It’s a joy to back in the Almeida Theatre even if Nine Lessons and Carols did little to change my mind about devised work
“Loneliness is the terror of not being able to dilute your own terrible personality”
Typical. You wait months for lockdown to be lifted and to be able to go to the theatre again and the first show you pick is one which really doesn’t float your boat at all. Critics are still navigating the boundaries of reviewing ethics in this immediate post-lockdown world so I’m going to keep it short if not particularly sweet.
Nine Lessons and Carols: Stories for a Long Winter feels like the kind of show that would have been a dream to create and rehease, devised as it was by the company with writer Chris Bush and director Rebecca Frecknall. But like many a devised show in my experience, that rehearsal room magic doesn’t always transfer onto the stage. Continue reading “Review: Nine Lessons and Carols, Almeida Theatre”
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, Othello with Adrian Lester and the Young Vic’s Yerma with 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”
The Almeida has announce their new programme of socially-distanced theatre for Christmas 2020 and into 2021:
Nine Lessons And Carols: stories for a long winter, a new production created by Associate Director Rebecca Frecknall, Chris Bush and a company of six actors – Naana Agyei-Ampadu, Katie Brayben, Toheeb Jimoh, Elliot Levey, Maimuna Memon and Luke Thallon.
The Maladies, performed by the Almeida Young Company (18-25), written by Carmen Nasr.
Hymn, a new play by Lolita Chakrabarti, featuring Adrian Lester and Danny Sapani. Continue reading “News: Almeida and Turbine reopen, Oleanna cast”
Mike Bartlett’s new TV show Life is rich in middle-class miseries and stellar performances from Victoria Hamilton and Alison Steadman
“One can’t have blessings without sufferings”
My main feelings about Mike Bartlett’s Life revolve around Rachael Stirling and thus are somewhat spoilerific – consider yourself warned! I was highly excited to see Stirling back on our screens so I was a tad disappointed when it turned out that her character was in fact a ghost and could only be seen by her grieving husband Adrian Lester.
But then when it was revealed that she was in fact a bisexual ghost – a proper shout at the TV moment – and her entanglements drew in at least one other, it was a glorious pay-off which almost, almost made up for her not being a full-on member of the ensemble. And its a hefty ensemble, set in a large house split into four flats in which four sets of tenants are all facing their own trials. Continue reading “TV Review: Life (Series 1)”
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”
A cast led by Michaela Coel, Noma Dumezweni, John Goodman and Lucian Msamati make Hugo Blick’s complex Black Earth Rising watchable if not quite essential
“That is why I made a deal like that”
A tricky one this. At this point, you know what you’re getting with a Hugo Blick drama (qv The Shadow Line, The Honorable Woman), weighty complex dramas with amazing casts tackling inscrutable global conspiracies. And Black Earth Rising is no different, as it puts the Rwandan genocide and its aftermath under the microscope, examining Western colonial and capitalist attitudes towards Africa along with the role of the Iinternational Criminal Court.
And with a cast led by Michaela Coel, Noma Dumezweni, Harriet Walter, John Goodman and Lucian Msamati to name just a few, it is naturally eminently watchable. Coel plays Kate Ashby, a young woman with a complicated relationship with her barrister mother Eve (Walter). Eve adopted Kate from Rwanda years back but her decision to take on a case prosecuting a Tutsi general who, after helping end the genocide, went on to commit war crimes in neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, outrages Kate who is also Tutsi.
Continue reading “TV Review: Black Earth Rising”
The National Theatre has today announced further productions that will be streamed live on YouTube every Thursday at 7PM BST via the National Theatre’s YouTube channel as part of National Theatre at Home; the new initiative to bring content to the public in their homes during the Coronavirus outbreak. The titles announced today include productions from partner theatres which were previously broadcast to cinemas by National Theatre Live. Continue reading “News: National Theatre at Home Phase 3”
James Graham’s Quiz makes a marvellous leap from stage to screen
“People still want to gather as a nation, to experience something big together”
Not a huge amount to say about the TV adaptation of James Graham’s Quiz, a show I enjoyed in the West End, not least because of its interactive elements (even if we lost). It bloomed in the televisual treatment, losing a little of its structural intricacy but gaining a narrative through-line that really worked, the explosive arrival of Helen McCrory’s QC making it worth the while. And the story remains as intriguing as ever, though just as free from doubt for me.
They totally did it, right – the Ingrams may have been stitched up in court by the tinkered-with evidence (and credit to Matthew Mcfadyen and Sian Clifford for two excellent performances) – but they totally did it. Fun to see cameos like Paul Bazeley’s Lionel from Legal and Maggie Service’s Kerry the Floor Manager, and original cast members like Sarah Woodward and Keir Charle too.
Arriving on the big screen four years later, Spooks: The Greater Good does little to make the case for its existence
“You can do good, or do well”
Arriving some four years after the end of the TV series, Spooks: The Greater Good was an ill-advised coda to the Spooks experiment, leaving writers Jonathan Brackley and Sam Vincent at the helm despite the decidedly mixed results of their ascension to head writers on the show (poor Lucas).
Cinemas are hardly calling out for new spy franchises yet there’s an added sense of ‘what’s the point’ as along with the four year wait, there’s a story with no real connection to the 10 series that preceded it, and a cast sprinkled with the characters who survived but which prioritises brand new ones. Continue reading “Film Review: Spooks: The Greater Good (2015)”
Series 5 of Peaky Blinders plots a particularly dark path for Tommy Shelby but leaves a little too much up in the air – spoilers abound
“It was a consequence of good intentions”
Getting Elliot Cowan into the new series of Peaky Blinders made my heart sing, getting him to play a closeted gay journalist was just gilding the lily, so naturally he didn’t make it past the end of the first episodes. Such are the ways that this show breaks your heart.
As the race through the years carries on apace, we’re now in the time of the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the rise of fascism with the arrival of Oswald Mosley, and these two points are the main drivers of this fifth series. The recalibration of the family business to cover their losses, and Tommy’s burgeoning political career serving his increasingly varied ambition. Continue reading “TV Review: Peaky Blinders Series 5”