DVD Review: The Queen’s Sister

 “You will not menace the House of Windsor”

Lucy Cohu has the dubious pleasure of being one of the few women I would probably turn for,  she radiates an old-school glamour and sensuality that I find near-irresistable and I’ve loved the few stage performances of hers I have been able to catch (Speaking in Tongues, Broken Glass and A Delicate Balance). So I was quite happy to take in the Channel 4 television movie The Queen’s Sister, in which she took the lead role of Princess Margaret, in the name of the Jubilee Weekend 😉

It’s a semi-fictionalised account of her life by Craig Warner (although knowing so little of the reality, I couldn’t have told you what was real and what wasn’t) which focuses on her struggles against the establishment as she followed a life of largely wanton hedonism and leaving a trail of paramours behind her. Whether her previously married lover whom she was forbidden from wedding, the long-suffering husband prone to infidelity, the young pop singer who offers a faint hope of redemption, her relentless partying, fondness of always having a drink in her hand and general spoiltness consistently makes life difficult for herself.
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Review: Innocence, Arcola

“I, confused by this white dialectic…”

Opening a season of German plays at the Arcola Theatre is Dea Loher’s Innocence and I attended the first preview last night. Translated by David Tushingham, it is a series of vignettes about people struggling along on the edge of society, separate stories that slowly being to intertwine to form a portrait of a dark and depressed urban existence.

Things get off to a very sticky start with a horribly awkward scene where two characters consistently refer to themselves and their actions in the third person, whilst the other character delivers her lines in a regular manner. The cumulative effect of this is disorientating and really quite annoying, I was most definitely not a fan of this style, fortunately the rest of the first half was free from this strange device. It does recur for one scene in Act 2 but the rest is mercifully delivered straight.

One would imagine things will be tightened up before opening night, the current running time is 2 hours 45 minutes which could be shaved down with a much needed injection of pace into the second half, bhe main problem though for me was the lack of a dramatic hook to bring the piece together. The different strands amble slowly throughout the play, some of them connecting, some remaining discrete, but it lacks a defining moment to bring it all together and make it genuinely coherent and as it currently is, there’s not enough energy driving the stories along. Continue reading “Review: Innocence, Arcola”

Review: The Taming of the Shrew, Shakespeare’s Globe

In the dying heat of a lovely Indian summer, I finished my set of Globe plays by watching the all-female version of The Taming of the Shrew, complementing the all-male shows I had seen earlier in the month. It is a funny choice for this treatment I think as it is such a questionable play in how it treats its heroine, but I suspect this was part of the challenge for the troupe.

The way they get round it is to play up the power struggle side of things and clearly demonstrating that Kate’s submission is in fact much more knowing, a way to keep Petruchio onboard in unknowing bliss, rather than a genuine capitulation. This allows Kathryn Hunter to play with Shakespeare’s text beautifully, pulling out new meanings as Janet McTeer’s blokey arrogance is tolerated with grim smiles.

But even with working it out this way, there was something a little odd about the production. As my first all-female experience, it was a little arresting and it was hard to shake the feeling that too often they were playing ‘men’ rather than the actual characters per se, something the audience lapped up but resulting in a sense of artifice that remained ever-present rather than allowing us to be subsumed in a fully realised world.

A curiosity but not a hugely successful one for me if I’m honest.