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”

News: September theatre news gathers apace

Lockdown may have returned but theatres are boldly looking ahead – the David Tennant-starring Good and Six the Musical are moving theatres, Haydn Gwynne is back and The Last Five Years extends at the Southwark Playhouse

CP Taylor’s Good, starring David Tennant, Fenella Woolgar and Elliot Levey and directed by Dominic Cooke, which was due to open this October, has announced new dates for 2021 and a new run at the Harold Pinter Theatre.

Produced by Fictionhouse and Playful Productions, Good was originally scheduled to begin performances at the Playhouse Theatre on Tuesday 6th October. Due to the current global situation, the production was postponed and will now preview at the Harold Pinter Theatre from Wednesday 21st April  to Saturday 17st July 2021.

Current ticket holders will be given priority for the new dates and do not need to do anything. The point of purchase will be in touch with ticket holders to reschedule or refund their booking. Extra tickets for the new dates for Good at The Harold Pinter Theatre go on sale at 10am, Monday 12 October 2020. Continue reading “News: September theatre news gathers apace”

TV Review: Staged

Starring Michael Sheen and David Tennant, Simon Evans’ lockdown TV show Staged is amiable fun

“Come on, show us your pineapple”

A lot of people I know have fallen very hard for Staged so obviously I have to be contrary in saying that I found it amiably good fun rather than essential humour. Born out of lockdown ripping the heart out of the entertainment industry, the show – conceived by Simon Evans (also writer and director) and Phin Glynn – is something of a meta-drama as Michael Sheen and David Tennant play Michael Sheen and David Tennant.

The set-up of Staged is that the actors were meant to be starting rehearsals for a production of Pirandello’s Six Characters in Search of an Author and their director, Evans, has hit on the idea of moving those rehearsals online. The reality though is that it is about anything but, as the pair banter hilariously from their respective homes, cycling through squabbles about the billing order on the poster, to enunciation, lockdown routines and domestic dramas, all the while taking any opportunity to puncture the other’s actorly ego. Continue reading “TV Review: Staged”

TV Review: W1A (Series 3)

W1A remains entirely watchable in Series 3 but repetition sets in to blunt its comic edges

“It may be the future but it’s still the BBC”

Returning to W1A has been good fun, though watching its three series back-to-back, it is interesting to see just how much it wears its concept increasingly thin.  Series 1 was a winner, introducing its cast of misfits all trying to navigate the bureauracy of the BBC and avoid doing as much work as possible but even by Series 2, the strains were clear to see.

John Morton’s Twenty Twelve, the show that kicked off this mockumentary mini-universe, had an inbuilt advantage in that it had a clearly defined end-point, the thing that everyone was working towards. By contrast, W1A has a sense of ambling on which, while perfectly pleasant to watch, means that a terminal case of diminishing returns sets in. Continue reading “TV Review: W1A (Series 3)”

TV Review: W1A (Series 2)

Something doesn’t quite click right with Series 2 of W1A, as it struggles to live up to what has gone before though still remaining quite gently funny

“I don’t want to be dramatic about it, and I mean we all love Sue Barker, but I’ve to to say we are looking at a situation here”

I’ve loved going back to watch Twenty Twelve and my memories of the shift to W1A were that it was just as good, if not better. I’d definitely say that about the first series but having just gone through series 2, I found myself just a little disappointed. The bar having been raised so high, it feels like this collection of four episodes just doesn’t have the same zing that really grabs your attention.

In many respects, nothing has really changed. There’s still much comic currency in the exposure of the labyrinthine bureaucracy of the BBC and the determination of any middle-to-senior manager to avoid actually making a decision. But there’s also a slight sense of familiar ground being retrodden that dulls the edge – I mean once again any and every female is falling at the feet of Ian Fletcher, really? Continue reading “TV Review: W1A (Series 2)”

TV Review: W1A (Series 1)

Series 1 of W1A hits the spot when its humour tends towards the gently absurd. And at any moment when Monica Dolan, Jason Watkins or Sarah Parish are onscreen.

“I’m sorry…I don’t want to be rude or anything but Ian is not Justin Bieber”

Following on from the success of Twenty Twelve, John Morton’s W1A scooped up its key personnel and shifted them from the bloated organisational chaos of the Olympics Deliverance Team over to the no-less-unwieldly bureaucracy of the BBC. So Ian Fletcher Hugh Bonneville) takes the scarcely defined job as Head of Values there, is saddled once again with Siobhan Sharpe (Jessica Hynes) as Brand Consultant and the whole thing is deliciously narrated by a super-dry David Tennant.

And to a large extent, the transplant is successful. The key to these shows is the quality of an evenly-balanced ensemble and W1A knocks it out of the park from top to bottom. Monica Dolan’s bruisingly plain-spoken comms officer, Nina Sosanya’s too-good-for-this-world TV producer, Rufus Jones’ hilariously too-rubbish-for-this-world counterpart and best of all, Jason Watkins’ director of strategic governance and Sarah Parish’s head of output both delivering masterclasses in avoiding making any decisions at all. Continue reading “TV Review: W1A (Series 1)”

TV Review: Twenty Twelve (Series 2)

Despite an excellent Samuel Barnett, the second series of Twenty Twelve isn’t quite at the level of the first, though still very enjoyable

“I’m not from the sanitary world, I’m from Yorkshire”

Perhaps inevitably, the second series of Twenty Twelve doesn’t quite live up the revelatory quality of the first, the tinkering with the formula knocking the exact chemistry of the ensemble ever so slightly off-balance. Split into two (although you wouldn’t know it watching it now), the final episode ran just a couple of days before the Opening Ceremony of London 2012, and the show’s success was such that it made the move from BBC4 to BBC2.

In many ways, the recipe for John Morton’s mockumentary series didn’t change. The Olympic Deliverance Commission continued their hapless march towards the opening of the 2012 Olympic Games, battling their own ineptitude and institutitional intransigency as personal ambition sets up against religious rights, the Royal Family, the nation’s comparative lack of interest in women’s football and sportsmen’s innate lack of personality to name but a few. Continue reading “TV Review: Twenty Twelve (Series 2)”