10 top theatrical moments of 2021

As distinct from my favourite shows of the year, this list celebrates the fact that sometimes the good and the not-so-good co-exist right next to each – some of my favourite moments.

For reference, here’s my 2020 list, 2019 list, 2018 list, 2017 list2016 list2015 list and 2014 list.

Helen McCrory, in memoriam
I still don’t really have the words to talk about how sad the passing of Helen McCrory is, such a favourite actor of mine for so long. But what was joyful was hearing the absolute esteem in which seemingly every one of her colleagues held her, a testament to the person as well as the performer.

Being scared, by women
After having declared that scary theatre just didn’t work for me, the Terrifying Women made me eat my words in quite some style with their Halloween special. Continue reading “10 top theatrical moments of 2021”

2021 What’s On Stage Award nominations

The nominations for the 22nd Annual WhatsOnStage Awards have been announced 

Voting is open now, closing on Friday 21 January 2022, with the winners being announced at the awards ceremony on Sunday 27 February 2022. Write-in votes for Sutton Foster should be sent forthwith.

BEST PERFORMER IN A MALE IDENTIFYING ROLE IN A MUSICAL
Roger Bart – Back to the Future the Musical, Manchester Opera House & Adelphi Theatre
Olly Dobson – Back to the Future the Musical, Manchester Opera House & Adelphi Theatre
Arinzé Kene – Get Up, Stand Up! The Bob Marley Musical, Lyric Theatre
Julian Ovenden – South Pacific, Chichester Festival Theatre
Eddie Redmayne – Cabaret, Playhouse Theatre – Kit Kat Club
Ivano Turco – Cinderella, Gillian Lynne Theatre

BEST PERFORMER IN A FEMALE IDENTIFYING ROLE IN A MUSICAL
Aimie Atkinson – Pretty Woman, Piccadilly Theatre & Savoy Theatre
Samantha Barks – Frozen, Theatre Royal Drury Lane
Jessie Buckley – Cabaret, Playhouse Theatre – Kit Kat Club
Carrie Hope Fletcher – Cinderella, Gillian Lynne Theatre
Beverley Knight – The Drifters Girl, Garrick Theatre
Stephanie McKeon – Frozen, Theatre Royal Drury Lane Continue reading “2021 What’s On Stage Award nominations”

Review: The Tragedy of Macbeth, Almeida Theatre

At more than three hours, The Tragedy of Macbeth stretches the patience at the Almeida Theatre, despite strong work from Saoirse Ronan and James McArdle

Let not light see my black and deep desires”

The tragedy of Macbeth is that it is a notoriously difficult play to stage well and given its ubiquity on school curricula, it is staged hella often. At least it is one of Shakespeare’s shortest plays but the further tragedy of this Macbeth is that it breaks the three hour mark with its running time. And as I left Yaël Farber’s production at the Almeida Theatre, I can’t say I felt it had made the case for such indulgence.

The Tragedy of Macbeth initially grabbed headlines for marking the UK stage debut of Saoirse Ronan (she has previously been on Broadway in The Crucible) and so to get your hands on a ticket in this intimate theatre is a job in itself (streaming could be your friend, details below). And much of Farber’s innovation in recalibrating this show has been to seriously beef up Lady Macbeth’s presence in the play, physically as well as verbally, something which is intermittently very effective. Continue reading “Review: The Tragedy of Macbeth, Almeida Theatre”

News: Almeida 2021 season announcement

First up in June is the World Premiere of and breathe… by Yomi ode, a theatrical adaptation of poems from his forthcoming collection Manorism. Directed by Olivier Award-winning director Miranda Cromwell, featuring David Jonsson.

From July Lolita Chakrabarti’s Hymn will be performed to live in-person audiences for the first time following a string of sold-out live stream performances earlier this year. Adrian Lester and Danny Sapani reprise their roles, and Blanche McIntyre directs. Continue reading “News: Almeida 2021 season announcement”

Film Review: Ammonite (2020)

Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan deliver committed performances in Francis Lee’s Ammonite but the film rarely excites

“You know you can always ask me for help”

Francis Lee follows up the exceptional God’s Own Country with another story about hard labour in LGBTQ+ lives, this time focusing on the first letter of the acronym. Ammonite follows the life of 18th century fossil hunter Mary Anning, a woman working hard in her chosen field but stifled by Victorian attitudes which resulted in her discoveries being shown without any credit being given to her in her lifetime.

Lee couples this narrative of historical misogyny with a love story of his own making, a speculative romance that sees a growing connection build with Charlotte Murchison. Their ‘meet-cute’ comes at the behest of Murchison’s husband, a geologist wanting to learn from Anning’s practices and when he opts to take a trip away which conveniently coincides with his wife falling into a depression, a period of convalesence under Mary’s care in Lyme Regis is prescribed. Continue reading “Film Review: Ammonite (2020)”

73rd British Academy Film Awards nominations

BAFTA Fellowship
Kathleen Kennedy
Hideo Kojima

Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema
Andy Serkis

Best Film
1917 – Pippa Harris, Callum McDougall, Sam Mendes, and Jayne-Ann Tenggren
The Irishman – Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, Martin Scorsese, and Emma Tillinger Koskoff
Joker – Bradley Cooper, Todd Phillips, and Emma Tillinger Koskoff
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood – David Heyman, Shannon McIntosh, and Quentin Tarantino
Parasite – Bong Joon-ho and Kwak Sin-ae Continue reading “73rd British Academy Film Awards nominations”

Film Review: Mary Queen of Scots (2018)

A starry Mary Queen of Scots proves an intriguing if a little frustrating film debut for Josie Rourke

“The world will decide for itself”

An intriguing, if a little frustrating one this. Josie Rourke is a titan in the world of theatre and Mary Queen of Scots marks her cinematic debut. But despite a classy pair of lead performances from Saoirse Ronan and Margot Robbie as diametrically opposed queens Mary and Elizabeth, an ensemble consisting of the cream of British acting talent, and the sweeping beauty of the Highlands to frame every other shot, the film never really quite sparks into life.

Beau Willimon’s screenplay, based on John Guy’s book Queen of Scots: The True Life of Mary Stuart, dances around historical accuracy with its own determination, building in a climactic meeting between the two which although visually striking, dramatically brings precious little. Before then, the film is plotted as a strategic confrontation between two monarchs, two women, who are battling the worlds around them as much as each other. Continue reading “Film Review: Mary Queen of Scots (2018)”

25th Critics’ Choice Awards nominees

Best Picture
1917
Ford v Ferrari
The Irishman
Jojo Rabbit
Joker
Little Women
Marriage Story
Once Upon a Time in Hollywood
Parasite

Uncut Gems

Best Director
Noah Baumbach – Marriage Story
Greta Gerwig – Little Women
Bong Joon-ho – Parasite 
Sam Mendes – 1917 
Josh Safdie and Benny Safdie – Uncut Gems
Martin Scorsese – The Irishman
Quentin Tarantino – Once Upon a Time in Hollywood Continue reading “25th Critics’ Choice Awards nominees”