A pair of star-studded staged readings of Agatha Christie thrillers will support the Theatre Support Fund+ and Acting for Others.
Agatha Christie’s Spider’s Web – 9th December, 7.30pm
Clarissa, wife of a diplomat, is adept at spinning tales of adventure but when a murder takes place in her own drawing room she finds live drama much harder to cope with.
Desperate to dispose of the body before her husband arrives with an important politician, she enlists the help of her guests. Hilarity ensues when they are interrupted by the arrival of wry detective, Inspector Lord.
Starring: Nari Blair-Mangat | Nick Blakeley | Brian Bovell | Richard Clifford | Adam Gillen | Jessica Hynes | Sir Derek Jacobi | Matthew Kelley | Gerard McCarthy | Helen Monks | Gloria Onitiri | Stephanie Siadatan
Agatha Christie’s The Hollow – 10th December, 7.30pm
An unhappy game of romantic follow-the-leader explodes into murder one weekend at The Hollow, home of Sir Henry and Lucy Angkatell. Dr. Cristow, the Harley Street lothario, is at the centre of the trouble when, assembled in one place, we find his dull but devoted wife Gerda, his mistress and prominent sculptor Henrietta, and his former lover and Hollywood film star Veronica. As the list of romantic associations grows so does the list of potential suspects when someone is shot dead.
Nearly everyone has a motive but only one of them did the deed.
Starring: Samantha Bond | Simon Callow | James Dreyfus | Kathryn Drysdale | Richard Fleeshman | Beth Granville | Angela Griffin | Laura Haddock | Tom Hughes | Adam James | Valentine Olukoga | Nina Sosanya | Nia Towle
The Jonathan Creek specials from 2009–2013 undo much of the damage from Series 4, with Sheridan Smith largely to thank for that
“I’ve got a very important presentation to Weetabix in five minutes”
After the horror show that was the fourth series, Jonathan Creek disappeared from our TV screens for five years and for the subsequent five, returned only intermittently for three feature-length specials from 2009–2013. And I think the break did everyone a world of good as these episodes rival some of the show’s best in recapturing the sense of investigative fun that lay at its heart.
Chief in this is the casting of Sheridan Smith as wise-cracking paranormal investigator Joey Ross. Their buddy relationship is well drawn, wisely kept clear of any romantic entanglement and yet still deeply affectionate at its heart. Complex, multi-faceted mysteries are allowed to unfold more effectively in the longer format, although Renwick can’t help himself with women as porn stars and clod-hopping trans jokes. For the most part, everything just hangs together better – until Jonathan get a wife that is…More of that in Series 5. Continue reading “TV Review: Jonathan Creek Specials (2009–2013)”
Simon Annand’s Time To Act is a beautiful book of photos capturing actors in the minutes before they go on stage
Tackling the constraints of the pandemic in its own way, Simon Annand’s fantastic new book of photos Time To Act has launched a virtual exhibition of some of the photographs which has now been extended to until Christmas. It’s an ingenious way of sharing some of the hundreds of images from the book and should surely whet the appetite for either just buying it now or putting on your list for Santa to collect soon.
Continue reading “Book review: Time To Act – Simon Annand”
Mike Bartlett’s new TV show Life is rich in middle-class miseries and stellar performances from Victoria Hamilton and Alison Steadman
“One can’t have blessings without sufferings”
My main feelings about Mike Bartlett’s Life revolve around Rachael Stirling and thus are somewhat spoilerific – consider yourself warned! I was highly excited to see Stirling back on our screens so I was a tad disappointed when it turned out that her character was in fact a ghost and could only be seen by her grieving husband Adrian Lester.
But then when it was revealed that she was in fact a bisexual ghost – a proper shout at the TV moment – and her entanglements drew in at least one other, it was a glorious pay-off which almost, almost made up for her not being a full-on member of the ensemble. And its a hefty ensemble, set in a large house split into four flats in which four sets of tenants are all facing their own trials. Continue reading “TV Review: Life (Series 1)”
The best TV show of the year? Definitely so far…Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You is just superb
“Just look in the mirror, you know what I mean? It’s really uncomfortable and unnerving for everyone”
Has ‘the grey area’ ever seemed so interesting? Probing into the complexities of real life and fully embracing the fact that there are rarely ever any simple answers, Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You has felt like a real breath of bracingly fresh air.
Sexual consent for straights and gays, dealing with trauma on a personal and institutional level, the perils of buying into social media hype, portraying the scale of casual sex and drug use whilst acknowledging its inherent pitfalls, examining how we bury memories from both the recent and distant past and that’s just scratching the surface. Continue reading “TV Review: I May Destroy You”
The superlative Michaela Coel looks to have absolutely nailed with new TV show I May Destroy You
“How did last night end?”
I mean we knew I May Destroy You would be good but damn, it’s really good. Even on the evidence of episodes 1 & 2 which have just been released by the BBC, Michaela Coel – whose credits here include executive producer, co-director, star, and writer – looks set to thoroughly invigorate our TV screens as she breathlessly tackles, well, pretty much the whole of contemporary society.
At the top of it, I May Destroy You is a drama about consent, though it is immediately clear that Coel’s canvas and the scope of her ambition is much larger than that. It blends just as much comedy as tragedy into its playfully inventive structure. And though the hook is Coel’s Arabella – a 30-something London-based writer – trying to piece together the memories of a night where her drink was spiked and she was sexually assaulted, there’s so much more about the lives of young Black British people filled out along the way. Continue reading “TV Review: I May Destroy You, Episodes 1 & 2”
The first couple of episodes of Julian Fellowes’ latest TV series Belgravia are quite frankly an embarrassment
“How strange that we should be having a ball when we are on the brink of war”
Who knows what hold Julian Fellowes has over the British cultural industries as once again, another major commission comes through for this painfully lazy of writers. I should have resisted Belgravia but with a cast that includes Harriet Walter, Tara Fitzgerald and Saskia Reeves, not to mention Penny Layden and Adam James, curiosity got the better of me and by the crin, I wish it hadn’t. Lucy Mangan puts it scathingly well in her review for the Guardian and I couldn’t have put it any better. Avoid like the, well, plague.
Who wants a play about Trump? Not me. Shipwreck proves a crashing bore at the Almeida
“From across the room I saw the President, torchlight playing across his visage.
And the violins began, and the low rumble of the timpani.
I screamed. I ran.”
My fault really. On a day when the people were descending on London to march, my attempt to escape people talking/moaning about politics was kyboshed by picking a play which featured little else but people talking/moaning about politics. Anne Washburn’s Shipwreck just wasn’t the one for me, though it is cool she has two shows in town (even if it is the wrong one that got the transfer).
Running time: 3 hours (with interval)
Photo: Marc Brenner
Shipwreck is booking at the Almeida until 30th March
With a mostly new cast, Nina Raine’s deeply considered and thought-provoking Consent transfers from the National to the Harold Pinter
“It’s a fight between two opposing narratives”
Nina Raine’s Consent is yet another play to make the West End transfer out of the National Theatre’s Dorfman space. And a well-timed one it is too as even though it is only a year since it ran, the landscape when talking about how aspects of society deal with sexual assault and rape is significantly different. Read my 4 star review for Official Theatre here.
Running time: 2 hours 20 minutes (with interval)
Photos: Johan Persson
Consent is booking at the Harold Pinter Theatre until 11th August