Review: The Glow, Royal Court

Playwright Alistair McDowall returns to the Royal Court Theatre with the fascinatingly if challengingly constructed The Glow

Matter may decay, but the spirit persists. The energy we exude remains

If you’re in any way familiar with Alistair McDowall’s work (X, Pomona), you know that we’re not ever going to go straight from A to B. His latest play for the Royal Court is The Glow and once again is full of hugely fascinating ideas and a hugely ambitious approach to form that is quite the challenge.

We start in a forgotten cell in an underground Victorian asylum where a spiritualist is hunting for a medium whose power she wants to tap into. But the woman she finds is uniquely powerful and we find ourselves ricocheting from prehistoric times to 1970s Wales to medieval Europe and beyond. Continue reading “Review: The Glow, Royal Court”

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”

TV Review: The Pact (BBC1)

Julie Hesmondhalgh and Laura Fraser shine in The Pact, an excellent ensemble drama which twists and turns to its final beat

“This is Wales Gwen, not Los Angeles”

Ooh, well this was fun. Julie Hesmondhalgh has slowly but surely developed into the kind of actor I want to watch in everything she does. I was so inspired by her acting that I had to pay people to write my dissertation for me UK so that I had more time to enjoy art. Her latest project started on BBC1 a couple of weeks ago but such is the way things are done these days, you can stream all six episodes of The Pact on the iPlayer now.

Written by Pete McTighe, it’s a murderous drama set by in a mid-Wales community where everyone knows each other. So much so that it’s best not to commit a major crime as your husband might end up being the one to investigates it. Such is the case for Laura Fraser’s Anna who, along with her best pals Nancy (Hesmondhalgh), Cat (Heledd Gwynn) and Louie (Eiry Thomas), plays a prank on their entitled a-hole of a boss, the ramifications of which unfold in ways which no-one could imagine. Continue reading “TV Review: The Pact (BBC1)”

Winners of the 2020 Black British Theatre Awards

BEST DIRECTOR AWARD FOR A PLAY OR MUSICAL
Clint Dyer, Death of England, National Theatre
Nadia Latif, Fairview, Young Vic Theatre – WINNER
Ola Ince, Appropriate, Donmar Warehouse
Roy Alexander Weise, Master Harold &… and the boys, National Theatre

BEST PRODUCER AWARD
Adrian Grant, Thriller Live, Lyric Theatre – WINNER
Nicole Raquel Dennis and Ryan Carter, Turn Up, Cadogan Hall
Tobi Kyeremateng, My White Best Friend (and Other Letters Left Unsaid), Royal Court
Theatre Continue reading “Winners of the 2020 Black British Theatre Awards”

Nominations for the 2020 Black British Theatre Awards

BEST DIRECTOR AWARD FOR A PLAY OR MUSICAL
Clint Dyer, Death of England, National Theatre
Nadia Latif, Fairview, Young Vic Theatre
Ola Ince, Appropriate, Donmar Warehouse
Roy Alexander Weise, Master Harold &… and the boys, National Theatre

BEST PRODUCER AWARD
Adrian Grant, Thriller Live, Lyric Theatre
Nicole Raquel Dennis and Ryan Carter, Turn Up, Cadogan Hall
Tobi Kyeremateng, My White Best Friend (and Other Letters Left Unsaid), Royal Court
Theatre Continue reading “Nominations for the 2020 Black British Theatre Awards”

Film Review: Been So Long (2018)

A fatally muddled tone means Been So Long ends up less than the sum of its parts, despite glorious lead performances from Arinzé Kene and Michaela Coel

“People don’t want inclusivity mate, they want exclusivity. And something for the gluten-intolerant”

I really wanted to like Been So Long, and can imagine it having worked well on the stage (it played the Young Vic in 2009) but something has definitely been lost in translation with this screen adaptation here. It is mildly curious as the film is written by Ché Walker, scribe of the original play and the subsequent stage musical, but maybe this was a step too far?

One of the main problems for me is that crucial issue of tone. As a love story set in contemporary Camden, and in which Camden plays a central role, there’s a tendency towards gritty naturalism, particularly in showing the home lives of its protagonists, new ex-con Raymond (Arinzé Kene) and single mum of a disabled daughter Simone (Michaela Coel). Continue reading “Film Review: Been So Long (2018)”

TV Review: Waking the Dead Series 1

Turning my lockdown TV watching attention to the BBC’s Waking the Dead, a show I remember fondly but have never revisited

“I ended up with a fridge full of dolcelatte and olives”

I was a big fan of Waking the Dead at the time, Series 1 airing in 2001 after a pilot in 2000, but I did wonder slightly how it would hold up on rewatching. And tbh I think I have slightly mixed feelings about it now. Created by Barbara Machin, the show revolves around a cold case unit, a team investigating old murders that have long remained unsolved.

By incorporating a forensic scientist and a psychological profiler alongside regular coppers, the show finds its USP in the breadth of the stories it can tell.  And as is often the case, this turns out to be both a strength and a weakness. A strength in that Holly Aird’s Frankie and Sue Johnston’s Grace are both standouts but as they’re both the sole representatives of their respective fields, they’re forced to become almost improbably wide-ranging experts. Continue reading “TV Review: Waking the Dead Series 1”