Review: Crips Without Constraints Part 2

Graeae’s Crips Without Constraints Part 2 shows off UK Deaf and disabled artists firing brilliantly on all creative cylinders

“I think this could be the biggest challenge of my career”

Graeae’s Crips Without Constraints Part 2 feels like a great shot in the arm for those who might be tiring of the Zoom format that characterises so much of what new theatre we’re able to get at this moment in time. All five short plays in this collection have been written by alumni from Graeae’Write to Play programme and are directed by upcoming disabled directors. truly celebrating celebrating the best talent and creativity of UK Deaf and disabled artists.

What is particularly impressive is the way in which that talent matches up to the more established names taking part here. Just look at how Mandy Colleran squares up to Harriet Walter’s condescending actor in Kellan Frankland’s How Do You Make A Cup of Tea?, skewering the lie about who gets the opportunity to portray disability onstage or onscreen. Or the way Saida Ahmed’s incredible performance equals the magnificent Sharon D Clarke’s for emotional intensity in The Gift by Leanna Benjamin, as a mother and daughter attempt to deal with some hard-hitting truths. Continue reading “Review: Crips Without Constraints Part 2”

News: Crips Without Constraints Part 2 further casting announced

Crips Without Constraints Part 2, which runs from January to February this year, comprises five brand new short plays celebrating the best talent and creativity of Deaf and disabled artists from across the UK. 

Having released the first two plays, How Do You Make a Cup of Tea starring Dame Harriet Walter and Mandy Colleran (comedy duo No Excuses) and Flowers For The Chateau starring Naomi Wirthner (The Doctor – Almeida & West End) and Julie Graham (Benidorm – ITV, Doctor Who – BBC), Graeae continues the series on February 2 with The Gift starring Sharon D Clarke (Death of a Salesman – Young Vic, Holby City – BBC) and Saida Ahmed (Notes to Forgotten She-Wolves – Shakespeare’s Globe). The company can also reveal today that Sharon Duncan-Brewster (Years and Years – BBC1, Sex Education – Netflix) will be joining the line-up which also includes Cherylee Houston(Coronation Street) and Alex James.

The new plays, all bold and brilliant duologues, are written by Leanna Benjamin, Rebekah BowsherKaren FeatherstoneKellan Frankland and Jessica Lovett, all alumni from Graeae’s Write to Play programme, covering topics from sibling rivalry to death by post stick notes.  Additionally this year, the pieces will all be directed by upcoming disabled  directors Stephen BaileyHana Pascal KeeganCheryl MartinAlex Whiteley and Lilac Yosiphon

TV Review: Doctor Who – Revolution of the Daleks

Teed up as the big farewell for two companions, Revolution of the Daleks was still a treat as Doctor Who returned to the festive schedule

“Sometimes we get a bit scared cos new can be a bit scary, right?”

Just a quickie for this perennial favourite. Doctor Who was quite lucky in that they got their Christmas episode in the can in good time pre-pandemic, it was actually filmed back in 2019 when Covid was but a Chinese whisper. And the way of these things as they are these days, we already knew that Revolution of the Daleks would mark the end of the TARDIS journeys for two of her current companions – would we get an Adric-style death to take us into 2021?

Spoiler alert, of course not. Ryan and Graham got to go back to Sheffield no problem, complete with psychic paper mementos, and even Sharon D Clarke’s Grace came back to welcome them home, well her ghost did at least. Dramatically it might not have been the punchiest way to go but in the end, it felt like the right thing to do , reflecting the relative normality of the ‘fam’ and their inter-relationships. Continue reading “TV Review: Doctor Who – Revolution of the Daleks”

TV Review: The Spanish Princess, Series 2

Laura Carmichael emerges as a late MVP in the second instalment of Philippa Gregory’s The Spanish Princess

“Maybe we could have some lemon cake”

Based on the Philippa Gregory novels The Constant Princess and The King’s Curse, The Spanish Princess was split into two chunks of eight episodes by Starz, a decision which might have made sense for them but didn’t quite come off dramatically. Losing heavy hitters Henry VII and Margaret Beaufort leaves something of a vacuum which is never really replaced as we enter the final straits of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon’s marriage.

I’m not someone who gets particularly hung up on notions of historical accuracy, particularly with accounts of events of 500 years ago. And when you’re talking about about a Gregory-inspired version which races through 14 years in 8 episodes. that goes double. What is more of an issue here is the fact that Charlotte Hope’s portrayal of Catherine doesn’t really change, physically or emotionally, so that she feels the same as a teenager as she does the 40 year old we end with. Continue reading “TV Review: The Spanish Princess, Series 2”

TV Review: The Spanish Princess, Series 1

Series 1 of Philippa Gregory’s The Spanish Princess introduces Elliot Cowan and Harriet Walter to the mix with great success

“I won’t be passed around Europe like a colection plate”

Following on from The White Princess, The Spanish Princess is based on the Philippa Gregory novels The Constant Princess and The King’s Curse, and the first instalment of eight episodes tackles the arrival of Catherine of Aragon to England to meet the man she has been betrothed to since they were both children, Arthur, heir apparent to Henry VII.

The biggest problem, aside from the weather and the racism (members of her court had Moorish and descent), is that the epistolary courtship that had so wooed her teenage heart, was actually written by his younger brother Henry…plot twist. But when Arthur died young, it meant that the plan for peace between England and Spain could still be found in another marriage. Continue reading “TV Review: The Spanish Princess, Series 1”

News: Tristram Kenton’s stage archive – the before-they-were-famous edition

One of the joys of seeing so much theatre in London is that sense of seeing any number of actors at the beginning of their careers and Tristram Kenton has been doing that for years now. Here’s just some of those big names as whippersnappers on the British stage:
https://www.theguardian.com/stage/gallery/2020/nov/11/before-they-were-famous-stars-tristram-kenton-at-the-guardian-in-pictures

Photos: Tristram Kenton

TV Review: Messiah – The Harrowing (2005)

Helen McCrory and Maxine Peake help elevate Messiah – The Harrowing to arguably the series’ devastatingly effective high point

“See beyond the victim, see the killer”

The first series of Messiah is certainly one of the best, setting the wheels in motion for an effective crime series, but I’d argue that it is the fourth instalment Messiah – The Harrowing that is the best of them all. The arrival of a new writer – Terry Cafolla – releases the show from the baggage of its legacy which seemed to weigh the last series one and produces something that is really, well, harrowing.

Harking back to that first series and its connecting device of people being killed in the style of the Apostles, the murderous connection here ends up being Dante’s The Divine Comedy and its descent into hell. And weighted around the death by suicide of the daughter of one of their colleagues, Red and his team (with Maxine Peake’s DS Clarke now in for a retired Kate) find themselves once again up against the darkest parts of human nature. Continue reading “TV Review: Messiah – The Harrowing (2005)”

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”