DVD Review: Torchwood – Children of Earth

“It’s the children…”

Well I don’t think anyone saw that coming. A darker spin-off from Doctor Who that took a little while to find its feet in its first couple of years, the third series of Torchwood – sub-titled Children of Earth – saw the show graduate to BBC1 (all the more impressive given its original BBC3 origins) with a 5-parter of some considerable drama that pushed the boundaries of anything previously shown in the Whoniverse (apologies for that word!) And though it is here due to being one of the first times that Lucy Cohu entered my consciousness, I was pleasantly surprised to find it populated with actors that I have latterly come to admire – Ian Gelder and Cush Jumbo in particular.

Children of Earth was so successful for me because although its main premise is rooted in the sci-fi world – a mysterious alien presence arrives on Earth, seizing control of the minds of all its children and demanding their sacrifice – so much of the conflict comes from the human drama, the moral ambiguities that arise as times of crisis require difficult decision making. And having established a Spooks-like level of turnover with its cast with the Series 2 finale, it added another, even crueller, twist of the screw, made all the more distressing for its unassuming nature. Continue reading “DVD Review: Torchwood – Children of Earth”

Review: Black Battles with Dogs, Southwark Playhouse

“It’s all so senseless”

Set in a white-run construction site in an unidentified African country, Bernard-Marie Koltès’ Black Battles With Dogs is the latest show to move into the second space at the Southwark Playhouse. The throaty ululations of unseen native security guards (unconfirmed reports indicate the yodelling Floyd Collins may still be trapped in the Vault – after all, did we actually see his body…) calling out to each other to keep awake over a long, long night which sees Alboury, a local man, demanding the return of the body of his brother who died that day, apparently in the compound.

The weary Horn is coming to the end of his shift working for this company, he’s physically scarred and emotionally drawn, tired, grumpy and sick of this existence. But it turns out his junior colleague nervy, prejudiced Cal is the one who shot a man and disposed of him nearby and Horn is thrust into the middle of the situation to smooth it out. Matters are further complicated by the arrival of Parisienne Leonie, eminently unsuited to the area but with her eye on marrying Horn for his money. Thus the scene is set, but little really plays out from it in the end. Continue reading “Review: Black Battles with Dogs, Southwark Playhouse”