TV Review: Twenty Twelve (Series 1)

The enduring lightness and laughter of Series 1 of Twenty Twelve make it an ideal lockdown watch

“OK. Here’s the thing. OK? The thing is… OK. Here’s the thing with this. OK. The thing is…”

Though it is actually nearly a decade ago now, 2011 does seem like another lifetime. And it is worth remembering too that pre-Olympics, many of us (particularly those who live and work in the capital) were sceptical about what havoc the 2012 Games would bring (I had a whole meeting about how dedicated traffic lanes would impact on some training I was meant to be running…).

Into this unknown, mockumentary Twenty Twelve – written and directed by John Morton – was broadcast (on BBC Four natch, those sceptics abounded) to coincide with the 500-day countdown to the opening ceremony. And a new British comedy classic was born, one which still holds up well now that things are, well, different. Continue reading “TV Review: Twenty Twelve (Series 1)”

Review: Father Comes Home From The Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3), Royal Court

“How much you think we’re gonna be worth when Freedom comes?”

There is scheduled to be at least another six parts to Suzan-Lori Parks’ ambitious play cycle but don’t let that put you off, the three hours of Father Comes Home From The Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3) are well spent in exploring race, slavery and the US civil war and how its pernicious legacy permeates through even to contemporary (US) society. Jo Bonney’s production is not always the easiest to watch but then how could it be, rather it seeks to provoke serious thought and consideration about what it meant – and what it still means – to be free.

To take on such a grand narrative and possibly to alleviate some of the intense seriousness, Parks has playfully borrowed from a range of storytelling techniques, most notably the Greeks, And through them establishes her interpretation of the African-American experience – the magpie nature of Emilio Sosa’s costume design with details both period and present-day, reinforcing the continuing relevance of its message.  Continue reading “Review: Father Comes Home From The Wars (Parts 1, 2 & 3), Royal Court”

Short Film Review: Out of Darkness

“I have hundreds of souls dancing inside of me.”

It’s hard to explain just how devastatingly moving Out of Darkness is. Written and directed by Manjinder Virk, it sees 9 people tell a story – the same story or maybe their own – the narrative is fragmented and shared by all. Ostensibly it is the same story, the varied experiences of death that an aid worker has gone through, but in the hands of this company, it is enriched, enhanced, expanded so that it does feel different in each of their hands.

And what a cast Virk has assembled here, all shot from their head and shoulders – Tom Hiddleston may be the better known but my heart leapt to see Monica Dolan and Noma Dumezweni in there and in the stark black and white cinematography that makes the headshots feel like portraiture make it simply gorgeous to look at. Continue reading “Short Film Review: Out of Darkness”

Short Film Review #47

Eclipse Theatre’s 10by10 project was a series of short films “exploding the myth of a homogenised Black British culture”, all directed by Dawn Walton but written by and starring a wide range of some of our most exciting writers and performers. Filmed in 10 different cities across the UK, the hometowns of the playwrights in fact, and each shot in a single day, these make a fascinating insight into a wider cross-section of British society that perhaps is normally seen. Part 1 of 2.

Parking Wars

Representing for South London is Bola Agbaje’s Parking Wars, a short, sharp and ultimately sweet tale of the thing most likely to test religious harmony on a Sunday morning – parking spaces. Richard Pepple’s pastor and Danny Sapani’s imam preach in neighbouring rooms and are united by their annoyance as the sound of car horns and shouting from outside. And out there, is a challenge that would faze any man, no matter his religion – good fun.

  

Brown Widow

Leah Chillery’s entry for Nottingham is blessed with an exceptionally good performance from Vinette Robinson as the titular Brown Widow, Gee. Beautiful, and she knows it, opinionated, and she isn’t afraid to show it; naturally, she’s not quite everything she seems.

Black Magic

Best known for his enduring role in Holby City, Hugh Quarshie is rather good fun as an avuncular protector who stumbles on a young boy being chased by some bullies down a Leeds back street. Sprinkling some of his voodoo on them to scare ‘em off, he takes the lad home and introduces him to a side of his heritage he’s never known before. Ben Tagoe’s Black Magic may be one of the more slight pieces in this series, it is nevertheless still entertaining.

Rage

Written by Akala in verse, North London’s Rage toys cleverly with perceptions of black men in prison as Jimmy Akingbola’s poetic narration from his cell leads us up the wrong path and only slowly do we get to see the full picture as life from the outside – featuring Pippa Bennett-Warner and Michael Maloney – fill in the blanks and hit home hard.

Two-Tone

Arzhang Pezhman’s Two-Tone represents Wolverhampton in this enterprise and for the shallow part of me, is one of my favourites featuring as it does both Shane Zaza and Neet Mohan. But it is also one of the better films as it combines comedy and the serious, highly topical subject matter and dramatically-satisfying mystery. Recommended.