August theatre round-up

I might have taken a break from reviewing for the last couple of months, but I didn’t stop going to the theatre. Here’s some brief thoughts on most of what I saw in August.

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, aka the Sheridan Smith show
Queen of the Mist, aka the surprisingly affecting one
Appropriate, aka all hail Monica Dolan
Waitress, aka ZZZZZZZOMGGGGG STUNT CASTING oh wait, Joe Suggs hasn’t started yet
The Doctor, aka all hail Juliet Stevenson
A Very Expensive Poison, aka it was a preview so I shouldn’t say anything
Blues in the Night, aka all hail Broadway-bound Sharon D Clarke (and Debbie Kurup, and Clive Rowe too)
The Night of the Iguana, aka justice for Skyler Continue reading “August theatre round-up”

TV Review: A Very English Scandal

Hugh Grant delivers a career best performance in the hugely enjoyable A Very English Scandal. Just don’t mention your National Insurance card.

“Tell him not to talk. And not to write to my mother describing acts of anal sex under any circumstances whatsoever”

I don’t think I’ve ever been chilled quite so much by the end credits of anything like A Very English Scandal. You know, that bit when you find out what happened next to the people who you’ve just been watching. It helps of course that I knew nothing about the 1970s Jeremy Thorpe affair on which it was based but still, never have 11 dogs and a missing NI card seemed so ominous.

Written by Russell T Davies, adapted from John Preston’s book, and directed by Stephen Frears, A Very English Scandal is a complete breath of fresh air. Perhaps surprisingly for a true-life tale of sex, politics and attempted murder, it has a quirky, almost jolly tone that is hugely enjoyable, deftly comic as it negotiates the would-be Machiavellian moves of a politician desperate to save his skin. Continue reading “TV Review: A Very English Scandal”

Short Film Review #24

Call Register is the perfect film for anyone who has issues about what mobile telephones have done to our lives. Martin Freeman’s Kevin borrows his best mate’s phone to make a call, James Lance’s Julian, as he wants to set up a date with a girl he’s just met, Neve McIntosh’s Amanda. But Julian’s phone recognises the number and through an series of short phone calls, writer and director Ed Roe details much of the awkwardness around dating, especially when a friend has already been there first, and also adroitly explores the uniquely modern perils that mobiles have brought to the way in which we communicate. There’s much to enjoy here, not least the understated charm of all three actors, and also much that will be painfully familiar to anyone who’s ever called someone up for a date. Continue reading “Short Film Review #24”

Review: Step 9 (of 12), Trafalgar Studios 2

“You can’t serve someone a cup of gravy”

What a difference a year makes. Last summer saw Rob Hayes’ play Step 9 (of 12) premiere somewhat off the radar at the New Britannia Theatre (above the better known pub of the same name by Victoria Park), but it has now taken a giant step to receive a new production in the West End’s Trafalgar Studios 2 and snag one of The Inbetweeners for the main role into the bargain. I say this like I know what it means but I have to tell you that I’ve never seen the show and it has languished in my low priority list on Lovefilm for ages now – though I am now given to understand that it is very popular (I don’t think those autograph hunters were there for me…)!

Blake Harrison is that actor, who takes on the role of Keith here, a man recovering from alcohol addiction and working his way through the 12-step programme to serenity and sobriety. As he reaches step 9 – making direct amends to people who’ve been harmed – he invites his long-suffering foster parents Alan and Judith around to his bedsit, but raking over the past on the road to forgiveness – or rather Keith’s interpretation of forgiveness – proves to be a highly provocative and problematic affair. Continue reading “Review: Step 9 (of 12), Trafalgar Studios 2”