TV Review: I May Destroy You

The best TV show of the year? Definitely so far…Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You is just superb

“Just look in the mirror, you know what I mean? It’s really uncomfortable and unnerving for everyone”

Has ‘the grey area’ ever seemed so interesting? Probing into the complexities of real life and fully embracing the fact that there are rarely ever any simple answers, Michaela Coel’s I May Destroy You has felt like a real breath of bracingly fresh air.

Sexual consent for straights and gays, dealing with trauma on a personal and institutional level, the perils of buying into social media hype, portraying the scale of casual sex and drug use whilst acknowledging its inherent pitfalls, examining how we bury memories from both the recent and distant past and that’s just scratching the surface. Continue reading “TV Review: I May Destroy You”

Film news: trailer for Military Wives released

Ahead of the film’s release on 6th March 2020, a new trailer has been released for Military Wives

“You may not need the choir…but those women do”

From the director of The Full Monty, Military Wives is inspired by the true-life story of the choirmaster Gareth Malone, who took a group of military wives under his wing, when he was working on the hit BBC show The Choir. It looks set to be a proper good Brit-flick, one to weep at at the cinema and being inspired by, at least until you get home (I never have quite managed to get around to joining a choir…). It hits the big screen in March 2020.

Military Wives stars Oscar Nominee Kristin Scott Thomas (Darkest Hour) and BAFTA Nominee Sharon Horgan (Catastrophe) who work with military wives, to form the very first military wives choir, using the camaraderie they find in singing together, to face some of life’s most difficult moments as they attempt to carry on without their loved ones.

 

Review: Network, National Theatre

“I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore”

 With Network, Lee Hall’s adaptation of Paddy Chayefsky’s 1976 film, Ivo van Hove re-asserts his place as one of the premier theatremakers working, anywhere. A satire that managed to predict just how powerful a tool populist anger can be when leveraged effectively, it is transformed into the immersive bustle of a TV studio, that of UBS Evening News where old hack Howard Beale – a transcendent performance by Bryan Cranston – has been handed his notice. Though initially appearing to accept it with good grace, he causes an almighty media stir when he declares, on air, that he’s going to kill himself, triggering a most unlikely rebirth as a truth-spilling ‘prophet’.

And as ever, van Hove and designer Jan Versweyveld challenge our notions of theatrical space and how it is used. An onstage restaurant puts (some) audience members right in the thick of the action, the fourth wall gets well and truly shattered, and the use of live video and big screens forces us into the role of active observers – as Beale goes live on air, do you watch Cranston himself, do you watch him onscreen, do you watch the team observing him from the producers’ box…the multiplicity of perspectives reminds us how easy it is to manipulate media, how there can always be other sides to the story. Continue reading “Review: Network, National Theatre”

TV Review: The Vote, Donmar Warehouse via All4

“This after all has been a very careful election” 

A fascinating experiment from James Graham and Josie Rourke, The Vote was a “play for theatre and television” which after two weeks of performances at the Donmar Warehouse – for which you had to enter a ballot for tickets – aired live on More4 at the very moment that it was set, the night of the UK general election. I wasn’t one of the lucky few in the ballot and am rarely inclined to dayseat (though I know several people who managed it) so I’ve only just got around to catching up with it on All4 (formerly 4OD) where it is on for another couple of weeks.

I’m glad I did get to see it as it is very funny and pulled together an extraordinary cast, the vast majority of whom spend mere moments onstage. Graham’s play focuses on the trials and tribulations of a South London polling station in the 90 minutes before voting closes and though there’s a farcical plot that holds the play together in the larger sense, the real joy comes in the microstories of the various voters who come in to exercise their democratic right as best they see fit. Drunks losing their polling cards, giddy lesbians brandishing selfie sticks, teenagers asking Siri who to vote for, all amusing slices of life are represented by a stellar cast who seem to be having just as much as the audience. Continue reading “TV Review: The Vote, Donmar Warehouse via All4”

Review: Shutters, Park Theatre

“Nothing here but kitchen things”

The intentions behind Making Productions’ triple-bill Shutters are certainly well-placed – bringing together 3 short American plays looking at female experience over the last 100 years and using a six-strong female ensemble to cover all roles whether male or female – but in the end, the choice of plays lets them down somewhat. Philip Dawkins’ Cast of Characters is a self-indulgent piece of playwrighting buffoonery which focuses on the production notes for an imagined play of family drama but achieves little. And Brooke Allen’s The Deer tested my patience with its pseudo-tragedy.

Both those plays are contemporary and sure enough, the one that worked best was the 1916 Trifles by award-winning Susan Glaspell. Here the murder of a farmer has taken place and his wife jailed on suspicion thereof but whilst the sheriff and his mates blunder about the property trying to find the answers, the two women left alone in the kitchen (where they belong…) get far closer to the truth. This is by far the most intriguing piece of writing but also of direction, Thorpe Baker introducing a neatly spooky trick to create a thrilling and engrossing atmosphere. One out of three isn’t good enough though.

Running time: 90 minutes
Booking until 3rd August