2022 Laurence Olivier Awards nominations

Not a lot to complain about for once (The Drifters Girl aside), this set of Olivier Award nominations read pretty much OK, though you do wish they’d open the categories to five nominees given how much talent there is to recognise. Anyone you would have added?

Best revival
A Number at the Old Vic
Constellations – Donmar Warehouse at Vaudeville Theatre
The Normal Heart at National Theatre – Olivier
The Tragedy Of Macbeth at Almeida Theatre

Best entertainment or comedy play
The Choir Of Man at Arts Theatre
Pantoland at the Palladium at the London Palladium
Pride And Prejudice* (*Sort Of) at Criterion Theatre
The Shark is Broken at Ambassadors Theatre Continue reading “2022 Laurence Olivier Awards nominations”

Film Review: The Duke (2020)

Roger Michell’s hugely enjoyable and wonderfully warm-hearted film The Duke stars Jim Broadbent and Helen Mirren

“Be sure to use the coasters. You’re not in Leeds now”

Few of us get to choose the way we’re remembered but you have to think Roger Michell wouldn’t mind the sentimental warmth of The Duke being his last feature film to grace our screens. Michell sadly died last year, the pandemic having intervened to delay the release of this film which played festivals in 2020 and in some ways, it is a shame distributors didn’t go for a on-demand or hybrid release as its warmth makes you feel it would have been a lockdown hit.

Written by Richard Bean and Clive Coleman, the film follows the remarkably true story of the theft from the National Gallery of the Goya painting Portrait of the Duke of Wellington by Newcastle OAP Kempton Bunton. Bunton was a restless soul aka a crotchety old man, unable to hold a job for any length of time. But he was a dreamer too, a terminally unpublished writer and social revolutionary, briefly imprisoned for not paying his TV license and campaigning for free ones for all UK OAPs. Continue reading “Film Review: The Duke (2020)”

2021 Best Actor in a Play + in a Musical

Best Actor in a Play

Omari Douglas/Russell Tovey, Constellations
There were occasional moments when the multiple casts of Constellations felt like it might just be an experiment but in the Douglas/Tovey iteration, something magical happened as their chemistry electrified this most familiar of plays, making it sexier, funnier and more heartwrenching than ever before.

Honourable mention: Ben Daniels, The Normal Heart 
A titanic piece of acting in a blisteringly good production, all the more powerful for being on one of our largest stages. And despite the weightiness of the material and the size of that stage, Daniels filled it with the deepest of compassion. 

Charles Edwards, Best of Enemies
Dickon Farmar, Gay Generations
Josh O’Connor, Romeo and Juliet
Jack Sunderland, DJ Bazzer’s Year 6 Disco

Best Actor in a Musical

Eddie Redmayne, Cabaret 
Jessie Buckley rightly got a lot of the attention upon the owning of the Kit Kat Club but I don’t think Redmayne’s reworking of the Emcee is anything to be sniffed at either. A creepily expressive and starkly defined journey towards darkness, such is his charisma that we’re practically skipping along with him.

Honourable mention: Noel Sullivan, The Rhythmics 
Far too few people will have gotten to see Sullivan lead this charming new musical but one has to hope he’ll be at the lycra-clad helm once again when it resurfaces.

Declan Bennett, Carousel
Adam Cooper, Singin’ in the Rain
Scott Mackie, The Off Key
David Thaxton, She Loves Me

fosterIAN awards 2021

 WinnerRunner-upOther nominees
Best Actress in a PlaySophie Melville, MumCush Jumbo, HamletRonkẹ Adékoluẹjo, Lava
Jessie Buckley, Romeo and Juliet
Julie Hesmondhalgh, Still Life
Lesley Sharp, Paradise
Best Actor in a Play
Omari Douglas/Russell Tovey, ConstellationsBen Daniels, The Normal HeartCharles Edwards, Best of Enemies
Dickon Farmar, Gay Generations
Josh O'Connor, Romeo and Juliet
Jack Sunderland, DJ Bazzer’s Year 6 Disco
Best Supporting Actress in a PlayAyesha Dharker, The Book of DustNorah Lopez Holden, HamletLiz Carr, The Normal Heart
Deborah Findlay, Romeo and Juliet
Anastasia Hille, Paradise
Gloria Obianyo, Paradise
Best Supporting Actor in a PlayDino Fetscher, The Normal HeartPip Carter, The Book of DustSyrus Lowe, Best of Enemies
Daniel Monks, The Normal Heart
Lucian Msamati, Romeo and Juliet
Luke Norris, The Normal Heart
Best Actress in a MusicalSutton Foster, Anything GoesLinzi Hateley, Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor DreamcoatSamantha Barks/Stephanie McKeon, Frozen
Jessie Buckley, Cabaret
Carly Mercedes Dyer, A Chorus Line
Alex Young, She Loves Me
Best Actor in a MusicalEddie Redmayne, CabaretNoel Sullivan, The RhythmicsDeclan Bennett, Carousel
Adam Cooper, Singin' in the Rain
Scott Mackie, The Off Key
David Thaxron, She Loves Me
Best Supporting Actress in a Musical
Carly Mercedes Dyer, Anything GoesVictoria Hamilton-Barritt & Rebecca Trehearn, CinderellaEmily Barnett-Salter, A Chorus Line
Kaisa Hammarlund, She Loves Me
Joanna Riding, Carousel
Best Supporting Actor in a MusicalAinsley Hall Ricketts, A Chorus LineRobert Lindsay, Anything GoesStewart Clarke, Be More Chill
Andy Coxon, She Loves Me
Elliot Levey, Cabaret
Obioma Ugoala, Frozen

Review: Best of Enemies, Young Vic

David Harewood and Charles Edwards lead James Graham’s new play Best of Enemies with real excitement in this Young Vic / Headlong co-production

“A man should never turn down two things. Sex, and appearing on television”

James Graham seems to have an unerringly great hit rate (recent gigs include Quiz and an episode of The Crown) and his return to the theatre is no exception with this exciting new play at the Young Vic, Best of Enemies. On the face of it, you woudn’t be sure some 1968 US TV debates would have much to say to us but Graham’s instinct is naturally assured and thus their impact of so much of the shape of public discourse, even today, is explored.

The debates were between the conservative William F Buckley Jr and the liberal Gore Vidal, put together by the ABC network in order to galvanise TV audiences during the 1968 US presidential elections. And Graham combines verbatim reconstructions of the debates with a fictionalised account of the world around them, as they unexpectedly birth a news format and polarised commentariat that endures, like the worst of barnacles, to this very day. Continue reading “Review: Best of Enemies, Young Vic”

#AdventwithClowns Day 15 – Wanderlust (BBC)

NIck Payne adapts his play Wanderlust for TV, with a great lead performance from Toni Collette and stunning work from Sophie Okonedo

“I thought old people were supposed to go off sex”

It being more than 10 years since I saw Nick Payne’s play Wanderlust at the Royal Court, I’d be hard pressed to tell you much about how it differed from this TV adaptation which aired back in 2018 but essentially, Payne circles around notions of sex and intimacy and the different roles they can play in different relationships. At the heart of the tale here are Joy and Alan, long married but sexually stale and thus we follow their decision to open out their marriage, with all the attendant difficulties that presents to their tightly-wound emotional states.

We also see the ripple effects on their teenage children, each finding their own way through love and sex and life and friendship, and we also see a lot of Joy’s therapy clients, the significance of which comes heavily to bear late on. Toni Collette and Steven Mackintosh are great value for money as Joy and Alan, Paul Kaye and Zawe Ashton also entertain as their new sex partners, and Kate O’Flynn and Anastasia Hille both thrill in supporting parts. The whole damn thing is worth it though for the simply spectacular Episode 5 in which locks Collette’s Joy and Sophie Okonedo as her own therapist in a room and keeps them there, to just stunning effect.

Wanderlust is available to watch on Netflix

News: One year of National Theatre at Home – New titles added

Ahead of National Theatre at Home’s one year anniversary on 1 December, the National Theatre has today announced the next filmed productions to be added to the streaming service, which is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Joining the platform today is Simon Godwin’s critically acclaimed 2018 production of Antony & Cleopatra in the Olivier theatre, with Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo playing Shakespeare’s famous fated couple. Then the iconic and multi-award-winning production of War Horsebased on the novel by Michael Morpurgo, will be available from 1 December until 31 January 2022 on demand internationally for the first time since its premiere 14 years ago. It will be available with British Sign Language, audio description and captions. Continue reading “News: One year of National Theatre at Home – New titles added”

Plays update November 2021

Casting updates for the Young Vic’s Best of Enemies, Hampstead Theatre’s Peggy For You, audio drama Ghost Walk and the Royal Court’s A Fight Against…

The Young Vic has revealed the complete cast and creative team for James Graham’s bold new play Best of Enemiesdirected by Jeremy Herrin, in a co-production with Headlong.

1968 – a year of protest that divided America. As two men fight to become the next President, all eyes are on the battle between two others: the cunningly conservative William F Buckley Jr., and the iconoclastic liberal Gore Vidal. Beliefs are challenged and slurs slung as these political idols feud nightly in a new television format, debating the moral landscape of a shattered nation. Little do they know they’re about to open up a new frontier in American politics, and transform television news forever…

Charles Edwards plays Gore Vidal and David Harewood plays William F. Buckley Jr. The complete cast also includes Margo Cargill, Emilio Doorgasingh, Clare Foster, Tom Godwin, John Hodgkinson, Justina Kehinde, Syrus Lowe, Kevin McMonagle and Sam Otto. Continue reading “Plays update November 2021”

News: National Theatre adds new productions to streaming platform NT at Home

The National Theatre has announced the latest productions to be made available on its National Theatre at Home streaming platform. Launching today, the Young Vic and Joshua Andrews’ production of Tennessee Williams’ timeless masterpiece A Streetcar Named Desire featuring Gillian Anderson as Blanche DuBois, Ben Foster as Stanley and Vanessa Kirby as Stella, the NT’s recent production of Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood with Michael Sheen and Nadia Fall’s verbatim play Home that explores homelessness in the UK featuring Michaela Coel. New productions are added each month and since launching in December 2020, there are now 31 productions available to stream on the platform.

It is also announced today some of the productions that audiences can expect to see on the platform in the coming months. Those productions are confirmed to include Antony & Cleopatra with Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo in the title roles; Hedda Gabler with Ruth Wilson in the title role; Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls in the Lyttelton theatre from 2019Sally Cookson’s 2017 production of Peter Pan; Yaël Farber’s Salomé and James Graham’s political drama This House, alongside current NT productions; Kae Tempest’s Paradise with Lesley Sharp and Winsome Pinnock’s Rockets and Blue LightsIan McKellen on Stage will also join the platform this autumn for audiences outside the UK and Ireland. It is currently available in the UK and Ireland for Amazon Prime subscribers. Continue reading “News: National Theatre adds new productions to streaming platform NT at Home”