Film Review: Blithe Spirit (2020)

Despite a talented cast including Judi Dench and Dan Stevens, this cinematic version of Noël Coward’s Blithe Spirit is a big miss

“I’ll have a grilled grapefruit and a strong coffee please”

On the one hand, I knew I wouldn’t enjoy Blithe Spirit, Noël Coward’s enduring play offering increasingly diminishing returns every time it reappears. On the other, I don’t think anyone would have predicted how misjudged this film version would be, directed by Ed Hall and adapted for the screen by Piers Ashworth, Meg Leonard and Nick Moorcroft.

Coward’s plays do what they do, offering safe options for audiences (and theatre programmers) and usually attracting top actors (Jennifer Saunders and Angela Lansbury are the last two to have starred in the West End in this play). And on the face of it, the same ought to be true of a filmed version, here with Dame Judi Dench stepping into the feathered caftan of Madame Arcati. Continue reading “Film Review: Blithe Spirit (2020)”

Review: I and You, Hampstead Theatre

Probably best not to read this beforehand if you’re planning to see Game of Thrones’ star Maisie Williams in her stage debut in I and You at the Hampstead Theatre…

“I don’t know, what the hell?”

I could try and write about Lauren Gunderson’s play I and You without giving away the twist, or even the fact that there is a twist, but I don’t want to. Perhaps, I won’t reveal specific details but in some ways, just knowing there’s a rug-pull on the way can significantly alter the way you experience a show (whether on stage or on screen – it will be a job and a half trying to get through GoT’s final season free from any spoileriffic noise).

But back to the Hampstead, and this slight two-hander with its substantial delusions of grandeur. Picking at overworked teen-movie tropes, Caroline and Anthony are two teenagers whose growing connection forms the bedrock of the play. She’s waiting for an organ transplant and so not going into school; he’s got her latest poetry homework assignment and though they don’t know each so well, they’re destined to get on in a heady mix of hormones and Walt Whitman. Continue reading “Review: I and You, Hampstead Theatre”