News: NT’s original film Romeo & Juliet to be screened in cinemas

The National Theatre has announced that its critically acclaimed original film Romeo & Juliet will be screened in cinemas for one night only on Tuesday 28 September. The film stars Josh O’Connor (The Crown, God’s Own Country) as Romeo and Jessie Buckley (Chernobyl, Judy) as Juliet, and will be available to screen across the UK and Ireland.

Directed by Simon Godwin (Twelfth Night, Antony and Cleopatra), this new 90-minute version was filmed in 17 days in the NT’s Lyttelton theatre in December while it was closed due the pandemic. It was adapted for screen by Emily Burns. The film premiered on television earlier this year on Sky Arts in the UK on 4 April and PBS in the US on 23 April. This is the first time the film will be available on the big screen. 

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Review: Romeo and Juliet, National Theatre via Sky Arts

Jessie Buckley is astonishing as the National Theatre’s Romeo and Juliet makes the jump from stage to screen to extraordinary effect

“What satisfaction canst thou have tonight?”

By rights, we should have seen Simon Godwin’s Romeo and Juliet at the National Theatre last summer but the stars realigned for these star-cross’d lovers and now we have the gift of the National’s first ever film. Emily Burns’ sleek adaptation has been reworked for the camera and with DP Tim Sidell reimaginging the possibilities of working onstage, something truly cinematic yet innately theatrical has emerged.

With a supporting company (plucked from my dreams) that included Deborah Findlay, Lucian Msamati, and Tamsin Greig, I was pleasantly surprised that the young leads lived up to their billing with two fine, emotionally wrought performances. Josh O’Connor’s Romeo carries the weight of the world on his shoulders but flickers beautifully into life upon the stolen touch of fingertips with Juliet. And Jessie Buckley as Juliet shimmers with luminosity with the intensity of the feelings that take her over. Continue reading “Review: Romeo and Juliet, National Theatre via Sky Arts”

Radio review: Constellations / Elegy / The Meaning of Zong

Less reviews, more notifications that a wonderful radio version of Nick Payne’s Constellations is now available to listen to on Radio 3, starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw and George Mackay. It’s well worth your time but be warned, it could well lead to expensive splurges to see the four forthcoming West End casts of Sheila Atim and Ivanno Jeremiah, Peter Capaldi and Zoë Wanamaker, Omari Douglas and Russell Tovey, and Anna Maxwell Martin and Chris O’Dowd.

Sasha Yevtushenko also directs a production of Elegy as part of this double bill, a play which I don’t remember half as fondly, despite a strong cast at the Donmar Warehouse. Here again, Juliet Stevenson, Deborah Findlay and Marilyn Nnadebe elevate the production to must-listen levels but it just isn’t as gut-wrenchingly affecting a piece of writing in the end.

Last up is Giles Terera’s The Meaning of Zong, the debut play for this talented performer which is now receiving its premiere on radio. It’s an extraordinary dramatisation of a shocking piece of British history that very few of us will know about, one which is vital to add to the discourse that has emerged since last summer and a play that must be put on major stages as soon as we can.

A look at the National Theatre’s Romeo & Juliet

The National Theatre’s Romeo & Juliet has the cast I dream about so it’s a bit of a bummer that it’s had to be turned into a filmed version but as solutions go, it’s a pretty good one. And given the look of these images by Rob Youngson, it looks to be living up to expectation.

Catch Romeo & Juliet at 9pm Sunday 4 April on Sky Arts (UK) and 9pm Friday 23 April on PBS (US)

Continue reading “A look at the National Theatre’s Romeo & Juliet”

TV Review: The Drowning (Channel 5)

I’d follow Deborah Findlay anywhere but Channel 5’s schlocky drama The Drowning might have been a step too far

“I understand how it feels to lose someone”

The premise of The Drowning, Channel 5’s newest original drama, seemed intriguing enough and its first episode mostly delivered on that promise. At a family picnic, 4 year old Tom goes missing, drowned in a lake, and his mother’s life naturally shatters. Nine years later, Jodie spots a teenage boy who bears a scar on his face that looks just like one Tom has and becomes convinced that it is, in fact, her son.

Directed by Carolina Giammetta, Luke Watson and Francesca Brill’s drama has clear designs on aping the Nordic Noir vibes of many a Scandi-drama, not least in its beautiful colour palette, but it is let down by some horrific writing choices that see it veer far closer to trashy thriller than affecting crime drama in the vein of, say, Unforgotten. Continue reading “TV Review: The Drowning (Channel 5)”

TV Review: The Drowning – Episode 1 (Channel 5)

Channel 5 drama The Drowning has a cast headed up by some great names – Jill Halfpenny, Rupert Penry-Jones, Jade Anouka – and its first episode proves intriguing 

“We were all at the lake that day and he always blamed me”

I would go most places for Deborah Findlay and so this week I am watching Channel 5 for the first time in…I couldn’t tell you how long, the launch show with the Spice Girls covering Manfred Mann…? Created by Luke Watson and Francesca Brill, The Drowning follows Jill Halfpenny’s Jodie as she becomes fixated on a teenager who she is sure is her son Tom, who drowned nine years ago at the age of four but whose body was never recovered.

As a depiction of the shattering effects of grief, how it remakes every single relationship in your life, this first episode is particularly good. Halfpenny nails the abrasive side of Jodie’s personality as she screws over friends, family and exes in her relentless pursuit of the boy she believes to be Tom, caring little for the chaos in her wake, the damage she perpetuates even as she still tries to recover from her own. Continue reading “TV Review: The Drowning – Episode 1 (Channel 5)”

News: full casting for National Theatre’s Romeo & Juliet

A first-look image has today been released for the National Theatre’s Romeo & Juliet, a feature film for broadcast on Sky Arts and PBS this April. The image features Romeo, played by Josh O’Connor (The Crown, God’s Own Country) and Juliet, played by Jessie Buckley (Chernobyl, Judy), as they meet by moonlight at Juliet’s balcony. The image was taken during filming at the National Theatre.  

The NT also announces today that Olivier Award winner Adrian Lester (Life, Undercover) will play the Prince in the film. Also joining the cast is Lloyd Hutchinson as Lord Capulet, Colin Tierney as Lord Montague and Ella Dacres as Peta. As previously announced, the cast includes Fisayo Akinade as Mercutio, Deborah Findlay as the Nurse, Tamsin Greig as Lady Capulet, Lucian Msamati as the Friar, Shubham Saraf as Benvolio, David Judge as Tybalt, Alex Mugnaioni as Paris and Ellis Howard as Sampson.  Continue reading “News: full casting for National Theatre’s Romeo & Juliet”

News: NT launches new streaming service National Theatre at Home

The National Theatre, in partnership with Bloomberg Philanthropies, has today launched  National Theatre at Home, a brand-new streaming platform making their much-loved productions available online to watch anytime, anywhere worldwide.

Launching today with productions including the first ever National Theatre Live, Phèdre with Helen Mirren,  Othellowith Adrian Lester and the Young Vic’s Yermawith Billie Piper, new titles from the NT’s unrivalled catalogue of filmed theatre will be added to the platform every month.

In addition to productions previously broadcast to cinemas by National Theatre Live, a selection of plays filmed for the NT’s Archive will be released online for the first time through National Theatre at Home, including Lucy Kirkwood’s Mosquitoes with Olivia Colman and Inua Ellams’ new version of Chekhov’s Three Sisters (a co-production with Fuel).   Continue reading “News: NT launches new streaming service National Theatre at Home”

TV Review: Messiah (2001)

The first series of Messiah only occasionally shows its age, mostly remaining a powerfully effective serial killer drama and franchise opener  

“Maybe we’re getting too bogged and missed the connection”

Whilst theatre is off the menu, at least to the extent that I used to consume it, I have enjoyed being in of an evening and watching a lot more TV than I have done for a long time. And seeking the comfort of nostalgia, I’ve been delving into some of the shows that I enjoyed in the past – this week’s fun and games is the Messiah series.

Based on Boris Starling’s highly successful debut novel, the first series of Messiah (well, two feature-length episodes) holds up well nearly 20 years after it aired. And you can see the influence it has had on shows like Luther and River to name just a couple, as its gritty realism aligns with this country’s obsession with serial killer serials. Continue reading “TV Review: Messiah (2001)”