DVD Review: Chatroom (2010)

“We can get him online”

After watching The Nether at the Royal Court, a chat with a colleague about other plays that effectively depict the internet threw up Enda Walsh’s Chatroom which played at the National Theatre a few years back (and featured both Doctor Who (Matt Smith) and Spiderman (Andrew Garfield) in its cast. It was slightly before my time of insane theatre-going so I was glad to see that I could catch a film version, adapted by Walsh himself and directed by Japanese maestro Hideo Nakata.

The story concerns five teenagers in various states of unhappiness who find succour in online chatrooms. Disillusioned model Eva, anti-depressant taker Jim, unhappy daughter Emily and inappropriately flirtatious Mo are swept up by highly-functioning sociopath and self-harmer William in a room he’s created called Chelsea Teens! At first they just talk smack about those they don’t like but William soon manipulates them into acting on their feelings, with devastating consequences. Continue reading “DVD Review: Chatroom (2010)”

DVD Review: One Chance

“Kind of like the opera of my life”

Next up in the list of films I didn’t think I’d ever watch was Paul Potts’ biopic One Chance. For those not in the know or at least have little knowledge of Britain’s Got Talent, he emerged as the winner of the first series, his backstory as an unremarkable mobile telephone salesman with bad teeth the perfect foil for a rich operatic tenor. And as it turns out, his life was a catalogue of misfortunes, bullying and bad health holding back his dream of becoming a singer – perfect material to make into a film one might think.

Not on this evidence. David Frankel’s film is hamstrung from the outset by the fatal miscasting of James Corden in the leading role. Potts, or at least the version that is presented here, is a shy, retiring type full of crippling vulnerabilities and crucially enlivened through the gift of music but Corden conveys little, if any of this through his performance. He’s not helped by having to mime along to Potts’ own voice but there’s something more fundamentally wrong here, Corden’s cursory attempts at impersonation horribly superficial. Continue reading “DVD Review: One Chance”

Review: The Roar of the Greasepaint, The Smell of the Crowd, Finborough Theatre

“There’s always a joker in the pack, there’s always a lonely clown”

There ought to be clowns and indeed there were, six urchin-types all done up in Pierrot costumes, an ever-present chorus observing the almost Beckettian power dynamics between the two main characters who are constantly playing and replaying the age old game of life. What might surprise is that this is the set-up for a musical, The Roar of the Greasepaint The Smell of the Crowd with book, music and lyrics by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley, perhaps best known for their collaboration on the soundtrack to Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

Upper class ‘Sir’ is always in change of the game and is constantly changing the rules so that working-class Cockney ‘Cocky’ is always kept down-at-heel: the plays aims for a metaphysical representation of the 1960s British class system, replete with a sprinkling of absurdist touches that try to enliven the grindingly repetitive nature of the game-playing. But the story is accompanied by a musical score which encompasses a number of songs which may be incredibly familiar to you: standards like ‘Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me)’ and ‘Look At That Face’, ‘The Joker’ – recognisable as the theme tune for hilarious television show Kath and Kim and also from Shirley Bassey’s Greatest Hits (or maybe both…!) and ‘Feelin’ Good’, immortalised by Nina Simone’s flawless interpretation. Continue reading “Review: The Roar of the Greasepaint, The Smell of the Crowd, Finborough Theatre”