Review: The Human Voice, Harold Pinter Theatre

Ruth Wilson and Ivo van Hove reunite for The Human Voice, a striking monologue that is bound to be divisive

“This phone is the last thing that still connects us”

In some ways, The Human Voice is an obvious choice. A short run of a monologue which allows Ruth Wilson to reunite with director Ivo van Hove after their acclaimed Hedda Gabler in a mighty showcase. In others though, it is a little perplexing. Jean Cocteau’s phone-based play dates back to 1930 and van Hove’s production, although tinkered with here, was created in 2009 so there’s admittedly little freshness in the air.

We’re witnessing the dying embers of a broken relationship. Wilson’s nameless woman is having a final phone call with her former lover (who remains unseen and unheard), knowing full well that if and when he hangs up it will truly be over as he’s about to get married to someone else. And for just over an hour, she runs the full gamut of desperate emotion, from dancing to vomiting, unable to reconcile with the truth that he just doesn’t love her any more. Continue reading “Review: The Human Voice, Harold Pinter Theatre”

#AdventwithClowns Day 7 – Oslo

Ruth Wilson and Andrew Scott head up an effective adaptation of JT Rogers’ play Oslo, which sacrifices wordiness for cinematic verve

“Now we are approaching the hour of the waffles”

JT Rogers’ Tony-winning play Oslo was a hit at the National and in the West End but it was still a little bit of a surprise to see it receiving the televisual treatment, not least with Steven Spielberg named among its executive producers. Fortunately though, Rogers remained fully involved in writing  the adapted screenplay and the play’s director Bartlett Sher has kept his hand on the directorial tiller, going for some luxe casting with Ruth Wilson and Andrew Scott and broadening the canvas to include flashback scenes and some gorgeous Scandinavian location work.

Oslo recounts a dramatised version of the true-life, secret back-channel negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization which led to the then-pivotal 1990s Oslo Peace Accords. Wilson plays junior minister Mona Juul and Scott her husband Terje Rød-Larsen, a Norwegian couple who find themselves in the position to bring the two opposing sides to the same table on neutral territory, reinvigorating a non-existent peace process but under absolute secrecy. They’re both terrific, fighting the need to be non-interventionalist until there’s nothing to do but close your eyes and jump in. Continue reading “#AdventwithClowns Day 7 – Oslo”

News: Ruth Wilson and Ivo van Hove reunite for The Human Voice

After the pandemic robbed us of the chance to see 24 hours of Ruth Wilson, the celebrated (not least by me) actress has revealed her plans to return to the London stage. She’s set to star in The Human Voice, an adaptation of Jean Cocteau’s monologue by Ivo van Hove and designed by Jan Versweyveld, at the Harold Pinter Theatre for three short weeks from 17th March until 9th April.

The production brings back together Wilson and van Hove after their vibrant take on Hedda Gabler at the National Theatre back in 2016. And it is a show has been in Internationaal Theater Amsterdam’s (or Toneelgroep Amsterdam as was) repertoire for a good few years now, with the marvellous actress Halina Reijn having performed it one way or another every year from 2008 to 2019! Continue reading “News: Ruth Wilson and Ivo van Hove reunite for The Human Voice”

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”

2021 British Independent Film Awards nominations

Best British Independent Film
After Love – Aleem Khan, Matthieu de Braconier
Ali & Ava – Clio Barnard, Tracy O’Riordan
Boiling Point – Philip Barantini, James Cummings, Bart Ruspoli, Hester Ruoff
The Nest – Sean Durkin, Ed Guiney, Derrin Schlesinger, Rose Garnett, Amy Jackson, Christina Piovesan
The Souvenir Part II – Joanna Hogg, Ed Guiney, Emma Norton, Andrew Lowe, Luke Schiller

Best Director
After Love – Aleem Khan
Ali & Ava – Clio Barnard
Boiling Point – Philip Barantini
The Nest – Sean Durkin
The Souvenir Part II – Joanna Hogg Continue reading “2021 British Independent Film Awards nominations”

News: National Theatre adds new productions to streaming platform NT at Home

The National Theatre has announced the latest productions to be made available on its National Theatre at Home streaming platform. Launching today, the Young Vic and Joshua Andrews’ production of Tennessee Williams’ timeless masterpiece A Streetcar Named Desire featuring Gillian Anderson as Blanche DuBois, Ben Foster as Stanley and Vanessa Kirby as Stella, the NT’s recent production of Dylan Thomas’ Under Milk Wood with Michael Sheen and Nadia Fall’s verbatim play Home that explores homelessness in the UK featuring Michaela Coel. New productions are added each month and since launching in December 2020, there are now 31 productions available to stream on the platform.

It is also announced today some of the productions that audiences can expect to see on the platform in the coming months. Those productions are confirmed to include Antony & Cleopatra with Ralph Fiennes and Sophie Okonedo in the title roles; Hedda Gabler with Ruth Wilson in the title role; Caryl Churchill’s Top Girls in the Lyttelton theatre from 2019Sally Cookson’s 2017 production of Peter Pan; Yaël Farber’s Salomé and James Graham’s political drama This House, alongside current NT productions; Kae Tempest’s Paradise with Lesley Sharp and Winsome Pinnock’s Rockets and Blue LightsIan McKellen on Stage will also join the platform this autumn for audiences outside the UK and Ireland. It is currently available in the UK and Ireland for Amazon Prime subscribers. Continue reading “News: National Theatre adds new productions to streaming platform NT at Home”

Reviews: Constellations, Vaudeville Theatre

The Donmar West End production of Constellations launches its first two casts in Sheila Atim & Ivanno Jeremiah and Peter Capaldi & Zoë Wanamaker at the Vaudeville Theatre

One drink. And if you never want to see me again you never have to see me again.”

With the Donmar currently getting a lick of paint, Michael Longhurst has decided to revive his production of Nick Payne’s Constellations with a pandemic-friendly attention-grabbing model that fits neatly with Payne’s exploration of the multiverse. Four different casts take on the two-hander over the run, pushing it variously in terms of age, sexuality and race.

As if there was any doubting this is a show I like, 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. And it is a real pleasure to be able to delve back into its playful structure which tracks the infinite possibilities of the relationship between quantum physicist Marianne and beekeeper Roland. Continue reading “Reviews: Constellations, Vaudeville Theatre”

News: Constellations returns to the West End and how!

Constellations returns to the West End and how! One of my favourite plays, with four different casts?!  Amazing stuff.

“One drink. And if you never want to see me again you never have to see me again.”

This summer Nick Payne’s beautiful and heartbreaking romance Constellations is revived in the West End with a twist: four different casts take turns to journey through the multiverse exploring the infinite possibilities of a relationship; each refracting the play afresh. Starring Sheila Atim and Ivanno Jeremiah (18th June – 1st August), Peter Capaldi and Zoë Wanamaker (23rd June – 24th July), Omari Douglas and Russell Tovey (30th July – 11th September), and Anna Maxwell Martin and Chris O’Dowd (6th August – 12th September).

It’s a play I’ve followed as much as I can since it premiered upstairs at the Royal Court. From its West End transfer to its bow on Broadway, from the UK tour which also popped into the West End to the Southwark Playhouse production which never happened (very in keeping with the play!), plus there’s the new radio production which I’ve got lined up to listen to very soon. Safe to say I am handling my expectations very well and am in no way over-excited and chomping at the bit to book in to see the same show at least 4 times in less than 3 months…! See you there?

TV Review: His Dark Materials, Series 2

No spoilers, but the second series of His Dark Materials is a continued absolute triumph

“Your duty is to protect the girl…and the boy”

We may have lost an episode of the second series of His Dark Materials to the pandemic but you really couldn’t tell, its atmospheric and elegiac storytelling feeling like some of the most mature work on screen right now. Jack Thorne’s adaptation of Philip Pullman’s novel(s) manages a brilliant balance between faithfulness and invention, an added scene between Mrs Coulter and Lee Scoresby is a sensational addition. And the direction from Leanne Welham and Jamie Childs keeps the show looking amazing.

From Lyra’s enduring guilt over Roger’s demise in the Series 1 finale, to climactic struggles that lead to some truly traumatising conclusions, the odyssey that Lyra and Will take from their Oxfords to Cittàgazze and beyond is nothing short of stunning. Dafne Keen’s Lyra remains as intellectually curious as ever but Amir Wilson’s Will takes the spotlight as he’s forced to reckon with the weight of responsibility forced onto his shoulders. And he is achingly good, a new maturity coming forth episode by episode. Continue reading “TV Review: His Dark Materials, Series 2”

News: November news aplenty

An unnecessary amount of theatre news exploded forth today, maybe everyone was just too busy watching CNN all of last week…  I’m just going to rattle through it all quickly to save everyone time.

Jason Robert Brown’s Songs From A New World will play the Vaudeville Theatre for a month from 5th February. David Hunter, Rachel John, Cedric Neal , Rachel Tucker and Shem Omari James, who all reprise their roles from the London Palladium gigs in October.

The previously announced Lynn Ahrens and Mike Ockrent’s A Christmas Carol has revealed its supporting cast around Brian Conley’s Scrooge. Lucie Jones, Sandra Marvin, Martyn Ellis, Cedric Neal, Jeremy Secomb, Matt Jay-Willis and Jacqueline Jossa will join him at the Dominion Theatre from 7th December. Continue reading “News: November news aplenty”