Review: Tennis Elbow, Sound Stage

Audio-digital platform Sound Stage stumbles a little with John Byrne’s Tennis Elbow, a new play that feels terribly dated

“Park your bottie, let’s have some cheese and crackers”

After a powerfully evocative start with Mark Ravenhill’s Angela, the audio-digital platform Sound Stage stumbles a little with its second instalment Tennis Elbow. Written by Scottish arts titan John Byrne – his first play in 13 years – it acts as a follow up to his 1977 play Writer’s Cramp and thus tying its fortunes very closely with that original work.

Presented as a story-within-a-story and narrated by the fabulous Maureen Beattie, we’re treated to a succession of biographical snippets from the life of Pamela Crichton-Capers, ostensibly an undersung artist who just happens to be the wife of Francis Seneca McDade, also an undersung artist who was the subject of Writer’s Cramp. Continue reading “Review: Tennis Elbow, Sound Stage”

Radio review: Constellations / Elegy / The Meaning of Zong

Less reviews, more notifications that a wonderful radio version of Nick Payne’s Constellations is now available to listen to on Radio 3, starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw and George Mackay. It’s well worth your time but be warned, it could well lead to expensive splurges to see the four forthcoming West End casts of Sheila Atim and Ivanno Jeremiah, Peter Capaldi and Zoë Wanamaker, Omari Douglas and Russell Tovey, and Anna Maxwell Martin and Chris O’Dowd.

Sasha Yevtushenko also directs a production of Elegy as part of this double bill, a play which I don’t remember half as fondly, despite a strong cast at the Donmar Warehouse. Here again, Juliet Stevenson, Deborah Findlay and Marilyn Nnadebe elevate the production to must-listen levels but it just isn’t as gut-wrenchingly affecting a piece of writing in the end.

Last up is Giles Terera’s The Meaning of Zong, the debut play for this talented performer which is now receiving its premiere on radio. It’s an extraordinary dramatisation of a shocking piece of British history that very few of us will know about, one which is vital to add to the discourse that has emerged since last summer and a play that must be put on major stages as soon as we can.

News: Casts Announced for Next Three New Sound Stage Productions

Pitlochry Festival Theatre and The Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh in association with Naked Productions are delighted to announce casts for three forthcoming Sound Stage plays.

  • Tennis Elbow by John Byrne (30 April – 2 May 2021) is directed by Elizabeth Newman and stars Maureen Beattie, Brian Ferguson, Jessica Hardwick, Cherylee Houston, Louise Jameson, Anne Odeke, Sally Reid, Kirsty Stuart, Samuel West and Fiona Wood
  • Hindu Times by Jaimini Jethwa (28 – 30 May 2021) is directed by Caitlin Skinner and stars Rehanna McDonald, Adam McNamara and Daniel Portman
  • The Mother Load by Lynda Radley (25 – 27 June 2021) is directed by Isobel McArthur and stars Nalini Chetty, Anna Russell-Martin, Wendy Seager and Rosalind Sydney

Continue reading “News: Casts Announced for Next Three New Sound Stage Productions”

TV Review: The Frankenstein Chronicles, Series 1

Sean Bean does Sean Bean in the slight oddity that is Series 1 of The Frankenstein Chronicles, good work too from Vanessa Kirby

“This will be my penance”

Just a quickie for this, as it was one of those shows I’ve been meaning to watch for ages due to the list of actors in its first series (rather than its subject). Elliot Cowan, Anna Maxwell Martin, Ryan Sampson, Ed Stoppard, Sam West…a supporting company right out of Clowns central casting.

Created and mostly written by Benjamin Ross and Barry Langford, The Frankenstein Chronicles plays out as an “inspired by” Mary Shelley’s novel rather than a direct adaptation. It is essentially a 19th century police procedural but given we open with the discovery of a stitched-together body and its dramatis personae include William Blake and Shelley herself, it is clear what kind of universe we’re operating in. Continue reading “TV Review: The Frankenstein Chronicles, Series 1”

TV Review: W1A (Series 2)

Something doesn’t quite click right with Series 2 of W1A, as it struggles to live up to what has gone before though still remaining quite gently funny

“I don’t want to be dramatic about it, and I mean we all love Sue Barker, but I’ve to to say we are looking at a situation here”

I’ve loved going back to watch Twenty Twelve and my memories of the shift to W1A were that it was just as good, if not better. I’d definitely say that about the first series but having just gone through series 2, I found myself just a little disappointed. The bar having been raised so high, it feels like this collection of four episodes just doesn’t have the same zing that really grabs your attention.

In many respects, nothing has really changed. There’s still much comic currency in the exposure of the labyrinthine bureaucracy of the BBC and the determination of any middle-to-senior manager to avoid actually making a decision. But there’s also a slight sense of familiar ground being retrodden that dulls the edge – I mean once again any and every female is falling at the feet of Ian Fletcher, really? Continue reading “TV Review: W1A (Series 2)”