Review: Bomber’s Moon, Park Theatre

“That’s the one thing about getting to this f*cking age, you can get away with anything”

It’s a rare occasion that I can get to the theatre without knowing anything much about the play I’m seeing but somehow, I managed it with Bomber’s Moon which has just opened at the Park Theatre. I knew it had James Bolam and Steve John Shepherd (who will always be Jo from This Life for me, especially as I don’t watch Eastenders) and it involved the Second World War somehow, and that was enough for me. And I’m glad I resisted the temptation to find out more as the element of revelation added hugely to my enjoyment of a beautifully written piece of theatre.

The opening quarter of an hour or so is just hilarious. Cantankerous former RAF gunner Jimmy is raging against the dimming of the light (“If I were a shop, I’d have ‘last few days’ written all over me”) and his new care assistant David is having a grim first day at work (“I tried to spoon porridge in her mouth but she was dead”). Slowly but surely though, a touching relationship develops between the two men which helps to deal with their respective but substantial demons. It is simply done but hugely effective, I was gripped from the off and wiping tears away by the end.  Continue reading “Review: Bomber’s Moon, Park Theatre”

DVD Review: Made In Dagenham

“All over the country, women are getting less because they’re women”

I thought this would make an appropriate film review for International Women’s Day, it being a celebration of the sewing machinists whose ground-breaking 1968 strike at the Ford Dagenham plant laid the basis for the Equal Pay Act of 1970, enshrining the right of equal pay for equal work. Nigel Cole’s 2010 film, written by William Ivory around the real life events, has been turned into a musical which will be opening at the end of the year, Gemma Arterton taking the lead role under Rupert Goold’s direction, but she has a lot to live up against the glorious Sally Hawkins and what is a rather lovely film.

Made in Dagenham very much fits into the well-established working class Brit flick template – think The Full Monty, Brassed Off, Calendar Girls… – in that it is never particularly challenging, it revels in period cliché and can definitely be described as heart-warming. But also like those films, it does have a little grit at its base, realism (of sorts) is allowed to temper the optimism that drives this huge moment of social change, the individual struggles of these women co-existing with the collective battle to great effect and backed by a super cast, it is frequently moving. Continue reading “DVD Review: Made In Dagenham”

DVD Review: Women In Love

“Find love that burns your very soul”

A BBC4 television adaptation of the two DH Lawrence novels The Rainbow and Women In Love, although named solely after the latter, the Women In Love DVD was one I had been looking forward to delving into, mainly due to the presence of such luminous actresses as Rachael Stirling, Rosamund Pike and Saskia Reeves. Imagine my surprise, and indeed pleasure to a certain degree, to find that naked male wrestling was also part of the bargain in this William Ivory-directed two-parter. 

Centred on the lives and loves of the two Brangwen sisters, Guthrun and Ursula, as they react against the staid lives of their parents with stridently independent action, yet each end up in relationships with men that are endlessly complicated, not least by the feelings between those two men, Gerald Crich and Rupert Birkin. The first part dealt with these lives individually in England and only slowly brought them together, leaving much of the second half to take place in the Southern African diamond mines and deserts (replacing the Tyrolean Alps of the original) where the partnerships literally reached boiling point. Continue reading “DVD Review: Women In Love”