TV Review: Jonathan Creek, Series 4

Series 4 sees Jonathan Creek lose its way badly as chauvinism slides into misogyny amid Alan Davies and Julia Sawalha’s strange chemistry

“Now it’ll save your time and mine, I think, if I truncate”

I found series 4 of Jonathan Creek surprisingly difficult to watch. Even if the quality had started to taper off over the course of the previous three seasons, something critical had been lost at this point, far over and beyond the departure of original star Caroline Quentin. Her replacement was Julia Sawalha’s Carla, introduced in the 2001 Christmas special and though she shares a screwball-ish energy with Alan Davies’ duffle-coated protagonist, she’s been married off to Ade Edmondson’s svengali Brendan.

It’s an odd choice that unsettles the whole rhythm of the show, as it devotes way too much time to the uneasy relationship between the pair. And as David Renwick’s writing fully immerses itself in its worst male chauvinist excesses – just look at how women are presented in the first episode, from the prizewinner presented as a grotesque to Anna Francolini being done dirty as a ditzy assistant – the idea that the majority of female characters now have to throw themselves at Jonathan’s feet, is delusional nonsense. Continue reading “TV Review: Jonathan Creek, Series 4”

Review: Salaam, VAULT Festival

There’s something really quite delicately compelling about the story Sara Aniqah Malik’s Salaam is telling at the VAULT Festival

“I don’t know how to help, or what to say, or what to do”

It’s Ramadan and Mariam (an excellent Yasmin Wilde) is having to convince her teenage daughter Rema (an equally good Raagni Sharma) of how seriously to take this most holy of months. Their peace is broken when a pigs head is lobbed through their front window but it’s soon apparent that it is more than the glass that has been shattered, Rema’s fragile confidence is in pieces too

Sara Aniqah Malik’s Salaam exploring the pervasiveness of Islamophobia, the ways in which its violence encroaches on life whether personally, through personal attacjs, or subliminally, through the unquestionable intimations of phrases like ‘acts of terror’. And she shows us the generational difference too, Mariam able to throw off abuse more easily, in order to shelter her daughter as much as anything. Continue reading “Review: Salaam, VAULT Festival”

Review: Anita and Me, Theatre Royal Stratford East

“Now here’s a little story
To tell it is a must”

One gets the feeling that had Anita and Me decided whether it wanted to be a full-blown musical or a straight play adorned by a little music, it might have been a much more successful version of Meera Syal’s novel. But as it is, Tanika Gupta’s adaptation and Roxana Silbert’s direction is marooned in a hinterland between the two, packed too full with material trying to fulfil both remits and so it can be quite the frustrating watch.

The source material is definitely there, Syal’s semi-autobiographical portrait of growing up in the West Midlands in the 1970s is full of insight and warmly old-fashioned charm. Cosseted in the vibrant home of her Punjabi parents, Meena’s teenage rebellion takes the form of throwing her lot in with neighbour Anita to help her better integrate into the society she longs to be a part of, something complicated only slightly by the ingrained racism of said society. Continue reading “Review: Anita and Me, Theatre Royal Stratford East”