Review: The Windsors – Endgame, Prince of Wales Theatre

Sadly a case of theatricus horribilis, The Windsors: Endgame proves a disappointing TV adaptation at the Prince of Wales Theatre

“I send you my very best wishes”

It almost feels to obvious to say it but given how often it seems to happen, it’s gotta be done – adapting a half-hour TV show to a 2 hours plus stage show (or film, for that matter) is difficult, you gotta have a real sense of purpose about why you’re doing it. Too often, there’s the feeling that it can be treated as an extended TV episode or even accorded less respect than that, meaning success is often hard to come by.

Which is all a longwinded way of saying I really didn’t enjoy The Windsors: Endgame, currently occupying the Prince of Wales Theatre while the Book of Mormon guys make their way back from Uganda. Though it is written by the same guys George Jeffrie and Bert Tyler-Moore (Jeffries having sadly passed away last year), it loses so much of the magic of the TV show, not least in recasting more than three quarters of the main roles. Continue reading “Review: The Windsors – Endgame, Prince of Wales Theatre”

London theatre update for June

The Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company has announced that tickets are on sale for a brand new production of Terence Rattigan’s much loved play The Browning Version. The production will play for 3 weeks at Riverside Studios from 5 – 29 August with Branagh directing. Tickets are available now from branagh-theatre.com.

The cast is made up of all RADA graduates with Branagh playing Andrew Crocker-Harris. He will be joined by Kemi Awoderu (Taplow), Joseph Kloska (Frank Hunter), Lolita Chakrabarti (Millie Crocker-Harris), Wendy Kweh (Dr Frobisher), Victor Alli (Peter Gilbert) and Sarah Eve (Mrs Gilbert).

The production will be designed by Frankie Bradshaw, Lighting Design will be by Paul Pyant and Sound Design by Emma Laxton. Continue reading “London theatre update for June”

TV Review: Fleabag Series 2

Flying against the wind with this I know, but the second series of Fleabag leaves me rather cold…

“I think you’ve played with my guinea pig long enough”

I’m not sure why I’ve never succumbed to the Fleabag love that has swept the nation. Whether onstage or on screen, Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s magnus opus has never quite done it for me but what do I know – the return of the show, to a West End theatre no less, sold out quickly and the column inches about this second series of the TV show have been mounting up.

And ever the contrarian, this follow-up hasn’t really tickled my fancy either. The one thing that I think it did brilliantly was in its use of the fourth wall, particularly how Andrew Scott’s hot vicar was able to see through it for the loneliness avoidance technique it was and for pure storytelling, I thought it worked very well in terms of humanising a character who has always been rather arch. Continue reading “TV Review: Fleabag Series 2”

24th Critics’ Choice Awards winners

Best Picture
Roma
Black Panther
BlacKkKlansman
The Favourite
First Man
Green Book
If Beale Street Could Talk
Mary Poppins Returns
A Star Is Born
Vice

Best Director
Alfonso Cuarón – Roma
Damien Chazelle – First Man
Bradley Cooper – A Star Is Born
Peter Farrelly – Green Book
Yorgos Lanthimos – The Favourite
Spike Lee – BlacKkKlansman
Adam McKay – Vice Continue reading “24th Critics’ Choice Awards winners”

Film Review: The Favourite (2018)

Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite offers up a thoroughly human approach to history and three cracking performances from Olivia Colman, Emma Stone and Rachel Weisz

“Don’t shout at me, I am the Queen”

It may seem like casting directors have forgotten that there are other actresses available alongside Olivia Colman but when the work she produces is this irresistible, you can’t help but indulge them. But though she is being pushed as the lead of Yorgos Lanthimos’ The Favourite, it is important to note that she eagerly shares that spotlight with both Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone.

Which is unique enough for Hollywood in general, never mind a mainstream historical film. But here, Lanthimos completely upends convention to produce something unique, compelling and utterly significant. The history of Queen Anne’s reign may be less of an unknown quantity to recent theatregoers although nothing there will have prepared anyone for the affecting and effective novelty of this approach.   Continue reading “Film Review: The Favourite (2018)”

24th Critics’ Choice Awards nominees

Best Picture
BlacKkKlansman
Black Panther
The Favourite

First Man
Green Book
If Beale Street Could Talk
Mary Poppins Returns
Roma
A Star Is Born

Vice

Best Director
Damien Chazelle – First Man
Bradley Cooper – A Star Is Born
Alfonso Cuarón – Roma
Peter Farrelly – Green Book
Yorgos Lanthimos – The Favourite
Spike Lee – BlacKkKlansman
Adam McKay – Vice Continue reading “24th Critics’ Choice Awards nominees”

TV Review: Fleabag

“I have a horrible feeling that I’m a greedy, perverted, selfish, apathetic, cynical, depraved, morally bankrupt woman who can’t even call herself a feminist”

I left it a little while to watch Fleabag on television, for though Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s ascension to the ranks of hugely buzzworthy writer has been pleasing to watch, I haven’t – dare I say it – always been the hugest fan of her work. For me, the effectiveness of her writing hasn’t always matched with the audacity of its frankness and so in her plays and TV shows like Crashing, I’ve admired the path she’s taking without hugely enjoying it.

Her breakthrough piece Fleabag equally didn’t hit my buttons in the way that it did for many others, thus my delay in getting round to watching it. And as is often the case with lowered expectations, it actually surprised me by being a very effective adaptation of the play. Its world has been expanded, both physically and personally, a whole cast of supporting characters now appear but crucially, there’s the thing I was missing most at the Soho – direct eye contact. Continue reading “TV Review: Fleabag”

The 2015 Ian Charleson Awards

First prize
James McArdle
, for Platonov in Platonov (Chichester Festival Theatre)

Second prize
Elliot Barnes-Worrell, for Straker in Man and Superman (National Theatre)

Third prize
Freddie Fox
, for Romeo in Romeo and Juliet (Sheffield Crucible)

Commendations
Joel MacCormack, for Orestes in The Oresteia (Shakespeare’s Globe)
Ken Nwosu, for Silvius in As You Like It (National Theatre)
Jack Colgrave Hirst, for Clown in The Winter’s Tale (Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company at the Garrick Theatre)
Joshua James, for Konstantin in The Seagull and Nikolai in Platonov (Chichester Festival Theatre)
Emily Barber, for Imogen in Cymbeline (Shakespeare’s Globe)
Jenny Rainsford, for Miss Prue in Love for Love (Royal Shakespeare Company)
Jessica Baglow, for Marina in Pericles (Shakespeare’s Globe)
Jessica Brown Findlay, for Elektra in Oresteia (Almeida Theatre and Trafalgar Studios)

DVD Review: Da Vinci’s Demons Series 1

“War has always been the handmaiden of progress”

From its opening moments of buttocks and blood (both belonging to an uncredited Hugh Bonneville if that floats your boat), it’s clear that Da Vinci’s Demons is going to have its fun whilst playing fast and loose with the early life of its subject, Florentine polymath Leonardo Da Vinci. Conceived by David S Goyer and a co-production between Starz and BBC Worldwide, it’s a good-natured romp of a drama series much in the mould of Merlin, Atlantis or the lamented Sinbad but perhaps tied a little closer to reality as it dips in and out of the tangled history of the Italian city states. 

And it is its historical connections that serves as a main driver for the technological innovations for which Leonardo is famed and which form the ‘issue of the week’ around which most of the episodes hang. So as Da Vinci climbs into bed with the ruling Medici family, he’s sucked into their political machinations whilst battling rival families in Florence and the ever-present threat of the Catholic Church in Rome. Alongside this sits a more fantastical series-long arc about the mystical Book of Leaves and the Sons of Mithras who believe Da Vinci has only just begun to tap into his true power. Continue reading “DVD Review: Da Vinci’s Demons Series 1”

Review: The Rivals, Arcola Theatre

“Through all the drama — whether damned or not —Love gilds the scene, and women guide the plot.”

The main beauty of Selina Cadell’s production of Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s evergreen The Rivals is her mastery of the Restoration form which sees no fourth wall separating players and punters. So on taking the stage, her actors acknowledge the audience in their own ways – awkward bows, tacit nods, arched eyebrows – and continue to address us throughout, an expositionary monologue here, an announcement of the scene’s location there, a gossipy aside everywhere. What really makes it work though is the warmth and wit with which the company fold us into its welcoming arms.

With a wicked glint in her eye and wryly pursed lips, an extravagantly dressed Gemma Jones ensures her Mrs Malaprop reaches the very pineapple of her comic potential and with no less captivating humour, Nicholas Le Prevost makes even the lewdest of Sir Anthony Absolute’s comments a hilarious part of his incorrigible charm. They have decided that her niece Lydia Languish and his son Captain Jack Absolute are an ideal match but young Lydia – an outrageous Jenny Rainsford who plays her on the edge of sanity to hugely entertaining effect – has her heart set on the romantic, and penniless, hero of her dreams. Continue reading “Review: The Rivals, Arcola Theatre”