Review: Richard II, Jack Studio Theatre

We Are Animate offers Shakespeare with a reinvigorating point of view with this fresh look at Richard II, playing at the lovely Jack Studio Theatre now

“Remember who you are?”

You can see why many a theatre company turns to Shakespeare, especially after a period of such economic turbulence for the industry, but going for a safe pair of hands doesn’t always result in the greatest level of artistic excitement. Fortunately, We Are Animate are perhaps fully aware of this and so their production of Richard II arrives at Jack Studio (ever the friendliest of venues) with real points of interest (and Robyn on the soundrack).

A majority female ensemble, a running time slimmed down to 80 minutes and inventive Daily Mail-aping castsheets that leave us in no doubt as to where the inspiration for choosing this play about power-hungry elites and feckless, flailing rulers came from. The result is a crafty and considered approach to the play that crucially, has something to say to us now, not least in how those elites treat the people they rule. Continue reading “Review: Richard II, Jack Studio Theatre”

TV Review: Silent Witness Series 23

What the… Series 23 of Silent Witness maintains a rich vein of form but then really upends the apple cart 

“What would Thomas do?”

All good things must come to an end, eh? Having settled into an excellent run of form with all four members of the Lyall team firing on all cylinders, Series 23 of Silent Witness culminates in some serious upheaval with the departure of no less than two of them in a brutally effective final story that probably ranks as one of the best ever.

So farewell to Clarissa, leaving on her own terms to pursue new opportunities, Liz Carr’s performance hands down one of the best on TV in and of itself before you even factor in the shot in the arm it has been for representation. And with a pleasingly meaty storyline involving her mother, it proved a satisfying journey although a gutting loss for the show. Continue reading “TV Review: Silent Witness Series 23”

BBC Audio Drama Awards 2022 finalists

Best Actor 
Edmund Davies, The Pursuits Of Darleen Fyles. Director Pauline Harris, BBC Audio Drama North
Simon Russell Beale, Folk. Director Sue Roberts, BBC Audio Drama North
Giles Terera, The Meaning Of Zong. Director Tom Morris, Jonx Productions

Best Actress
Juliet Aubrey, Dead Weather. Director Nicolas Jackson, Afonica
Jasmine Hyde, Little Blue Lines. Director Gemma Jenkins, BBC Audio Drama London
Amanda Lawrence, Folk. Director Sue Roberts, BBC Audio Drama North Continue reading “BBC Audio Drama Awards 2022 finalists”

TV Review: Cucumber

Russell T Davies returns to gay life in Manchester in heartbreakingly good form with the excellent Cucumber

“Close your eyes and think of me”

Having made his name with Queer As Folk, Russell T Davies’ televisual return to gay life in Manchester took the form in the triad of Cucumber, Banana and Tofu (named for stages of an erection, natch). Most attention fell on the most conventional of the three, Cucumber, which focused on the midlife crisis of Henry Best, a 40-something gay man who lurches into a meltdown when Lance, his partner of 9 years, proposes marriage and he says no.

I remembered the show quite fondly from first time around, so I was surprised upon rewatching at just how much of an uncompromising twat Henry is. Vincent Franklin does a great job at rounding off some of the sharp edges with a genial humanity but he is a selfish middle-class tosser of the first degree throughout and there’s something quite admirable in that, even if Davies can’t resist trying to undo it with a sentimentally tinged final episode. Continue reading “TV Review: Cucumber”

Film Review: Brighton (2019)

Based on a Steven Berkoff play, Brighton proves a candidate for one of the worst films I’ve ever seen

“We should have gone to Southend”

Sometimes, you just have to say, what the fuck do you think you’re doing. Stephen Cookson’s film Brighton, adapted from Steven Berkoff’s 1994 play Brighton Beach Scumbags, is one of those times. I suppose there is a film to be made about the fragility of British national identity in ageing white heterosexuals but this sure as hell isn’t it.

What’s worse is that you’ve got a top notch cast here. The two main couples having a jaunt back to the town where they met some 40-odd years ago are played by Lesley Sharp and Phil Davis, and Marion Bailey and Larry Lamb, fine actors all, who should be hanging their heads in shame for signing up to this horribly dated and downright nasty piece of work. Continue reading “Film Review: Brighton (2019)”

TV Review: Silent Witness Series 11

Signs of staleness start to creep in Series 11 of Silent Witness as Nikki ends up in ‘mortal’ peril for the second time in four stories

“Please, you’re letting this become personal”

There’s an easy chemistry that flows between William Gaminara, Tom Ward and Emilia Fox as the core team in mid-career Silent Witness that it seems churlish to criticise. I find their gentle banter and dad jokes just a delight to watch in their office scenes, but sadly that’s not enough to hang a top-rated BBC series on.

So as it is, Series 11 finds itself tackling such wide-ranging topics as military secrecy and medical bureaucracy, neglect of the traveller community and asylum seekers, abuse in both the Catholic Church and in African religious groups, even mad cow disease. The less said about Leo’s white saviour moment the better. And of course, there’s a pronounced divergence from their remit as forensic pathologists. Continue reading “TV Review: Silent Witness Series 11”

TV Review: Broadchurch, Series 2

A return to Broadchurch isn’t quite as effective, as Series 2 broadens the canvas to another mystery rather than just focusing on the ramifications of Danny Latimer’s case

“Look what these men have done to us” “None of us have got anything left to hife”

As a continuation of the traumatic unfoldings of the first season, Series 2 of Chris Chibnall’s runaway hit series Broadchurch continues its excellent work. We rejoin the picturesque coastal Dorset town a few months down the line with the court case against Joe Miller about to start and rather brilliantly, it soon pulls the rug from us as he pleads not guilty to the murder of Danny Latimer. 

And so the revelations of the case are rehashed, old suspicions reignited and new ones stoked, and a gripping legal thriller emerges. Excellent casting choices make this fly as we’re treated to Charlotte Rampling and Marianne Jean-Baptiste duelling in court under Meera Syal’s jurisdiction. And Matthew Gravelle’s near-wordless performance as the accused is so very well done, as he comes under the glare of the community as they come to either take the stand or watch the trial. Continue reading “TV Review: Broadchurch, Series 2”

Some theatre news from the last week

New interview series from the NT, Julius Caesar and Sunset Boulevard reappearing digitally and Hushabye Mountain coming to the Hope Mill

© Louise Haywood-Schiefer

The National Theatre announced a new interview series Life in Stages, profiling some of the biggest names in British theatre. The series, which will be free to watch, will launch on the National Theatre’s YouTube channel on Thursday 22 April at 7pm BST with each new episode added at the same time every Thursday.  

The first episode boasts Olivia Colman and Director and Joint Chief Executive of the National Theatre Rufus Norris. The second episode on Thursday 29 April will feature Romeo & Juliet co-stars Josh O’Connor and Jessie Buckley. On Thursday 6 May the third episode puts Adrian Lester and Meera Syal together. Details of further episodes from this series will be announced later this month.  Continue reading “Some theatre news from the last week”

News: two new theatrically inclined podcasts announced

Whilst we edge ever closer to curtains maybe rising once again, a new pair of podcasts should see us through

Hear Me Out is a brand-new podcast from actor and producer Lucy Eaton, most recently seen on TV screens starring alongside David Tennant, Michael Sheen, and her brother Simon Evans in BBC1’s Staged.  The first four episodes are now available to listen to with guests Mark Bonnar, Denise Gough, Adrian Lester, and Claire Skinner. A new episode will then be released each Tuesday from 30 March onwards with future guests including Brendan Coyle, Freddie Fox, Patricia Hodge, Maddy Hill, and Giles Terera.  Hear Me Out is available to listen to on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Anchor.com, and all major streaming platforms.  Filmed clips from the episodes can also be found on YouTube @PodHearMeOut.

Hear Me Out puts the audience back in the stalls or, closer still, the rehearsal room. Creeping further into 2021, many have endured twelve months without a curtain going up. This new podcast invites theatre-loving audiences to re-connect with theatre-makers in a unique celebration of language and performance. Continue reading “News: two new theatrically inclined podcasts announced”

A round-up of February theatre news

Ros is looking for romance. Richard needs a new companion. They’re a match! But the year is 2020, and dating isn’t simple. From glitchy Zoom introductions, to their socially distanced first date in an actual restaurant, Adventurous follows the twists and turns of Ros and Richard’s relationship as they negotiate technology, treachery…and tortoises.

Filmed in lockdown, this is the premiere of actor Ian Hallard’s debut play. Both comic and touching, Adventurous tells the unexpected story of two single souls with an unstable connection. It reunites Hallard with Olivier Award-winner Sara Crowe following their many double-acts in Jermyn’s Street Theatre’s 2018 production of Noel Coward’s Tonight at 8.30. This online production is a heartwarming and hilarious treat. Continue reading “A round-up of February theatre news”