Review: Royal Court’s Living Newspaper #4

Raj Bajaj, Jason Barnett, Genesis Lynea, and Gloria Obianyo impress in the Royal Court’s Living Newspaper #4

Crisis after crisis we persist

Tackling, among other things, Black Lives Matter, Reclaim the Streets and the ongoing fury at the Tory government, the fourth edition of the Royal Court’s Living Newspaper burns with the spirit of protest. And on the front page Crisis After Crisis We Persist, Raj Bajaj, Jason Barnett, Genesis Lynea, and Gloria Obianyo capture this raucous, almost rowdy, emotionality with skill.

Elsewhere, the tension between the newspaper format and the range of content emerges as something a little curious. Annie Siddons and Rachel Nwokoro’s Wisdom Cards noodles around tarot card readings rather aimlessly whereas Stef Smith’s Confit is a fascinating look at Scottish identity and politics. It speaks to the model, that it doesn’t really matter if there’s sections you’re not keen on, as with an IRL newspaper, you don’t have to read every page…

Photos: Isha Shah
Living Newspaper #4 is streaming via the Royal Court until 18th April

News: writers and cast for Living Newspaper #4

Bukky Bakray, Stacey Gregg, Tanika Gupta, Ellie Kendrick, Sabrina Mahfouz, Nathaniel Martello-White, Eoin McAndrew, Caitlin McEwan, Rachel Nwokoro, Annie Siddons, Stef Smith, Caro Black Tam, Ed Thomas, and Michael Wynne will write Edition 4 of the Royal Court’s Living Newspaper.

A sideways look at the people who govern us. A space for protest. Because we can’t party without protest and we can’t heal without it either.

Edition 4 will feature Rishi Sunak as your romantic Indian soap hero, sign language interpreters prepping for a Covid briefing at the Northern Irish Assembly, a teenager watching the End SARS protests play out on Instagram, a love letter to Nicola Sturgeon, an internet boy who becomes a museum piece, an unravelling of Peruvian independence day celebrations and a box office supervisor who tells it like it is. Continue reading “News: writers and cast for Living Newspaper #4”

27th Screen Actors Guild Awards nominees

Film
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Riz Ahmed – Sound of Metal as Ruben Stone
Chadwick Boseman – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom as Levee Green (posthumous nomination)
Anthony Hopkins – The Father as Anthony
Gary Oldman – Mank as Herman J. Mankiewicz
Steven Yeun – Minari as Jacob Yi

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Amy Adams – Hillbilly Elegy as Beverly “Bev” Vance
Viola Davis – Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom as Ma Rainey
Vanessa Kirby – Pieces of a Woman as Martha Weiss
Frances McDormand – Nomadland as Fern
Carey Mulligan – Promising Young Woman as Cassandra “Cassie” Thomas Continue reading “27th Screen Actors Guild Awards nominees”

TV Review: Jonathan Creek, Series 5

Series 5 of Jonathan Creek is an ignominious end to a show that started out so well

“Why do I know I’m going to regret this”

It started with the 2013 Easter special but the refresh of Jonathan Creek that characterises Series 5 is a spectacular misfire. Jonathan leaving the world of magic is understandable but making him a mid-level advertising executive is just baffling. And that’s before you add in the wife who appears from nowhere, Sarah Alexander’s Polly, and  a move to the countryside to a rural village.

It’s a reset that makes little sense – there is ZERO chemistry between Jonathan and Polly and little evidence to convince of their relationship especially as he now directs his patronising non-explanations at her – and ultimately adds little value. The village setting adds a Midsomer Murders/Marple-ish vibe to the mystery solving which detracts from its USP and also means that there has to be increasingly convoluted ways in which to fold Jonathan back into the world of impossible crimes that he’s ostensibly left behind.

All told, there’s too little sense of fun about the whole enterprise, writer David Renwick’s inspiration perchance finally running dry unlike his continued misogynistic tendencies. An ignominious end to a series that started out so well. Continue reading “TV Review: Jonathan Creek, Series 5”

News: new Netflix show Bridgerton sets its premiere date

I was already looking forward to the new Shondaland show Bridgerton, but these preview pics are really whetting the appetite. I mean, Jonathan Bailey…*insert falls over emoji*

 

Bridgerton will premiere on Netflix from 25th December

Review: The Visit or The Old Lady Comes to Call, National Theatre

Any opportunity to see Lesley Manville on stage should be taken but The Visit or The Old Lady Comes to Call proves close to a trial at the National Theatre

“We’re alive now only in the sense that moss and lichen are alive”

There’s no two ways about it – Tony Kushner’s new version of Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s 1956 The Visit or The Old Lady Comes to Call is a punishing evening on the buttocks. Thank the Lord (or the donors) for the relative comfort of the seating at the National Theatre but unless you’re a fan of Lesley Manville (and what right-thinking individual isn’t), it could well prove punishing on your patience too. 

Manville really is superb. She’s Claire Zachanassian, the richest woman in the world who has returned to her dilapidated hometown with an intriguing proposition for the townsfolk. She’ll donate an incredible, life-changing amount of money for everyone if they’ll carry out a brutal act of vengeance on the man whose actions forced her to leave the place as a pregnant teenager. And she rises to the challenge, displaying a mesmerising stage presence that is startling in its power. Continue reading “Review: The Visit or The Old Lady Comes to Call, National Theatre”

20 shows to look forward to in 2020

I look ahead to some of the 2020 shows exciting me most with an emphasis away from the West End, looking mostly instead at the London fringe and across the UK 

Sure, there’s all sorts of big ticket shows coming to London in 2020 (with big ticket prices too to go with their big names), like Sunday in the Park with George with Jake Gyllenhaal, Sister Act with Whoopi Goldberg, A Doll’s House with Jessica Chastain. But there’s so much more to discover if you venture away from Shaftesbury Avenue…

1 The Glass Menagerie, Odéon–Théâtre de l’Europe at the Barbican
Not that I want to be predictable at all but Isabelle Huppert! Acting in French! Right in front of you! I understand that van Hove-fatigue might be setting in for people but only a FOOL would pass up the chance to see one of our greatest living actors. A FOOL! 

2 The Glass Menagerie, Royal Exchange
And if you wanted to do a direct compare and contrast, Atri Banerjee’s revival for the Royal Exchange will be worth checking out too for an alternative perspective. 

3 The Wicker Husband, Watermill
Even before Benjamin Button tore my heart apart, I was excited for the arrival of this new musical by Rhys Jennings and Darren Clark but now, the bar has been raised even higher. And the gorgeous intimacy of the Watermill feels like a perfect fit.


4 Children of Nora, Internationaal Theater Amsterdam
Me: “I don’t need any more Ibsen in my life”
Also me: Robert Icke revisiting the world of A Doll’s House through the eyes of the next generation? Yes please.

5 Romantics Anonymous, Bristol Old Vic
I don’t think I thought this delicious Koomin and Dimond musical would ever actually return, so this short run in the UK ahead of a US tour feels like a real blessing. Now where did I put my badge?
Continue reading “20 shows to look forward to in 2020”

News: new productions and casting updates for the National Theatre

Jessie Buckley and Josh O’Connor headline a new production of Romeo and Juliet, while Callum Scott Howells and Rosie Sheehy star in Gary Owen’s Romeo and Julie, among other big news from the National Theatre

New productions

Simon Godwin returns to the National Theatre to direct Shakespeare’s ROMEO & JULIET following his critically-acclaimed productions of Antony and Cleopatra and Twelfth Night in the Olivier Theatre. Set in modern Italy in a world where Catholic and secular values clash, Jessie Buckley (Wild Rose, Judy) and Josh O’Connor (The Crown, God’s Own Country) play the two young lovers who strive to transcend a world of violence and corruption. Fisayo Akinade (The Antipodes, Barber Shop Chronicles) is cast as Mercutio. The production will open in the Olivier Theatre in August 2020.

Set and costume design by Soutra Gilmour, lighting design by Lucy Carter, composition by Michael Bruce and sound design by Christopher Shutt. Continue reading “News: new productions and casting updates for the National Theatre”

Review: Instructions for Correct Assembly, Royal Court

Some stunning design work elevates new play Instructions for Correct Assembly at the Royal Court

“Of course they’re a bit more unreliable, these flatpack ones”

Instructions for Thomas Eccleshare’s Instructions for Correct Assembly

Step 1

Take a Verity Bargate Award-winning (for Pastoral) playwright and give him his Royal Court debut with a gently futuristic play about families and failures and robot surrogates.

Step 2

Find a director with real previous in quirky stagings at the Royal Court (Goats, Who Cares, Teh Internet is Serious Business) and a designer up for the challenge of maintaining the ingenious and striking look of current main house productions with its middle-class modernity.

Step 3

Up the ante by introducing illusionist Paul Kieve into the mix to put together some properly mind-boggling trickery and have a crack stage management team under Kate Aisling Jones’ leadership support actor Brian Vernel in accomplishing said illusions.

Step 4

Pull together a top-notch cast including the always good Mark Bonnar (returning to the stage after six years) and the wonderful Jane Horrocks.
Continue reading “Review: Instructions for Correct Assembly, Royal Court”

Review: Saint George and the Dragon, National Theatre

“You hunt them where they live”

There’s something interesting about a community that can simultaneously urge the need to talk constructively about failure and also gloat endlessly about the its possibility. Where the National Theatre is concerned, the stakes feel considerably heightened and following a summer that contained the divisive Salomé and Common, sadly you could almost feel the knives being sharpened in advance for Saint George and the Dragon.

Two contrasting viewpoints from two contrasting people, to be sure, but you wonder how open-minded people are being, particularly when the start to this press night was delayed by 30 minutes or so adding fuel to certain people’s fire. But all this dancing around is doing, is delaying the inevitable, in that I found Rory Mullarkey’s new play really quite tough-going and had it not been for an effortful performance from John Heffernan keeping it afloat from the front, it would have been worse. Continue reading “Review: Saint George and the Dragon, National Theatre”