DVD Review: Albert Nobbs

“You don’t have to be anything but who you are”

Close’s sixth and most recent Academy Award nomination came with 2011’s Albert Nobbs, a project with which she has been closely connected since starring in an adaptation of George Moore’s novella in 1982. As a producer and co-writer with John Banville, it’s clearly a labour of love for Close and along with co-star Janet McTeer, there’s some powerfully accomplished acting going on here, directed by Rodrigo García, that was rightfully recognised, with nominations at least, in that award season.

It is, however, not the most vivacious piece of writing you’ll come across. Nobbs is a butler in a small Dublin hotel run by Pauline Collins’ Margaret Baker in the late 19th century, which caters to the various whims of a carousing upper class (Jonathan Rhys Meyer, Phoebe Waller-Bridge, John Light, Phyllida Law among the bisexual and bolshy). Reclusive but dedicated, Nobbs has been squirelling away wages and tips for years with the hope of purchasing his own business, there’s just the small matter of a little secret that is, of course, no secret to us. Continue reading “DVD Review: Albert Nobbs”

Review: In Skagway, Arcola Theatre

“I want some nice tasty salty-in-the-mouth cheese. CHEEEEEEEESE!!!”

One of the reasons I like going to the Arcola is that the Sainsburys nearby stocks one of my favourite cheeses in the world – Grandma Singleton’s tasty Lancashire if you’re interested – and so I duly made my trip to the Kingsland Shopping Centre before making my way over to the Arcola for In Skagway. So it was quite amusing to hear one of the characters talk about wanting cheese during the play – if only it had been amusing in a good way.

For I really didn’t enjoy the play at all. Karen Ardiff’s story of four women stuck in the Alaskan town of Skagway at the tail end of the gold rush failed to grab me from the start, her characterisations simultaneously thinly drawn and utterly predictable, her dialogue so full of cliché as to be laughable. Throw in a lead character who has had a stroke and so communicates via voiceover, numerous flashbacks and dreamlike sequences and there’s something close to an unholy mess. Continue reading “Review: In Skagway, Arcola Theatre”

Review: Greta Garbo Came To Donegal, Tricycle

“‘So you approve of loneliness?’
I’ve made a career out if it, haven’t you heard”

Who knew penises were like buses? Having not seen one onstage all year in 2009, a couple popped up in Six Degrees… on Thursday, and a third came along today in Greta Garbo Came To Donegal at the Tricycle theatre in Kilburn. Frank McGuinness has taken a fact, Greta Garbo did in fact use a friend’s castle in Ireland as a retreat, and spun a fictional tale set in 1967’s Donegal where cultural and sexual change is threatening the established order, epitomised by the arrival of the Swedish filmstar.

Garbo (Caroline Lagerfelt) arrives at the house of an aristocratic painter friend, Matthew Dover (Daniel Geroll) with a view to maybe purchasing this property, but it is soon clear that they are both weighted down with the pressures of dealing with homosexual attractions, Dover with his wideboy South London bodyguard, Garbo with the housekeeper Paulie (Michelle Fairley), whose family in a cruel twist of fate used to own the house where she is now forced to serve. Garbo’s presence also awakes other frustrations elsewhere in the house with a young niece straining to escape the yoke of familial obligation and pursue her own dreams. Continue reading “Review: Greta Garbo Came To Donegal, Tricycle”