News: CFT’S 60th anniversary season announced

Full details of Chichester Festival Theatre’s Festival 2022 – their diamond anniversary year – have been announced by Artistic Director Daniel Evans and Executive Director Kathy Bourne

This sparkling Festival season offers no less than six world premiere productions, including three musicals: the Tony and Olivier Award-winning Gershwin musical Crazy for YouLocal Hero, inspired by the hit film and featuring songs by Mark Knopfler; and a new family musical adventure, The Famous Five. The host of dramas includes some of the new plays originally lined up for Festival 2020 – The Taxidermist’s Daughter by Cicestrian Kate Mosse, Steven Moffat’s The Unfriend and Christopher Shinn’s The Narcissist – as well as Alecky Blythe’s Our Generation. Henry Goodman plays Poirot in Agatha Christie’s Murder on the Orient ExpressAlex Jennings leads the cast of Stephen Beresford’s new play The Southbury Child, Roy Williams’s much-praised Sing Yer Heart Out for the Lads returns in a reconfigured Minerva; and Alan Ayckbourn’s celebrated Woman in Mind completes the line-up. And for Christmas, Chichester Festival Youth Theatre present The Wind in the Willows. Continue reading “News: CFT’S 60th anniversary season announced”

TV Review: This Is Going To Hurt, Episode 1

Led by a brilliant performance from Ben Whishaw, Episode 1 of This Is Going To Hurt is eye-openingly good

“It’s literally life or death here”

Just a quickie for this as though the Beeb has dropped the whole series of This Is Going To Hurt online, I’m not sure when I’ll be able to get round to it with so much to watch at the moment. Created by Adam Kay and based on his memoir of the same name, we follow Ben Whishaw’s Adam as he works his way through life as an obs and gynae doctor in the NHS.

I feel like I could possibly do without the direct address asides, seemingly forever marked by Fleabag now, but the rest of this first episode was cracking. A jet black comedy teetering on the precipice of horror, perma-overworked acting registrar Adam has a shift from hell, followed by another as he is called straight back in to pull a double to cover absence. Continue reading “TV Review: This Is Going To Hurt, Episode 1”

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”

The National Theatre adds Hansard and Treasure Island to streaming platform National Theatre at Home

The National Theatre has today announced the latest productions to be made available on its streaming platform, National Theatre at Home. Launching today are two National Theatre productions: HansardSimon Woods’ witty and devastating play, directed by Simon Godwin (Romeo & Juliet, Twelfth Night); and Treasure Islandadapted by Bryony Lavery (Frozen, Kursk) from the iconic novel by Robert Louis Stevenson and directed by Polly Findlay (Antigone, Beginning). New productions are added each month and since launching in December 2020, there are now 28 productions available to stream on the platform.   Continue reading “The National Theatre adds Hansard and Treasure Island to streaming platform National Theatre at Home”

TV Review: Four Weddings and a Funeral

The only real pleasure in this TV version of Four Weddings and a Funeral is hearing Alex Jennings say “Yes, I suppose you were somewhat of a basic bitch” with a straight face

“You’re insane and watch too much TV”

This lockdown has seen me sign up to too many free trials on various online TV services and so I’ve been ripping through some of the shows newly on offer to me. Over on STARZPLAY, first up for me was the TV adaptation of  Four Weddings and a Funeral which I’m not sure if I ever knew actually existed until now.

Created by Mindy Kaling and Matt Warburton and airing in the US in the summer of 2019, the show is an inexplicable riff on Richard Curtis’ 1994 film. Ultimately it is nothing like the film, which is probably for the best,  emerging instead as a ridonkulous Jilly Cooper-esque rom-com in a fantastical version of London (and beyond).  Continue reading “TV Review: Four Weddings and a Funeral”

TV Review: Small Axe

Steve McQueen’s anthology flm series Small Axe is an absolute triumph as it depicts the West Indian experience in London but tells us all so much about the UK

“We mustn’t be victims, but protagonists of our stories. And what better way of representing ourselves than self-representing ourselves”

Not too much to say about Small Axe that hasn’t been said much more eloquently and appropriately by many others. But I just wanted to applaud some stirring acting work across all 5 films – in particular Shaun Parkes and Letitia Wright in Mangrove and John Boyega in Red White and Blue. And writer/director Steve McQueen, with co-writing work from Alastair Siddons and Courttia Newland, who plants racism, and racist activity, so undeniably in front of a Sunday night BBC1 audience in a way that has so rarely been done before.

Book review: Time To Act – Simon Annand

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”

TV Review: Waking the Dead Series 6

Series 6 of Waking the Dead, in which the marvellous Tara Fitzgerald arrives and it feels like she’s always been there – golden era stuff

“It’s good that it’s come out now”

I feel a bit sorry for Esther Hall’s Felix, drafted in as the inimitable Frankie’s replacement and then unceremoniously dumped at the end of one series, never to be mentioned again. And whilst it is odd that there’s no reference to this at the beginning of Series 6 of Waking the Dead, the arrival of Tara Fitzgerald’s Dr Eve Lockhart is seamlessly done, her off-screen joining of the team meaning the character hits the ground running.

She’s a delightful addition to the team, far closer in spirit to Frankie but very much her own person, able to hold her own against these strident personalities. It’s good to see Trevor Eve’s Boyd getting called out for being an absolute prick, you just wish the consequences of Grace quitting the team were a little more far-reaching (though you wouldn’t want to do without Sue Johnston now). Continue reading “TV Review: Waking the Dead Series 6”

Lockdown TV Review: Spooks Series 5

Full of shocks that actually mean something, Series 5 of Spooks is one of its absolute best

“The British people will accept anything if you serve it up with a picture of Will Young in the shower”

A cracking series of Spooks that starts off with a series of bangs, robbing Colin of his life and Juliet Shaw of her ability to walk, the introduction of Ros Myers to the team is an invigorating success, particularly as she inspires Jo to become more badass too. This incarnation of the team really does click well, responding smoothly to the enforced changes in personnel, though newly single father Adam’s mental health crisis too often feels like a plot device rather than a genuine exploration of PTSD.

Subject-wise, the relevance level remains high, particularly pertinent when it comes to national crises with panic buying and over-stuffed hospitals feeling all too real. The role of fundamentalist zealots is shared equally between Christian and Islamic believers over the series and even if the finale underwhelms somewhat, the eco-terrorism theme hasn’t become any less significant.

Nicola Walker-ometer
I’m still not over it, the defenestration of Ruth Evershed. Having finally made it to a date with Harry, which went about as well as could be expected, she runs up against a murderous Oliver Mace conspiracy and ends up having to fake her own death to protect Harry and ends up fleeing the country. An ignominious end for the heart of the team.  Continue reading “Lockdown TV Review: Spooks Series 5”