TV Review: Silent Witness Series 15

Series 15 of Silent Witness ends up being a bit of a dud with both Harry and Leo getting close to the end of the road

“This is police business”

As has become increasingly obvious, criticising Silent Witness for not being a show about forensic pathology is a fruitless task, the blurring of the lines between the lab and fieldwork (aka stepping on the toes of police investigations) has long been a significant part of the show but once the deliberate sainted antagonism of Sam Ryan had gone, I felt that the writing had managed to balance it fairly well, finding a sweet spot where it rarely bothered me too much. 

Series 15 throws all that in the bin though. There’s police interview scenes with a single police officer but both Harry and Leo in there. There’s Leo marching into crime scenes without calling the police, chasing suspects through the forest out back and then casually walking right back into the house with nary a piece of PPE on him. I don’t mean to take it all so seriously but it is just so frustrating to watch, especially coming from so sanctimonious a character as Leo – I think Janet has eventually dodged a bullet here.  Continue reading “TV Review: Silent Witness Series 15”

Review: Manor, National Theatre

Despite the presence of Nancy Carroll and Shaun Evans, Moira Buffini’s Manor proves a disappointment at the National Theatre

“Truth is the argument that wins”

Truth is, Manor can’t help but end up as something of a disappointment. Starring national treasure-in-the-making Nancy Carroll and Vigil-hot Shaun Evans, written by Moira Buffini who has been doing interesting things on both film and TV, and having been building anticipation since before COVID (the show was in rehearsal at the National Theatre when lockdown first hit), hopes were certainly high but the reality is something a little far right of the mark.

It’s undoubtedly a play of big ideas and Buffini seems to have decided to include all of the ones she has in here. Climate changes rubs shoulders with homegrown far-right nationalism, murder mystery vibes clash with country house farce stylings and as we settle into sitcom mode, a disaster movie kicks in. The result in an unholy mess which gathers its unlikely motley crew of unlikeable characters for too long a time in an admittedly elegant set (Lez Brotherston).  Continue reading “Review: Manor, National Theatre”

TV Review: Stephen (ITV)

Stephen is a deeply compassionate and quietly furious look at the many injustices of the Stephen Lawrence case

“Never expected getting justice to be my job”

Written by Frank Cottrell-Boyce and Joe Cottrell-Boyce and directed by Alrick Riley, Stephen is based on the book In Pursuit of the Truth by DCI Clive Driscoll who spearheaded the 2012 police re-investigation which ultimately led to the conviction of two of the killers of Stephen Lawrence. Murdered in 1993 in a racist attack, the 18 year old Black British man’s case was fumbled in the extreme, the subsequent Macpherson report finding the Met incompetent and institutionally racist, his family left despairing that justice would ever be served. 

And this is where the show is strongest. Sharlene Whyte as Doreen Lawrence and Hugh Quarshie as Neville Lawrence deliver two quietly devastating performances as Stephen’s parents, now separated but still bound inextricably by their son’s murder, their lives shaped not just by his absence but by the absence of fair treatment by the investigating authorities. Thus the arrival of Driscoll, played here by Steve Coogan, a DCI handed the case in a cold case review in 2006, is rightly treated with a high degree of hard-won scepticism and scorn. Continue reading “TV Review: Stephen (ITV)”

News: National Theatre On Sale, July 2021 – January 2022

The National Theatre will return to performances with full capacity audiences from later this month. Additional seating will now be available for performances of After Life from 27 July alongside the previously-announced productions Rockets and Blue Lights in the Dorfman theatre and Paradise in the Olivier theatre, with extra tickets going on sale to the public from Monday 19 July.  

Tickets for The Normal Heart, East is East, Manor and Hex on sale to the public from Friday 30 July. Continue reading “News: National Theatre On Sale, July 2021 – January 2022”

News: The National Theatre announces 2021-22 programming and launches National Theatre Together

The National Theatre announces new programming and launches a major new campaign for its future, National Theatre Together

The National Theatre has announced its programming until the start of next year with productions on all three South Bank stages as well as three major UK tours, two productions on Broadway, a return to cinemas, and a new feature film to be broadcast on television this autumn. In the week the theatre reopened for audiences again, six new productions were announced, and five productions halted by the pandemic were confirmed to return to the South Bank.  

It has also announced the public launch of National Theatre Together, a new campaign with people at its heart, highlighting the importance of creativity and collaboration with theatre-makers and communities, for young people and audiences. The campaign cements the NT’s commitment to the people of this country and will raise vital funds for the theatre’s ambitious recovery post-pandemic.  Continue reading “News: The National Theatre announces 2021-22 programming and launches National Theatre Together”

TV Review: The Crown, Series 4

Whereas I was sad that the cast of The Crown had to regenerate at the end of Series 2, I’m kinda glad that Series 4 is the last we’ll see of this second generation  

“Let’s just say, I can’t see it ending well for you”

I sampled the first few episodes of Series 4 of The Crown on release and whilst still appreciating much of the quality of this prestige drama, I couldn’t help but feel that it just isn’t quite up to par. An element of that is certainly personal, I just have zero desire to see depictions of Margaret Thatcher in anything. But there’s also something more nigglingly fundamental awry here, as we move to closer to the current day and increasingly feature people who are still alive. 

Whether royalist or republican (do republicans watch The Crown…?), there’s something fascinating about the way in which Peter Morgan’s writing has challenged conventional notions of myth-building around the British Royal Family. What might previously have been called decorum has been jettisoned with little seeming sacrosanct now, particularly as we delve into the marriage of Charles and Diana and his enduring relationship with Camilla, plus going deeper into Thatcher’s psyche than one could ever care to. Continue reading “TV Review: The Crown, Series 4”

News: Jermyn Street Theatre reveals all-star cast for Restoration comedy reading

An all-star cast has assembled for an online reading of William Wycherley’s 1671 comedy Love in a Wood, presented by Jermyn Street Theatre, conceived and directed by Hermione Gulliford, and performed in aid of Equity Charitable Trust.

Word spreads fast in Restoration England. When romantic idealist Valentine makes a secret return from exile in France, he hears whispers that his lover Christina has been untrue. The thing is, Valentine is only jealous because his friend Vincent said that the hapless rogue Ranger had taken a liking to Christina. So, while Vincent and Ranger run amok, Valentine takes it upon himself to discover the truth. But can he see the wood from the trees…? Continue reading “News: Jermyn Street Theatre reveals all-star cast for Restoration comedy reading”

Review: Betrayal, Theatre Royal Bath

An hour plus of a straight white man justifying his affair or a modern classic? I go in for more Betrayal at the Theatre Royal Bath

“I thought it might be something like that. Something along those lines”

The things I do for the actresses I love. Despite the Herculean efforts of the Pinter at the Pinter festival, I still can’t say I am Harold’s biggest fan. But the announcement of Nancy Carroll in a play, alongside Ed Bennett and Joseph Millson, in these theatre-starved times was one I found hard to resist.

So I made the trip into the safe havens of Tier 1 from Tier 2 to see Jonathan Church’s production of  Betrayal at the Theatre Royal Bath. And once again, I kinda thought ‘huh, this is a modern classic?’. With the memories of Jamie Lloyd’s fresher take still bold too, the choice to keep it firmly in the 70s didn’t click for me. Continue reading “Review: Betrayal, Theatre Royal Bath”

More September theatre news

SIX reunite, The Theatre Channel switches on, The Shows Go On return and casting is revealed in Bath

© Danny Kaan

The Reunion is the first stage+streaming concert performance by seven powerhouse vocalists who rose to fame as the original West End queens of the musical SIX: Aimie Atkinson, Alexia McIntosh, Grace Mouat, Jarneia Richard-Noel, Maiya Quansah-Breed, Millie O’Connell, and Natalie Paris. The show will be livestreamed by theatre platform Thespie but a lucky few will also be able to get tickets to see the concerts live on Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th October.

Performances will be held in Oval Space, a spacious and well-ventilated East London venue that has been entirely reimagined for safe, seated music and theatre performances. The seating plan is entirely flexible which allows seating to be customised to the audience that books. Audiences book for themselves and their household or support bubble only (to a maximum of six), and Thespie’s technology determines a seat plan that ensures safe spacing between households and optimises use of the space. Continue reading “More September theatre news”