Film review: Downton Abbey (2019)

Baron Fellowes of West Stafford stretches not a single muscle in pumping out more of the same in the tiresomely dull Downton Abbey the movie

“I want everything to stop being a struggle”

To crib the tagline of a certain jukebox musical (here we go again…) you already know whether you’re a fan of Downton Abbey the movie. By any stretch of the imagination, it is just an extension of the TV series and so is guaranteed to maintain that same level of comfort that you have always got from the Granthams et al, whether that’s good or bad.

For me, it means a thoroughly unchallenging film and one which proves increasingly dull. (For reference, I’ve only ever seen (some of) the Christmas Day episodes as my parents are fans.) The hook of the film is that it is now 1927 and King George V and Queen Mary are coming to stay for the evening and heavens to Betsy, we’re all of a dither. Continue reading “Film review: Downton Abbey (2019)”

Review: As You Like It, Southwark Playhouse

“Ay sir, I have a pretty wit”

There’s a huge amount to enjoy in Derek Bond’s cheerful interpretation of Shakespeare’s As You Like It, not least the multifarious showers of confetti from the sky, Audrey as you’ve never seen her before and a beautiful score by Jude Obermüller that is performed live onstage by the cast. Set loosely in the early part of the twentieth century and somewhere in the English countryside, this is a production to put a smile on the face of audiences of all ages at the Southwark Playhouse.

It takes a little while to get there though. The opening of the play grinds through the set-up of the key personnel – Duke Frederick has kicked out his brother Duke Senior and then latterly his niece Rosalind, Oliver has kicked out his brother Orlando who has the serious hots for Rosalind who is now disguised as a man, and everyone is roaming around the Forest of Arden. There’s something a little perfunctory about the way this first act plays out – the pieces are all there but they don’t quite click in the way they should yet. Continue reading “Review: As You Like It, Southwark Playhouse”

Review: Twelfth Night, Shakespeare on 3

“Oh had I but followed the arts”

Joining in the veritable orgy of Bard love that is currently going on, the BBC’s Shakespeare Unlocked season has a wide-ranging programme of features, not least three radio productions of his plays by the Drama on 3 team, two of which are cross-cast from the same company which was full of names I like and was keen to hear. First up was Sally Avens’ Twelfth Night, probably most notable for casting David Tennant as Malvolio.

I haven’t ever just listened to a Shakespeare play before, and though I wasn’t doubting the poetry of Shakespeare’s words, I did wonder what effect removing the visual, and Twelfth Night is a very visual play, would have on the whole. Knowing the play fairly well was both a blessing and a curse in some ways – little was ever likely to surprise me and I had no sense of what this would be like for a first-time-listener, but that knowledge also meant I could relax a little rom trying to work out what was going on. And fortunately, a cast of great experience and talent meant that the thrusting of the language front and centre was a largely successful exercise. Continue reading “Review: Twelfth Night, Shakespeare on 3”

The 2011 Manchester Theatre Awards nominations

OPERA
Albert Herring, Royal Northern College of Music
Gianni Schicchi, English Touring Opera, Buxton Opera House
Lucia di Lammermoor, Clonter Opera
The Portrait, Opera North, The Lowry
Utopia Ltd, Gilbert & Sullivan Festival, Buxton Opera House

DANCE
Carlos Acosta, The Lowry
Cinderella, Birmingham Royal Ballet,The Lowry
Danish Dance Theatre, Triple Bill, The Lowry
Richard Alston Dance Company, Triple Bill, The Lowry Continue reading “The 2011 Manchester Theatre Awards nominations”