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”

Radio Review: Skios/Copenhagen/Headlong

“Foxoliver?”

Michael Frayn’s 80th birthday is being celebrated by BBC radio with a mini-season of his work, featuring a new version of his play Copenhagen and adaptation of his novels Skios and Headlong. First up was Skios, a farcical tale somewhat in the vein of Noises Off and something really quite funny indeed. The tale itself, of mistaken identities, fake professors and frustrated lovers, is mostly entertaining if not quite as masterfully complex as his other work, but what really lifts this dramatisation by Archie Scottney is the kind of dream comic casting one would pay through the nose to see in a theatre.

Tom Hollander plays Oliver Fox, who is going on an ill-advised romantic break to Greece with a woman he has just met. When he is taken for someone else at arrivals, he soon finds himself installed in the warm embrace of the Toppler Foundation who believe that he is Dr Norman Wilfred, the keynote speaker at their conference on Scientometrics and has his every need attended to by super-efficient PA Nikki Hook, Lisa Dillon in sparklingly funny form, who finds herself rather taken by him. Meanwhile, the real Dr Wilfred, a bumbling High Bonneville, also finds himself the victim of misidentification as he ends up in the remote Greek villa where Oliver was meant to be going and where his would-be girlfriend is still headed, the glorious Janie Dee starring as the unawares Georgie. Continue reading “Radio Review: Skios/Copenhagen/Headlong”

Review: Pack, Finborough Theatre

“The cards you’re holding? You need to establish what they’re worth”

The Papatango New Writing Festival came up with an absolute cracker in Dawn King’s Foxfinder which sold out the Finborough last winter, so it is fair to say that expectations for this year’s winner – Louise Monaghan’s Pack – are fairly high. It is an entirely different beast though and one which seems eerily well-timed as the events around the recent Rotherham by-election played out, as this is an unflinchingly raw take on racism in a different part of Yorkshire and how it has permeated our society in ways which don’t always readily manifest themselves.

Monaghan’s framing device is a bridge class at a community centre which brings working class mothers Stephie and Deb under the tutelage of Dianna, a maths teacher at the nearby high school, and they are joined by local GP Nasreen to make up the quartet. They’re a diverse group and throughout the smattering of techniques that we see them learn for this card game, the real interest comes in the tentative common ground that they find in the snippets of conversation inbetween. They discuss the husbands that they tolerate, the ageing parents that they care for, the children that they are trying to nurture, but against the febrile atmosphere of a looming British National Party rally, their lives become inextricably entangled with each other. Continue reading “Review: Pack, Finborough Theatre”