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”

TV Review: Too Close (ITV)

Emily Watson and Denise Gough both excel in chilling TV psychodrama Too Close

“Grief can be its own kind of hell”

Too Close comes to ITV with Clara Salaman adapting her own pseudonymous novel and Susan Tully directing the 3-part series. And rather impressive it was too, continuing to buck the (possibly unfair) preconceived notions about ITV dramas that persist in my mind. 

Emily Watson plays Dr Emma Robertson, a forensic psychiatrist returning to work after a personal tragedy, whose first case back is that of Denise Gough’s Connie Mortensen, a woman accused of a horrific case of attempted murder whose fitness to stand trial Emma must declare. Continue reading “TV Review: Too Close (ITV)”

Review: The Normal Heart, National Theatre

Heartbreaking but fiercely essential work. Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart receives a masterful revival courtesy of Dominic Cooke at the National Theatre

“The only way we’ll have real pride is when we demand recognition of a culture that isn’t just sexual”

A flame lit in respectful silence, shirts whipped off to the pulsing synthline of ‘I Feel Love’, the opening moments of Dominic Cooke’s revival of Larry Kramer’s 1985 play The Normal Heart are full of Pride and perfectly encapsulate one of the key dilemmas haunting its characters. It is New York City in the early 1980s and writer and activist Ned Weeks is struggling to make the wider world understand what to him seems obvious, an unidentified disease is scything through the gay community in alarming numbers.

Plays about AIDS have tended to the operatic in scale – Angels in America and The Inheritance both sprawling over two lengthy parts. So by comparison, The Normal Heart is over in a flicker, coming in well under three hours. And my lord is that a good thing, as the second half in particular is punishingly, essentially, brutal. Prior to the interval, there’s a beautiful sense of world-building – Weeks and his pals bonding over their shared need to do something, battling over the best way to do it. And Weeks also falls in love for the first time, a scene of combative flirting is as entertaining as it is erotic.

Continue reading “Review: The Normal Heart, National Theatre”

News: Mike Bartlett’s C O C K re-emerges in the West End

Taron Egerton, Jonathan BaileyJade Anouka and Phil Daniels have been announced as the cast of C O C K, the first West End production of Mike Bartlett’s Olivier award winning play about love and identity which opened at the Royal Court upstairs in 2009 with Ben Whishaw and Andrew Scott and has also played Chichester and Washington DC.

Directed by Tony and Olivier award winning Marianne Elliott, it will have a limited run at the intimate-for-the-West-End Ambassadors Theatre. Given the intensity and intimacy of the play itself, it will fascinating to see how it fares in a bigger space. Audiences will be able to find out for themselves from Saturday 5 March 2022 to Saturday 4 June 2022,

Tickets are on sale now here. Continue reading “News: Mike Bartlett’s C O C K re-emerges in the West End”

Review: Small Change, Omnibus Theatre

A boldly artistic take on Peter Gill’s Small Change makes for a challenging but rewarding watch at Clapham’s Omnibus Theatre

“Things happened that couldn’t be changed”

Perhaps appropriately for the fractured narrative of this memory play, I don’t remember that much about the 2008 Donmar Warehouse production of Peter Gill’s Small Change, other than it starring a pre-Hollywood Avenue Q-era Luke Evans. So Both Barrels Theatre’s new revival at the Omnibus Theatre offers the ideal opportunity to let life reflect art as we all try and piece together memories of the past.

With its fragmented style, Small Change is undoubtedly a challenging play to watch as Cardiff man Gerard looks to resolve the pain of the present by delving into the mysteries of his past. Its not an easy route though, as we dig into his relationship with his mother, the boy next door and his mother in turn too. Altogether, a portrait of mid-20th century working-class masculinity in crisis fitfully comes into view, like a constantly twisting kaleidoscope.
Continue reading “Review: Small Change, Omnibus Theatre”

Film Review: Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (2021)

This cinematic adaptation of Everybody’s Talking About Jamie is fabulously enjoyable, led by a fine performance by Max Harwood

“Sometimes, you gotta grab life by the balls, and you take those balls and you tuck ‘em between your legs”

The movie musical seems to be having a bit of a moment again. We’ve been treated to In The Heights and Cinderella, tick, tick…BOOM!, Dear Evan Hansen and a new West Side Story are soon on their way and who could forget Diana: A New Musical… Joining that illustrious company is Sheffield’s own Everybody’s Talking About Jamie, making the leap from the Crucible to the West End to the big* screen. (*It’s available on Amazon Prime so screen size may vary ;-))

And as it has maintained a large proportion of its original key creative team, it carries over so much of its proudly fabulous heart and soul. Based on the true story of Jamie Campbell, we follow Jamie’s last few months at high school as he dreams of becoming a drag queen. And in true Britflick fashion, there are heartwarming ups and heartbreaking downs, plus an expanded range of toe-tapping tunes from Dan Gillespie- Sells. What is fascinating as someone who has seen the stage show a fair few times now, is how well Tom MacRae’s adaptation of his own book works. Continue reading “Film Review: Everybody’s Talking About Jamie (2021)”

Review: Selected Recordings Of Us, The Space online

Available as an online stream via The Space, Undone Theatre’s Selected Recordings Of Us is an ambitious attempt to do something different

“This happened, is happening, has happened…this really happened”

You gotta admire ambition. Undone Theatre presents their Selected Recordings Of Us as “a queer love story that cannot find a stable form” and dictates that its audience interact with them on a journey for its two protagonists towards finding resolution for a broken-down relationship.

Neither of them can agree on anything much. The details of shared moments, the accuracy of their memories, the reliability of each other. So using a variety of methods, including direct address, polaroids, live-streaming, movement, and audience portraiture, they try to arrive at a single story. Continue reading “Review: Selected Recordings Of Us, The Space online”

Rehearsal images for The Normal Heart released

The National Theatre has released rehearsal images by Helen Maybanks for Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart a co-production with Fictionhouse, being performed in the Olivier Theatre in September 2021. Directed by Dominic Cooke, Kramer’s largely autobiographical play about the AIDS crisis in 1980 New York has not been performed professionally in London since its European premiere in 1986.

Ben Daniels will perform the role of Ned Weeks, the co-founder of an AIDS advocacy group fighting to change the world around him, with Robert Bowman, Richard Cant, Liz Carr, Jonathan Dryden Taylor, Dino Fetscher, Daniel Krikler, Daniel Monks, Elander Moore, Luke Norris, Henry Nott, Lucas Rush, Freddie Stabb, Samuel Thomas and Danny Lee Wynter completing the company.

Set design by Vicki Mortimer, costume design by Lisa Duncan, lighting design by Paule Constable, sound design by Carolyn Downing and fight direction by Bret Yount. The Normal Heart will be in the Olivier theatre from 23rd September until 6th November 2021. Continue reading “Rehearsal images for The Normal Heart released”

Camden Fringe Reviews: kiss her & Pool Noodles

A pair of new Camden Fringe reviews from Jack the Lass Theatre’s kiss her and Chuck Salmon’s Pool Noodles, both at the Camden People’s Theatre

“Who wants to hear about some muthafucking lesbians?”

Elizabeth Auld’s kiss her is the debut show from Jack the Lass Theatre and is the kind of bold theatremaking that makes you grateful that fringe theatre festivals have persisted through the pandemic. Seeking no small feat as to rewrite history and reset the ways in gay women have been portrayed (and still are portrayed), the show’s episodic structure presents its uncompromising evidence about how utterly pervasive long-held attitudes have been and eloquently suggests how they might change.

From lampooning the stereotypes of lesbian fiction to listening to an author be told what the effect of coming out would do to her book sales, from straight-washing historical figures to focus-grouping a lesbian car advert into being, the show’s scope is necessarily huge. It also takes the breath away, as in informing us that female homosexuality was only first discussed in Parliament in 1921, compared to the sixteenth century when they apparently had something to say about gay men.  Continue reading “Camden Fringe Reviews: kiss her & Pool Noodles”

Review: Gay Generations, White Bear Theatre

Gay Generations showcases a double bill of Michael McManus’ A Certain Term and Charlie Ross MacKenzie’s I F****n Love You at the White Bear Theatre

“Fuck the hedgehog”

Originally scheduled to be staged in March 2020,  Gay Generations – a double bill of new gay writing – has finally made it to the White Bear Theatre. Loosely connected through their inclusion of older gay characters, both one-act plays neatly widen dramatic representation for a sector of the LGBT+ community that aren’t necessarily that well reflected in societal narratives, particularly from within the community itself.

First up is A Certain Term by Michael McManus, directed by Bryan Hodgson, and full disclosure, this one made me cry. Haunted by the past, Dickon Farmar’s Graham hosts an annual dinner party with his closest friends, a testament to those who survived the HIV/AIDS epidemic and a tribute to those that didn’t. But this year, the early arrival of fresh-faced work colleague Joe (Daniel Cornish) provokes a startlingly fresh perspective on the past. Continue reading “Review: Gay Generations, White Bear Theatre”