#AdventwithClowns Day 16 – Hymn (Almeida, via Sky Arts)

Adrian Lester and Danny Sapani scorch in Lolita Chakrabarti’s sharp two-hander Hymn, first seen at the Almeida

“He had a kind face”

Sky Arts has proved a real boon in helping me catch up with plays I missed this year. The Almeida’s Hymn debuted online at the beginning of the year, its socially distanced production (by the excellent Blanche McIntyre) first being livestreamed and then managing an IRL run in the summer. Lolita Chakrabarti has spoken of her inspiration being the lack of stories about emotional relationships between (straight) men and here, she has certainly rectified that.

We follow Gil (Lester) and Benny (Sapani) after the half-brothers discover their hitherto unknown relationship at their father’s funeral. And as they peel back the detritus from their vastly different upbringings, a connection is able to flourish between them, as friendship grows through the many things they share – the experience of Black British men, fatherhood, emotional reticence and best of all, a love of music. A lovely production that bursts through the screen with its quiet strength. 

Artwork photography by Zeinab Batchelor
Hymn
is available to watch on Sky Arts and NowTV, with a subscription

News: One year of National Theatre at Home – New titles added

Ahead of National Theatre at Home’s one year anniversary on 1 December, the National Theatre has today announced the next filmed productions to be added to the streaming service, which is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Joining the platform today is Simon Godwin’s critically acclaimed 2018 production of Antony & Cleopatra in the Olivier theatre, with Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo playing Shakespeare’s famous fated couple. Then the iconic and multi-award-winning production of War Horsebased on the novel by Michael Morpurgo, will be available from 1 December until 31 January 2022 on demand internationally for the first time since its premiere 14 years ago. It will be available with British Sign Language, audio description and captions. Continue reading “News: One year of National Theatre at Home – New titles added”

TV Review: Silent Witness Series 2

Series 2 of Silent Witness sees the show quickly slip into the patterns that bristle against the limitations of the format, whilst Amanda Burton warms up a little

“If you’re lucky, you’ll get away with a slap on the wrist and a warning not to get too involved in the future”

And so to series 2 of Silent Witness, Nigel McCrery’s forensic pathology drama, and the return of Amanda Burton’s remarkably chilly Sam Ryan. Perhaps wisely, there was a big swerve away from her family drama, the focus shifting more solidly to the numerous work crises passed her way. The only problem there is that the writers were in no way content to let her just be a pathologist. 

“I’m a forensic pathologist. All I’m interested in is the truth”, she cries at one point. But it patently isn’t true, her insistence on playing detective with every single case actually having led to the death of someone innocent last time around (she gets over the trauma of that pretty quickly…) and said behaviour continues apace here, reaching almost parodic levels far too quickly. Continue reading “TV Review: Silent Witness Series 2”

News: NT’s original film Romeo & Juliet to be screened in cinemas

The National Theatre has announced that its critically acclaimed original film Romeo & Juliet will be screened in cinemas for one night only on Tuesday 28 September. The film stars Josh O’Connor (The Crown, God’s Own Country) as Romeo and Jessie Buckley (Chernobyl, Judy) as Juliet, and will be available to screen across the UK and Ireland.

Directed by Simon Godwin (Twelfth Night, Antony and Cleopatra), this new 90-minute version was filmed in 17 days in the NT’s Lyttelton theatre in December while it was closed due the pandemic. It was adapted for screen by Emily Burns. The film premiered on television earlier this year on Sky Arts in the UK on 4 April and PBS in the US on 23 April. This is the first time the film will be available on the big screen. 

Continue reading “News: NT’s original film Romeo & Juliet to be screened in cinemas”

News: The National Theatre announces 2021-22 programming and launches National Theatre Together

The National Theatre announces new programming and launches a major new campaign for its future, National Theatre Together

The National Theatre has announced its programming until the start of next year with productions on all three South Bank stages as well as three major UK tours, two productions on Broadway, a return to cinemas, and a new feature film to be broadcast on television this autumn. In the week the theatre reopened for audiences again, six new productions were announced, and five productions halted by the pandemic were confirmed to return to the South Bank.  

It has also announced the public launch of National Theatre Together, a new campaign with people at its heart, highlighting the importance of creativity and collaboration with theatre-makers and communities, for young people and audiences. The campaign cements the NT’s commitment to the people of this country and will raise vital funds for the theatre’s ambitious recovery post-pandemic.  Continue reading “News: The National Theatre announces 2021-22 programming and launches National Theatre Together”

News: Almeida 2021 season announcement

First up in June is the World Premiere of and breathe… by Yomi ode, a theatrical adaptation of poems from his forthcoming collection Manorism. Directed by Olivier Award-winning director Miranda Cromwell, featuring David Jonsson.

From July Lolita Chakrabarti’s Hymn will be performed to live in-person audiences for the first time following a string of sold-out live stream performances earlier this year. Adrian Lester and Danny Sapani reprise their roles, and Blanche McIntyre directs. Continue reading “News: Almeida 2021 season announcement”

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”

Review: Romeo and Juliet, National Theatre via Sky Arts

Jessie Buckley is astonishing as the National Theatre’s Romeo and Juliet makes the jump from stage to screen to extraordinary effect

“What satisfaction canst thou have tonight?”

By rights, we should have seen Simon Godwin’s Romeo and Juliet at the National Theatre last summer but the stars realigned for these star-cross’d lovers and now we have the gift of the National’s first ever film. Emily Burns’ sleek adaptation has been reworked for the camera and with DP Tim Sidell reimaginging the possibilities of working onstage, something truly cinematic yet innately theatrical has emerged.

With a supporting company (plucked from my dreams) that included Deborah Findlay, Lucian Msamati, and Tamsin Greig, I was pleasantly surprised that the young leads lived up to their billing with two fine, emotionally wrought performances. Josh O’Connor’s Romeo carries the weight of the world on his shoulders but flickers beautifully into life upon the stolen touch of fingertips with Juliet. And Jessie Buckley as Juliet shimmers with luminosity with the intensity of the feelings that take her over. Continue reading “Review: Romeo and Juliet, National Theatre via Sky Arts”

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 look at the National Theatre’s Romeo & Juliet

The National Theatre’s Romeo & Juliet has the cast I dream about so it’s a bit of a bummer that it’s had to be turned into a filmed version but as solutions go, it’s a pretty good one. And given the look of these images by Rob Youngson, it looks to be living up to expectation.

Catch Romeo & Juliet at 9pm Sunday 4 April on Sky Arts (UK) and 9pm Friday 23 April on PBS (US)

Continue reading “A look at the National Theatre’s Romeo & Juliet”