27th Critics’ Choice Awards – winners

Best Picture
Belfast
CODA
Don’t Look Up
Dune
King Richard
Licorice Pizza
Nightmare Alley
WINNER – The Power of the Dog
tick, tick… BOOM!
West Side Story

Best Director
Paul Thomas Anderson – Licorice Pizza
Kenneth Branagh – Belfast
WINNER Jane Campion – The Power of the Dog
Guillermo del Toro – Nightmare Alley
Steven Spielberg – West Side Story
Denis Villeneuve – Dune Continue reading “27th Critics’ Choice Awards – winners”

Review: A Number, Old Vic

Paapa Essiedu and Lennie James deliver stunning performances in a cracking production of Caryl Churchill’s A Number at the Old Vic

“I think it’s funny, I think it’s delightful
‘delightful?'”

After Timothy and Sam West, and John and Lex Shrapnel, Lyndsey Turner’s production of A Number for the Old Vic is actually the first one I’ve seen that didn’t involve a real father and son combo (I wasn’t too fussed about Roger Allam and Colin Morgan at the Bridge a couple of years ago tbh). And possibly with that slight remove of biology, something electric happens to make this the best one I’ve seen yet.

Caryl Churchill’s 2002 play about a father who clones his son has turned out to be one of her most popular (see above) and also one of her most evergreen. Ideas about actual cloning were perhaps more prevalent then, Dolly the Sheep having dominated the discourse but 20 years later, the play has only gained in depth and gravitas, its commentary on parental sin and construction of identity roaring ferociously as ever. Continue reading “Review: A Number, Old Vic”

Film Review: Belfast (2021)

Kenneth Branagh’s memoir-of-sorts Belfast ends up an insufferably twee film despite the talent involved

“They just kick with the left foot”

There’s a line in the cracking TV show Community that often comes to mind, “just because something is in black and white doesn’t mean it’s good”. There’s no doubting that Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast, based in part at least on his own childhood, is entirely heartfelt but the filming style feels entirely like an affectation, bringing nothing to the storytelling itself.

This air of nostalgic indulgence is something that characterises the film as a whole. As it uses a child’s perspective to depict a slice of wholesome working-class family life, the backdrop to which just happens to be the start of the Troubles, there’s a weird sense of aimlessness here, a refusal to be drawn into any kind of meaningful comment on a conflict that must have loomed so large . Continue reading “Film Review: Belfast (2021)”

28th Screen Actors Guild Awards nominees

Film
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Javier Bardem – Being the Ricardos as Desi Arnaz
Benedict Cumberbatch – The Power of the Dog as Phil Burbank
Andrew Garfield – tick, tick…BOOM! as Jonathan Larson
Will Smith – King Richard as Richard Williams
Denzel Washington – The Tragedy of Macbeth as Lord Macbeth

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Jessica Chastain – The Eyes of Tammy Faye as Tammy Faye Bakker
Olivia Colman – The Lost Daughter as Leda Caruso
Lady Gaga – House of Gucci as Patrizia Reggiani
Jennifer Hudson – Respect as Aretha Franklin
Nicole Kidman – Being the Ricardos as Lucille Ball Continue reading “28th Screen Actors Guild Awards nominees”

27th Critics’ Choice Awards – nominations

Best Picture
Belfast
CODA
Don’t Look Up
Dune
King Richard
Licorice Pizza
Nightmare Alley
The Power of the Dog
tick, tick… BOOM!
West Side Story

Best Director
Paul Thomas Anderson – Licorice Pizza
Kenneth Branagh – Belfast
Jane Campion – The Power of the Dog
Guillermo del Toro – Nightmare Alley
Steven Spielberg – West Side Story
Denis Villeneuve – Dune Continue reading “27th Critics’ Choice Awards – nominations”

The National Theatre adds Hansard and Treasure Island to streaming platform National Theatre at Home

The National Theatre has today announced the latest productions to be made available on its streaming platform, National Theatre at Home. Launching today are two National Theatre productions: HansardSimon Woods’ witty and devastating play, directed by Simon Godwin (Romeo & Juliet, Twelfth Night); and Treasure Islandadapted by Bryony Lavery (Frozen, Kursk) from the iconic novel by Robert Louis Stevenson and directed by Polly Findlay (Antigone, Beginning). New productions are added each month and since launching in December 2020, there are now 28 productions available to stream on the platform.   Continue reading “The National Theatre adds Hansard and Treasure Island to streaming platform National Theatre at Home”

News: The National Theatre announces 2021-22 programming and launches National Theatre Together

The National Theatre announces new programming and launches a major new campaign for its future, National Theatre Together

The National Theatre has announced its programming until the start of next year with productions on all three South Bank stages as well as three major UK tours, two productions on Broadway, a return to cinemas, and a new feature film to be broadcast on television this autumn. In the week the theatre reopened for audiences again, six new productions were announced, and five productions halted by the pandemic were confirmed to return to the South Bank.  

It has also announced the public launch of National Theatre Together, a new campaign with people at its heart, highlighting the importance of creativity and collaboration with theatre-makers and communities, for young people and audiences. The campaign cements the NT’s commitment to the people of this country and will raise vital funds for the theatre’s ambitious recovery post-pandemic.  Continue reading “News: The National Theatre announces 2021-22 programming and launches National Theatre Together”

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.

2020 Laurence Olivier Awards nominations

Award season kicks into another gear with the arrival of the nominations for the 2020 Olivier Awards – & Juliet, Fiddler on the Roof and Dear Evan Hansen lead the musicals pack, Death of a Salesman and Rosmersholm the plays

As ever, Laurence giveth and he taketh away and it’s all subjective anyway.

  • I’m really pleased to see the love for Amélie The Musical and The Ocean At The End Of The Lane but a little incredulous that Fairview received no nominations.
  • The weird category shuffle that often happens has landed on ‘Best Entertainment or Comedy Play’ and ‘Best Family Show’ this year, leaving Emilia and Fleabag in a weird place that isn’t ‘Best New Play’ (last year they were divided into ‘Best Entertainment and Family’ and ‘Best New Comedy’.
  • I had zero desire to see Fiddler on the Roof so can’t pass comment there but can’t help wishing the supporting role in a musical nominations weren’t quite so dominated by DEH.
  • & Juliet’s director Luke Sheppard could rightfully feel snubbed, given the wealth of recognition the rest of the production has received.
  • And whither Monica Dolan, Lucian Msamati, Melanie La Barrie, the cast of Three Sisters…(oh wait, they won the more significant award earlier in the year!)

Continue reading “2020 Laurence Olivier Awards nominations”

20 shows to look forward to in 2020

I look ahead to some of the 2020 shows exciting me most with an emphasis away from the West End, looking mostly instead at the London fringe and across the UK 

Sure, there’s all sorts of big ticket shows coming to London in 2020 (with big ticket prices too to go with their big names), like Sunday in the Park with George with Jake Gyllenhaal, Sister Act with Whoopi Goldberg, A Doll’s House with Jessica Chastain. But there’s so much more to discover if you venture away from Shaftesbury Avenue…

1 The Glass Menagerie, Odéon–Théâtre de l’Europe at the Barbican
Not that I want to be predictable at all but Isabelle Huppert! Acting in French! Right in front of you! I understand that van Hove-fatigue might be setting in for people but only a FOOL would pass up the chance to see one of our greatest living actors. A FOOL! 

2 The Glass Menagerie, Royal Exchange
And if you wanted to do a direct compare and contrast, Atri Banerjee’s revival for the Royal Exchange will be worth checking out too for an alternative perspective. 

3 The Wicker Husband, Watermill
Even before Benjamin Button tore my heart apart, I was excited for the arrival of this new musical by Rhys Jennings and Darren Clark but now, the bar has been raised even higher. And the gorgeous intimacy of the Watermill feels like a perfect fit.


4 Children of Nora, Internationaal Theater Amsterdam
Me: “I don’t need any more Ibsen in my life”
Also me: Robert Icke revisiting the world of A Doll’s House through the eyes of the next generation? Yes please.

5 Romantics Anonymous, Bristol Old Vic
I don’t think I thought this delicious Koomin and Dimond musical would ever actually return, so this short run in the UK ahead of a US tour feels like a real blessing. Now where did I put my badge?
Continue reading “20 shows to look forward to in 2020”