News: keep Clowns and carry on

In which I ask WWPD (what would Patti do) and decide to honour my reviewing schedule as best as I can

“A toast to that invincible bunch”

So…what’s a Clown to do in times of Coronavirus, apart from look longingly at this amazing Patti LuPone photoshoot from Town and County Magazine? It’s hard, if not impossible, to know what the right thing to do is at an unprecedented moment like this. When the creative industries that I love and cherish so dearly are under threat of being decimated, when the day job is also wracked by uncertainty, when the act of trying to manage my own anxiety feels hard enough on its own. Heck, even the idea of staying in of an evening feels strange after a decade of intensive theatregoing.

My answer, for now, is to keep busy and to that end, I am going to be honouring my reviewing schedule as it looked for the forthcoming month. Obviously I can’t reviews shows that haven’t happened but I’m going to try to pull together mini-feature pieces for them, to collate any previews and interviews they may have done, to give you the means of staying in touch with the companies and theatres and most significantly, the ways in which any support that you can offer can be given. Obviously, the precariousness of the situation affects so many of us but any assistance that can be offered, in any shape, will surely help in the process of getting through to the other side. Do as Patti says – “everybody rise”.

 

Photos: Douglas Friedman, styled by Ryan Young

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”

News: West End performers join fundraising gala #CheerUpCharlie – The Show

Charlie Kristensen, the 11 year old passionate anti-bullying campaigner and much-loved host of the online chat show Musical Chairs with #CheerUpCharlie, will be joined by an exciting line-up for his fundraising gala #CheerUpCharlie – The Show on Sunday 31 October 2021 at 7.30pm at The Actor’s Church in Covent Garden, London.
 
Produced by Mark Robert Petty and hosted by Ben Stock and Hilary O’Neil, with Musical Direction by Tom Knowles, the evening will feature a whole host of the West End’s much-loved top musical theatre performers: Lewis Asquith, Lizzie Bea, Nikki Bentley, Daniel Boys, Kieran Brown, Robin Cousins, Maria Coyne, Ferris & Milnes, Adrian Hansel, Jacqueline Hughes, Sophie Isaacs, Melissa Jacques, Alison Jiear, Gemma Knight Jones, Carolyn Maitland, Nadim Naaman, Sara Poyzer, Oliver Savile, Jon Tarcy, Shona White and Jacinta Whyte as well as Joseph Fletcher and Natasha Volley from DMD+ (Deaf Men Dancing+, founded by Mark Smith), country cross-over duo One Trick Pony, This One’s For You – A Tribute To Elton John (with Dougie Carter, Ben Barrow and Sam Ebenezer), the cast of Rumi: The Musical, mind-reader Matt Daniel-Baker and ventriloquist Max Fulham. They will be joined by students from ASA Theatre Arts, London School of Musical Theatre, MX Masterclass and The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama. Charlie also has some special surprises up his sleeve.

Continue reading “News: West End performers join fundraising gala #CheerUpCharlie – The Show”

Review: Hamlet, Young Vic

Cush Jumbo is excellent, and there’s a great Ophelia, but do we really need another Hamlet? Three hours plus at the Young Vic will soon tell you

“The time is out of joint”

At the risk of sounding like Brenda from Bristol, my initial reaction to hearing of another “highly-anticipated production of Shakespeare’s great tragedy” is rarely one of too much excitement. But the Young Vic’s Hamlet has quite the trump card up its sleeve, in the return of Cush Jumbo to the theatrical stage after nailing transatlantic TV success in shows like The Good Fight

It is 10 years or so now since getting to see Jumbo fairly regularly at the Royal Exchange in Manchester, her talent obvious to see even then in productions of As You Like It and Pygmalion. And with frequent collaborator Greg Hersov at the helm, it is little surprise that her presence here is nigh on revelatory, a high-wattage performance that electrifies the play almost anew. Continue reading “Review: Hamlet, Young Vic”