TV Review: Flesh and Blood

Imelda Staunton plays a blinder in ITV’s Flesh and Blood but for a thriller, there’s not much that is actually that thrilling apart from Russell Tovey’s chest hair

“I never ever dreamt it would end like this”

The myriad ways in which we can now consume television content means that programmers can find themselves in a bit of a bind, searching for the best way to ensure their show breaks through in such a crowded marketplace. Just look at The Split, releasing the entirety of its second series online whilst also going for a weekly broadcast. Stripping a show over a week for four consecutive nights, as ITV did with Flesh and Blood, may seem like a happy medium between those two modes but in this day and age, I don’t it matches either. 

Written by Sarah Williams (Becoming Jane; Small Island), Flesh and Blood is a lush family drama, edging towards thriller territory, as a body is discovered in this sleepy Sussex beach town. And in true winding narrative style, we don’t know who has carked it. Francesca Annis’ Vivien is quietly surprised to find new love with Stephen Rea’s Mark but her adult children don’t think she’s been playing the grieving widow for long enough and once he moves into their former childhood home, hackles are truly raised, conveniently allowing them to turn from the drama in their own lives.  Continue reading “TV Review: Flesh and Blood”

Review: Coming Up, Watford Palace Theatre

“You don’t know who you are”

The search for identity is one which is relatable for many people but especially to those of a mixed heritage – if some in your family support Man U and others Man City, who do you support; if one parent is Christian and the other a Jew, where does the ball drop; or as in the case of Neil D’Souza’s play for the Watford Palace Theatre Coming Up, if you’re a British-born Indian what loyalties do you have to the homeland of your parents. 

D’Souza’s Alan is a businessman whose call centres are actually based in Mumbai but despite frequent trips there, he hasn’t been visiting the family members who live there due to an estrangement with his father. After his death, Alan finally makes it to see his elderly aunt and cousin – in a marvellously awkward meeting – who give him a memoir his father wrote which allows him to revisit and confront a past with which he is remarkably at odds. Continue reading “Review: Coming Up, Watford Palace Theatre”

Review: Happy Birthday Sunita, Watford Palace Theatre

 
Kicking off a substantial tour that will take in Delhi and Mumbai as well as numerous UK theatres, Harvey Virdi’s Happy Birthday Sunita opens at Watford Palace Theatre and ever curious, a cheeky trip to a Sunday matinée felt in order. This Rifco Arts production centres on a British Punjabi family as they gather to celebrate a surprise 40th birthday celebration for Sunita. All is going well but the birthday girl is nowhere to be seen… 

For as with any family, the Johals have their secrets and dramas and lifelong resentments and as the drinks starts to flow, truths start to spill out over the plates of curries and rotis. There’s a real sense of the family bond here though, no matter how strained it gets – in the blink of an eye, brother and sister go from bickering to bhangra dancing, the mother who makes sure all the cooking is done before unleashing her own shocking revelation.  Continue reading “Review: Happy Birthday Sunita, Watford Palace Theatre”