TV Review: Silent Witness Series 1

Is Silent Witness the new The Bill in terms of most actors having a credit on their CV? I start a rewatch of the last 24 years with Series 1…

“They say a victim dies only once, but a scene can be murdered a thousand times”

As it approaches its 25th anniversary, and since the BBC have kindly put all 219 episodes on the iPlayer, my infinite wisdom has decided that I’m going to do a watch/rewatch of Silent Witness. I can’t be fully precise because I don’t really remember exactly when I started watching the show – it arrived on BBC1 in 1996 but my first clearest memory is actually of the brilliant, and sadly not online, French and Saunders spoof Witless Silence. (Seriously, if anyone can point to where I can watch it again, get in touch!)

Creaated by former police officer Nigel McCrery, Series 1 introduces us to the world of forensic pathology through the eyes of the Northern Irish Dr Sam Ryan, Amanda Burton getting her name above the title in the iconic leading role. And as she moves to Cambridge to take up a position aiding the police with their enquiries and also to be closer to her mother who is ailing with dementia, there’s something really quite bold in just how chilly and spiky Ryan is as the central figure. Uber-professional to be sure but defiantly uncompromising with it. Continue reading “TV Review: Silent Witness Series 1”

Review: As Good A Time As Any, Print Room

“It’s very peaceful…”

It’s often that the mind thinks to compare Peter Gill with Simon Stephens but sitting through the former’s self-directed new play As Good A Time As Any in the surroundings of the Print Room at the Coronet cinema in Notting Hill, one couldn’t help but wonder what a different director might have made of it. The playtext for Stephens’ Carmen Disruption allows for, even actively encourages, directorial innovation, offering up a world of theatrical potential (in this case, ingeniously realised by Michael Longhurst) but there’s little of that imagination spilling forth from Gill.

Which is not to denigrate the quality of the writing here, which has a hypnotically compelling quality that transports its naturalism to a higher plane. The play consists of eight women sharing their everyday thoughts in all their banal humdrumness, divided into five choruses that break up the rhythm and interweaving with each other to demonstrate that no matter how different we think we are from the person across the street, the stranger sat opposite on the tube, the seatmate in a never-changing waiting room, we’re all pretty much the same, thinking pretty much the same thoughts. Continue reading “Review: As Good A Time As Any, Print Room”

Review: A Doll’s House, Royal Exchange

“I did it out of love, didn’t I?”

Part of the thrill of watching new actors explode onto the scene is the knowledge that in at least a few of the cases, we are watching the Judi Denches, Maggie Smiths and Michael Gambons of our time at the beginnings of their careers. If I were a betting man, I’d wager that Cush Jumbo will be someone we are watching for decades to come and it has been a particular pleasure to watch her work at Manchester’s Royal Exchange progress over the last few years. Her creative relationship with director Greg Hersov has seen successful takes on Pygmalion and As You Like It and reunited once again, they now have a go at A Doll’s House.

Bryony Lavery has slightly retooled Henrik Ibsen’s classic play, sprinkling it lightly with modern touches which perfectly suit Jumbo’s striking presence as Nora, a woman who unblinkingly does what she can to protect her husband and family until finally, she realises that it is herself that she needs to look after the most. It remains a compellingly foresighted piece of writing – 130 years old now – challenging social conventions about marriage, motherhood and the role that money has to play in all of this. Continue reading “Review: A Doll’s House, Royal Exchange”