News: Angels in America amongst productions added to National Theatre at Home

The National Theatre has today announced three new filmed productions have been added to its streaming service National Theatre at Homeincluding Angels in America Part One: Millennium Approaches and Angels in America Part Two: Perestroika, Marianne Elliott (The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, War Horse)’s multi-award-winning production of Tony Kushner’s two-part masterpiece, with a cast including Andrew Garfield (The Social Network), Denise Gough (Paula), Nathan Lane (American Crime Story), James McArdle (Ammonite), Susan Brown (It’s A Sin) and Russell Tovey (Years and Years). Continue reading “News: Angels in America amongst productions added to National Theatre at Home”

Review: Behind the Beautiful Forevers, National Theatre

“The world doesn’t work in our favour”

Rufus Norris is set to take over the artistic directorship of the National Theatre in April next year but makes an admirably bold move in Behind the Beautiful Forevers. Adapted by David Hare from the 2012 non-fiction work of the same name by Katherine Boo, who spent three years living, investigating and writing about life in the Indian slum of Annawadi which lies in the shadow of Mumbai airport, it’s sprawling and scrappy yet epic and enlightening as it elucidates something of what it means to be this far below the poverty line. It is rarely comfortable viewing but its unflinching and unsentimental approach feels essential.

Whether accurate or overemphasised, a strongly matriarchal societal structure emerges in this version of Annawadi as wives and mothers seize the initiative in the face of feckless husbands and sheer necessity. Which results in the pleasing preponderance of excellent female roles – Stephanie Street’s Sikh Asha is the fixer for the entire neighbourhood, putting work at the expense of even a special birthday party her kids have put on; Thusitha Jayasundera’s crippled Fatima is a cyclone of malevolent anger that dominates her household; and Meera Syal’s practical Zehrunisa looks set to secure her family’s future out of the slum with some canny deal-making. Continue reading “Review: Behind the Beautiful Forevers, National Theatre”

Review: Blue Sky, Hampstead Theatre Downstairs

“Oh God! Now’s everyone’s got their own blog…”

Ray enjoys plane-spotting. Since his wife died and his teenage daughter is growing up far too quickly for his liking, it has provided him with a much-needed reason to get out of the house and into the Shropshire countryside. But it is early 2003, Iraq is about to be invaded and there’s a strange buzz of activity around their little airfield. When childhood friend and freelance journalist Jane waltzes back into his life, trying to follow up a lead on a story about a missing Pakistani man last seen being forced onto a US plane, neither of them are prepared for just how far this story will reach.

Blue Sky is a pointedly political new play by Clare Bayley for the Pentabus Theatre company and in the intimate theatre downstairs at the Hampstead, director Elizabeth Freestone makes inventive use of the room with some excellent creative collaborations. Staged in traverse, Naomi Dawson’s deceptively simple design segments the open space, Johanna Town’s runway-inspired lighting is cleverly used as Adrienne Quartly’s sound design expands the horizons of the production into the big bad world being investigated. Continue reading “Review: Blue Sky, Hampstead Theatre Downstairs”