Film Review: Effie Gray (2014)

An entertaining cast make the curious Effie Gray more engaging than it might otherwise have been

“Marriage, dear boy, is all about learning how to wait”

In what turned out to be an afternoon of staid, true-life Victorian romances, Effie Gray turned out to be the odder. Richard Laxton’s film, written by Emma Thompson, follows the story of the troubled marriage between polymath John Ruskin and Euphemia ‘Effie’ Gray which was never consummated and ended when she bucked the social mores of the time to pursue an annulment, which she was indeed granted.

And starting as we do with the marriage between the pair, we see a lot – a LOT – of the dry and dessicated home life of the couple which kicks off with him professing disgust at her naked person and agreeing a five year abstention from sex so he could focus on his work. Plus, his family – with whom they live – aren’t much keener on her, so life’s generally a downer. Continue reading “Film Review: Effie Gray (2014)”

The finalists of The ONCOMMs 2022

The OnComm is the new award for online shows from across the UK (and beyond) and was introduced in
May 2020. 

LIVE STREAM
GAYATRI The Royal Queen Consort of the Majapahit Kingdom /  7evenotes Production / Alexander Triyono & mhyajo / Available via https://res.cthearts.com/event/34:3465/34:59436/
The Black CatThreedumb Theatre / The Space / Unfortunately this show is no longer available.
TrestleOVO Productions / Maltings Theatre / View until 10 April at https://maltingstheatre.co.uk/whats-on/trestle

RECORDED (DIRECT)
A Brief List of Everyone Who Died / Patch of Blue / Finborough / View at https://www.youtube.com/user/finboroughtheatre
Talking Gods (series of 5 plays) / Arrows & Traps / View at https://www.arrowsandtraps.com/talkinggods
Tomatoes Tried to Kill Me But Banjos Saved My Life / Keith Alessi / View at https://online.thespaceuk.com/show/tomatoes-tried-to-kill-me-but-banjos-saved-my-life
Touchy / 20 Stories High / View via https://www.20storieshigh.org.uk/show/touchy/ Continue reading “The finalists of The ONCOMMs 2022”

The 2021 fosterIAN award winners

Best Actress in a Play
Sophie Melville, Mum

Best Actress in a Musical
Sutton Foster, Anything Goes

Best Actor in a Play
Omari Douglas/Russell Tovey, Constellations

Best Actor in a Musical
Eddie Redmayne, Cabaret

Best Supporting Actress in a Play
Ayesha Dharker, The Book of Dust

Best Supporting Actress in a Musical
Carly Mercedes Dyer, Anything Goes

Best Supporting Actor in a Play
Dino Fetscher, The Normal Heart

Best Supporting Actor in a Musical
Ainsley Hall Ricketts, A Chorus Line

And my top 10 plays of the year:
1. Anything Goes, Barbican
2. The Normal Heart, National Theatre
3. Constellations, Vaudeville Theatre
4. Cabaret, The Kit Kat Club at the Playhouse Theatre
5. What They Forgot To Tell Us (and other stories), BOLD Elephant
6. DJ Bazzer’s Year 6 Disco, Golden Goose Theatre
7. Still Life: Untold Stories of Nottingham Now
8. Mum, Soho Theatre
9. Gay Generations, White Bear Theatre
10. Romeo and Juliet

2021 Best Actor in a Play + in a Musical

Best Actor in a Play

Omari Douglas/Russell Tovey, Constellations
There were occasional moments when the multiple casts of Constellations felt like it might just be an experiment but in the Douglas/Tovey iteration, something magical happened as their chemistry electrified this most familiar of plays, making it sexier, funnier and more heartwrenching than ever before.

Honourable mention: Ben Daniels, The Normal Heart 
A titanic piece of acting in a blisteringly good production, all the more powerful for being on one of our largest stages. And despite the weightiness of the material and the size of that stage, Daniels filled it with the deepest of compassion. 

Charles Edwards, Best of Enemies
Dickon Farmar, Gay Generations
Josh O’Connor, Romeo and Juliet
Jack Sunderland, DJ Bazzer’s Year 6 Disco

Best Actor in a Musical

Eddie Redmayne, Cabaret 
Jessie Buckley rightly got a lot of the attention upon the owning of the Kit Kat Club but I don’t think Redmayne’s reworking of the Emcee is anything to be sniffed at either. A creepily expressive and starkly defined journey towards darkness, such is his charisma that we’re practically skipping along with him.

Honourable mention: Noel Sullivan, The Rhythmics 
Far too few people will have gotten to see Sullivan lead this charming new musical but one has to hope he’ll be at the lycra-clad helm once again when it resurfaces.

Declan Bennett, Carousel
Adam Cooper, Singin’ in the Rain
Scott Mackie, The Off Key
David Thaxton, She Loves Me

fosterIAN awards 2021

 WinnerRunner-upOther nominees
Best Actress in a PlaySophie Melville, MumCush Jumbo, HamletRonkẹ Adékoluẹjo, Lava
Jessie Buckley, Romeo and Juliet
Julie Hesmondhalgh, Still Life
Lesley Sharp, Paradise
Best Actor in a Play
Omari Douglas/Russell Tovey, ConstellationsBen Daniels, The Normal HeartCharles Edwards, Best of Enemies
Dickon Farmar, Gay Generations
Josh O'Connor, Romeo and Juliet
Jack Sunderland, DJ Bazzer’s Year 6 Disco
Best Supporting Actress in a PlayAyesha Dharker, The Book of DustNorah Lopez Holden, HamletLiz Carr, The Normal Heart
Deborah Findlay, Romeo and Juliet
Anastasia Hille, Paradise
Gloria Obianyo, Paradise
Best Supporting Actor in a PlayDino Fetscher, The Normal HeartPip Carter, The Book of DustSyrus Lowe, Best of Enemies
Daniel Monks, The Normal Heart
Lucian Msamati, Romeo and Juliet
Luke Norris, The Normal Heart
Best Actress in a MusicalSutton Foster, Anything GoesLinzi Hateley, Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor DreamcoatSamantha Barks/Stephanie McKeon, Frozen
Jessie Buckley, Cabaret
Carly Mercedes Dyer, A Chorus Line
Alex Young, She Loves Me
Best Actor in a MusicalEddie Redmayne, CabaretNoel Sullivan, The RhythmicsDeclan Bennett, Carousel
Adam Cooper, Singin' in the Rain
Scott Mackie, The Off Key
David Thaxron, She Loves Me
Best Supporting Actress in a Musical
Carly Mercedes Dyer, Anything GoesVictoria Hamilton-Barritt & Rebecca Trehearn, CinderellaEmily Barnett-Salter, A Chorus Line
Kaisa Hammarlund, She Loves Me
Joanna Riding, Carousel
Best Supporting Actor in a MusicalAinsley Hall Ricketts, A Chorus LineRobert Lindsay, Anything GoesStewart Clarke, Be More Chill
Andy Coxon, She Loves Me
Elliot Levey, Cabaret
Obioma Ugoala, Frozen

TV Review: Silent Witness Series 6

Not a moment too soon, Series 6 of Silent Witness finally includes some colleagues for Sam Ryan to give us some relief from her relentless dourness

“Everyone know you love…getting involved”

Having flirted with releasing Sam Ryan from her torment with a suspected tumour at the end of the last season, Series 6 of Silent Witness makes the wise decision to change things up by building a team around her, to relieve some of the pressure of making her the centre of every case. So we welcome William Gaminara’s Professor Leo Dalton and Tom Ward’s Dr Harry Cunningham as colleagues to the sainted Sam, who allow for multiple cases to now be featured in each story.

It’s a good development and one which improves as the season goes on, even if the inclusion of drama in both their personal lives pushes us a little closer to the soapier side of things. But with the show now anchored in London, we do start to see the rapid changeover of police personnel between each story which, to me, feels like a missed opportunity. Brilliant work by the likes of Lia Williams and Stuart Graham, even Tim Healy, makes any of their investigating officers ripe for a series-long feature but no, it’s not to be.

And even with colleagues in tow, the show now openly mocks Sam’s predilection for getting involved, aka meddling, even to the point of standing in the middle of an active police operation with her hands on her hips saying ‘how dare you tell me what to do’. It’s a ridiculousness that is increasingly hard to bear. Continue reading “TV Review: Silent Witness Series 6”

Some alternatives for festive shows in London, if panto ain’t your thing

Not up for seeing panto but still fancy getting out of the house before Omicron burns it all down? Here’s some alternatives to pantomimes over the coming month, plus a mention for some seriously good deals on West End shows over at Seatplan


Les Misérables and The Phantom Of The Opera star John Owen-Jones will be joining fellow Welsh West End singing sensation Lucie Jones to celebrate the festive season in style at her exclusive December concerts. John – who has starred to great acclaim as both Jean Valjean and The Phantom – will appear at the Lucie Jones at Christmas concerts at St David’s Hall, Cardiff, and at Her Majesty’s Theatre, London.

The intimate and exclusive shows will feature Lucie, who has just finished playing Jenna Hunterson on the UK tour of Waitress and will soon take on the iconic role of Elphaba, and John performing all their favourite Christmas songs and showtunes, accompanied by Lucie’s live band. The dates are Monday December 13 at St David’s Hall, Cardiff and Tuesday, December 14 at Her Majesty’s Theatre, London.

Tickets are on sale now from www.cuffeandtaylor.com Continue reading “Some alternatives for festive shows in London, if panto ain’t your thing”

News: One year of National Theatre at Home – New titles added

Ahead of National Theatre at Home’s one year anniversary on 1 December, the National Theatre has today announced the next filmed productions to be added to the streaming service, which is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Joining the platform today is Simon Godwin’s critically acclaimed 2018 production of Antony & Cleopatra in the Olivier theatre, with Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo playing Shakespeare’s famous fated couple. Then the iconic and multi-award-winning production of War Horsebased on the novel by Michael Morpurgo, will be available from 1 December until 31 January 2022 on demand internationally for the first time since its premiere 14 years ago. It will be available with British Sign Language, audio description and captions. Continue reading “News: One year of National Theatre at Home – New titles added”

News: Donmar Warehouse to stream all 4 versions of Constellations

The Donmar Warehouse will stream its West End revival of Constellations online next month, marking the first time the London theatre has hosted one of its productions on a dedicated on-demand platform. Nick Payne’s play, which was performed with four different casts over the run, has been recorded in each configuration and stream online in October for a month. The play will also be made available free to schools this autumn.

The production recently completed its highly acclaimed run at the Vaudeville Theatre where its four groupings all impressed. For my money, Sheila Atim and Ivanno Jeremiah, and Peter Capaldi and Zoë Wanamaker were both excellent but the chance to see Omari Douglas and Russell Tovey, and Anna Maxwell Martin and Chris O’Dowd in close succession really highlights the showcases this enterprise at its best.  All four casting configurations will be available separately online so you’ll be able to mix and match to see the power and possibilities of different interpretations of the same text. Continue reading “News: Donmar Warehouse to stream all 4 versions of Constellations”

Review: Constellations, Vaudeville Theatre

Omari Douglas and Russell Tovey and Anna Maxwell Martin and Chris O’Dowd really raise the game in this multi-cast Constellations at the Vaudeville Theatre

“In the quantum multiverse, every choice, every decision you’ve ever and never made exists in an unimaginably vast ensemble of parallel universes”

Naturally, having declared that the multiple casts of this West End revival of Constellations was perhaps a bit of an extravagance and not worth the return visits, both Omari Douglas and Russell Tovey, and Anna Maxwell Martin and Chris O’Dowd proved me wrong with a brilliant pair of interpretations of Nick Payne’s play, which offer up a powerful compare and contrast exercise right there in the moment.

You can read my reviews from upstairs at the Royal Court to its West End transfer to its bow on Broadway to the UK tour which also popped into the West End to find out more about the play itself. Here, Tovey and Douglas make it sharply witty and as downright sexy as it has ever been and O’Dowd and Maxwell Martin push it to a different funnier place, toying with the fourth wall in several places. So I’m busting out a highly recommended for these, both of them!

Running time: 75 minutes (without interval)
Photos: Marc Brenner
Constellations is booking at the Vaudeville Theatre until 12th September
Omari Douglas and Russell Tovey play until 11th September
Anna Maxwell Martin and Chris O’Dowd play until 12th September