DVD Review: Nativity 2 – Danger in the Manger

“You can be our Justin Bieber”

After being pleasantly surprised by how much fun Nativity was, it seemed only natural to watch the sequel Nativity 2 – Danger in the Manger when it appeared in the festive TV schedule too. Sad to say it didn’t live up to its predecessor, its attempts to replicate the formula losing much of the charm that made the first movie something of a real treasure. Writer and director Debbie Isitt returned to the improvised style that saw her company of kids and adults work without a script or advance knowledge of how the plot would unfold, but the problem lies in that uninspired narrative. 

We’re still at St Bernadette’s, but Martin Freeman’s Mr Maddens has been replaced by David Tennant’s Mr Peterson, the school nativity has been replaced by a national ‘Song for Christmas’ competition and Marc Wootton’s irrepressible teaching assistant Mr Poppy remains very much in situ. And it is the nonsense that his actions provokes that proves the tipping point here – from purloined babies and donkeys to reckless child endangerment and the very fact that he’s teaching a class alone, Poppy’s character is a huge ask even when not taking it too seriously and for me, he was too grating too often. Continue reading “DVD Review: Nativity 2 – Danger in the Manger”

Review: Titus Andronicus, Baron’s Court Theatre

“I say, my lord, that if I were a man, their mother’s bedchamber should not be safe”

It may feel like I’ve been to all the theatres in London but there are so many fringe venues spread across the city that there are some that have yet to be blessed by my presence, the Baron’s Court Theatre in the basement of the Curtains Up pub being one of them. And when they announced an all-female production of Titus Andronicus, a Shakespeare play I have yet to see in order to complete the set, by Inside of Out, it seemed the time was ripe to kill two birds with the one stone.

Titus Andronicus has oft been described as one of Shakespeare’s goriest plays and quite frankly the numbers (according to Wikipedia at least) don’t lie: 14 killings (though just the 9 onstage), 6 severed members, between 1 and 3 rapes, 1 live burial and some cannibalism thrown in for good measure. But beyond the barbarity, there is a powerful story too of the corrosive impact of violence on society, of the devastating effect of two opposing sides unwilling to back down and what that does to the individual, the family and even the government. Shakespeare’s Titus is a Roman general who has returned victorious from 10 years of conflict with the Goths with their queen Tamora a prisoner, but a ritual sacrifice avenging the death of his sons sparks off a terrible cycle of revenge with Tamora whose unexpected new position as Empress ensures this is a power game with the highest of stakes, leaving no-one untouched. Continue reading “Review: Titus Andronicus, Baron’s Court Theatre”