A live-action remake of Aladdin is decent enough but lacking in any real point or purpose
“You have got to be more confident about what you have to offer”
Disney’s project of milking its animated classics for all their worth through live-action remakes continues apace with Aladdin. And whilst it is enjoyable at times, particularly in the sweet romance of the clean-cut Mena Massoud and Naomi Scott as Aladdin and Jasmine, too much of what made the original work is lost in realism.
This is particularly evident in Will Smith’s Genie, already up against it in the shadow of Robin Williams’ iconic performance. There’s a move to make him a relatable figure with feelings which seems to fly entirely in the face of a fantastical fairytale. Minimising the actual magic consequently robs the film of much of its screen magic. Continue reading “Film Review: Aladdin (2019)”
I’ve loved these deep dives into Tristram Kenton’s photo archive on the Guardian and with this selection from the Royal Court, there’s a lovely reminder of so many great productions (plus some that got away):
Photos: Tristram Kenton
Just doing my best to try and amplify some of these amazing black voices. I stand with you.
Continue reading “#StandByMeChallenge Instagram edition”
On the two viewings I’ve managed so far, I’m pretty sure Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again is the epoch-defining film that we don’t deserve but which we sorely need
“When you’re gone
How can I even try to go on?”
I was lucky enough to see an early screening of Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again last week and I thought it was fricking fantastic. But as the occasion fuelled by an afternoon tea that was heavy on the bubbles and the raucous atmosphere of a stagey audience and not quite bold enough to stick by the courage of my convictions, I opted to wait until seeing the film a second time before officially declaring my opinion.
And I have to say I really do think this is a superb film. The sequel that no-one really knew they wanted, whipped together in under 12 months once the green light had been given, that somehow manages to do everything you expect it to, and but better, and infinitely more moving than it has any right to be. I knew I’d shed a tear or three of joy but there was more than one moment where I was just sobbing, so rich is the emotion here. And that’s only fitting considering the bittersweet melancholy that is ABBA’s true calling card, rather than the cheesiness they are famed for. Continue reading “Film Review: Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018)”
One of the best plays, and productions, of last year, An Octoroon makes a hop, skip and a leap from Orange Tree to the National Theatre
“Black playwright? I can’t even wipe my ass without someone trying to accuse me of deconstructing the race problem in America”
An Octoroon transfers to the National Theatre from a hugely successful run at the Orange Tree last year and sells out entirely way in advance. And yet it is Wilde and Pinter who are getting seasons in the West End…time to shake up the orthodoxy I think, even while accepting its a big step from the Dorfman to Shaftesbury Avenue.
Rather than wrestle with Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ complex writing and Ned Bennett’s layered production once again, I’m just going to point you to the fact that I named Ken Nwosu’s performance as my favourite of the year, and I ranked the show as the sixth best of the year (out of 346). My original review can be found here, I’m looking forward to seeing a hopefully more diverse range of responses this time round.
Running time: 2 hours 40 minutes (with interval)
Photo: Helen Murray
An Octoroon is booking at the National Theatre until 18th July – currently sold out but returns and Friday Rush available
by Brian Friel
Previews from 22 May, Press night 30 May, on sale until 7 July with further performances to be announced
Owen, the prodigal son, returns to rural Donegal from Dublin. With him are two British army officers. Their ambition is to create a map of the area, replacing the Gaelic names with English. It is an administrative act with radical consequences.
Brian Friel’s modern classic is a powerful account of nationhood, which sees the turbulent relationship between England and Ireland play out in one quiet community. Cast includes Dermot Crowley, Aoife Duffin, Adetomiwa Edun, Michelle Fox, Ciarán Hinds,Laurence Kinlan, Colin Morgan, Seamus O’Hara, Judith Roddy and Rufus Wright.
Directed by Ian Rickson, with design by Rae Smith, lighting design by Neil Austin and music by Stephen Warbeck and sound design by Ian Dickinson.
Part of the Travelex Season with hundreds of tickets for every performance available at £15. Continue reading “New casting announced for 2018 National Theatre season”
“I invented matinées bitches, look it up!”
You wouldn’t have put money on Richmond’s Orange Tree Theatre becoming the destination for some of London’s more radical theatre leanings but with Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ An Octoroon, it has done it once again. Less of a surprise is that it is director Ned Bennett at the helm again, reuniting with Pomona collaborators Georgia Lowe (design) and Elliot Griggs (lighting) to provide a headfuck of a production out of a headfuck of a play.
I could talk about the plot, about how Jacobs-Jenkins has adapted Dion Boucicault’s 1859 racially dubious play The Octoroon, but that wouldn’t do this any justice really. For this is a piece of theatre less concerned with narrative drive, with characters that move from point A to point B, but more of a thought experiment, challenging audiences to consider our attitudes toward race, both in how it is portrayed on contemporary stages and how we deal with the legacy of a wealth of drama approaching the issue in a completely different day and age.
Continue reading “Review: An Octoroon, Orange Tree Theatre”
“Tale as old as time”
It’s taken me a little time to get round to writing this review, which is rarely a good sign, as I was struggling for anything entirely constructive to say about this film. The 1991 animated Beauty and the Beast was Disney close to its best but these days, nothing is left alone if it has even the merest hint of cash cow about it. So it has previously hit the stage as a musical and following the success of Kenneth Branagh’s Cinderella, it now has a cinematic live-action remake.
Which is all fine and good but just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should. And at no point does Bill Condon’s film ever convince us that the world needed this version of Beauty and the Beast, there’s rarely any sense of it bringing something new and insightful to the story. Plus the contortions it (and star Emma Watson) has had to make to try and convince of its feminist credentials scarcely seem worth it in the final analysis. Continue reading “Film Review: Beauty and the Beast (2017)”
“When the light came back this weird plant was just sitting there”
Sell A Door Theatre Company have built quite the reputation for touring plays and musicals the length and breadth of the UK and that reputation will surely only grow with this cheerfully good-natured production of evergreen cult musical Little Shop of Horrors. Director Tara Louis Wilkinson may not do anything dramatic to the classic Alan Menken/Howard Ashman show but her small-scale production captures its spirit perfectly and ought to please audiences across the country until Christmas.
This 1950s spoof musical, based on the iconic B-movie of the same name, follows the travails of Seymour Krelborn, an orphan scraping a living in a run-down florists whose luck seemingly changes when he finds a strange venus flytrap-like plant which he names Audrey II after his colleague with whom he is in love. But the plant has very particular dietary requirements and Seymour finds himself suckered into a Faustian pact as the fast-growing Audrey II brings him fame, fortune and Audrey’s love, just as long as he feeds him blood. Continue reading “Review: Little Shop of Horrors, New Wimbledon Theatre”