10 top theatrical moments of 2021

As distinct from my favourite shows of the year, this list celebrates the fact that sometimes the good and the not-so-good co-exist right next to each – some of my favourite moments.

For reference, here’s my 2020 list, 2019 list, 2018 list, 2017 list2016 list2015 list and 2014 list.

Helen McCrory, in memoriam
I still don’t really have the words to talk about how sad the passing of Helen McCrory is, such a favourite actor of mine for so long. But what was joyful was hearing the absolute esteem in which seemingly every one of her colleagues held her, a testament to the person as well as the performer.

Being scared, by women
After having declared that scary theatre just didn’t work for me, the Terrifying Women made me eat my words in quite some style with their Halloween special. Continue reading “10 top theatrical moments of 2021”

Plays update November 2021

Casting updates for the Young Vic’s Best of Enemies, Hampstead Theatre’s Peggy For You, audio drama Ghost Walk and the Royal Court’s A Fight Against…

The Young Vic has revealed the complete cast and creative team for James Graham’s bold new play Best of Enemiesdirected by Jeremy Herrin, in a co-production with Headlong.

1968 – a year of protest that divided America. As two men fight to become the next President, all eyes are on the battle between two others: the cunningly conservative William F Buckley Jr., and the iconoclastic liberal Gore Vidal. Beliefs are challenged and slurs slung as these political idols feud nightly in a new television format, debating the moral landscape of a shattered nation. Little do they know they’re about to open up a new frontier in American politics, and transform television news forever…

Charles Edwards plays Gore Vidal and David Harewood plays William F. Buckley Jr. The complete cast also includes Margo Cargill, Emilio Doorgasingh, Clare Foster, Tom Godwin, John Hodgkinson, Justina Kehinde, Syrus Lowe, Kevin McMonagle and Sam Otto. Continue reading “Plays update November 2021”

TV Review: The Long Call (ITV)

Gays. Juliet Stevenson. Anita Dobson. Sarah Gordy. The Long Call is practically tailor-made to my interests, and it’s also a pretty darn good TV show too

“Let’s find out if we’re dealing with a revenge killing”

With its soaringly emotive soundtrack and stunning vistas of the southern English coastline, you’d be forgiven for thinking The Long Call is something of a Broadchurch redux but its pedigree is actually something much more established. Novelist Ann Cleeves has seen two of her detective series be adapted into long-running TV shows – Vera and Shetland, both of which I’ve never seen and will doubtless get around to one day… – and so eyes are definitely on future possibilities here.

And featuring a gay male detective lead, who gets to snog his husband in the first episode no less, it is breaking boundaries (albeit the kind of ones you would have thought were broken a fair while ago). Ben Aldridge plays DI Matthew Venn, a policeman who is naturally being forced to confront his past at the same time as solving a crime which is somehow linked to that past. Raised in an Amish-like sect from whom he is now long estranged, the funeral of his father coincides with the discovery of a body on the beach and investigating the crime means dealing with his upbringing. Continue reading “TV Review: The Long Call (ITV)”

Radio review: Constellations / Elegy / The Meaning of Zong

Less reviews, more notifications that a wonderful radio version of Nick Payne’s Constellations is now available to listen to on Radio 3, starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw and George Mackay. It’s well worth your time but be warned, it could well lead to expensive splurges to see the four forthcoming West End casts of Sheila Atim and Ivanno Jeremiah, Peter Capaldi and Zoë Wanamaker, Omari Douglas and Russell Tovey, and Anna Maxwell Martin and Chris O’Dowd.

Sasha Yevtushenko also directs a production of Elegy as part of this double bill, a play which I don’t remember half as fondly, despite a strong cast at the Donmar Warehouse. Here again, Juliet Stevenson, Deborah Findlay and Marilyn Nnadebe elevate the production to must-listen levels but it just isn’t as gut-wrenchingly affecting a piece of writing in the end.

Last up is Giles Terera’s The Meaning of Zong, the debut play for this talented performer which is now receiving its premiere on radio. It’s an extraordinary dramatisation of a shocking piece of British history that very few of us will know about, one which is vital to add to the discourse that has emerged since last summer and a play that must be put on major stages as soon as we can.

Graduates at Cadogan Hall concert #1

The first concert in the Graduates at Cadogan Hall offers a fantastic online showcase for 13 fresh musical theatre graduates

COVID-19 hasn’t been a great time for many people but it has been particularly cruel on those who would have graduated during this time, robbing them of those rites of passage but also for theatre grads, the more valuable opportunity to showcase their talents. Graduates at Cadogan Hall is the brainchild of Ameena Hamid Productions and The Grad Fest, offering an online showcase for 40 2020 and 2021 graduates, who got to sing at Cadogan Hall with the brilliant Sam Young accompanying them, whilst also supporting the Acting for Others charity.

The programme is divided into three separate hour-long concerts and this first one has a whole raft of special guests, introduced as it is by Grace Mouat and sprinkled with gorgeous messages of support from those who know exactly what the struggles are, from the fabulous Anika Noni Rose, Alexia McIntosh, Gary Wilmot and Juliet Stevenson too. And since the concert is about celebrating all of these performers, I’ve opted to do things a little differently with this posts, giving everyone their moment to shine. So click on an image, read little mini reviews of their performances and get connected with them on socials to get their careers kickstarted in this different way. Continue reading “Graduates at Cadogan Hall concert #1”

News: Audible to release new readings of Virginia Woolf

Vanessa Kirby, Kristin Scott Thomas, Samuel Barnett and more star in Audible’s Virginia Woolf Collection

In celebration of International Women’s Day 2021, Audible has released a new version of Virginia Woolf’s iconic collection with an all-star cast.

The Virginia Woolf Collection stars Oscar winner Tilda Swinton; five-time BAFTA Award winner and Olivier Award nominee Kristin Scott Thomas; award-winning actress Jessie Buckley; BAFTA winning Vanessa Kirby; Adetomiwa Edun, Johnny Flynn; Juliet Stevenson, Andrea Riseborough, Tracy Ifeachor and Samuel Barnett. Continue reading “News: Audible to release new readings of Virginia Woolf”

Film Review: London Unplugged (2018)

A quirky portmanteau of 11 shorts, London Unplugged doesn’t really work, even with a nice bit of Juliet Stevenson

“No-one has time for anyone”

A London Film School, Psychology News, Four Corners Film and the Migrant Resource Centre, London Unplugged betrays its collaborative origins in a scattershot collection of 10 short films. Trying to re-establish depictions of London on film in some kind of reality, it certainly has highly admirable ambitions. 

But the reality of so many different writers and directors being given so broad a canvas as London life means that the end result is highly uneven and only occasionally satisfying. Attempts are made to string the films together with the linking device of a runner making her way from Stratford to Kew Gardens but it doesn’t work, there’s no real connective tissue there. Continue reading “Film Review: London Unplugged (2018)”

Review: Little Wars

A fabulous cast make this rehearsed reading of Steven Carl McCasland’s play Little Wars an interesting choice to stream

“What happens next?”

Raising money in aid of Women For Refugee Women, Ginger Quiff Media in collaboration with the Union Theatre have brought together a stellar cast of some of our finest actors for a rehearsed reading of Steven Carl McCasland’s play Little Wars. It is a weighty and wordy play but streaming passes last for 24 hours so you can always give yourself the interval(s) you need.

The drama imagines a dinner party between six women of considerable note. Its the early 1940s and Gertrude Stein and her girlfriend Alice Toklas are hosting an intimate soirée at their salon in the French Alps. Writers Lillian Hellman and Agatha Christie are expected but when the bell rings, it is anti-fascist freedom fighter Muriel Gardiner at the door. Continue reading “Review: Little Wars”