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.

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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: The Exorcist, Phoenix

After a premiere in Birmingham last year…

 

Sean Mathias’ production of The Exorcist has resurfaced in the West End just in time for Hallowe’en in the hope of recreating the chills and thrills of the 1973 movie, despite the fact that it is notoriously difficult to get horror right in the theatre.

We saw a preview and there may have been wine involved, hence the gif mood-board presented here rather than your fully-fleshed review. So… Continue reading “Review: The Exorcist, Phoenix”

DVD Review: Lilting

“She says thank you, and that you have a nice dimple”

Ben Whishaw certainly has his ardent fans (naming no religiously-monikered fellow blogs…) but though I like him as an actor, I’ve never really had that breakthrough moment that would have pushed him onto my must-see list. Hong Khaou’s 2014 film Lilting comes pretty darn close though with its achingly beautiful musings on love and loss and the importance of a shared language in truly communicating and connecting with someone. 

Whishaw’s Richard is grieving the death of his lover Kai, an affecting Andrew Leung, but has a dual problem in dealing with the woman who would have been his mother-in-law. The Cambodian-Chinese Junn is in a nearby retirement home and despite speaking six languages, can only swear like a trooper in English. Furthermore, her son never came out to her so Richard has only ever been the flatmate she did not like – something he is desperate to rectify. Continue reading “DVD Review: Lilting”

DVD Review: Ballet Shoes

“Who knows what you three could achieve”

It’s lovely the way things fall together sometimes. Noel Streatfield’s book Ballet Shoes is a huge favourite in the Clowns family household – my mum enjoyed reading it as a girl and it was one of those books I loved to read and re-read in my own childhood. And whilst I was initially filled with trepidation at the prospect of a television adaptation, the cast that was announced was like something out of a fantasy dream team of dames and dames-to-be. From Eileen Atkins to Lucy Cohu, Victoria Wood, Harriet Walter and Gemma Jones, this is the kind of female cast I dream about seeing and for it to be in a story so dear to me felt just right.

That story concerns the three Fossil sisters – all adopted as young girls by Gum, a wealthy palaeontologist and adventurer, but raised by his niece Sylvia and Nana. When he fails to return from an expedition, the family are left to fend for themselves in increasingly straitened circumstances and in his absence, decide to sell off some of his extensive collections of fossils and artefacts and take in a variety of boarders. And this injection of new life into the household offers up a whole new world of opportunity for Pauline, Petrova and Posy who until now had previously been home-schooled as Posy receives the training to become the ballerina she is fated to be, Pauline is able to develop her interest in becoming an actress and Petrova can follow her passions of mechanics and following in aviator Amy Johnson’s footsteps. Continue reading “DVD Review: Ballet Shoes”

Review: The Rivals, Richmond Theatre

“There’s a little intricate hussy for you!”

One of my theatrical highlights of the year so far was Celia Imrie in a sparkling production of The Rivals which variously featured audience interaction, recorders, Beyoncé songs and Sam Swainsbury sat on my lap for a while. So, when the Theatre Royal Bath production to be directed by Sir Peter Hall was announced, I was intrigued to see how it would match up. And whilst there is little of the relaxed informality of that Southwark Playhouse version, Hall sticks to what he knows best, gimmick-free, perfectly-cast productions which focus on the writing.

The Rivals is a comedy of manners, set in 18th century Bath amongst the fashionable élite who are there to take the waters and maybe a little gossip and romance on the side. Lydia Languish longs for a romantic elopement such as those of which she has read rather than a conventional marriage and so in order to win her hand, Captain Absolute disguises himself as an impoverished soldier and woos her, despite the disapproval of her guardian, Mrs Malaprop who has her own romantic designs. But Absolute has two rivals for Miss Languish, whose cousin has her own lovelife problems which we observe and the servants are playing their own games resulting in much comedy, chaos and confusion. Continue reading “Review: The Rivals, Richmond Theatre”

Review: Hay Fever, Theatre Royal Haymarket

Set in the country house of the Bliss family, Hay Fever is a comedy of bad manners and terribly bad behaviour, laced with Noël Coward’s cutting wit, set over a weekend from hell. In the cavernous Theatre Royal Haymarket, a strong cast is headed up by Dame Judi Dench as Judith Bliss.

Theatrical has-been Judith has not been taking to early retirement well and is hankering after a return to the stage as she’s had enough of her family. The play starts off with the family inviting various guests to stay for the weekend: Judith invites a fan, her husband has a ‘muse’ coming to visit and her son and daughter also invite a friend to stay, only trouble is, no-one has told anyone else they’re inviting anyone. Continue reading “Review: Hay Fever, Theatre Royal Haymarket”