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”

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)”

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)”

Some early October theatre news

Theatre503 has announced the cast for Milk and Gall, the debut play by 2018 Theatre503 International Playwriting Award finalist Mathilde Dratwa. Directed by Theatre503 Artistic Director Lisa Spirling (Wolfie), the cast is led by MyAnna Buring (The Witcher – Netflix, A Very Expensive Poison – Old Vic) as Vera, alongside the double Olivier Award winning Jenny Galloway (Mamma Mia, The Boys From Syracuse) as Barbara, with Matt Whitchurch (Spiderfly –Theatre503, Pride & Prejudice – Nottingham Playhouse) as Michael, Sherine Chalhie as Amira, and Tracy-Anne Green as Alexa.

Milk and Gall exposes the messy reality of new motherhood in the shadow of one of the most divisive moments in modern American history. It is a theatrically dazzling, surreal and funny new play about the overnight birth of two screaming tyrants, and the shattered identity left in their wake. Continue reading “Some early October theatre news”

Film Review: Spectre (2015)

After the emotional triumph of Skyfall, the lethargic pacing of Spectre can’t help but feel a letdown

“Why, given every other possible option, does a man choose the life of a paid assassin?”

After the rip-roaring success of Skyfall, it seems little surprise that director Sam Mendes and lead scribe John Logan would return for the next instalment of the Bond series. But Spectre ends up as part of the yoyo-ing trend of Daniel Craig’s tenure which had previously seen the excellence of Casino Royale followed up by the not-excellence of Quantum of Solace. Delving deep back in Bond folklore, its overlong running time and stultifying pace sadly makes it a bit of a challenge.

This time round, surveillance networks are the villain as Bond investigates global conglomerate Spectre and their nefarious plans under Blofeld, whilst M and co do battle with the enemy within in the form of Andrew Scott’s smarmy C. Despite his class, Ralph Fiennes is a much less impactful M than Dame Judi but Ben Whishaw, Naomie Harris and Rory Kinnear are all settling well into their MI6 roles, popping in and out as needed. Christoph Waltz’s Blofeld is vividly effective but the problem lies in an ineffectual plot that doesn’t grip anywhere near as much as Skyfall did. Continue reading “Film Review: Spectre (2015)”

Review: Witness for the Prosecution, County Hall

Productions like this are precisely why Agatha Christie has endured so long. Witness for the Prosecution is an absolute marvel in the atmospheric surroundings of County Hall

“How could he possibly commit such a brutal murder. He’s such a dish”

Most of what I know about justice comes from Bananarama (guilty as a girl can be) so I’ve yet to be called up for jury service. But Witness for the Prosecution acts as a fine stand-in, especially with this production which makes inspired use of the disused Council Chamber in London’s County Hall. The show opened back in 2017 but it has taken me this long to getting around to see it – more fool me, as it is pretty darn fantastic.

I suppose I was guilty of thinking of the slightly stale Mousetrap side of Agatha Christie, the one of which it is hard to get particularly excited, rather than the Sarah Phelpsinspired revivals which have relocated and reignited the sheer quality of Christie’s writing. Lucy Bailey’s interpretation of the 1953 play rightfully plays it with an extremely straight bat, reminding us just what a unparalleled master she was at this game of crime writing. Continue reading “Review: Witness for the Prosecution, County Hall”

Film Review: Skyfall (2012)

As much an M movie as a Bond flick, Skyfall benefits from putting Dame Judi Dench front and centre to make this one of the best Bond films of recent times

“Well, I suppose I see a different world than you do and the truth is that what I see frightens me”

One of the best aspects of Bond in the Daniel Craig era has been the introduction of actual consequences for people. We’re not dealing with total realism to be sure, but rather a thoughtfulness that is too rarely seen in the action genre. Written by John Logan and directed by Sam Mendes, Skyfall is a masterful entry in the Bond canon, playing out the complex relationship between Bond and Judi Dench’s steely M right through to its devastating end. 

Delving into both of their pasts and hauling them up to account, the notion of personal vengeance as all-encompassing motive is far more effective than the fate of the Bolivian water supply. And Javier Bardem’s Silva is one of the most genuinely chilling villains for that very reason, his cyberterrorist truly compelling in his psychopathy – that climactic scene in the chapel is simply stunning on all levels.

It’s not perfect: the queer-baiting, sorely underusing Helen McCrory in just one scene, and all the business on the tube is ridiculous (it’s rush hour in the station but the train that crashes is somehow empty? And you can’t slide down the escalators like they do, there’s things in the way. And yes, I know it is a film, hehe). But I’m picking at small things cos I can – the new Q is introduced perfectly (all credit to Ben Whishaw) and ultimately, it’s just a great film, never mind a great Bond film. Continue reading “Film Review: Skyfall (2012)”