Film Review: Misbehaviour (2020)

Keira Knightley, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Jessie Buckley lead a fabulous ensemble in the highly entertaining Misbehaviour

“The only other forum in which participants are weighed, measured and publicly examined before being assigned their value is a cattle market”

As far as films set in the world of beauty pageants go, Miss Congeniality will always take some beating but Misbehaviour makes a good stab at joining it on the podium. Director Philippa Lowthorpe and screenwriters Rebecca Frayn and Gaby Chiappe nail the Britflick vibes of this true story from the 1970 Miss World competition and how the nascent women’s lib movement managed to hijack it.

It does that with the kind of ensemble cast that makes pretty much every scene of the movie a delight. Lesley Manville! John Heffernan! Amanda Lawrence! Jo Herbert! And with Keira Knightley, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Jessie Buckley in starring roles, the main thrust of the film is a winner too as it takes a light-hearted look at some very much not light-hearted issues. Continue reading “Film Review: Misbehaviour (2020)”

TV Review: Chloe

Led by the remarkable Erin Doherty with great turns from Pippa Bennett-Warner and Billy Howle, twisty thriller Chloe is huge amounts of fun

“I just felt like a bit of an imposter”

The realisation of a six-part TV drama aside, writer/director Alice Seabright manages something rather clever in Chloe in offering up an authentic depiction of the way (some) people use social media (Instagram) these days. As we meet Becky Green, we see her scrolling through the ‘gram-a-like with the TV blaring away, doing a deep dive into the profile of one person in particular – the titular Chloe – combing through all the carefully curated details of their life, as it seems online at least. 

Living somewhere on the rough side of Bristol, Becky’s life is presented as rather humdrum. Stuck with a mindless temp admin job and reluctantly forced into the role of carer for her dementia-suffering mother, you’d forgive her a little escapism. But when news of Chloe’s passing filters through, Becky spies an opportunity for herself. For she is a master of reinvention, adept at adopting new identities, and she soon inveigles her way into Chloe’s grieving friend group by donning ASOS’s finest and renaming herself Sasha. Continue reading “TV Review: Chloe”

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: The Amazing Mr Blunden

The Amazing Mr Blunden is a nice bit of undemanding, traditional, festive fare with Simon Callow doing what Simon Callow does best

“Time is not a straight line, it’s more like a vast wheel on which we stand at different points, rarely meeting”

I’m not normally one for much convention but I do like a bit of traditional festive family fare in this downtime period between Christmas and New Year but despite the preponderance of content and platforms, there doesn’t seem to be much of it around, not least that is new. So credit to Sky and their new adaptation of The Amazing Mr Blunden for scratching that itch for me.

Based on Antonia Barber’s 1969 book The Ghosts which was also filmed in 1972, Mark Gatiss leads this version as writer and director, and also as star since, you know, he can. And it is a refreshingly different take on the ghost story as it takes place in both 1821 and the modern day, reconfiguring what we know as ghosts as time travellers instead, depending on your perspective. Continue reading “TV Review: The Amazing Mr Blunden”

News: National Theatre adds new productions to streaming platform NT at Home

The National Theatre has announced the latest productions to be made available on its National Theatre at Home streaming platform. Launching today, the Young Vic and Joshua Andrews’ production of Tennessee Williams’ timeless masterpiece A Streetcar Named Desire featuring Gillian Anderson as Blanche DuBois, Ben Foster as Stanley and Vanessa Kirby as Stella, the NT’s recent production of Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood with Michael Sheen and Nadia Fall’s verbatim play Home that explores homelessness in the UK featuring Michaela Coel. New productions are added each month and since launching in December 2020, there are now 31 productions available to stream on the platform.

It is also announced today some of the productions that audiences can expect to see on the platform in the coming months. Those productions are confirmed to include Antony & Cleopatra with Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo in the title roles; Hedda Gabler with Ruth Wilson in the title role; Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls in the Lyttelton theatre from 2019Sally Cookson’s 2017 production of Peter Pan; Yaël Farber’s Salomé and James Graham’s political drama This House, alongside current NT productions; Kae Tempest’s Paradise with Lesley Sharp and Winsome Pinnock’s Rockets and Blue LightsIan McKellen on Stage will also join the platform this autumn for audiences outside the UK and Ireland. It is currently available in the UK and Ireland for Amazon Prime subscribers. Continue reading “News: National Theatre adds new productions to streaming platform NT at Home”

News: Angels in America amongst productions added to National Theatre at Home

The National Theatre has today announced three new filmed productions have been added to its streaming service National Theatre at Homeincluding Angels in America Part One: Millennium Approaches and Angels in America Part Two: Perestroika, Marianne Elliott (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, War Horse)’s multi-award-winning production of Tony Kushner’s two-part masterpiece, with a cast including Andrew Garfield (The Social Network), Denise Gough (Paula), Nathan Lane (American Crime Story), James McArdle (Ammonite), Susan Brown (It’s A Sin) and Russell Tovey (Years and Years). Continue reading “News: Angels in America amongst productions added to National Theatre at Home”

Review: Top Girls, National Theatre

Caryl Churchill’s superb Top Girls receives a luxurious but clear-sighted production from Lyndsey Turner at the National Theatre

“They’re waiting for me to turn into the little woman”

Written by a woman and directed by a woman, the opening night of an all-female play couldn’t have been better timed for the National Theatre. But while this doesn’t negate the concerns raised in the too-male-heavy partial season announcement from last week, it does frame them – and the questions it provokes – in a larger context. After all, Lyndsey Turner’s production of Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls is the first not to use double-casting, which means it boasts a company of 18 women – more of this please.

It helps that they are performing such a bravura piece of writing. Churchill’s 1982 play is a shrewd and startling affair which has lost none of its impact here as it gives women their voices in ways which haven’t always (and in some ways still don’t) been encouraged. From historical characters (both real and imagined) to contemporary families (it may be set in the 80s but there’s nothing dated about what is happening here), we are dared to listen. Continue reading “Review: Top Girls, National Theatre”

11 of my top moments in a theatre in 2017

As ever, the wait for the end-of-year lists of favourite plays and performances has to continue until I’ve actually stopped seeing theatre in 2017. But in the meantime, here’s a list of 11 of my top moments in a theatre in 2017, the things that first pop into my mind when someone says ‘what did you enjoy this year’. For reference, here’s my 2016 list, 2015 list and 2014 list.

Continue reading “11 of my top moments in a theatre in 2017”

Round-up of news and treats and other interesting things

The announcement of the new cast for Broadway’s hugely lauded Hello, Dolly! has been a most strange affair – names trickling out one by one, rather than one big splash. However, it is Bernadette Peters (from 20th January) who has the unenviable task of following in Bette Midler’s shoes and trying to maintain the hefty box office that she’s managed to garner, and maintain. Victor Garber and our very own Charlie Stemp (making his Broadway debut) have also been revealed and doubtless by the time you read this, more will be have been announced too, one by one.


Producers Tim Levy (Director, NT America) and Jordan Roth (President, Jujamcyn Theaters) announced today that the National Theatre Production of Tony Kushner’s epic and seminal masterwork, Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes, will return to Broadway for the first time since its now-legendary original production opened in 1993. This spectacular new staging of Part One of Angels in America, Millennium Approaches, and of Part Two, Perestroika, had its world premiere earlier this year in a sold-out run at the National Theatre, where it became the fastest selling show in the organization’s history. This strictly limited, 18-week engagement will begin performances at The Neil Simon Theatre on Friday, February 23, 2018, with an official opening on Wednesday, March 21. Public on sale is: 27 October at 10am NYC time. Continue reading “Round-up of news and treats and other interesting things”

TV Review: Will, Episodes 1 + 2

“You are a curiosity”

American versions of Shakespeare (whether his plays or the man himself) are always worth looking up, even if only for a chuckle and new TNT TV series Will is certainly no exception. There’s some weight behind it – it was created by Craig Pearce, the longtime writing partner of filmmaker Baz Luhrmann and has Shekhar Kapur, who directed the award-winning Elizabeth and Elizabeth: The Golden Age, directing and executive producing and in the role of the Bard himself, there’s a potentially star-making role for British newcomer Laurie Davidson.

I watched the first two episodes and they sure make an arresting introduction. You feel Luhrmann’s influence almost immediately as this is no antiquated version of a sedate Elizabethan London, but rather it is one shot through with bright colours and a punk-filled attitude. Literally so, as they have conceived the burgeoning theatre scene of the time as being akin to the contemporary(ish) world of punk rock – theatres filled with patrons in leather and mohicans, the soundtrack filled with the Clash and drunken singalongs to Lou Reed.  Continue reading “TV Review: Will, Episodes 1 + 2”