News: Mad House reveals further casting

Ambassador Theatre Group Productions announce the full cast for the world première of Theresa Rebeck’s new play Mad House. Joining the previously announced David Harbour and Bill Pullman are Hanako Footman, Akiya Henry, Sinead Matthews, Charlie Oscar and Stephen Wight.

Directed by Moritz von Stuelpnagel, the production opens on 26 June at the Ambassadors Theatre, with previews from 15 June, and runs until 4 September. Continue reading “News: Mad House reveals further casting”

Film Review: Kaleidoscope (2016)

The kind of film it is best to know nothing about beforehand, Toby Jones and Sinéad Matthews simmer in the moody and mind-bending Kaleidoscope 

“You’ve got a businessman’s face.
‘I’d rather have his wallet.'”

It’s kinda cool to be able to rely on your brother when you’re making your debut feature film, especially when the brother in case is Toby Jones. Writer/director Rupert Jones is also able to call on quite the supporting cast – Anne Reid and Cecilia Noble, Deborah Findlay and Clare Perkins popping in for cameos too and of course, the magnificent Sinéad Matthews in a pleasingly complex role.

Indeed, Kaleidoscope is a pleasingly complex film from top to bottom (with some seriously great poster art). Jones, T. plays Carl, recently released from prison and slowly putting his life back together, even venturing into online dating. But an arresting beginning makes it immediately clear that his council flat holds many secrets and as the line between what is real and fictional becomes increasingly blurred, an untethered dreamlike state descends. Continue reading “Film Review: Kaleidoscope (2016)”

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”

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”

News: My White Best Friend goes online via the Royal Court

Writer Rachel De-Lahay and director Milli Bhatia have commissioned ten writers to pen letters that say the unsaid, for a new, online version of their festival My White Best Friend (and Other Letters Left Unsaid).

Produced by Tobi Kyeremateng with support by the Royal Court Theatre, the online festival will run over a week with a pre-recorded letter by Rachel De-Lahay read each night alongside two letters by some of the most exciting voices in the UK read live. Continue reading “News: My White Best Friend goes online via the Royal Court”

TV Review: Chewing Gum (Series 2)

Series 2 of Chewing Gum sees Michaela Coel nail the ‘two series and out’ trajectory of some of the best British sitcoms

“I’m not 17, I’m a grown-up woman. I just…regularly make childlike mistakes”

I belatedly came to Chewing Gum just now and watched both the first series and this second one in a single sitting each, their addictive nature and too-easily bingeable lengths giving me two fine nights in front of the TV.

Writer and creator Michaela Coel rarely let her imagination get in the way of the first six episodes but here, the expansion of Tracey’s world beyond her Tower Hamlets estate is quite simply fucking hilarious. Plus, the marvellous Sinéad Matthews appears in this series too. Continue reading “TV Review: Chewing Gum (Series 2)”

TV Review: The Smoke (2014)

London’s Burning for the 21st century? The Smoke treads familiar ground in soapy nonsense set at a fire station

“I thought aubergines, it’s a party, why not”

As does many a Sky drama, The Smoke passed me by on its release in 2014 but in the search for unchallenging entertainment, it scratches the itch with some interesting variations on a familiar formula. I won’t give away the jaw-dropping moment from the first episode but safe to say, you’ll be in no doubt as to exactly what tone Lucy Kirkwood’s show is pitching for.

We follow the shenanigans of White Watch, a brigade of London firefighters who battle just as much personal drama as they do actual fires. Chief among them is Jamie Bamber’s Kev who suffered traumatic injuries in a huge fire and still has his demons even as he returns as fire chief. Helping him is the fact that his girlfriend is the Doctor (aka Jodie Whittaker). Continue reading “TV Review: The Smoke (2014)”

Film Review: A Serial Killer’s Guide to Life (2019)

With Katie Brayben in the lead cast and a cameo from Sinéad Matthews, A Serial Killer’s Guide to Life has many a visceral treat

“Next stop, inner serenity”

Released digitally earlier this year, A Serial Killer’s Guide to Life is the kind of spunky indie Brit-flick you’d be more than happy to watch of an evening, without necessarily having deliberately searched it out. The debut long-form feature from writer/director Staten Cousins Roe, it’s the kind of short but sharp black comedy that could well find it building cult status.

Stuck in a dead-end life and living with her over-bearing mother, Lou seeks refuge in listening to various self-help gurus but it isn’t until she attends a seminar and meets the alluring life coach Val IRL that things start to change for her. This journey of self-discovery is not your usual fare though, as Val encourages Lou to take no shit as they scythe their way though the wellness industry that has popped up in the Sussex countryside. Continue reading “Film Review: A Serial Killer’s Guide to Life (2019)”

10 of my top moments of the decade

Ever behind the curve, I present 10 of my top moments in a theatre over the last ten years (plus a few bonus extra ones because whittling down this list was hard, and it will probably be different tomorrow anyway!)

© James Bellorini

Extraordinary Public Acts for a National Theatre

The establishment of the Public Acts programme at the National Theatre offered up something sensational in Pericles, an initiative designed to connect grassroot community organisations with major theatres, resulting in a production that swept over 200 non-professional performers onto the stage of the Olivier to create something that moved me more than 99% of professional productions.  A truly joyous and momentous occasion. 

Honourable mention: this year’s musical take on As You Like It proved just as heart-swellingly beautiful over at the Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch. Continue reading “10 of my top moments of the decade”