TV Review: The Windsors, Series 3

Series 3 of The Windsors sees the show tailing off just a little, as it struggles to work out how fit Meghan in as a comic character

“There could be tanks on the streets of Kensington and Chelsea”

After a couple of years off-air, Series 3 of The Windsors returned with an avowed aim of real topicality but given the way that Harry and Meghan’s departure from royal life and the subsequent revelations have played out, it can sometimes be a tricky watch (if you’re pro-Meghan that is…).

I’d argue that the series does best when cutting a little looser from this territory too. Charles and Camilla’s visit to the Middletons’ is inspired as is the dip into accidental Satanism, Fergie choosing between Eugenie and Beatrice at Glastonbury is hilarious as is their diversion to chalet life in Verbier. Continue reading “TV Review: The Windsors, Series 3”

Review: Still Life: Untold Stories of Nottingham Now

Julie Hesmondhalgh and Frances De La Tour, among others, star in the heartbreakingly excellent Still Life: Untold Stories of Nottingham Now

“So, this is where the magic happens”

At a moment when theatreland is full of news of planned reopenings and hopes for the future, it is good to still be able to look at the cultural contributions that reflect on the recent past. Still Life: Untold Stories of Nottingham Now does just that by offering up 5 short tales of what life in Nottingham during lockdown has been like, stories that speak to the human impact of a global pandemic.

Writers Olu Alakija, Nathan Ellis, Amy Guyler and Emteaz Hussain take us through the full gamut of experiences – from volunteering at food banks to life as a delivery driver, students dealing with disrupted schooling and the strange ballet of getting a COVID safe Uber. And not only that, there’s a special short but spiky sketch from Alan Bennett performed by the luminous Frances De La Tour. Continue reading “Review: Still Life: Untold Stories of Nottingham Now”

News: Nottingham Playhouse reveals a Spring Loaded season of 23 events

Nottingham Playhouse has announced a season of live and digital productions that celebrate local stories and support East Midlands’ talent. The shows and events range from dance, music, drama, and Bollywood to horror, comedy and romance. Most the productions will be available to rent for On Demand viewing over five days, with others livestreamed. Prices start from just a small suggested donation to its Curtain Up appeal, to £20 per household. Bookings for live events will go on general sale on Tuesday 23 March. On Demand productions will steadily become available for rental from 16 March 2021 through to June 2021. Continue reading “News: Nottingham Playhouse reveals a Spring Loaded season of 23 events”

Winners of the 2020 Olivier Awards

Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Musical                                          
David Bedella for & Juliet at Shaftesbury Theatre – WINNER
Stewart Clarke for Fiddler On The Roof at Playhouse Theatre
Jack Loxton for Dear Evan Hansen at Noël Coward Theatre
Rupert Young for Dear Evan Hansen at Noël Coward Theatre                          

Best Actress in a Supporting Role in a Musical
Lucy Anderson for Dear Evan Hansen at Noël Coward Theatre
Petula Clark for Mary Poppins at Prince Edward Theatre
Cassidy Janson for & Juliet at Shaftesbury Theatre – WINNER
Lauren Ward for Dear Evan Hansen at Noël Coward Theatre                

Continue reading “Winners of the 2020 Olivier Awards”

Film Review: Notes on a Scandal (2006)

A marvellously against-type Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett score a huge hit in Notes on a Scandal

“Lasagne irritates my bowels, I’ll ask for a small portion”

Intelligently adapted from Zoë Heller’s novel by Patrick Marber, you get the feeling that Notes on a Scandal would be good even if anyone was acting in it. But since Richard Eyre’s film boasts Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett as its leads, it is something extraordinary.

Barbara and Sheba both teach at the same Islington secondary school. Barbara a long-serving history teacher, Sheba a brand new recruit to the art department, an unlikely friendship develops between the pair, one which detonates when the latter starts an affair with a pupil. Continue reading “Film Review: Notes on a Scandal (2006)”

2020 Laurence Olivier Awards nominations

Award season kicks into another gear with the arrival of the nominations for the 2020 Olivier Awards – & Juliet, Fiddler on the Roof and Dear Evan Hansen lead the musicals pack, Death of a Salesman and Rosmersholm the plays

As ever, Laurence giveth and he taketh away and it’s all subjective anyway.

  • I’m really pleased to see the love for Amélie The Musical and The Ocean At The End Of The Lane but a little incredulous that Fairview received no nominations.
  • The weird category shuffle that often happens has landed on ‘Best Entertainment or Comedy Play’ and ‘Best Family Show’ this year, leaving Emilia and Fleabag in a weird place that isn’t ‘Best New Play’ (last year they were divided into ‘Best Entertainment and Family’ and ‘Best New Comedy’.
  • I had zero desire to see Fiddler on the Roof so can’t pass comment there but can’t help wishing the supporting role in a musical nominations weren’t quite so dominated by DEH.
  • & Juliet’s director Luke Sheppard could rightfully feel snubbed, given the wealth of recognition the rest of the production has received.
  • And whither Monica Dolan, Lucian Msamati, Melanie La Barrie, the cast of Three Sisters…(oh wait, they won the more significant award earlier in the year!)

Continue reading “2020 Laurence Olivier Awards nominations”

Film Review: 1917 (2019)

Sam Mendes’ 1917 is undoubtedly an technically excellent film but the focus on format ends up detracting from the depth of the storytelling

“You’ll be wanking again in no time!
‘Wrong hand’.”

There’s no doubting the technical audacity of Sam Mendes’ 1917. With its ostensibly one-shot, real-time structure (with necessary caveats that it is neither), it is a bravura piece of film-making that elevates this movie from just your average Oscar-baity war flick (cf Dunkirk).

It is clearly a labour of love for Mendes, who directed, co-wrote (with Krysty Wilson-Cairns) and produced 1917, and whose grandfather’s own war experiences inspired the film. And its driving force, following 2 British soldiers tasked with delivering a vital message beyond enemy lines. Continue reading “Film Review: 1917 (2019)”

Book review: The Half – Simon Annand

The Half – Photographs of Actors Preparing for the Stage by Simon Annand

Just a quickie for this book as The Half – Photographs of Actors Preparing for the Stage by Simon Annand was released in 2008. But with an imminent new exhibition of these photos and a bargainous copy of the book popping up on Ebay, I thought I’d take the plunge.

And I’m glad I did as it is a proper work of art in its own right. Annand has been photographing actors for over 25 years and as such, has a veritable treasure trove of shots to share with us, resulting from the trusting relationships he has built up with so many, from the new kids on the block to veritable dames. Continue reading “Book review: The Half – Simon Annand”

Winners of the 19th What’s On Stage Awards

Best Actor in a Play sponsored by Radisson Blu Edwardian
WINNER – Aidan Turner, The Lieutenant of Inishmore
Arinzé Kene, Misty
Colin Morgan, Translations
Kyle Soller, The Inheritance
Mark Gatiss, The Madness of George III

Best Actress in a Play
Carey Mulligan, Girls & Boys
Charlie Murphy, The Lieutenant of Inishmore
Katherine Parkinson, Home, I’m Darling
Patsy Ferran, Summer and Smoke
WINNER Sophie Okonedo, Antony and Cleopatra Continue reading “Winners of the 19th What’s On Stage Awards”

Film Review: On Chesil Beach (2017)

On Chesil Beach proves a most painful watch indeed

“Minor seventh might be better”

Dominic Cooke’s theatrical résumé includes such triumphs as Follies and Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom so a measure of anticipation about his feature film debut was surely not unexpected. But I should have remembered he was also responsible for the challenges of The Low Road and In The Republic of Happiness and for me, it was to this end of the scale that On Chesil Beach tips.

An adaptation of Ian McEwan’s 2007 novella by the man himself, we’re in the world of classic 1960s English sexual repression. New graduates Edward and Florence come together in a theoretically perfect courtship but when they come together disastrously in marriage, their sexual inexperience on their Dorset honeymoon proves utterly and completely life-changing. Continue reading “Film Review: On Chesil Beach (2017)”