Film Review: Effie Gray (2014)

An entertaining cast make the curious Effie Gray more engaging than it might otherwise have been

“Marriage, dear boy, is all about learning how to wait”

In what turned out to be an afternoon of staid, true-life Victorian romances, Effie Gray turned out to be the odder. Richard Laxton’s film, written by Emma Thompson, follows the story of the troubled marriage between polymath John Ruskin and Euphemia ‘Effie’ Gray which was never consummated and ended when she bucked the social mores of the time to pursue an annulment, which she was indeed granted.

And starting as we do with the marriage between the pair, we see a lot – a LOT – of the dry and dessicated home life of the couple which kicks off with him professing disgust at her naked person and agreeing a five year abstention from sex so he could focus on his work. Plus, his family – with whom they live – aren’t much keener on her, so life’s generally a downer. Continue reading “Film Review: Effie Gray (2014)”

News: Chichester Festival Theatre announce Winter 2021/22 season

A feast of visiting drama, dance, comedy, family shows and music for all tastes and ages is heading to Chichester Festival Theatre for the Winter 2021/22 season.

We’re particularly proud to offer a new home-grown production: the revival of one of the best plays of modern times, John Patrick Shanley’s Pulitzer Award-winning Doubt: A Parable, directed by Lia Williams and starring Monica Dolan and Sam Spruell in their Chichester debuts. Continue reading “News: Chichester Festival Theatre announce Winter 2021/22 season”

News: Effie Gray to be re-released in the UK

Sovereign is proud to announce the return of Effie Gray, the true story of a scandal that shocked Victorian England, on 19th April in Virtual Cinemas and on VOD, and out 31st May as a special collector’s edition DVD and Blu-ray.

Nineteen-year-old Effie Gray marries esteemed art critic John Ruskin, a cold and distant man who, seemingly repelled by his young bride, refuses to consummate their marriage. Neglected and shunned, and her health suffering from the strain of the crumbling relationship, Effie defies Victorian society by striking up a friendship with one of Ruskin’s acolytes, the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood painter John Everett Millais. It’s friendship that blossoms into something else, that sends shockwaves through polite society. Continue reading “News: Effie Gray to be re-released in the UK”

TV Review: His Dark Materials, Series 2

No spoilers, but the second series of His Dark Materials is a continued absolute triumph

“Your duty is to protect the girl…and the boy”

We may have lost an episode of the second series of His Dark Materials to the pandemic but you really couldn’t tell, its atmospheric and elegiac storytelling feeling like some of the most mature work on screen right now. Jack Thorne’s adaptation of Philip Pullman’s novel(s) manages a brilliant balance between faithfulness and invention, an added scene between Mrs Coulter and Lee Scoresby is a sensational addition. And the direction from Leanne Welham and Jamie Childs keeps the show looking amazing.

From Lyra’s enduring guilt over Roger’s demise in the Series 1 finale, to climactic struggles that lead to some truly traumatising conclusions, the odyssey that Lyra and Will take from their Oxfords to Cittàgazze and beyond is nothing short of stunning. Dafne Keen’s Lyra remains as intellectually curious as ever but Amir Wilson’s Will takes the spotlight as he’s forced to reckon with the weight of responsibility forced onto his shoulders. And he is achingly good, a new maturity coming forth episode by episode. Continue reading “TV Review: His Dark Materials, Series 2”

Book review: Time To Act – Simon Annand

Simon Annand’s Time To Act is a beautiful book of photos capturing actors in the minutes before they go on stage

Tackling the constraints of the pandemic in its own way, Simon Annand’s fantastic new book of photos Time To Act has launched a virtual exhibition of some of the photographs which has now been extended to until Christmas. It’s an ingenious way of sharing some of the hundreds of images from the book and should surely whet the appetite for either just buying it now or putting on your list for Santa to collect soon.

Continue reading “Book review: Time To Act – Simon Annand”

TV Review: His Dark Materials, Series 2 Episode 1

Episode 1 of the second season of His Dark Materials continues its excellent work, matching my heightened expectations

“A wound caused by magic must be closed by magic”

Just a quickie as I didn’t want to leave this unmarked. His Dark Materials returns to our screens with a second series that focuses on the events of the book The Subtle Knife. Which means if you’re a James McAvoy fan, you’re in for a bit of a disappointment (unless adapter Jack Thorne has done something tricksy) as Lord Asriel is out for the duration.

But we still have Ruth Wilson doing amazing work as the iconic Mrs Coulter, dominating the men of the Magisterium with her will. And Dafne Keen and Amir Wilson are excellent as the newly-teamed up Lyra and Will, stepping into the strange new world of Cittàgazze with its genuinely horrifying spectres. And the world of the witches is expanded with Jade Anouka’s Ruta Skadi joining Ruta Gedmintas’ Serafina Pekkala as they consider their role in the events to come. All very exciting stuff.

Happy 50th Birthday to the Young Vic

Kwame Kwei-Armah, Artistic Director of the Young Vic, has announced the start of the Young Vic’s 50th birthday with a year-long programme of work entitled We are the New Tide, dedicated to the theatre’s milestone birthday.

The 50th birthday year of work begins with three major commissions:

  • YV 50thProjection Project – a projection celebrating the people and productions from across five extraordinary decades, illuminating the front of the Young Vic building each evening, with video design by Duncan McLean – check out just some of those productions in the gallery above.

    From 11 Sept – 4 October, 7.30pm – 10.30pm daily except Sundays, free.

  • The Unforgotten an interactive outdoor art installation commemorating trailblazers Mary Seacole, Marsha P. Johnson and Ulric Cross. Furthering the conversation within the Black Lives Matter movement, the Young Vic community will be invited to contribute to the installation by submitting their own nominations in writing on the side of the building and online, asking us all to (re)consider who we celebrate as our heroes. Created by artists Sadeysa Greenaway-Bailey and Anna Fleischle.
    From 11 September, free.
  • The New Tomorrow– for the first piece of live theatre since the pandemic closed UK theatres, this weekend festival of speeches and monologues asks what the next fifty years hold. Writers and artists Jade Anouka, Marina Carr, Jasmine Lee-Jones, Ruth Madeley, Amy Ng, Stef Smith, Jack Thorne, Isobel Waller-Bridge and Steve Waters will explore the change that has come and is coming. Cast to be announced.
    3 & 4 October, 4pm, Main House, free

News: stars come out to support the Jermyn Street Theatre

Stars of stage and screen including Olivia Colman, Helena Bonham Carter, David Suchet, Dame Penelope Keith, Timothy West, Jamael Westman, Tobias Menzies, Aimee Lou Wood, Grace Saif, Dame Penelope Wilton, and Julie Hesmondhalgh have joined forces to perform Shakespeare’s 154 sonnets for Jermyn Street Theatre, a 70-seat studio in London’s West End.

The Sonnet Project launched on the theatre’s social media channels on 21 March, when Hannah Morrish performed Sonnet 1. One sonnet has appeared every day since then, with the cycle due to complete with Sonnet 154 in late August. David Suchet, star of Agatha Christie’s Poirot but also a veteran of numerous Royal Shakespeare Company productions, performed Sonnet 34 on Shakespeare’s birthday. Continue reading “News: stars come out to support the Jermyn Street Theatre”

TV Review: His Dark Materials Series 1

Or to give it its true title, Ruth Wilson in His Dark Materials, the BBC scores big with Jack Thorne’s crafty and considered adaptation

“They speak of a child who is destined to bring the end of destiny”

There was never really any chance that I wouldn’t like His Dark Materials but as Series 1 draws to a close, I’m still amazed by how much I loved it. Given the complexity of Philip Pullman’s world-building as written, Jack Thorne’s adaptation of the first novel Northern Lights cleverly opted to tread its own path, moving revels and plot points here and there, plus weaving in elements of The Subtle Knife (the second) to wrongfoot and thrill anyone who thought they knew what they were expecting. With some stonking production design and top-notch VFX bringing the daemons (and more) to life, it has been simply fantastic (read my thoughts on episode 1 here).

Dafne Keen has been a revelation as Lyra Belacqua, the girl on whom so much rests in a world not so different from our own. So adult in so many ways as she battles everything to save her friend Roger (Lewin Lloyd – heartbreakingkly good), she’s also touchingly young in others (especially where Pan – voiced so well by Kit Connor- is concerned), as her understanding of the world can’t help but be coloured by her comparative inexperience, buffeted by devastating waves of parental ineptitude and cruelty. Revelations about those parents, about the mysterious substance Dust too, underline the sophistication of the writing here,never once looking down at its audience,no matter their age. Continue reading “TV Review: His Dark Materials Series 1”