News: Peter Forbes joins the cast of National Theatre’s Jack Absolute Flies Again

Rehearsals have started for Jack Absolute Flies Again, a riotous and comedic new version of Sheridan’s The Rivals, co-written by Richard Bean (One Man, Two Guvnors) and Oliver Chris (Emma) that will play in the Olivier theatre from 2 July.

July 1940. After an aerial dog fight, Pilot Officer Jack Absolute flies home to win the heart of his old flame, Lydia Languish. Back on British soil, Jack’s advances soon turn to anarchy when the young heiress demands to be loved on her own, very particular, terms. Continue reading “News: Peter Forbes joins the cast of National Theatre’s Jack Absolute Flies Again”

News: National Theatre announces Summer 2022 season

The National Theatre has announced new productions for all three South Bank stages this summer: Jack Absolute Flies Again in the Olivier theatre, Much Ado About Nothing in the Lyttelton theatre and All of Us in the Dorfman theatre with tickets on sale to the public from Thursday 10 March.  

Jack Absolute Flies Again a riotous and comedic new version of Sheridan’s The Rivals, co-written by Richard Bean (One Man, Two Guvnors) and Oliver Chris (Emma), will play in the Olivier theatre in July. Originally due to open in April 2020, Emily Burns (The Comeback) will direct Laurie Davidson (Cats) as Jack Absolute alongside Caroline Quentin (Jonathan Creek) as Mrs Malaprop, Natalie Simpson (Three Sisters) as Lydia Languish, Kelvin Fletcher (Emmerdale) as Dudley Scunthorpe and Kerry Howard (Him & Her) as Lucy, James Corrigan, Theo Cowan, Jordan Metcalfe, George Kemp, Akshay Sharan, Tim Steed, Geoffrey Towers, Shona White and Helena Wilson also join the company.  

Set and costume design is by Mark Thompson, lighting design by Tim Lutkin, composer is Paul Englishby, sound design by Paul Arditti and video and projection design by Jeff Sugg. Physical comedy director is Toby Park and choreography is by Lizzi Gee. Staff director is Cara Nolan.  Continue reading “News: National Theatre announces Summer 2022 season”

TV Review: Big Night of Musicals by the National Lottery

Filmed in Manchester last week, concert extravaganza Big Night of Musicals by the National Lottery really does showcase a large slice of current musical theatre offerings well

From the moment host Jason Manford dons his glittery gold jacket and launches into a Chicago medley via a segue into ‘There’s No Business Like Show Business’, it’s clear where we’re sitting with Big Night of Musicals by the National Lottery. And that that is squarely crowd-pleasing glitz and glamour shouldn’t be surprising, given that it is getting the Saturday night primetime treatment on BBC1.

For once though, it is good to see that eyes are on some of the breadth of the West End and the touring circuit. So that means there’s no place for the usually ubitiquous Les Mis, Wicked and Phantom, but rather current shows like Back to the Future (Cedric Neal and cast ripping through the entertaining ‘Gotta Start Somewhere’), The Drifters Girl and Get Up, Stand Up! The Bob Marley Musical getting their moment to shine. Continue reading “TV Review: Big Night of Musicals by the National Lottery”

TV Review: Bridgerton Series 1

So much to love in the uninhibited Series 1 of Bridgerton, not least the most perfect of roles for the brilliant Adjoa Andoh as Lady Danbury

“If I were truly courting you, I would not need flowers, only five minutes alone with you in a drawing room”

Created by Chris Van Dusen and inspired by Julia Quinn’s Regency era-set novels, the much heralded Bridgerton arrives on Netflix with the most excitement arguably reserved for the presence of producer Shonda Rhimes. And it’s a presence that we feel rightaway as this version of Regency London is a racially integrated one, starting with Queen Charlotte being a mixed-race woman and trickling down through all levels of society.

It’s a simple innovation but still a radical one in its execution here, of course it took an American woman to do it! The best thing about it is that it offers up a range of roles for actors who might not normally get a look-in – Golda Rosheuvel as Her Majesty, Regé-Jean Page as the Duke of Hastings and best of all for me, Adjoa Andoh as the deliciously wry Lady Danbury. And as with Nikki Amuka-Bird in the recent David Copperfield film, there’s a general sense of knocking it out of the park and regret that it has taken this long. Continue reading “TV Review: Bridgerton Series 1”

TV Review: Bridgerton Episodes 1 + 2

Episodes 1 + 2 set the tone for something rather raucous and raunchy with new period drama Bridgerton definitely doing things differently 

“If this is to work, we must appear madly in love”

Just a quickie as the whole of series one of Bridgerton has now landed on Netflix but who know when I’ll actually get round to watching it all, not least because it is probably advisable to ration the amount of Jonathan Bailey sexiness that exudes all over episodes 1 and 2. See below for receipts!

But on the evidence of these first two episodes, it looks set to be a huge amount of fun, though less of a ‘watching with your parents’ kinda show than I thought perhaps it might be. Created by Chris Van Dusen and produced by Shonda Rhimes, it is sexy and sprightly and showcasing some great acting talent. Definitely recommended.


TV Review: Jonathan Creek, Series 4

Series 4 sees Jonathan Creek lose its way badly as chauvinism slides into misogyny amid Alan Davies and Julia Sawalha’s strange chemistry

“Now it’ll save your time and mine, I think, if I truncate”

I found series 4 of Jonathan Creek surprisingly difficult to watch. Even if the quality had started to taper off over the course of the previous three seasons, something critical had been lost at this point, far over and beyond the departure of original star Caroline Quentin. Her replacement was Julia Sawalha’s Carla, introduced in the 2001 Christmas special and though she shares a screwball-ish energy with Alan Davies’ duffle-coated protagonist, she’s been married off to Ade Edmondson’s svengali Brendan.

It’s an odd choice that unsettles the whole rhythm of the show, as it devotes way too much time to the uneasy relationship between the pair. And as David Renwick’s writing fully immerses itself in its worst male chauvinist excesses – just look at how women are presented in the first episode, from the prizewinner presented as a grotesque to Anna Francolini being done dirty as a ditzy assistant – the idea that the majority of female characters now have to throw themselves at Jonathan’s feet, is delusional nonsense. Continue reading “TV Review: Jonathan Creek, Series 4”

TV Review: Jonathan Creek, Series 3

Elements of David Renwick’s writing starts to show signs of flagging as the magic starts to fade in Series 3 of Jonathan Creek

“What exactly does all this add up to?”

After a decent first couple of series, the third season of Jonathan Creek sees the show start to wobble a bit as the raft of impossible crimes sways from ingenious plotting to improbably convoluted. Episodes tackle disappearing aliens and a man who thinks he has sold his soul to the devil and it doesn’t always come off.

That said, there’s still some classic tales in here too. The revelation of ‘The Eyes of Tiresias’ is artfully done and ‘Miracle in Crooked Lane’ is properly, admirably fiendish even with its meta-theatrics. Alan Davies and Caroline Quentin both continue in good form but David Renwick’s writing doesn’t permit more than piecemeal character development which, three series in, leaves them a little flat. Continue reading “TV Review: Jonathan Creek, Series 3”

TV Review: Jonathan Creek, Series 2

The second series of Jonathan Creek continues the good form of the first, even if the writing starts to verge on the misogynistic

“There’s always an explanation”

After the success of its first season, Series 2 of Jonathan Creek followed in short order in early 1998. And having firmly established its modus operandi of impossible crimes and simmering but awkward sexual chemistry between Akan Davies’ Jonathan and Caroline Quentin’s Maddy, it carries on ploughing that same furrow.

This series sees Stuart Milligan added to the mix as Adam Klein, replacing Anthony Head who got the job as Giles on Buffy and whilst he is a vividly entertaining character, his presence seems to allow writer David Renwick to indulge in some misogynistic touches over and above what might be ‘forgiven’ for being 20 years old, just look at the way Adam and indeed Jonathan treat the majority of the women in their life…  Continue reading “TV Review: Jonathan Creek, Series 2”

TV Review: Jonathan Creek, Series 1

I turn to a rewatch of Jonathan Creek to get me through Week 2 of Lockdown #2 and enjoy the freshness of the first series

“No one could have killed your husband and then left this room”

Starting in 1997 and memorably co-opting Saint-Saëns’ renowned ‘Danse Macabre’ for its theme tune, mystery crime thriller Jonathan Creek occupies a happy place in my TV memories, so I was a little hesitant at first in case it didn’t match up to how I remembered.

From cracking seemingly impenetrable alibis, to working out how to escape a nuclear bunker, to locked room mysteries of all sorts, it turns out David Renwick’s writing holds up rather well. The plotting is sufficiently twisty that it is nigh on impossible to figure out who and certainly howdunnit and I remembered none of the important details so it was like watching it anew. Continue reading “TV Review: Jonathan Creek, Series 1”