TV Review: Roadkill

The new David Hare political drama Roadkill proves to be the scariest thing about this year’s Hallowe’en, and not in a good way

“You can get away with anything if you just brazen it out”

Throwing in a cast like this can usually get me to forgive a lot but not even the combined thrills of Helen McCrory, Sylvestra Le Touzel, Sidse Babett Knudsen and Saskia Reeves could get me to like Roadkill. Maybe its the closeness of it all, Tory political corruption is headline news pretty much every day now, so why would we want it on our TV screens as drama as well.

Potential timing issues aside (though when are the Tories never out grasping for themselves…), there are more fundamental problems at play here though. David Hare’s writing feels particularly aimless here, there’s little sense of accretion in watching Hugh Laurie’s Teflon-coated minister Peter Laurence ride out any number of potential scandals, just a relentless, remorseless journey of scum rising to the top. Continue reading “TV Review: Roadkill”

New TV shows for winter

As the clocks go back, the prestige TV shows come out, so I checked out the first episodes of The Undoing, Roadkill and The Sister to find not one but two Scandiqueens

“Sounds like we’re digging in for a long answer”

With a company that includes Noma Dumezweni and the empress of jumpers Sofie Gråbøl, I was initially a little disappointed that neither appeared in the first episode of new HBO show The Undoing. But when your leads are Nicole Kidman and Hugh Grant, your writer is David E Kelley and your director is Susanne Bier, then there’s little to complain about. Based on a Jean Hanff Korelitz novel and set in the dripping wealth of the Upper East Side, the tantalising promise of murder and adultery is skilfully woven across this opening episode and I’m definitely hooked.  Continue reading “New TV shows for winter”

Review: The House That Slipped

Is a utopian future really better than a Covid present? Immersive drama The House That Slipped asks some interesting questions

“I’ve got to collect the pieces of the pieces…”

Something unexpected happened partway through The House That Slipped that completely transformed the experience for me. The simple act of being asked to encapsulate the current coronavirus situation, to describe what lockdown actually means, proved quietly profound, a moment of reflection that makes you wonder just how history will remember this time. 

Devised by the company for Teatro Vivo, the house in The House That Slipped is 12 Laburnum Drive, Brockley which has found itself in the year 2070. Through the power of a Zoom upgrade, they can now talk to us in the present day and in our small groups, we help the four residents to decide whether they want to return back to their original time. Continue reading “Review: The House That Slipped”

Review: The Incident Room, New Diorama

A powerful study into the five year police investigation into the Yorkshire Ripper, The Incident Room puts important voices first at the New Diorama Theatre

“I didn’t know Yorkshiremen had it in ’em”

Olivia Hirst and David Byrne’s The Incident Room was seen in Edinburgh last summer but it arrives at the New Diorama now in an expanded version with added interval (all the more opportunity to get one of the tasty Anzac cookies from the café). And most importantly for this blog’s purposes, it stars lovely Danny from Jumpers for Goalposts, aka the equally lovely Jamie Samuel (in a policeman’s uniform, just so you know). 

But back to the matter at hand. The incident room of The Incident Room is the Millgarth Incident Room, the hub of the 1970s police manhunt for the serial killer dubbed the Yorkshire Ripper. But far from glorifying his crimes, the focus here is on the investigation itself, looking at a police force that has only just started to admit women into its ranks and also at the trials of running a major data-driven inquiry in pre-digital times. Continue reading “Review: The Incident Room, New Diorama”

Review: The Country Wife, Minerva

A cracking cast can’t quite make sense of a modern updating of The Country Wife at Chichester’s Minerva Theatre

“What is wit in a wife good for, but to make a man a cuckold?”

How many productions does it take for a playwright to have a moment? We could be on the cusp of a Wycherley wave, with the second production of The Country Wife to arrive this year (the first being at the Southwark Playhouse in April). 

But though this Restoration writer is proving popular, directors seem unable not to tinker with his work – that production was set in the 1920s and Jonathan Munby here moves it even further to the present day, casting new light but also dimming its intent. Continue reading “Review: The Country Wife, Minerva”

Review: Operation Black Antler, Home

“Get a drink, stay calm, assess the room”

The heart sinks a little bit when you get a reviewing assignment which ends with the request not to reveal too much about the production. You Me Bum Bum Train is the perfect example (especially as it was my entry into the world of immersive theatre) and looking back on it, from first to second to third time around, it is clearly a skill I had to learn (and am still learning).

Which is all by means of building up to [not] talking about Operation Black Antler, a Blast Theory and Hydrocracker production running out of Manchester’s Home. In select groups, we’re thrown into the world of undercover surveillance on the streets of Manchester where we’re to “question the morality of state-sanctioned spying” – basically like an episode of Spooks if it were written by Paul Abbott and made by Channel 4.  Continue reading “Review: Operation Black Antler, Home”

Review: A Streetcar Named Desire, Curve Studio

“I tell what ought to be the truth“

I’ve only been to the Studio at Leicester’s Curve Theatre a couple of times but I’ve never seen it done up this much like a proper theatre with a balcony and all but such it is for Nikolai Foster’s production of A Streetcar Named Desire, his first at the venue where he is now Artistic Director. Tennessee Williams’ classic receives a rather traditional, if youthfully inclined, interpretation here which thus can’t help but pale a little in comparison to Benedict Andrews’ extraordinary reimagining for the Young Vic last year.

The challenges of the space are clear though in the sometimes challenging acoustics of the studio which, combined with an unstinting commitment to heavy accents, poses audibility issues throughout the production. Which is a shame as it really does look good – Michael Taylor’s set design perfectly evokes the faded grandeur and stifling intimacy of the French Quarter and Guy Hoare’s lighting suggests all of its carnivalesque atmosphere with its twinkling fairy lights and sultry red hues. Continue reading “Review: A Streetcar Named Desire, Curve Studio”