#AdventwithClowns Day 14 – Othello, RSC (Britbox)

This 2015 RSC production of Othello soars with its lead pairing of Hugh Quarshie and Lucian Msamati, I really should have gone to see this one 

“We then have done you bold and saucy wrongs”

In all honesty, it’s hard to get myself roused for a lot of Shakespeare productions now, the same old plays coming round and round again not appealing like it once did. So it takes something special, or some canning casting choices, to make me sit up and pay attention and Iqbal Khan’s 2015 production of Othello for the RSC certainly has both in spades.

The first production in Stratford to cast a black in Iago in the wonderful Lucian Msamati against Hugh Quarshie’s Othello, the central relationship of the play is blisteringly recast and remixed. The racial dynamic naturally becomes something totally new but entirely fitting, and compelling, you might not quite sympathise with this Iago but you see much more of his point of view. Continue reading “#AdventwithClowns Day 14 – Othello, RSC (Britbox)”

TV Review: Doctor Who Flux (Series 13)

Opting for a miniseries for Series 13 of Doctor Who certainly changes up the pace well, as Flux comes to a breathless end with some great work by Jodie Whittaker

“Do you think running will help?”

And so the end begins for Jodie Whittaker, and for Chris Chibnall. The 13th Doctor and her showrunner had a three-series-and-out deal which they are honouring and so this final season – a miniseries called Flux and three specials – will take us up to the centenary of the BBC in late 2022 and the regeneration of the Time Lord into…well, whoever the returning Russell T Davies decides.

One might have thought opting for the ostensibly more focused notion of a miniseries, of one overarching story stripped over six episodes, would have made Flux a simpler affair than the last few series of Doctor Who but Chibnall clearly had other plans. But having reached the end, I’d say that it was a good deal more fun than anticipated, a full-on caper merely teasing traumatic revelations about the Doctor’s selves rather diving full on into the morass of series lore. Continue reading “TV Review: Doctor Who Flux (Series 13)”

TV Review: Doctor Who Flux Episode 1

The end begins… Jodie Whittaker’s final full season as Doctor Who starts with ‘The Halloween Apocalypse’, episode 1 of Flux

“Synchronize watches. Forget that: I’m not wearing a watch”

There’s perhaps something a little awry when news of a show’s new showrunner overtakes the show itself but such is the way of the Doctor Who discourse. Russell T Davies coming back to the show is undoubtedly a huge development but it does feel a bit of a shame that this was announced before Jodie Whittaker at least got to start her final series in the TARDIS. But whaddya gonna do?

For Series 13, Chris Chibnall has opted to shake up the model and so we’re being given Flux, a six-part single story ahead of a handful of specials next year which will lead to Whittaker’s departure. This era has been, not necessarily hit and miss for me but something less than essential, though I think that it is perhaps as much me growing apart from Doctor Who a touch, something that actually started in the Capaldi era. Continue reading “TV Review: Doctor Who Flux Episode 1”

TV Review: Innocent (Series 2)

Katherine Kelly’s lead performance is excellent but I’m not sure there’s enough here to justify reviving Innocent into an anthology series

“Everything they stole from me, I want it all back”

Three years after its first series, Matthew Arlidge and Chris Lang’s Innocent returns to ITV, re-emerging as an anthology series. So we’re now in the Lake District, focusing on the murder of 16-year-old Matty Taylor for which teacher Sally Wright has done several years inside. Five years down the line, new evidence has exonerated her and laced with vengeance, she returns to Keswick to reclaim what she believes is hers.

Initially, it’s an intriguing twist on the format as Katherine Kelly plays Sally with all the spikiness and rough edges that you would expect from someone who believes they’ve been wrongfully imprisoned. Removing children from the equation, which instantly created sympathy for Season 1’s ‘victim’ David, there’s a more visceral sense of injustice permeating this narrative, which is paired with Kelly’s impassive forthrightness as Sally. Continue reading “TV Review: Innocent (Series 2)”

Review: Royal Court’s Living Newspaper #5

Edition #5 of the Royal Court’s Living Newspaper takes a more reflective approach to great effect

“Most people do it. Not me, I have a conscience”

The Royal Court’s Living Newspaper continues with edition #5 which feels a little less reactive to the headlines and a little more reflective on the state of the world as we find it today. It looks back, probing into how our history has shaped us but it also identifies the precipice of the current moment and how, more than ever, so very much is at stake. 

The quiet fury of Dalia Taha’s A Warning takes aim at Israeli border policies through the medium of books, Kayla Meikle’s devastatingly contained performance a real stand out. And Zia Ahmed’s elegiac scene/unscene finds a brutal poetry in its takedown of the systemic racism in the theatrical establishment, skewering good liberal intentions perfectly. Continue reading “Review: Royal Court’s Living Newspaper #5”

News: writers and cast for Living Newspaper #5

Written by Zia Ahmed, Leo Butler, Guillermo Calderón, Nick Cassenbaum, E.V. Crowe, Maud Dromgoole, Nessah Muthy, Iman Qureshi, Marcelo Dos Santos, Nina Segal, Dalia Taha, Joel Tan and Maya Zbib.

Who has created our country’s past and who is shaping its future? Who gets to have their cake and eat it?

Edition 5 sets out to dismantle histories – be that personal or political – whilst finding allies in bookshop glances, questioning who is desperate for hygge comfort and looking to our comrades and weather reporters for the true future.

As we look back and forward, Edition 5 is a provocation to find joy in the cracks and the spaces left behind. Continue reading “News: writers and cast for Living Newspaper #5”

Review: Angela, Sound Stage

Launching new audio drama platform Sound Stage, Mark Ravenhill’s Angela is a profoundly moving account of his mother’s experience of dementia

“I don’t like it when they change the story, I wish they would stick to the story”

I don’t know why I put myself through dementia dramas. They tap into one of my deepest fears and more often than not leave me terribly distressed but who says art should ever be easy? Mark Ravenhill’s autobiographical Angela launches the Sound Stage platform created by the Royal Lyceum theatre and Pitlochry Festival theatre, adding in virtual theatregoing elements to the audio drama experience and predictably, is gut-wrenchingly yet beautifully felt.

Drawing directly on his mother’s journey with Alzheimer’s and how that impacted the whole family, Ravenhill places her experiences at the heart of his play, a boldly disconcerting move which feels entirely right. As we slip from present to past, as an encounter here triggers a memory there, a portrait is built of the richness of a life lived, even as recollections of it are slipping away from her grasp. Continue reading “Review: Angela, Sound Stage”

News: Cast announced for the premiere of Mark Ravenhill’s first autobiographical play Angela

The Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh and Pitlochry Festival Theatre, in association with  Naked Productions and BBC Radio 3  are delighted to announce the cast for Sound Stage’s first production; Angela, a brand-new autobiographical play by Mark Ravenhill airing 26 – 28 March.

Angela centres on the playwright’s mother, at the age of 84 and suffering with dementia, as she looks back across her life. Intercutting between Angela in her old age, her memories and mind failing her, and in her youth; growing up, moving away from her roots as the world of drama welcomed her. The Play depicts her struggle with depression and the challenges of her own aspirations, and becoming a mother, poignantly set against Mark’s experience of beginning to learn ballet, his lifelong passion, in his fifties. Continue reading “News: Cast announced for the premiere of Mark Ravenhill’s first autobiographical play Angela”

News: a stream of Emilia announced to get us through November

With an unerring sense of timing, our dark November evenings now have the chance of being brightened by the theatrical wonder that was Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s Emilia. An archived recording of the show’s 2019 West End production is being made available online for two weeks from 10th November.

I loved the show in its first run at the Globe and its subsequent transfer into the West End at the Vaudeville Theatre and I’m sure much of its power will be retained in its taping. And because the people behind the show really are good sorts, they’re using a pay-what-you-can model with the proceeds from the recording being shared across the entire team from the 2019 production. Continue reading “News: a stream of Emilia announced to get us through November”

News: Unicorn Theatre’s online offerings get some cracking casts

The Unicorn Theatre has announced a pair of great-looking online productions in Grimm’s Tales and The Twits. Adopting a storytelling perspective, a crack team of directors and actors will be putting their spin on these classic tales.

The Twits, directed by Ned Bennett, will star Martina Laird and Zubin Varla and is hosted on the Guardian’s website.

Grimm’s Tales will stream from 5th October to 21st February on the Unicorn’s YouTube channel.

Appearing in those productions will be:
Justin Audibert directs Nadia Albina reading Hansel and Gretel
Rachel Bagshaw with Le Gateau Chocolat reading Rumpelstiltskin
Polly Findlay directs Colin Morgan reading The Devil With the Three Golden Hairs
Tristan Fynn-Aiduenu directs Andy Umerah reading The Boy Who Left Home to Find Out About the Shivers
Ola Ince directs Susan Wokoma reading The Brave Little Tailor
Bijan Sheibani directs Cecilia Noble reading Cinderella

The venue will also re-release its hit production of Anansi the Spider Re-Spun to mark Black History Month, with the hit show available from 1st-31st October on YouTube.