News: Young Vic and Old Vic announce new programmes

Theatre returns at both end of The Cut – programmes announced for both the Old Vic and the Young

  • Queers Curated by Mark Gatiss, 2 Jun, 30 Jun
  • Home? Curated by Noma Dumezweni, 14-20 Jun
  • The Dumb Waiter by Harold Pinter, 7-10 Jul
    Directed by Jeremy Herrin and starring Daniel Mays and David Thewlis
  • Bagdad Cafe by Percy and Eleonore Adlon, adapted by Emma Rice, 19 Jul-21 Aug, streamed 25-28 Aug
    Starring Patrycja Kujawska, Le Gateau Chocolat and Sandra Marvin
  • Camp Siegfried by Bess Wohl, 7 Sep-30 Oct
    Directed by Katy Rudd and starring Patsy Ferran and Luke Thallon
  • A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, adapted by Jack Thorne, 13 Nov-8 Jan
    Directed by Matthew Warchus
  • A Number by Caryl Churchill, 24 Jan-19 Mar 
    Directed by Lyndsey Turner  and starring Lennie James and Paapa Essiedu
  • Into the Woods – Music & lyrics by Stephen Sondheim, book by James Lapine, 16 Apr-9 Jul
    Co-directed Terry Gilliam and Leah Hausman

  • Changing Destiny by Ben Okri, 9 Jul-21 Aug
    Directed by Kwame Kwei-Armah
  • Klippies by Jessica Siân, 4–13 Aug
    Directed by Diyan Zora
  • AI developed by Chinonyerem Odimba and Nina Segal, written alongside GPT-3 OpenAI technology, 23–25 Aug
    Created by Jennifer Tang and Company
  • Hamlet by William Shakespeare, 25 Sep-13 Nov
    Directed by Greg Hersov and starring Cush Jumbo
  • Best of Enemies by James Graham, 2 Dec-22 Jan
    Directed by Jeremy Herrin

News: Tristram Kenton’s stage archive – the before-they-were-famous edition

One of the joys of seeing so much theatre in London is that sense of seeing any number of actors at the beginning of their careers and Tristram Kenton has been doing that for years now. Here’s just some of those big names as whippersnappers on the British stage:
https://www.theguardian.com/stage/gallery/2020/nov/11/before-they-were-famous-stars-tristram-kenton-at-the-guardian-in-pictures

Photos: Tristram Kenton

Film Review: 1917 (2019)

Sam Mendes’ 1917 is undoubtedly an technically excellent film but the focus on format ends up detracting from the depth of the storytelling

“You’ll be wanking again in no time!
‘Wrong hand’.”

There’s no doubting the technical audacity of Sam Mendes’ 1917. With its ostensibly one-shot, real-time structure (with necessary caveats that it is neither), it is a bravura piece of film-making that elevates this movie from just your average Oscar-baity war flick (cf Dunkirk).

It is clearly a labour of love for Mendes, who directed, co-wrote (with Krysty Wilson-Cairns) and produced 1917, and whose grandfather’s own war experiences inspired the film. And its driving force, following 2 British soldiers tasked with delivering a vital message beyond enemy lines. Continue reading “Film Review: 1917 (2019)”

Film Review: Fisherman’s Friends (2019)

Based on a true story, the heart-rending Fisherman’s Friends is entirely sweet-natured good fun

“I’m Bonio.
‘It’s Bono, you pillock’.”

Despite being a fan of a Brit-flick, I don’t know if I’d’ve ventured to Fisherman’s Friends if it weren’t for the presence of a certain Mr Swainsbury in the cast. But I’m glad I did, as it proves a rather sweetly good-natured film that passes the time most amiably.

Based on the true story of The Fisherman’s Friends, a Cornish all-male a capella vocal group whose renditions of sea shanties scored them a record deal and a top 10 hit album, the film recounts how such a thing might have come about, as music executive Danny winds up in Port Isaac for a stag do and finds himself bewitched by the group, and the place, and a girl, natch. Continue reading “Film Review: Fisherman’s Friends (2019)”

Countdown to new Who: Doctor Who Series 6

“Demons run when a good man goes to war”

And here it is, the point at which I stopped loving new Doctor Who, even in a series that has two of the best episodes it has done, and the first series that I haven’t ever rewatched in its entirety. I do enjoy Matt Smith’s Eleven immensely but the writing across this season – which was split into two for transmission – was just fatally erratic for me. Alongside the innovative work from Neil Gaiman in The Doctor’s Wife and Steve Thompson in The Girl Who Waited, two contrasting but superlative pieces of writing, stories such as The Curse of the Black Spot and Night Terrors took the show to a less sophisticated place – (or do I really mean that I started to feel that this version of Doctor Who wasn’t necessarily aimed at me…?)

Even the big finales (for there were two, one for each half) fell a little flat. The premonition that the Doctor would “fall so much further” than ever before in A Good Man Goes to War raised expectations only to be dashed by an overloaded episode with little emotional heft aside from the River Song reveal, and The Wedding of River Song suffered from the general over-use of the characters dying-but-not-really-dying trope (poor Arthur Darvill…). That said, the high points of the series are so very good – the striking US-set opening double-bill, the Doctor finally meeting the TARDIS, and brain-scratching sci-fi with real heart. Frustratingly inconsistent. Continue reading “Countdown to new Who: Doctor Who Series 6”

2017 British Academy Television Awards nominations

Best Actor
Adeel Akhtar – Murdered by My Father as Shahzad (BBC Three)
Babou Ceesay – Damilola, Our Loved Boy as Richard Taylor (BBC One)
Robbie Coltrane – National Treasure as Paul Finchley (Channel 4)
Benedict Cumberbatch – The Hollow Crown: The Wars of the Roses as King Richard III (BBC Two)

Best Actress
Nikki Amuka-Bird – NW as Natalie Blake (BBC One)
Jodie Comer – Thirteen as Ivy Moxam (BBC Three)
Claire Foy – The Crown as Queen Elizabeth II (Netflix)
Sarah Lancashire – Happy Valley as Sgt. Catherine Cawood (BBC One) Continue reading “2017 British Academy Television Awards nominations”

DVD Review: Atonement (2007)

“I suppose we should start by reading it”

Atonement was only Joe Wright’s second film but crikey it’s a good’un. Following on from Pride and Prejudice with another literary adaptation was a bold move, especially in taking on such a modern classic as Ian McEwan’s 2001 Booker Prize nominee but with Christopher Hampton on script duties and Wright’s visionary eye at the helm, Atonement is a deliciously gorgeous piece of art.

From Kiera Knightley’s iconic green dress to that epic Dunkirk tracking shot, from a three-fold Briony (Saoirse Ronan, Romola Garai, Vanessa Redgrave) to narrative daring that enriches the whole piece, Atonement is a sumptuous and assured film that has lost none of its charge nearly ten years on. Wright is blessed with a top-notch cast to be sure, but it is his flair that characterises the film’s brilliance. Continue reading “DVD Review: Atonement (2007)”

Hallowe’en DVD Review: Victor Frankenstein (2015)

“This is not life”

Released last year, Victor Frankenstein has the ignominy of being something of a flop, a little surprising when you consider it is loaded with Brit talent like James McAvoy and Daniel Radcliffe and was directed by Sherlock alum Paul McGuigan. But as many have learned, not least Dr Frankenstein himself, reanimating old things doesn’t always go smoothly. 

Writer Max Landis’ new spin on Mary Shelley’s classic is that the story is told from (the non-canonical) Igor’s perspective, reframing the ‘hunchback assistant’ as something much more nuanced and offering a fresh set of eyes on their scientific endeavours. Here, McAvoy’s Victor is a manic medical student who rescues Radcliffe’s Igor from an undignified life as a circus freak and quite literally gives him a new lease of life as his collaborator.  Continue reading “Hallowe’en DVD Review: Victor Frankenstein (2015)”

TV Review: Line of Duty Series 3

“There’s a line. It’s called right and wrong and I know which side my duty lies”

Well, that’s what you call a series finale! After the brilliant fake-out of Danny Waldron not being the new Tony Gates or Lindsay Denton, Jed Mercurio’s Line of Duty took us further than we ever could have dared into the murky world of police corruption, weaving together story strands from all three series into an overarching conspiracy thriller that has to rank as one of the televisual highlights of the year so far.

My Episode 1 review can be found here and I won’t say much more here than to recommend you buy the DVD boxset now.