TV Review: Ted Lasso, Series 2 Episodes 1+2

Series 2 of Ted Lasso looks like it is continuing the success of the first, plus with added Sarah Niles

“Jan Maas is not being rude, he’s just being Dutch”

The first series of Ted Lasso was a real lockdown boon, a perfectly bittersweet heart-warmer that showed the best way that American people can do shows about football is by making them about something else altogether – in this case, being a thoroughly decent human being.

This Apple TV show treads the line between being unbearably twee and really very touching with real skill, and this second series looks set to continue that trend as AFC Richmond deal with relegation, life in the Championship and the presence of a sports psychologist in their midst. Continue reading “TV Review: Ted Lasso, Series 2 Episodes 1+2”

TV Review: Ted Lasso, Series 1

A giant warm hug of a show that really shouldn’t be as good as it is, Ted Lasso is a huge success that deserves more people watching it. Also, Hannah Waddingham!

“Hell I’m coaching soccer for heaven’s sake, in London”

Well who saw this coming? Apple TV’s original programming can often seem a bit random so on the face of it, a series based on a character created by US actor Jason Sudeikis for adverts for the American coverage of the Premier League fits right into their wide stable. But Ted Lasso actually emerges as an outrageously successful underdog comedy that is far more than just a football show.

Sudeikis plays the title character, an American football coach with an indefatigably optimistic personality who is hired by Premier League strugglers AFC Richmond despite his inexperience with real football. It turns out that the recently divorced owner has done it in order to sabotage the beloved club of her ex-husband but naturally, his easy charm can’t help but start to win everyone over. Continue reading “TV Review: Ted Lasso, Series 1”

Film Review: Lady Macbeth (2017)

Who needs Shakespeare when you have William Oldroyd and Alice Birch to give us a chillingly excellent Lady Macbeth

“I’d rather stop you breathing than have you doubt how I feel”

Based on the book Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk by Nikolai Leskov, William Oldroyd’s Lady Macbeth is a ferocious debut film and written by Alice Birch (no stranger to theatregoers but also making a feature debut here), it is a remarkably forward-thinking piece for that old hoary chestnut that is the British period drama.

Layering in intersectional notions of race and class, not shying away from domestic abuse and violence, it is probably safe to say it is unlike any other film you’ve seen that is set in 1865 England. Trapped into a stifling marriage with a disinterested man with a domineering father and a dour isolated estate in the North East, Katherine resolves not to let this be the sum total of her life. Continue reading “Film Review: Lady Macbeth (2017)”

Short Film Review #53

 


A nightmare audition is nothing new but Jonathan Kydd’s 15 minute Shakespeare’s Wart is an inspired take on the hoary old trope. Kydd plays the auditionee in front of Peter Wight and Bill Fellows as a bad cop bad cop pair of auditioners who send him on a ridiculous journey of improv work, daft accents and crocodile chasing as he bids for a part in Henry IV Part II. It’s a little slow to get started but in its latter half, becomes genuinely hilarious as the demands become ever more extreme whilst Wight and Fellows remain as deadpan as ever in the face of such silliness. 


Review: Hobson’s Choice, Open Air Theatre

“There’s another man with claims on me”

Harold Brighouse’s 1916 play Hobson’s Choice is regarded a good old-fashioned British classic and features on the NT2000 Top 100 plays list so when a production was announced at the Bolton Octagon earlier this year, I was keen to see it for the first time. Sure enough, having made that trip the Open Air Theatre then announced their own revival at the distinctly more convenient location of Regents Park but hey ho, you can’t win ‘em all.

And in all honesty, I did prefer the bona fide Northern version. Nadia Fall’s production here feckles the show a little too much, moving it into the 60s which undoubtedly gives it a brighter sense of modernity but one which also flies in the face of many of the gender relationships of the play – the huge social change of the time is quietly forgotten for the most part, an inconvenient truth when so much of the writing is about specific notions of parental obedience and the bestowing of dowries.  Continue reading “Review: Hobson’s Choice, Open Air Theatre”

Review: Pastoral, Soho Theatre

“They got me outside Habitat”

Thomas Eccleshare’s Pastoral came highly recommended to me, having transferred to the Soho Theatre after premiering at HighTide, but I have to say that this bleakly comic take on ecological catastrophe left me rather cold. All rational people know that whatever ever they offer you, [you] don’t feed the plants, but somebody seems to have ignored that and consequently this version of England is being taken over by the countryside. Hunting for an escape, a small group of people take shelter in a house as they struggle to adapt to their new circumstances but it soon becomes clear that Mother Nature is being a bitch tonight. 

That said, they’re closer to having a kiki than you might think. Eccleshare invests his characters with a mordant sense of humour from the off, primarily in Anna Calder-Marshall’s excellent Moll who rips through her dislikes with zero regard for political correctness. The arrival of a family unit seems to locate us further in single-room sitcom territory, especially as the tales that everyone tells of their disintegrating world are of unlikely sightings such as wild mushrooms growing in Subway, rabbits in Aldi and a babbling brook complete with herons and kingfishers breaking through outside of Nandos. Continue reading “Review: Pastoral, Soho Theatre”