Film Review: Cruella (2021)

Emma Stone and Emma Thompson have lots of fun in the entertaining Cruella, which is only just a little bit too long

“Darling, if I’m going to need to repeat myself a lot, this isn’t going to work out”

There’s something a little curious about a film that simultaneously wants to highlight one of cinema’s most iconic villains yet also neuter her most defining attributes. So we can rest assured that no dalmatians are harmed in the telling of this story (or presumably making of this movie) nor is there a cigarette holder to be seen. So what’s left for Cruella to do?

A fair amount as it turns out. Craig Gillespie’s film finds an origin tale for her in 1970s London (story by Aline Brosh McKenna, Kelly Marcel, and Steve Zissis), locating her at the vanguard of the nascent punk movement (or at least a Disneyfied version of it). It’s a nifty move that forefronts her creative endeavours, whilst adding to a notorious canon of fashion geniuses gone ‘woo-hoo’. Continue reading “Film Review: Cruella (2021)”

TV Review: Bridgerton Series 1

So much to love in the uninhibited Series 1 of Bridgerton, not least the most perfect of roles for the brilliant Adjoa Andoh as Lady Danbury

“If I were truly courting you, I would not need flowers, only five minutes alone with you in a drawing room”

Created by Chris Van Dusen and inspired by Julia Quinn’s Regency era-set novels, the much heralded Bridgerton arrives on Netflix with the most excitement arguably reserved for the presence of producer Shonda Rhimes. And it’s a presence that we feel rightaway as this version of Regency London is a racially integrated one, starting with Queen Charlotte being a mixed-race woman and trickling down through all levels of society.

It’s a simple innovation but still a radical one in its execution here, of course it took an American woman to do it! The best thing about it is that it offers up a range of roles for actors who might not normally get a look-in – Golda Rosheuvel as Her Majesty, Regé-Jean Page as the Duke of Hastings and best of all for me, Adjoa Andoh as the deliciously wry Lady Danbury. And as with Nikki Amuka-Bird in the recent David Copperfield film, there’s a general sense of knocking it out of the park and regret that it has taken this long. Continue reading “TV Review: Bridgerton Series 1”

TV Review: Bridgerton Episodes 1 + 2

Episodes 1 + 2 set the tone for something rather raucous and raunchy with new period drama Bridgerton definitely doing things differently 

“If this is to work, we must appear madly in love”

Just a quickie as the whole of series one of Bridgerton has now landed on Netflix but who know when I’ll actually get round to watching it all, not least because it is probably advisable to ration the amount of Jonathan Bailey sexiness that exudes all over episodes 1 and 2. See below for receipts!

But on the evidence of these first two episodes, it looks set to be a huge amount of fun, though less of a ‘watching with your parents’ kinda show than I thought perhaps it might be. Created by Chris Van Dusen and produced by Shonda Rhimes, it is sexy and sprightly and showcasing some great acting talent. Definitely recommended.


TV Review: Ted Lasso, Series 1

A giant warm hug of a show that really shouldn’t be as good as it is, Ted Lasso is a huge success that deserves more people watching it. Also, Hannah Waddingham!

“Hell I’m coaching soccer for heaven’s sake, in London”

Well who saw this coming? Apple TV’s original programming can often seem a bit random so on the face of it, a series based on a character created by US actor Jason Sudeikis for adverts for the American coverage of the Premier League fits right into their wide stable. But Ted Lasso actually emerges as an outrageously successful underdog comedy that is far more than just a football show.

Sudeikis plays the title character, an American football coach with an indefatigably optimistic personality who is hired by Premier League strugglers AFC Richmond despite his inexperience with real football. It turns out that the recently divorced owner has done it in order to sabotage the beloved club of her ex-husband but naturally, his easy charm can’t help but start to win everyone over. Continue reading “TV Review: Ted Lasso, Series 1”

Review: Snapshot, Hope Theatre

“I wouldn’t know what to do in a darkroom”

Budding (and broke) photographer James and his relationship dramas lie at the heart of George Johnston’s new play Snapshot. His barely-out banker boyfriend Daniel pays the lion’s share of the bills but has problems sharing his feelings, his new benefactor Frank has as many designs on being a sugar daddy as a genuine supporter, and old college friend and aspiring actor Olivia can’t keep away either. 

Structurally, there’s an interesting idea in the play as short scene follows short scene – flashing like the titular snapshots – and providing a non-linear jigsaw to piece together. But James McAndrew’s production loses it in the transitions, more interlude-like than immediate and highlighting the fragmented fragility of the storytelling. Continue reading “Review: Snapshot, Hope Theatre”

Review: The Wild Party, Hope

“Queenie was a blonde, and her age stood still”

Joseph Moncure March’s narrative poem managed the remarkable feat of having two musical adaptations thereof running in the same year in New York, one of which – by Michael John LaChiusa – will be the first show in the newly rebranded The Other Palace next month. Getting in early though is Mingled Yarn Theatre Company with their own cabaret-influenced interpretation of The Wild Party, running now at The Hope Theatre.

It is musical, rather than a musical, as the show opens with a marvelously sultry take on Britney Spears’ ‘Toxic’ delivered by the supremely confident Anna Clarke (a performer so good you suspect she must have some Strallen blood!). And as she’s joined by Joey Akubeze, we’re soon whisked away into the decadent world of vaudeville turns Queenie and Burrs and their fabulously louche but fatally lustful lifestyle, complete with aggressive fruit-eating. Continue reading “Review: The Wild Party, Hope”