TV Review: Silent Witness Series 9

Series 9 of Silent Witness, aka the one where it is dangerous to be related to the team

“You know you shouldn’t be interfering. You could be jeopardising your career, the investigation, everything”

Series 9 of Silent Witness is the first full one without Amanda Burton’s Sam Ryan at the helm and to its credit, you barely notice for the most part, such is the efficiency and effectiveness of the new dynamic cultivated by the seamless introduction of Emilia Fox’s Nikki Alexander. This series also marks the pronounced increase of their investigative roles in many a crime scene, taking them further and further out of the lab.

At its worst, as in series opener ‘Ghosts’, tragic news pushes Leo to Sheffield where his character is thoroughly mangled ostensibly through grief but in reality, in a cack-handed attempt by the writers to make him interesting. Which kinda misses the point, as William Gaminara has nailed the perfectly bland tone of quiet competence – making him head of the department doesn’t need to change that. Continue reading “TV Review: Silent Witness Series 9”

Review: Is God Is, Royal Court

Aleshea Harris’ vengeance-soaked Is God Is is a ferocious breath of fresh air at the Royal Court, with yet another memorable performance from Cecilia Noble

“She made us

Even as you count off the cultural reference points from Greek tragedy through McDonagh and Tarantino, Aleshea Harris’ Is God Is is a ferocious breath of fresh air at the Royal Court. As it falls in the honourable tradition of many a vengeance thriller, its unique take and razor-sharp perspective makes for a real theatrical surprise. 

Twins Racine and Anaia were both disfigured in a fire that they believe killed their mother 20 years ago but when a letter from She arrives, naming her husband, their father, as the culprit, a quest for revenge is initiated. And as they travel from Arkansas to California, their road movie becomes increasingly bloodsoaked. Continue reading “Review: Is God Is, Royal Court”

Late summer casting news

Vivienne Acheampong, Adelayo Adedayo, Ray Emmet Brown, Ernest Kingsley Jnr, Tamara Lawrance, Rudolphe Mdlongwa, Mark Monero and Cecilia Noble have been cast in the UK premiere of Is God Is written by Aleshea Harris and directed by Royal Court Associate Director Ola Ince. 

Is God Is by Aleshea Harris will run in the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Downstairs from Friday 10 September 2021 – Saturday 23 October 2021 with press night on Thursday 16 September 2021, 7.30pm.

With set design by Chloe Lamford, costume design by Natalie Pryce, lighting design by Simisola Lucia Majekodumni, composition by Renell Shaw, sound design by Max Perryment, movement direction from Imogen Knight, choreography by Jordan ‘JFunk’ Franklin and special effects design by Susanna Peretz. The associate designer is Shankho Chaudhuri, the assistant director is Leian John-Baptiste, the dialect coach is Dawn-Elin Fraser and the fight director is Philip D’Orléans. Continue reading “Late summer casting news”

10 top theatrical moments of 2020

In lieu of trying to make sense of this shitshow of a year through the normal year-end lists, I thought I’d just stick with an unranked list of 10 of my top theatrically based productions of the year

For reference, here’s my 2019 list, 2018 list, 2017 list2016 list2015 list and 2014 list.

Uncle Vanya, Harold Pinter Theatre

A rather exhilaratingly good take on the familiar Chekhov classic, a worthy presence in the West End.

The Wicker Husband, Watermill Theatre

One of the last things I saw before lockdown and what a gorgeous lingering memory to have, I pray that this is not the last we hear of this beautiful new musical. Continue reading “10 top theatrical moments of 2020”

TV Review: Small Axe

Steve McQueen’s anthology flm series Small Axe is an absolute triumph as it depicts the West Indian experience in London but tells us all so much about the UK

“We mustn’t be victims, but protagonists of our stories. And what better way of representing ourselves than self-representing ourselves”

Not too much to say about Small Axe that hasn’t been said much more eloquently and appropriately by many others. But I just wanted to applaud some stirring acting work across all 5 films – in particular Shaun Parkes and Letitia Wright in Mangrove and John Boyega in Red White and Blue. And writer/director Steve McQueen, with co-writing work from Alastair Siddons and Courttia Newland, who plants racism, and racist activity, so undeniably in front of a Sunday night BBC1 audience in a way that has so rarely been done before.

News: Unicorn Theatre’s online offerings get some cracking casts

The Unicorn Theatre has announced a pair of great-looking online productions in Grimm’s Tales and The Twits. Adopting a storytelling perspective, a crack team of directors and actors will be putting their spin on these classic tales.

The Twits, directed by Ned Bennett, will star Martina Laird and Zubin Varla and is hosted on the Guardian’s website.

Grimm’s Tales will stream from 5th October to 21st February on the Unicorn’s YouTube channel.

Appearing in those productions will be:
Justin Audibert directs Nadia Albina reading Hansel and Gretel
Rachel Bagshaw with Le Gateau Chocolat reading Rumpelstiltskin
Polly Findlay directs Colin Morgan reading The Devil With the Three Golden Hairs
Tristan Fynn-Aiduenu directs Andy Umerah reading The Boy Who Left Home to Find Out About the Shivers
Ola Ince directs Susan Wokoma reading The Brave Little Tailor
Bijan Sheibani directs Cecilia Noble reading Cinderella

The venue will also re-release its hit production of Anansi the Spider Re-Spun to mark Black History Month, with the hit show available from 1st-31st October on YouTube.

TV Review: Unprecedented, Episode 2

The use of real-life couples makes Episode 2 of Unprecedented a very strong entry – superb work from Gemma Arterton, Arthur Darvill and Cecilia Noble among others

“I can be there for you, even from here”

Episode 2 of Unprecedented, Headlong and Century Film’s creative rapid-response to coronavirus definitely managed to take advantage of acting households, as husbands and wives abounded (Arthur Darvill and Inès De Clercq, Gemma Arterton and Rory Keenan, Olivia Williams and Rhashan Stone), offering up a different texture than just the single person shots that dominated the first episode. 

Tim Price’s Romantic Distancing, directed by Jeremy Herrin, was really rather swooningly lovely. Darvill and De Clercq playing a couple who’ve only been together for a couple of months and trying to work out if staying together, whilst isolating apart, is worth it. The switch into Once-style balladry worked beautifully for me and it’s kinda hard not to root for this pair. Continue reading “TV Review: Unprecedented, Episode 2”

News: cast announced for Unprecedented: Theatre from a State of Isolation

Headlong and Century Films have today announced a cast of over 50 UK actors taking part in Unprecedented: Theatre from the State of Isolation. A series of new digital plays written in response to the current Covid-19 Pandemic, Unprecedented will be broadcast across the nation during lockdown as part of BBC Arts’ Culture in Quarantine initiative.

Written by celebrated playwrights and curated by Headlong, Century Films and BBC Arts, Unprecedented explores our rapidly evolving world, responding to how our understanding and experiences of community, education, work, relationships, family, culture, climate and capitalism are evolving on an unprecedented scale. The series will ask how we got here and what the enduring legacy of this historic episode might be. Continue reading “News: cast announced for Unprecedented: Theatre from a State of Isolation”

Review: The Welkin, National Theatre

Lucy Kirkwood returns to the National Theatre with The Welkin, starring a brilliant ensemble led by Maxine Peake

“Nobody blames God when there’s a woman can be blamed instead”

There are moments in Lucy Kirkwood’s new play The Welkin that are just outstanding. The opening tableau of silhouetted women engaged in housework is one for the ages, the early montage of women being empanelled onto a jury is as compelling a piece of social history as has ever been committed to the stage as well as looking stunning, and the final scene is equally full of iconic imagery (that veil, that walk, that ribbon, that realisation!).

Set on the Norfolk/Suffolk borders in 1759, the play focuses on a quirk of English justice at the time. A child has died and Sally Poppy has been sentenced for the crime (by men) but as she is claiming to be pregnant – something which if true, would commute her sentence from death to transportation – a “jury of matrons” must decide if she is telling the truth. Thus 12 local woman are summoned and locked in a room to determine her fate. Continue reading “Review: The Welkin, National Theatre”