News: Tristram Kenton’s stage archive – the Hollywood edition

Perhaps inevitably, famous names getting more clicks than bona fide theatrical talent remains as true as ever as Tristram Kenton’s before-they-were-famous photo montage and its sequel are now followed up by a full-out Hollywood edition. Interesting to see the people who’ve trodden the boards over the years but for me, this is a less interesting selection of productions than we’ve previously seen, not much FOMO envy here at all:
https://www.theguardian.com/stage/gallery/2020/nov/18/nicole-kidman-orlando-bloom-hollywood-stars-west-end-stage-in-pictures

Photos: Tristram Kenton

Book review: Time To Act – Simon Annand

Simon Annand’s Time To Act is a beautiful book of photos capturing actors in the minutes before they go on stage

Tackling the constraints of the pandemic in its own way, Simon Annand’s fantastic new book of photos Time To Act has launched a virtual exhibition of some of the photographs which has now been extended to until Christmas. It’s an ingenious way of sharing some of the hundreds of images from the book and should surely whet the appetite for either just buying it now or putting on your list for Santa to collect soon.

Continue reading “Book review: Time To Act – Simon Annand”

News: virtual exhibition of Simon Annand’s backstage photography to accompany new book Time To Act

New virtual exhibition of stars of stage and screen, including Andrew Scott, Dame Judi Dench, Cate Blanchett and Jake Gyllenhaal, backstage by legendary theatre photographer Simon Annand

The thrilling experience of seeing actors live on stage is under threat during the present Covid restrictions. Theatres have been closed and this new book – Time To Act – reminds us of what we are missing. Through the eyes of this legendary photographer we observe how the performers get ready to astonish their audience.

To celebrate the publication of Simon Annand’s Time To Act, a virtual exhibition will be launched on 5th October (TimeToActPhotos.com) showcasing selected images from the book; some of which will be available for sale. The virtual exhibition will be re-hung on a weekly basis until early November.
Continue reading “News: virtual exhibition of Simon Annand’s backstage photography to accompany new book Time To Act”

Book review: The Half – Simon Annand

The Half – Photographs of Actors Preparing for the Stage by Simon Annand

Just a quickie for this book as The Half – Photographs of Actors Preparing for the Stage by Simon Annand was released in 2008. But with an imminent new exhibition of these photos and a bargainous copy of the book popping up on Ebay, I thought I’d take the plunge.

And I’m glad I did as it is a proper work of art in its own right. Annand has been photographing actors for over 25 years and as such, has a veritable treasure trove of shots to share with us, resulting from the trusting relationships he has built up with so many, from the new kids on the block to veritable dames. Continue reading “Book review: The Half – Simon Annand”

Review: Killer Joe, Trafalgar Studios

Killer Joe is a horribly misjudged revival at Trafalgar Studios that makes a mockery of #MeToo, you and all of us

“Is she doin’ anybody any good?”

Just to be clear, I’m using the ‘she’ in the quote above to refer to the play itself here – an misjudged, tone-deaf revival of Tracy Letts’ Killer Joe, a poor poor replacement for The Grinning Man at the Trafalgar Studios and a curious choice indeed for Orlando Bloom to make a return to the West End stage.

Written in 1993 and marking Letts’ debut, it is a scorchingly nasty look at working-class American life, the desperation it forces some into, the impact that an unconstrained popular culture has on society. And whilst it may have resonated then, all that chimes now is a warning bell to keep the fuck away. Continue reading “Review: Killer Joe, Trafalgar Studios”

DVD Review: Romeo and Juliet (2014)

“They stumble that run fast”

David Leveaux’s production of Romeo and Juliet played Broadway in 2014, the first time the play had been seen there in 36 years and perhaps conscious of needing to go the hard sell to get audiences, employed Hollywood star Orlando Bloom’s services to play Romeo. At 36, one might have though the role a little past him and as he roars onto the stage of the Richard Rodgers theatre on a motorbike, you fear for what might come to pass.

In the end, he’s actually a fairly competent Romeo, as well spoken as you’d expect any Guildhall School of Music and Drama graduate to be, but it is clear that Leveaux doesn’t trust the verse to do the job as he layers distraction upon distraction onto this modern-day version of the play. So David Van Tieghem’s score dominates at the expense of clarity (and perhaps deliberately evoking West Side Story) and actor after actor is encouraged to over-egg the pudding. Continue reading “DVD Review: Romeo and Juliet (2014)”

DVD Review: Wilde

“It is monstrous how people say things behind one’s back that are perfectly true”

Based on Richard Ellman’s biography, Brian Gilbert’s 1997 film Wilde saw Stephen Fry take on the eponymous role in a sweeping biopic slash drama which stretches over the last 18 years of his life. Beginning with his return to London from a trip to America and ripping speedily through his marriage to Jennifer Ehle’s kindly Constance and the birth of their two children, it is his relationship with family friend Robbie Ross that leads him into a world of sexual discovery. He finds there Jude Law’s impossibly handsome Lord Alfred ‘Bosie’ Douglas and falls head over heels into a tempestuous relationship, but in a society where homosexuality is illegal and propriety is everything, a happy ending is far from likely.

Fry makes an appealing Wilde, though one shorn of much of the acerbic nature one might imagine he had, he is a gentle father – telling his own story of The Selfish Giant acts as a clever layer of extra commentary – and he brings an almost avuncular warmth to the part. Jude Law’s Bosie is a revelation though, a serious reminder of his talents as an actor, with a capriciousness that is seductively alluring and yet criminally irresponsible. As Wilde seeks to lay the blame at the door of Bosie’s domineering father the Marquess of Queensbury, he ignores the knife-edge that their relationship is balanced on with devastating consequences. Continue reading “DVD Review: Wilde”