TV Review: The Crown, Series 1

“To do nothing is the hardest job of all” 

It’s taken a little time to getting round to watching all of The Crown because, in a first for me, I found it impossible to binge-watch the show. Even with Netflix kindly providing offline downloads just at the point where I had a lot of travelling to do, Peter Morgan’s drama was lots of fun to watch but rarely captured the buzzy energy that has accompanied much online programming. Because it many ways it isn’t like much of Netflix’s previous output, it really is an encroachment into BBC Sunday night and as such, I felt it worked best spread out in almost weekly installments.

That’s partly down to the nature of the subject material, we’re not likely to get many surprises in a detailed retelling of the history of the House of Windsor. But it is also due to Morgan’s writing which tends a little to the formulaic, especially in the middle part of the series, which is when my interest was most in danger of waning. The opening two episodes started brightly but once the shock of becoming monarch was over, the rhythm became very much one of someone close to the queen has an issue and she has to weigh personal desires against public duty, the latter always winning out. Continue reading “TV Review: The Crown, Series 1”

Not an Album Review: Taboo (Original London Cast)

“My father said: ‘don’t panic, it’s a phase’
‘Phase one’ I said”

I did want to love Boy George’s Taboo, I really did, but something about it just holds me back. I felt that way when I saw it live and I felt it again when listening to the original London cast recording so there you have it.

Review: Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens, Criterion Theatre

“Learning to let go”

Just a quickie for this one-off – a fundraiser for the Make A Difference Trust of this late 1980s song cycle inspired by the AIDS memorial quilt. The original London production of Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens actually transferred to the Criterion – where tonight’s show was – from the King’s Head but it’s a little difficult to see how this production with its nearly 50-strong company could ever have been scaled down to fit into that Islington pub theatre. But given how the show is made up of individual songs and monologues, each inspired by a different panel on the quilt representing the life of someone who has died from HIV/AIDS, its inherent flexibility shows how it can take whatever form is needed.

Here, Stephen Whitson’s production takes on a new 21st century version of the book by Bill Russell, the updating of which has mixed results. Contemporary references clang a little awkwardly but there’s more of a problem in that neither the fast-moving world of medical advancements nor the changing nature of the epidemic itself are really reflected – the show is already a period piece in so many ways that it perhaps would be better to leave it that way rather than trying to chase a relevance that would be better served by a completely separate part two. Continue reading “Review: Elegies for Angels, Punks and Raging Queens, Criterion Theatre”

CD Review: Collaborations – The Songs of Elliot Davis

“Cos I love you, still”

Elliot Davis may be best known to fans of musical theatre as the co-writer of Loserville but his career has stretched over several musicals and other projects which have seen him collaborate with a wide range of songwriters and his CD Collaborations – The Songs of Elliot Davis cherry-picks a collection of thirteen songs from his back catalogue. Excerpts from musicals sit alongside out-and-out pop songs and are performed by a cracking cast of West End favourites, including Julie Atherton, Michael Xavier and Scarlett Strallen, all in aid of Teenager Cancer Trust.

It is undoubtedly an eclectic mix and on first listen, its sheer diversity may seem a little disarming. Two songs written with lyricist Anthony Drewe capture this perfectly – Kirsty Hoiles’ understated rendition of ‘Still’ is a thing of shimmering beauty yet the bubbly ’24 7′, performed by the trio of Caroline Sheen, Scarlett Strallen and Melissa Jacques, sounds like it is aiming to become a gay club classic with its relentlessly catchy hook. But the songs definitely bear replaying, lyrical ingenuity mixes with musical dexterity and it is a potent blend.  Continue reading “CD Review: Collaborations – The Songs of Elliot Davis”