News: stars come out to support the Jermyn Street Theatre

Stars of stage and screen including Olivia Colman, Helena Bonham Carter, David Suchet, Dame Penelope Keith, Timothy West, Jamael Westman, Tobias Menzies, Aimee Lou Wood, Grace Saif, Dame Penelope Wilton, and Julie Hesmondhalgh have joined forces to perform Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets for Jermyn Street Theatre, a 70-seat studio in London’s West End.

The Sonnet Project launched on the theatre’s social media channels on 21 March, when Hannah Morrish performed Sonnet 1. One sonnet has appeared every day since then, with the cycle due to complete with Sonnet 154 in late August. David Suchet, star of Agatha Christie’s Poirot but also a veteran of numerous Royal Shakespeare Company productions, performed Sonnet 34 on Shakespeare’s birthday. Continue reading “News: stars come out to support the Jermyn Street Theatre”

Countdown to new Who: Doctor Who Series 1

“Do not blaspheme! Do not blaspheme!”

To mark Series 10 of Doctor Who starting on BBC1 next week, I’ve been counting down the weeks with a rewatch of all 9 of the previous series of new Who. And now we’re within touching distance, I’m counting down the days talking about each one. For once though, I’m going to keep these posts (relatively) short and sweet, following the below format.

With just the one series to judge him on, and that series being the very first when everyone was still finding their feet, Christopher Eccleston’s Nine often gets a bit of a raw deal. And some of his zany moments are undoubtedly really quite awkward to watch but for me, they’re easily outweighed by the emotional weight of his more serious work, especially when hinting at the considerable darkness of the events of his recent past that had left him so haunted. A solid re-entry back into the televisual world. Continue reading “Countdown to new Who: Doctor Who Series 1”

Review: Hay Fever, Noël Coward

“People really do behave in the most extraordinary manner these days”

A Noël Coward play in the Noël Coward theatre, what could be more apt. Howard Davies’ production of Hay Fever is the first by Coward to play since the Albery Theatre was renamed in his honour, and featuring Jeremy Northam, Kevin R McNally, Olivia Colman and young talent like Freddie Fox and Phoebe Waller-Bridge, plus Lindsay Duncan with whom he did a very well received Private Lives in 2001. So the stars all seemed aligned for a rip-roaring good time but this ended up being the kind of hay fever I wish I could have taken anti-histamines for.

The play follows the outrageous antics of the four members of the Bliss family who each invite someone special to stay for the weekend with the intention of pursuing their private flirtations but end up driving everyone up the wall and coupling off in unexpected directions. But over the three acts, I found there to be precious little energy playing out in Bunny Christie’s rather drab design. Sluggish is the word that sprung to mind, from the (admittedly) set-up heavy first act through to the final act of reconciliation, as the air was of perfunctory run-through rather than finely-calibrated comedic excellence. Even the games of the second act which are rich in comic potential didn’t really catch fire like they ought despite Duncan’s best waspish efforts. Continue reading “Review: Hay Fever, Noël Coward”