A few shows to look forward to

Rehearsal pics might not always be the most exciting thing but they do serve as a useful reminder of shows that you should be thinking about booking for – in this case, Cock, Broken Wings, Steve, Straight Line Crazy and if you can fit it in, Doubt


Cock opens at the Ambassadors Theatre on 5th March Continue reading “A few shows to look forward to”

Review: Doubt – A Parable, Chichester Festival Theatre

Monica Dolan is more than worth the journey in Lia Williams’ striking production of Doubt: A Parable at Chichester Festival Theatre

“May I ask what you are writing down with that ball-point pen?”

I always knew it would take something, or somone, special to tempt me out on my first out-of-London theatre trip in Lord knows how long and I don’t think that anyone could argue that Monica Dolan onstage again fits that bill. She’s currently starring in Chichester Festival Theatre’s production of a rather short run of Doubt: A Parable, directed by the no less irresistible Lia Williams

John Patrick Shanley’s play (last seen in London in a Stella Gonet-starring production at Southwark Playhouse) deals most effectively in the relationship – such as there is any – between moral certainty and notions of truth. Written in 2005, it remains depressingly relevant in its depiction of polarised viewpoints and debate that can’t escape sinking into rancour and of course, the long shadow cast by endless tales of church-sanctioned abuse. Continue reading “Review: Doubt – A Parable, Chichester Festival Theatre”

TV Review: The Amazing Mr Blunden

The Amazing Mr Blunden is a nice bit of undemanding, traditional, festive fare with Simon Callow doing what Simon Callow does best

“Time is not a straight line, it’s more like a vast wheel on which we stand at different points, rarely meeting”

I’m not normally one for much convention but I do like a bit of traditional festive family fare in this downtime period between Christmas and New Year but despite the preponderance of content and platforms, there doesn’t seem to be much of it around, not least that is new. So credit to Sky and their new adaptation of The Amazing Mr Blunden for scratching that itch for me.

Based on Antonia Barber’s 1969 book The Ghosts which was also filmed in 1972, Mark Gatiss leads this version as writer and director, and also as star since, you know, he can. And it is a refreshingly different take on the ghost story as it takes place in both 1821 and the modern day, reconfiguring what we know as ghosts as time travellers instead, depending on your perspective. Continue reading “TV Review: The Amazing Mr Blunden”

TV Review: Silent Witness Series 10

Series 10 of Silent Witness, aka the one where they add episodes, make Harry a wannabe stand-up and Harry and Nikki do it, or do they?

“I went as far as I believed I could”

Because in TV-land, a young(ish) man and woman couldn’t possibly work together without shagging, Series 10 of Silent Witness sees the inevitable hooking-up of Nikki and Harry. Although to its credit, it instantly puts a fly in the ointment and in the harrowing final story, really earns the affection between this pair. 

As we flit from people-trafficking to performance art, angsty teenagers to animal rights activists, this emerges as a solid rather than spectacular series. Adding in a fifth story adds to the sense of general competence without really raising the stakes, until ‘Schism’ at least, though I’d question just how much mortal danger we ever thought ‘someone’ was in. Continue reading “TV Review: Silent Witness Series 10”

TV Review: Doctor Who Flux (Series 13)

Opting for a miniseries for Series 13 of Doctor Who certainly changes up the pace well, as Flux comes to a breathless end with some great work by Jodie Whittaker

“Do you think running will help?”

And so the end begins for Jodie Whittaker, and for Chris Chibnall. The 13th Doctor and her showrunner had a three-series-and-out deal which they are honouring and so this final season – a miniseries called Flux and three specials – will take us up to the centenary of the BBC in late 2022 and the regeneration of the Time Lord into…well, whoever the returning Russell T Davies decides.

One might have thought opting for the ostensibly more focused notion of a miniseries, of one overarching story stripped over six episodes, would have made Flux a simpler affair than the last few series of Doctor Who but Chibnall clearly had other plans. But having reached the end, I’d say that it was a good deal more fun than anticipated, a full-on caper merely teasing traumatic revelations about the Doctor’s selves rather diving full on into the morass of series lore. Continue reading “TV Review: Doctor Who Flux (Series 13)”

TV Review: Doctor Who Flux Episode 1

The end begins… Jodie Whittaker’s final full season as Doctor Who starts with ‘The Halloween Apocalypse’, episode 1 of Flux

“Synchronize watches. Forget that: I’m not wearing a watch”

There’s perhaps something a little awry when news of a show’s new showrunner overtakes the show itself but such is the way of the Doctor Who discourse. Russell T Davies coming back to the show is undoubtedly a huge development but it does feel a bit of a shame that this was announced before Jodie Whittaker at least got to start her final series in the TARDIS. But whaddya gonna do?

For Series 13, Chris Chibnall has opted to shake up the model and so we’re being given Flux, a six-part single story ahead of a handful of specials next year which will lead to Whittaker’s departure. This era has been, not necessarily hit and miss for me but something less than essential, though I think that it is perhaps as much me growing apart from Doctor Who a touch, something that actually started in the Capaldi era. Continue reading “TV Review: Doctor Who Flux Episode 1”

News: Chichester Festival Theatre announce Winter 2021/22 season

A feast of visiting drama, dance, comedy, family shows and music for all tastes and ages is heading to Chichester Festival Theatre for the Winter 2021/22 season.

We’re particularly proud to offer a new home-grown production: the revival of one of the best plays of modern times, John Patrick Shanley’s Pulitzer Award-winning Doubt: A Parable, directed by Lia Williams and starring Monica Dolan and Sam Spruell in their Chichester debuts. Continue reading “News: Chichester Festival Theatre announce Winter 2021/22 season”

TV Review: Small Axe

Steve McQueen’s anthology flm series Small Axe is an absolute triumph as it depicts the West Indian experience in London but tells us all so much about the UK

“We mustn’t be victims, but protagonists of our stories. And what better way of representing ourselves than self-representing ourselves”

Not too much to say about Small Axe that hasn’t been said much more eloquently and appropriately by many others. But I just wanted to applaud some stirring acting work across all 5 films – in particular Shaun Parkes and Letitia Wright in Mangrove and John Boyega in Red White and Blue. And writer/director Steve McQueen, with co-writing work from Alastair Siddons and Courttia Newland, who plants racism, and racist activity, so undeniably in front of a Sunday night BBC1 audience in a way that has so rarely been done before.

TV Review: Liar Series 2

Series 2 of Liar shifts the focus from rape to murder but does little to raise this from bog-standard thriller territory

“Sometimes bad things happen and we just have to deal with them”

Was the world calling out for a second season of Liar? When the first apparently did such great numbers for ITV, it seems the decision was inevitable but it has taken more than two years for it to arrive and I’m not sure that it carries the same level of impetus with it – I don’t imagine ratings will have held up to anywhere near the same degree.

That first series did show much promise, complicating a rape story by presenting a he said/she said narrative that asked some big questions. But midway through, Liar tipped its hand and ended up as a bog-standard thriller and it is in that same spirit that it continues here. A bit of story-telling trickery allows for Ioan Gruffudd’s Andrew to return alongside Joanne Froggatt as Laura but I have to say I really wasn’t gripped. Continue reading “TV Review: Liar Series 2”

Lockdown TV Review: Spooks Series 6

AKA the one that doesn’t work and the one that you should avoid if you’re feeling angsty about the current situation – approach Spooks Series 6 with caution

“The only option will be national quarantine and burial pits”

Series 6 is one of the trickier ones to watch right now so be warned – it opens with a two-parter called ‘The Virus’ which makes for a eerily chilling watch. It’s also a curious season as whilst the introduction of a series-long storyline – Iran seeking to gain nuclear capability – for the first time seems like it should work no problem, the reality doesn’t hang together quite as well as it ought.

The major level conspiracy theory takes too long to click into gear, and never really reaches the high-stakes territory it needs to hit home hard. The ‘mole in MI-5’ thread doesn’t pay off convincingly, recruiting another journalist off the street tests the patience (sorry Ben) and where one fake-out death of a major character might be permitted, two in the space of three episodes feels lazy. A major disappointment following the highs of Series 5.

Nicola Walker-ometer
Absolute zero, it’s as if she never existed. Fucking Harry. Continue reading “Lockdown TV Review: Spooks Series 6”