know it, it turns out the men in this family have the power to travel back in time by closing their eyes and squeezing a fist. Continue reading “DVD review: About Time”

Review: King Charles III, Almeida


“Like I saw on television when 
I was a younger man, I’m Charles no more 
The human being, but transformed into 
A Spitting Image puppet”

Fans of Mike Bartlett, and quite frankly if you like theatre then you ought to be one, will be used to the way in which his writing swings from the epic to the intimate, from sprawling ‘big issue’ plays like Earthquakes in London and 13 to the charged intensity of Contractions, Cock and Bull with crackers like Love Love Love inbetween. So it is good news indeed that he is delivering from the both ends of the pendulum this month – Paines Plough have two-hander An Intervention up at the Watford Palace about to open next week and Rupert Goold’s Almeida has the ambitious and adventurous King Charles III.

And it is no exaggeration to use those words. King Charles III takes the form of a future history play, using Shakespearean language and conventions to tell a story of a constitutional crisis that take place in the aftermath of the death of Queen Elizabeth II. It shouldn’t work, and it shouldn’t work this well, but it really does, with an extraordinary confidence of vision. The great unwashed become “the man who travels day by day upon the Clapham omnibus”, x-rated text messages are described as “a token of my love”, the ceremonial role of the Royals thus “a monarchy reduced to smiling dolls, like waitresses in diners themed” – the use of language is a constant delight.  Continue reading “Review: King Charles III, Almeida”

Radio Review: Pride and Prejudice, Radio 4


“I think the temptations will be too strong in Brighton”

 Just a quickie for this 3 hour adaptation of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice which was spread over 3 weeks and so proved to be quite a drawn-out experience. Charlotte Jones’ dramatisation, directed by Sally Avens, worked extremely well, thanks to a spiffingly high-quality cast. Current RSC darling Pippa Nixon ad Jamie Parker took on the leading couple, Samantha Spiro as Mrs Bennett, Toby Jones as Mr Collins, Fenella Woolgar as Miss Bingley…the list goes on. And narrated by Amanda  Root, it was practically tailor-made for me.

Which made the scheduling a tad frustrating, the week-long gaps a little too long for my apparent attention span these days whereas I would have rather binged on the whole thing in one go. But it was good. Parker taking a little getting used to as Darcy but getting there, connecting well with Nixon’s vibrant Elizabeth. Lydia Wilson making a compassionate Jane, Michelle Terry the same with Charlotte Lucas, David Troughton’s Mr Bennett resignedly pleasant against Spiro’s over-exuberant wife. A genuine pleasure.

Short Film Review #33



Responding to the work of Belarus Free Theatre, Connection is part of the continuing short film work that the Young Vic are producing in collaboration with the Guardian in response to their theatrical work. Written by Nicolai Khalezin and Laura Wade, it features Khalezin and Jude Law playing thinly veiled versions of themselves, both stuck at a London airport but for very different reasons. It’s an engaging, moving little tale and if the parallels that are drawn between the pair stick in the craw a little, Law’s ongoing work with BFT ought to silence any naysayers.

Continue reading “Short Film Review #33”