Graeae’s Crips Without Constraints Part 2 shows off UK Deaf and disabled artists firing brilliantly on all creative cylinders
“I think this could be the biggest challenge of my career”
Graeae’s Crips Without Constraints Part 2 feels like a great shot in the arm for those who might be tiring of the Zoom format that characterises so much of what new theatre we’re able to get at this moment in time. All five short plays in this collection have been written by alumni from Graeae’s Write to Play programme and are directed by upcoming disabled directors. truly celebrating celebrating the best talent and creativity of UK Deaf and disabled artists.
What is particularly impressive is the way in which that talent matches up to the more established names taking part here. Just look at how Mandy Colleran squares up to Harriet Walter’s condescending actor in Kellan Frankland’s How Do You Make A Cup of Tea?, skewering the lie about who gets the opportunity to portray disability onstage or onscreen. Or the way Saida Ahmed’s incredible performance equals the magnificent Sharon D Clarke’s for emotional intensity in The Gift by Leanna Benjamin, as a mother and daughter attempt to deal with some hard-hitting truths. Continue reading “Review: Crips Without Constraints Part 2”
Ros is looking for romance. Richard needs a new companion. They’re a match! But the year is 2020, and dating isn’t simple. From glitchy Zoom introductions, to their socially distanced first date in an actual restaurant, Adventurous follows the twists and turns of Ros and Richard’s relationship as they negotiate technology, treachery…and tortoises.
Filmed in lockdown, this is the premiere of actor Ian Hallard’s debut play. Both comic and touching, Adventurous tells the unexpected story of two single souls with an unstable connection. It reunites Hallard with Olivier Award-winner Sara Crowe following their many double-acts in Jermyn’s Street Theatre’s 2018 production of Noel Coward’s Tonight at 8.30. This online production is a heartwarming and hilarious treat. Continue reading “A round-up of February theatre news”
Crips Without Constraints Part 2, which runs from January to February this year, comprises five brand new short plays celebrating the best talent and creativity of Deaf and disabled artists from across the UK.
Having released the first two plays, How Do You Make a Cup of Tea starring Dame Harriet Walter and Mandy Colleran (comedy duo No Excuses) and Flowers For The Chateau starring Naomi Wirthner (The Doctor – Almeida & West End) and Julie Graham (Benidorm – ITV, Doctor Who – BBC), Graeae continues the series on February 2 with The Gift starring Sharon D Clarke (Death of a Salesman – Young Vic, Holby City – BBC) and Saida Ahmed (Notes to Forgotten She-Wolves – Shakespeare’s Globe). The company can also reveal today that Sharon Duncan-Brewster (Years and Years – BBC1, Sex Education – Netflix) will be joining the line-up which also includes Cherylee Houston(Coronation Street) and Alex James.
The new plays, all bold and brilliant duologues, are written by Leanna Benjamin, Rebekah Bowsher, Karen Featherstone, Kellan Frankland and Jessica Lovett, all alumni from Graeae’s Write to Play programme, covering topics from sibling rivalry to death by post stick notes. Additionally this year, the pieces will all be directed by upcoming disabled directors Stephen Bailey, Hana Pascal Keegan, Cheryl Martin, Alex Whiteley and Lilac Yosiphon.
It is Sarah Kane’s turn to get the Tristram Kenton treatment from the Guardian’s archive, and what an impressive array of talent that have understandably flocked to this most challenging of playwrights:
Photos: Tristram Kenton
Series 2 of Top Boy- Summerhouse is, quite frankly, exceptional
“I don’t wanna go to Ramsgate”
The first series of Top Boy surprised me at just how good it was, making a mockery of my earlier decision that it wasn’t my kind of thing. So I launched straight into the second series (now labelled Top Boy- Summerhouse on Netflix), unprepared for how harrowing it would get. It may have taken two years for it to be created but boy it was worth the wait.
Ronan Bennett’s series picks up one year later with Dushane’s (Ashley Walters_ status at the head of the Summerhouse estate as equally precarious and secure as ever, forever dependent on the next big drug delivery. But the Albanians have got their own plans, former besty Sully is setting up his own rival crew and the police have just dug up a body – eep! Continue reading “TV Review: Top Boy – Summerhouse (Series 2)”
Top Boy – Summerhouse easily makes a mockery of my previous decision that this wasn’t my type of thing.
“We’re gonna need some more time, and we’re gonna need some guns”
With the renewed vigour behind the Black Lives Matter movement and people’s determination (myself included) to do better at recognising black talent, it’s interesting to look back at the challenges they have faced. You’d imagine that Top Boy, a crime drama set in the heart of a fictional estate in Hackney, East London, would have been written by a black writer but as it turns out, Ronan Bennett is white and hails from Northern Ireland.
The series dates back to 2011 and I can’t speak to the realities of Channel 4’s commissioning process but it merits a raised eyebrow. Fortunately, Bennett’s assiduous research means that Top Boy (renamed Top Boy – Summerhouse on Netflix) does better than most at evoking the brutality and bullishness of gang life in the East End, where conventional notions of good and bad are cast aside in the name of survival by whatever means. Continue reading “TV Review: Top Boy – Summerhouse (Series 1)”
Just a quick flag-up for this brilliant visual project from photographer Helen Murray. Her set of portraits entitled Widening the Lens is in partnership with Act for Change. So many absolute faves looking stunning here: see the whole set on Murray’s website.
Years and Years sees Russell T Davies take on dystopian near-future sci-fi to startling effect
“We’re not stupid, we’re not poor, we’re not lacking. I’m sorry, but we’re clever. We can think of something, surely.”
What if…? What if…? What Brexit happens, what if Trump is voted in again and fires a nuclear bomb towards China, what if global warming happens today and not tomorrow, what if Lee from Steps is the most successful one…? Such is the world of Years and Years, Russell T Davies’ latest TV venture, a six-part drama that dares to ask what if it is already too late.
He uses the Lyons family as a prism to explore what the next 15 years of human history might look like, as technological advances make leaps and bounds alongside the political and social upheaval that strikes at the very heart of this sprawing middle-class Manchester-based family. It’s a daring piece of drama, full of Davies’ typically big heart and bold emotional colours and I have to say I rather loved it. Continue reading “TV Review: Years and Years”
The full list of winners of this year’s UK Theatre Awards have been announced and you can find them below:
Best Presentation Of Touring Theatre
Nuffield Southampton Theatres for the world premiere touring musical production of Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr Fox
Best Show for Children and Young People
The Snow Queen, New Vic Theatre
Gemma Bodinetz, Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse new repertory season
Continue reading “Full list of 2017 UK Theatre Awards winners”
The Royal Court continues to shake things up under Vicky Featherstone’s reign, offering two shorter plays (though not for the price of one) which are running in rep. Guillermo Calderón’s B and Chris Thorpe’s Victory Condition are both interesting in their own ways but whether it was me being grumpy, a slightly flat atmosphere or something more, neither drama really did it for me. So we’re keeping it brief!