Review: Uncle Vanya, Vaudeville Theatre

“Damn this old age, it’s so vile and repulsive”

Revivals of classics often find themselves caught between two schools: revitalising an oft-performed play with a fresh energy, but remaining aware of not rocking the boat too much in order to maintain a healthy (West End in this case) audience. The Print Room – a venue perhaps less burdened by quite the same commercial concerns as West End houses – were able to go whole-heartedly for the former with a scorchingly good version of Uncle Vanya which paid huge dividends. And Lindsay Posner has definitely gone for the latter option with a stolidly traditional production at the Vaudeville Theatre which does the job but rarely excited me in a similar way.

It is undoubtedly well acted, very much so in some quarters, but the performances are overpowered by the stultifying pace of a production that never really got out of second gear. The demonstration of how boring country life can be should never relate to the play itself but Posner has taken Chekhov too literally here and so far too little of the emotional energy being expended by the actors is allowed to take flight on the stage. Instead, the dominant aspect becomes Christopher Oram’s design and the interminably long pauses it enforces during lengthy scene changes which hardly feel worth the effort in the final analysis. Continue reading “Review: Uncle Vanya, Vaudeville Theatre”

19th Screen Actors Guild Awards nominees

Film
Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role
Bradley Cooper – Silver Linings Playbook as Patrizio “Pat” Solitano, Jr.
Daniel Day-Lewis – Lincoln as Abraham Lincoln
John Hawkes – The Sessions as Mark O’Brien
Hugh Jackman – Les Misérables as Jean Valjean
Denzel Washington – Flight as William “Whip” Whitaker, Sr.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role
Jessica Chastain – Zero Dark Thirty as Maya
Marion Cotillard – Rust and Bone as Stéphanie
Jennifer Lawrence – Silver Linings Playbook as Tiffany Maxwell
Helen Mirren – Hitchcock as Alma Reville
Naomi Watts – The Impossible as Maria Bennett Continue reading “19th Screen Actors Guild Awards nominees”

DVD Review: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

“Things aren’t always what they seem”

My anticipation levels for Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy were rather high, I didn’t make it to the cinema but its award-winning pedigree backed up by several people recommending it to me, assured that I would love it. And though it is a genre I have neglected, I do love a good spy thriller. That said, I’d not read the 1974 John Le Carré novel it was based on or seen the TV show, so I was coming to it with completely fresh eyes. I’d been warned that I’d need to concentrate so I took care to ensure that distractions were kept to a minimum as I watched the DVD, but I have to say that I really wasn’t carried away by the film or swept up into its world of intrigue.

When an MI6 agent is gunned down mid-meet in Hungary, the head of the secret service Control and his lieutenant George Smiley resign in acknowledgement of the failure, but Smiley is soon covertly rehired to look into the possibility that it was a mole that gave the game away. With the help of two colleagues, he begins to investigate the shortlist of suspects to find out who is the one who has betrayed his country. Swedish director Tomas Alfredson brings a measured solemnity to the densely complex plot which comprises of a bewildering number of characters and details which I struggled to take in and sustain the requisite level of interest. Continue reading “DVD Review: Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy”