Review: Mum, Soho Theatre

Following on from the brilliant Emilia, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s new play Mum is a powerfully bracing experience at the Soho Theatre

“Motherhood’s not for everyone”

Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s Mum gives us a portrait of a side of motherhood that is often alluded to but rarely fully acknowledged, those early days, weeks, months when the realities of parenthood hit like a sledgehammer and the fear of being overwhelmed is punishingly real. Nina is one such mother, preparing for her first night away from baby Ben after a difficult birth three months ago but as she gets him ready for a trip to Grandma’s, those fears only grow. Abigail Graham’s production opens at the Soho Theatre after playing the Theatre Royal Plymouth earlier this month.

An outsize mobile dominates the gloomy space of Sarah Beaton’s set design and as it turns, Sally Ferguson’s carefully poised lighting casts shadows on the wall that become increasingly hallucinatory. For as Nina cracks open a bottle of white wine with best pal Jackie, determined to have a night ‘off’, the guilt weighs ever heavier as she unburdens herself by saying the quiet parts out loud, talking frankly about how just how fricking difficult it is operate on such tiredness, such helplessness, such conflicting emotions as provoked by something society has dictated you will love wholeheartedly from the off. Continue reading “Review: Mum, Soho Theatre”

Review: Birdwatching, London Horror Festival at The Space

Birdwatching marks a rare Clowns foray into this year’s London Horror Festival but it doesn’t quite hit the spine-chilling mark for me

“There just isn’t enough suffering for the audience to care”

Truth be told, I’ve rarely found that horror works particularly well for me onstage and so whilst the London Horror Festival gathers a huge well of creative talent every year, it isn’t necessarily something I gravitate to that much. Being able to stream a show tempted me in a little though, so I sat down last night to catch Birdwatching being performed at The Space.

Anarchy Division’s production of Miranda Barrett’s debut play sits in the space of psychological horror as we follow three young filmmakers as they journey into the woods with a videocamera in the depths of winter. So far so Blair Witch but as all three of them start to lose their grip on their sanity, Barrett probes into how the cards fall differently for the trio. Continue reading “Review: Birdwatching, London Horror Festival at The Space”

Review: The Tragedy of Macbeth, Almeida Theatre

At more than three hours, The Tragedy of Macbeth stretches the patience at the Almeida Theatre, despite strong work from Saoirse Ronan and James McArdle

Let not light see my black and deep desires”

The tragedy of Macbeth is that it is a notoriously difficult play to stage well and given its ubiquity on school curricula, it is staged hella often. At least it is one of Shakespeare’s shortest plays but the further tragedy of this Macbeth is that it breaks the three hour mark with its running time. And as I left Yaël Farber’s production at the Almeida Theatre, I can’t say I felt it had made the case for such indulgence.

The Tragedy of Macbeth initially grabbed headlines for marking the UK stage debut of Saoirse Ronan (she has previously been on Broadway in The Crucible) and so to get your hands on a ticket in this intimate theatre is a job in itself (streaming could be your friend, details below). And much of Farber’s innovation in recalibrating this show has been to seriously beef up Lady Macbeth’s presence in the play, physically as well as verbally, something which is intermittently very effective. Continue reading “Review: The Tragedy of Macbeth, Almeida Theatre”

Film Review: Second Coming (2014)

Second Coming makes for an atmospheric if challenging cinematic debut for writer/director debbie tucker green with another cracking lead role for Nadine Marshall

“Have you had any more visions?”

Following her TV adaptation of her own play random, Second Coming sees writer-director debbie tucker green making her big screen debut. And perhaps unsurprisingly, it is an uncompromising artistic statement – again showcasing Black British lives – from this idiosyncratic and intriguing artist. 

The film centres on Nadine Marshall’s Jackie, a social worker and mother-of-one who finds herself pregnant despite having been told she couldn’t carry  again. Not only that, she hasn’t had intercourse with her husband Mark for quite some time, despite him being Idris Elba. So far so immaculate. Continue reading “Film Review: Second Coming (2014)”

Film Review: random (2011)

I revisit debbie tucker green’s random, this time on screen, 13 years after seeing it onstage, and am still blown away by Nadine Marshall’s talent and the delicious Mariah Carey shade

“Never trouble trouble til trouble trouble you”

debbie tucker green’s play random has a special place in my heart as it was the first show I ever saw at the Royal Court, back in 2008. I may have liked rather than loved it at the time but the urgency of Nadine Marshall’s solo delivery lingered long in the mind, particularly in the way her performance encapsulated several members of the same family, first going about their daily business and then reeling from a traumatic shock, a random act of violence.

tucker green directs her own adaptation here and finds an intriguing way to blend that monologue form with a wider visual representation of the world it depicts. Marshall returns as Sister, who once again inhabits all the dramatis personae of the story, but tucker green intersperses her backstage-set delivery with on-location shots featuring those characters, sometimes even letting them speak their own lines. Continue reading “Film Review: random (2011)”

Review: The Theatre Channel – Episode Eight Stephen Schwartz

The Theatre Channel returns with Episode Eight, a special devoted to Stephen Schwartz featuring Alice Fearn, Louise Dearman, Melanie La Barrie and more

“Just when i thought my heart was finally numb”

With impeccable timing, The Theatre Channel has produced a new episode, its eighth in total, which this time focuses on the work of Stephen Schwartz. The show continues to spread its wings geographically, this time heavily featuring the Park Theatre who are co-producers on this episode, but in a number from Working – Alice Fearn’s ‘It’s An Art’ – the cafe is front and centre which feels like a neat nod to its origins at The Theatre Cafe.

Schwartz himself features throughout, able to provide fascinating snippets of info about the material, both old and new. Having recently played the Charing Cross Theatre over the summer, the cast of 1972’s Pippin sing ‘Magic to Do’, but we also get to hear a vibrant duet from 2016’s Magic Flute-inspired Schikaneder, ‘Dream Big’ sung gloriously by Stewart Clarke and Christine Allado. Continue reading “Review: The Theatre Channel – Episode Eight Stephen Schwartz”

Nominations for the 2020 Black British Theatre Awards

The Black British Theatre Awards (BBTAs) is the UK’s first award show to celebrate the excellence and influence of Black performers and creatives within the UK theatre industry.

CREATIVES GROUP

BEST DIRECTOR AWARD FOR A PLAY OR MUSICAL
Anthony Simpson-Pike, Lava, Bush Theatre
Miranda Cromwell, and breathe…, Almeida Theatre
Tinuke Craig, The Color Purple – at Home, Curve, in association with Birmingham Hippodrome

BEST MUSICAL DIRECTOR
Femi Temowo, and breathe…, Almeida Theatre
Ian Oakley, From Here, Chiswick Playhouse
Nadine Lee, Bagdad Cafe, The Old Vic

BEST PRODUCER AWARD
Almeida Theatre, and breathe
Chris Steward and Shanay Holmes, West End Musical Celebration at Palace Theatre
Tanisha Spring, A Killer Party

BEST CHOREOGRAPHER AWARD
Dannielle ‘Rhimes’ Lecointe, The Sun, The Moon and The Stars, Theatre Royal Stratford East
Ingrid Mackinnon, Romeo and Juliet, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre
Sarah Golding, Cruise, Duchess Theatre Continue reading “Nominations for the 2020 Black British Theatre Awards”

Film Review: No Time To Die (2021)

Spoiler-free territory as Daniel Craig steps into 007’s shoes for the last time in the lengthy and long-delayed No Time To Die

“You know, history isn’t kind to men who play God”

If anything has characterised Daniel Craig’s tenure as James Bond, then it has been a marked inconsistency in the quality of those films. The heights of Casino Royale were followed by the disappointments of Quantum of Solace, the game-changing Skyfall chased by an underwhelming Spectre. So the hope was certainly that No Time To Die, directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga
would follow the pattern of soaring to a high peak to round off this era.

And whilst it certainly climbs somewhat out of the valley, it is by no means an all-time classic Bond movie, despite the raft of rave reviews. It could safely be an hour shorter, it has one of those villains whose plan you’re never really quite sure about and much as I like Léa Seydoux, her Madeleine Swann being the Bond woman who gets to have a second film is a real heard-scratcher as the chemistry with Craig just isn’t there. Continue reading “Film Review: No Time To Die (2021)”

Review: Lady Chatterley’s Lover – stream.theatre

John Robinson and Phil Willmott’s musical adaptation of Lady Chatterley’s Lover is sadly uninspired and somewhat directionless

“Nothing will come between us”

Whether unfairly or not, Lady Chatterley’s Lover carries with it a degree of steamy notoriety which you might have thought would give it a leg up (or leg over) in the streaming market. But instead of taking a steer from what Sean Bean did to my teenage loins, John Robinson (music and lyrics) and Phil Willmott (book) have filleted out any hint of impropriety which rather flattens out this new musical into something a bit too dull.

Shifting the focus so fully onto the class struggles of the story, something hammered home a little too much on the nose with an undoubtedly effective split-level set from Andrew Exeter, robs it of all the emotional texture that comes from DH Lawrence’s exploration of love in its different forms. Neither book nor lyrics show any interest in the psychology of it all, instead ending up functional in the extreme and consequently not engaging enough. Continue reading “Review: Lady Chatterley’s Lover – stream.theatre”