TV Review: Silent Witness Series 16

Series 16 of Silent Witness benefits hugely from the introduction of David Caves and Liz Carr as Jack and Clarissa and the booming final scene

“The Lyell Centre will need to change or die”

Starting with the off-screen departure of Harry and ending quite literally with a bang that further shuffles the cast, Series 16 of Silent Witness finally bites the bullet of the significant change that it needed probably 2 or 3 seasons ago. The introduction of David Caves and Liz Carr as Jack and Clarissa allows for the incorporation of forensic science more explicitly in the Lyell’s work. And if nothing else, the addition of new blood just freshens up the whole place.

In reality, there isn’t a huge amount that is altered fundamentally in the show. The cases run the usual gamut of dodgy police, dodgy military and dodgy foreign countries (Afghanistan in this case) and the Lyell remains holier than thou in pursuit of the truth. It takes Jack just a couple of episodes to learn the ropes in that respect, opting to call Nikki with a vital update about a suspect rather than the police officer managing the active crime scene. Priorities eh?! Continue reading “TV Review: Silent Witness Series 16”

TV Review: Silent Witness Series 7

Some cracking guest stars elevate Series 7 of Silent Witness which settles rather well into its mould of slightly fractious teamworking

“This is not Toy Town. I am not Mr Plod. You are not Tessie Bear”

The establishment of a team around Sam Ryan at the Lyell Centre was certainly one of the best decisions Silent Witness made, certainly while Amanda Burton’s frosty lead was still at the helm. And I think Series 7 ranks as one of her best as the writers finally tackle her self-declared infallibility and throw her inability to work nicely with others right under the microscope.

Through stories of suspected terrorism, steroid abuse and sexual assault, there’s an ongoing theme of reputational integrity, examining how far people will go to protect their name. Professionally, she has her own judgement called into question, both by outsiders and in a clever twist by William Gaminara’s Harry as the colleagues are pitted against each other in a high-profile case. Continue reading “TV Review: Silent Witness Series 7”

Review: Holding The Man, Brockley Jack

Lovely

At the end of the 2010 West End production of Tommy Murphy’s Holding The Man, his adaptation of Tim Conigrave’s novel about his relationship with a guy named John, I was so distraught that I wept in my seat at the Trafalgar Studios for several minutes. So the prospect of seeing it again was one I approached with caution, even as Big Boots Theatre Company intrigued me with their production at the Brockley Jack.

Holding The Man is much more than your conventional relationship drama though, covering as it does their love affair from the mid 1970s until the early 1990s and thus staking its place as a first-hand documentation of the ravaging impact of the arrival of HIV/AIDS in the worldwide gay community. It is brutally, unflinchingly honest and as such, transcends any notion that the material is dated or that such plays are no longer relevant. Continue reading “Review: Holding The Man, Brockley Jack”

Review: A Tale of Two Cities, Royal & Derngate

“Repression is the only lasting philosophy”

Although not intentionally, this year I’ve been racing through the list of theatres (and towns) I haven’t been to before and Northampton’s Royal & Derngate is the latest to be ticked off. This production of Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities marks the beginning of James Dacre’s tenure as Artistic Director there and though I have no way to compare it with what usually takes place on stage here, it feels like a hugely ambitious piece of work and a definite statement of intent.

Most of this comes from the team he has gathered. Mike Poulton’s sleek adaptation of the novel surely confirms him as the country’s foremost translator from page to stage, Oscar winner Rachel Portman provides a hugely atmospheric score which swells to fill the auditorium, and the use of a community ensemble gives credibility to the world of the play, creating a most effective baying mob in Mike Britton’s beautiful set which effortlessly switches location as the story dictates. Continue reading “Review: A Tale of Two Cities, Royal & Derngate”

Review: The Crucible, Open Air Theatre

“I will come to you in the black of some terrible night and I will bring a pointy reckoning that will shudder you”

It really is a good time to be an Arthur Miller fan in London: All My Sons is receiving rave reviews at the Apollo Theatre and now you can see The Crucible at the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre in a chilling new production of a play.

The Puritans of Salem, Massachusetts are shocked when a group of their young girls are caught dancing in the woods and one of them falls into a coma. Accusations of witchcraft soon start to fly and as the hysteria mounts and a full-blown witch-hunt ensues, vendettas about land and money, and also of the heart, are pursued sub rosa as events snowball to a shockingly brutal conclusion. The struggle between truth and righteousness, between protecting self-interest and rising to the need of the greater good, is personified in the Proctor family, John and Elizabeth. Continue reading “Review: The Crucible, Open Air Theatre”