Sunday, 26 March 2017

Round-up of news and treats and other interesting things


An amusing tidbit from Paul Chahidi's Twitter takeover for the Donmar Warehouse, promoting his show Limehouse and the commitment its actors have to the art of the warm-up.



Friday, 24 March 2017

Preview - 42 reasons to see 42nd Street

"Where the underworld can meet the elite...
Naughty
Bawdy
Gaudy
Sporty
Forty-Second Street!"

I was lucky enough to be invited to the first preview of 42nd Street at the Theatre Royal Drury Lane and whilst any official opinions about the show are under embargo until press night, I thought I'd give you all some hints and teasers and a little sneak preview (assisted by these beautiful photographs courtesy of Brinkhoff & Moegenburg) through these 42 reasons to see 42nd Street. 


Thursday, 23 March 2017

Notes on a second viewing of Roman Tragedies


"I arm myself with patience and await the higher powers"


Whilst sitting in the audience for Roman Tragedies on Friday night and before it had even finished, I took advantage of the free wifi and booked myself into Sunday's show, knowing I couldn't pass up the opportunity to see this most extraordinary of shows again. And instead of writing another review in which I'd just end up repeating myself, I thought I'd just jot down some of the thoughts that came to me both whilst rewatching and on reflection afterwards.
  • More shows should take the opportunity to provide in-show footnotes
  • Likewise, the dry voiceover dispensing witty advice in the interval pauses (don't walk into the glass panels...) - I'd love to have something similar subtly ripping the piss out of Old Vic audiences
  • I also loved that it was Hans Kesting on mike duty here for the first couple of hours, it really reminds you how much of an ensemble Toneelgroep Amsterdam are, everyone pitching in at all levels
  • Similarly, Chris Nietvelt building up to her devastating Cleopatra with earlier parts as a wry newsreader and a galloping Caska
  • It's interesting to note that both times the Guardian has reviewed RT at the Barbican, it has been Lyn Gardner on duty - what does Billington have against it?!
  • Second time around, I was much more up for taking photos and tweeting during the show; on Friday I was more concerned with making sure I didn't miss anything and getting the full range of onstage seating experiences by moving at every break. By contrast on Sunday, I only went onstage for Julius Caesar and watched the rest from my seat in the auditorium - it was nice to have the choice of so much variety
  • Volumnia really is a kick-ass role isn't it
  • Is one of the memes of the year going to be productions openly acknowledging how baffling Shakespearean dialogue can be - Twelfth Night did it with boxtrees, AMND did it with extempore, and here it was being likened to an osprey, I do enjoy this lack of reverence
  • Undoubtedly there is a conversation to be had about diversity and TGA - (the ensemble has predominantly been all-white I think) - but such dialogue must be accompanied by an understanding of the racial dynamics in the Netherlands and also the realities of signing actors up to year-long ensemble contracts. And lest we forget, van Hove has regularly cast actors of colour in his other productions - Sophie Okonedo as Elizabeth Proctor, Obi Abili in Antigone, Chuk Iwuji's Lovborg, Iwuji and Aysha Kala in the forthcoming Obsession...
  • A big shoutout has to go to videographer Tal Yarden whose efforts I gained a real appreciation for this time, in realising just how nuanced and intricate his design work is. Far from simply putting up a live relay (although that is done late on in a hilarious out-of-doors sequence with Enobarbus), Yarden creates tableaux which are just as concerned with toying with our perceptions of space as van Hove's concepts and Versweyveld's sets are. Scenes like the triumvirate in conference (pictured below), Coriolanus meeting Aufidius, Mark Antony wheedling his way back into Cleopatra's good books are given an alternative reality on screen as shots are spliced together to create a public image with a message versus the distance that is often there in reality - constantly thought-provoking work.


So there we have it, one of the greatest theatrical experiences I've ever had the pleasure to witness and one which has stood the test of time in the 8 years since I originally saw it. I hope it isn't 8 more years until I see it again!


Deaths















Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Review: An American in Paris, Dominion

"Who could ask for anything more"

True to its name, An American in Paris premiered in 2014 at the Théâtre du Châtelet in the French capital to ecstatic reviews before transferring to the Palace Theatre on Broadway for another well-received (and Tony-winning) run there. It now rocks up at the newly refurbished Dominion Theatre, just ahead of another huge dance-heavy Broadway musical in 42nd Street, producers clearly banking on audiences wanting distraction from the realities of the outside world.

And that it certainly provides - director and choreographer Christopher Wheeldon's reinvention of the 1951 film (new book by Craig Lucas) is an absolute feast for the eyes and ears. George and Ira Gershwin's score is beyond classic ('I Got Rhythm', ''S Wonderful', 'They Can't Take That Away from Me' et al) and sounds luscious in Rob Fisher's new arrangements musically directed by John Rigby, and Bob Crowley's set and costumes look divine in all their old-school charm.

Tuesday morning treat - Sunday in the Park with George


"I give what I give"

A little something to perk us all up on a Tuesday morning. Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Sunday in the Park with George is enjoying a Broadway revival at the Hudson Theatre (139-141 West 44th Street) and here's a few photographs of the show and its stars Academy Award nominee Jake Gyllenhaal (in his Broadway musical debut) and Tony Award winner Annaleigh Ashford doing things in and around the show. 

Directed by Sarna Lapine, Sondheim and Lapine’s masterpiece follows painter Georges Seurat (Gyllenhaal) in the months leading up to the completion of his most famous painting, A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. Consumed by his need to “finish the hat,” Seurat alienates the French bourgeoisie, spurns his fellow artists, and neglects his lover Dot (Ashford), not realizing that his actions will reverberate over the next 100 years. And if you're over the pond, Sunday In The Park With George runs through April 23, 2017. And as if that wasn't enough, there's also a video of Jakey singing 'Finishing the Hat' below the cut!

Monday, 20 March 2017

Review: Love in Idleness, Menier Chocolate Factory

"There’s no situation in the world that can’t be passed off with small-talk"

Overlord of all that is authentic in British theatre, Trevor Nunn is now further redefining authenticity by presenting us with a Terence Rattigan premiere, cobbled together from two pre-existing versions of the same play. Love in Idleness was originally known as Less Than Kind (which itself was seen at the Jermyn Street back in 2011) but was rewritten at the behest of its stars, a commercially minded decision which proved fatal to Rattigan's reputation. And rather than choose one or the other, Nunn has fashioned something new (but assumably still authentic), named for the later version.

Sadly, that sense of compromise lingers strongly here. Fans of Rattigan were utterly spoiled by pitch-perfect interpretations of After the Dance and Flare Path (also by Nunn) at the beginning of this decade and again last year with an excoriating The Deep Blue Sea, so knowing the emotional force with which he can devastate us can only leave you disappointed at the tonally strange and inconsequential comedy of sorts with which we're presented here. Only the long-awaited return of the marvellous Eve Best to the London stage imbues the evening with the quality it scarcely deserves.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Review: La Cage aux Folles, New Wimbledon

"It's rather gaudy but it's also rather grand"

It doesn't feel like that long since La Cage aux Folles was strutting its stuff in London as I made several visits to the Playhouse as it rotated its main cast on a regular basis (Douglas Hodge and Denis Lawson, Philip Quast and Roger Allam, John Barrowman and Simon Burke) but it has a good few years. So the time is clearly ripe for a revival and Kenwright and co clearly agree as they've mounted the show's first ever UK tour.

And with John Partridge and Adrian Zmed at the helm, it remains as gloriously entertaining and heart-warmingly lovable as ever. A story about love and acceptance always has things to teach us, gay or straight, now more than ever and the story of St Tropez nightclub owners Georges and Albin is a touching one as through dealing with Georges' son's fiancée's parents' homophobia, they learn more about themselves and their own identities.

Rehearsal images for Edward Albee's The Goat, Or Who Is Sylvia

Rehearsal images for Edward Albee’s The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia? have been released , ahead of the production’s first preview next week. Albee’s darkly comic play about a family in crisis will run for a strictly limited 12 week season at the Theatre Royal Haymarket from 24 March to 24 June 2017.


In Ian Rickson’s production, a husband and successful New York architect with everything to lose must confess to his wife and son that he is having an affair and face the dizzying, explosive consequences. Damian Lewis and Sophie Okonedo play husband and wife Martin and Stevie, joined by Jason Hughes as Martin’s oldest friend Ross and newcomer Archie Madekwe as their son Billy.

The Olivier and Tony Award-winning creative team includes Rae Smith (set and costume design), Neil Austin (lighting design) and Greg Clarke (sound design), with original music by PJ Harvey. All photos courtesy of Johan Persson.


Review: Roman Tragedies, Toneelgroep Amsterdam at the Barbican

"A people who can neither rule nor be ruled"


8 years ago, I'd barely started to blog, I didn't know who Ivo van Hove was, Andrew Haydon didn't know who I was, it was an altogether simpler time. And I'd be hard pressed to tell you exactly what it was that made me click on the Barbican's website to book for a 6 hour long Shakespearean epic in Dutch but I'm glad I did, for it genuinely changed the world for me (in terms of my theatrical life anyway, who knew I'd start going to Amsterdam regularly for theatre!). I ranked the show as the best of the year for me back then in 2009 and I have to say I still think it is the greatest piece of theatre I've ever seen.

So going back for seconds was always going to be a risk but it was also something I knew I'd never be able to resist. Not least because in the intervening period, van Hove has become one of the most famous, and arguably influential, directors around. His take on A View From The Bridge was the breakthrough moment but for me, it has been his work with Toneelgroep Amsterdam that has consistently been the most revelatory - Kings of War and Scenes from a Marriage both at the Barbican, Long Day's Journey into Night and the breathtaking Maria Stuart at the gorgeous Stadsschouwburg.

Cast of Roman Tragedies continued

Friday, 17 March 2017

The 2017 Manchester Theatre Awards winners in full

"It's grim up north"

The Manchester Theatre Awards represent the cream of theatre in my native North-West, too much of which I miss due to cheap train fares being like gold dust. I'm hoping to do better this year and in the meantime, here's the full list of winners for the 2017 Awards.

Best Actor
Rob Edwards, To Kill A Mockingbird, Octagon Theatre, Bolton
David Neilson, Endgame, HOME, Manchester
Daniel Rigby, Breaking The Code, Royal Exchange, Manchester WINNER
Don Warrington, King Lear, Royal Exchange
Best Actress
Niamh Cusack, Ghosts, HOME
Kaisa Hammarlund, Sweet Charity, Royal Exchange
Julie Hesmondhalgh, Wit, Royal Exchange WINNER
Kathryn Hunter, The Emperor, HOME

Best Production
Breaking The Code, Royal Exchange WINNER
Ghosts, HOME
The Emperor, HOME
Wit, Royal Exchange

Review: Notflix, King's Head

"Because everything's better as a musical"

Between Austentatious and The Showstoppers, I've been thoroughly entertained (and consistently left in awe) by my dips into the world of improv so there's always been a slight sense of trepidation about going further afield to see others do it, just in case they're not as good! But the company to get me over myself were Waiting for the Call, the "original all-female long-form musical improv team", and their promise of a unique blend of comedy, improv and musical group work.

Their show Notflix just played at the VAULT Festival and is following that up with a week at the King's Head, ahead of a return to Edinburgh in the summer. And you can see why, as improv does carry with it a certain appeal to the festival market in its rapid-fire wit and scrappy energy and in that, WftC are certainly pitching themselves to the right places. 

Not-really-a-review: Joseph Morpurgo - Work-in-Progress, Angel Comedy Club

 funny fail kid like a boss little girl GIF





I wasn't sure what to write up about this show, a Work-in-Progress from Austentatious alum Joseph Morpurgo, at The Bill Murray pub, but it made me feel as happy as the joyous soul of the girl in the above gif, so I had to register it somehow. This was, without doubt, one of the funniest things I've seen for a very long time and if it is still only 'in-progress', I can't imagine how good it'll be once it is finished (and assumedly playing Edinburgh).  So without spoilers, it is form-shattering, artfully intelligent, and above all deeply deeply hilarious, and contains all manner of flowcharts, Oxide & Neutrino references and the funniest Excel joke you will ever see in your life. One to definitely watch out for.

Round-up of news and treats and other interesting things


This year's iteration of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival 2017 runs from 12 – 28 May and with it comes a substantial programme of circus, literature, classical and contemporary music, dance, family activities, performance, theatre, visual arts and The Adnams Spiegeltent that befits the fourth biggest arts festival in the country.
Eyecatching inclusions include
And speaking of theatrical highlights,
  • Luke Wright – Following the multi-award-winning What I Learned From Johnny Bevan, Luke Wright’s second verse play Frankie Vah explores love, loss and belief against a backdrop of scuzzy indie venues and 80s politics at the Norwich Playhouse.
  • IOU – Rear View takes the people of Norwich on a tour around the city’s streets as a custom-made bus becomes the setting for an unforgettable journey from the celebrated IOU. Performers Cecilia Knapp and Jemima Foxtrot make reflections, predictions and observations that blur the line between reality and fiction in this moving production.
  • Quarantine – Comprising three live performances and a film, Summer. Autumn. Winter. Spring. is a piece of mass portraiture, epic in scale, ambition and subject. The production, from internationally renowned theatre company Quarantine, is a quartet about the human life cycle; living, dying, and our relationship with time.
  • Stormy: The Life of Lena Horne – Written by and starring Camilla Beeput, Stormy: The Life of Lena Horne is a celebration of the titular movie star, activist and singer in her centenary year. Under the creative direction of Clarke Peters (Five Guys Named Moe), Stormy brings Lena to life, alongside a five-piece band, providing a thrilling musical evocation of one of the great African-American figures in 20th century entertainment.
The full programme can be downloaded here.



Marisha Wallace, currently the alternate Effie in Dreamgirls, is to play Celie in a a charity gala performance of The Color Purple with the British Theatre Academy. The concert will play at Cadogan Hall on Sunday 21st May with musical direction by James Taylor and choreography by Mykal Rand.

Joining her in the company is Wendy Mae Brown (assuming she's not been too mentally scarred by touring in Ghost) as Sofia, Cavin Cornwall (Aladdin) as Mister, Tyrone Huntley (2016 fosterIAN nominee and Dreamgirls) as Harpo, Rachel John (another 2016 fosterIAN nominee for The Bodyguard) as Shug, Hugh Maynard (yet another 2016 fosterIAN nominee for Sweeney Todd) as Pa and Seyi Omooba (recently so electric Ragtime) as Nettie.


Open Auditions for Paines Plough
Monday 03 April, 1-4pm @ The Hat Factory, Luton LU1 2EY
Wednesday 05 April, 10am-5pm @ Orange Tree Theatre, Richmond TW9 2SA

Paines Plough are excited to announce their next round of open auditions in collaboration with their friends Revoluton Arts and the Orange Tree Theatre.

They’re looking to meet actors previously unknown to Paines Plough with a passion for new writing. You can apply in pairs for one of the dates from now until 10am on 21 March and then we’ll randomly select 15 duos to see in Luton and 30 duos for Richmond. They hope this means that everyone who wants to apply is able to, and that the selection process is fair to everyone.

In Luton, they’re only looking for actors who are originally from – or currently live – in Luton or wider Bedfordshire. If you’re not from Bedfordshire please do not apply for these open auditions.

Anyone is welcome to apply for the open auditions in Richmond.

Sounds good? Then read more here about how to apply…


Following an acclaimed, sold-out run at Chichester Festival Theatre, FRACKED! OR: PLEASE DON’T USE THE F-WORD will embark on a UK tour from April 2017. Alistair Beaton’s provocative new comedy takes us to an idyllic English village threatened by an energy company intent on drilling for shale gas. 

Anne Reid plays Elizabeth, a retired academic who finds herself transformed from obedient citizen to angry protestor. While her increasingly grumpy husband (James Bolam) longs for the quiet life, Elizabeth soars to fame via social media. Desperate to get planning permission, hard-nosed PR men team up with a corrupt local councillor to persuade the villagers that fracking is good. Elizabeth’s having none of it, and mounts the barricades.

This new razor-sharp black comedy by Alistair Beaton takes a timely look at the conflicted core of planetary energy and earthly power. A much-praised political satirist, Beaton’s television work includes the BAFTA-nominated The Trial of Tony Blair and Spitting Image, and plays such as the West End hit Feelgood.
James Bolam’s credits include New Tricks (BBC) and Glengarry Glen Ross (Donmar Warehouse, Olivier nomination). Anne Reid is acclaimed for her many award-winning roles including Hedda Gabler (Old Vic) and Last Tango in Halifax. They are joined by Michael Simkins, known for his many TV and West End roles, most recently Yes, Prime Minister and Hay Fever. Harry Hadden-Paton also joins the cast, and is well known for his roles on stage including The Pride, The Changeling and Flarepath, and on television in Downton Abbey.

Further casting includes: Waleed Akhtar, Andrea Hart, Sophie Khan Levy, Freddie Meredith, Steven Roberts and Tristram Wymark.

Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford
Wednesday 12 April 2017 – Saturday 22 April 2017

Malvern Theatres
Monday 24 April 2017 – Saturday 29 April 2017
www.malvern-theatres.co.uk/ | Box Office +44 (0)1684 892 277

Theatre Royal, Brighton
Monday 1 May 2017 – Saturday 6 May 2017

Richmond Theatre
Monday 8 May 2017 – Saturday 13 May 2017

Theatre Royal, Bath
Monday 15 May 2017 – Saturday 20 May 2017
www.theatreroyal.org.uk/page/3010/Booking | Box Office +44 (0)1225 448 844

Cambridge Arts Theatre
Monday 22 May 2017 – Saturday 27 May 2017 
https://www.cambridgeartstheatre.com/ | Box Office +44 (0)1223 503 333













Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Review: Low Level Panic, Orange Tree

"When am I going to wake up and be different?"

How far we've come since the 1980s. Or have we? That's the thread going through Chelsea Walker's production of Clare McIntyre's 1988 play Low Level Panic, an insight into the lives of three housemates in their 20s. Dialogue heavy but conversationally acute, we eavesdrop on these women in their bathroom, sharing confidences, fantasies, stories of what it is like to be a woman in a society that continually objectifies their sex.

It may be nearly 30 years old but there's a sinking awfulness about how recognisable so much of this is. Sexual politics in the workplace, internalised self-loathing, the effects of porn, the looming spectre of sexual assault, McIntyre covers a wide range of issues but approaches them with the complexity they deserve - her protagonists' reactions to them are nuanced and varied and in Sophie Melville, Katherine Pearce and Samantha Pearl's performances, deeply compelling.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Review: Honeymoon in Vegas, London Palladium

"I am not making friki-friki"

The London Musical Theatre Orchestra's arrival on the scene has not gone unnoticed by me but their previous concerts have always fallen on days when I couldn't make it. So finally putting a show on on a Sunday night meant I was able to put it in the diary and to mark the occasion, they only went and invited their first guest conductor along, Mr Jason Robert Brown himself to helm the UK premiere of his show Honeymoon in Vegas.

And in the swish surroundings of the London Palladium, it was hard not to be entirely seduced by the lush sound of a 30-strong orchestra (under the musical direction of Freddie Tapner), a chorus of 16 up-and-coming performers and a main cast of bona fide West End stars directed by Shaun Kerrison. The concert staging allows for an amusingly slapdash approach which really suited the joie de vivre exuding from pretty much everyone involved here, a real passion project.

Cast of Honeymoon in Vegas continued

Monday, 13 March 2017

Review: Austentatious, Leicester Square Theatre


"Shall I put some cucumber on it"

This latest edition of Austentatious was part of London Book & Screen Week so before the usual contributions of (fake Austen scholar) Professor Sam Patten, we were treated to a chat with (real Austen scholar) Professor Kathryn Sutherland around her work on Austen's teenage writing (soon to be published) and touching on the woman herself, including some amusing bon mots about our lack of portraits of her and an inadvertent suggestion of what should have been the title for the evening - Bum and Bonnet.

As it was, we were treated to Trump and Trepidation, which offered a fascinating spin on the usual improvised shenanigans as it meant that there was a ready made world of insanity to be relentlessly mocked as well as the made up one that the company creates on the spot. It was an interesting tension (I do object to being made to consider Spicer or Conway characters capable of redemption!) but one that was predictably hilarious as Lord Trump celebrated his victory over Mr Sanders in the race to join the Hampshire parish council by trying to force his daughter to marry him instead of her true love Spicer.

Review: Andrew Hunter Murray - Round One, Soho Theatre

"This year we won't have a practical round after last year's 'Can you put out a chip pan fire?' debacle"

It's no secret that I've tumbled hard for the Austentatious guys so it should come as no surprise that I'm now stalking them at their solo shows too. Rachel Parris brought us her Best Laid Plans last week and Andrew Hunter Murray has also been appearing the Soho Theatre with his Round One (which has just announced two more dates later in March). The former really makes the break from improvised work with her scripted show and with its looser sketch format, it's interesting to see how Hunter Murray's seems to work best when it is involving the audience.

The show is built around a pub quiz, The 15th Annual Rose and Crown Pub Quiz Championship Final no less, but its content actually comes in the spaces inbetween the rounds, where Hunter Murray works through a roll-call of character sketches. There's the impromptu seated samba class with Arturo Flame which is huge fun, the representative from the crime and erotic book group who talks only in rhyme (the pineapple/Miss Marple couplet is a thing of joy) and these sections fizz with life as he clearly relishes sparking off the interactions with the front row.

Review: My Brilliant Friend, Rose Theatre

"The thing that I'm scared of is that everything will break"

Elena Ferrante’s quartet of Neapolitan Novels have been a literary sensation since its first part, My Brilliant Friend, was published in 2012. A forthcoming Italian television adaptation will take 32 50-minute instalments to cover the story of the friendship between two Neapolitan women but April De Angelis has condensed the four into a single play, presented in two parts which can be viewed as a double bill or on separate evenings if 5 hours of theatre in a day seems like too much of a challenge. Read my review for This Is My Town here,find production photos for both parts here and get more info on the show here.

Running time: each part is 2 hours 30 minutes (with interval)
Booking until 2nd April

Sunday, 12 March 2017

My Brilliant Friend - production photos

All photos by Marc Brenner
Part One



Review: Bunny, White Bear

"I prefer surprise to suspense. 
But that’s basically because I feel suspense all the time"

Harry Potter and the Cursed Child has catapulted Jack Thorne's already fast-rising star into the higher echelons of British writing talent, so it is always interesting to look back to earlier work to see if the seeds of success can be spotted. Perhaps with this in mind, newly formed company Fabricate Company have opted to revive his 2010 Fringe First-winning one-woman play Bunny at the tidily renovated White Bear (pub grub definitely recommended, as is the exceptionally friendly bar service).

Recounted by the breathlessly energetic and recklessly teenage Katie, Bunny takes a snapshot of her life in the racially divided estates of Luton over the course of a hot summer's afternoon. A messy encounter between her older boyfriend Abe and an Asian kid on a bike spirals into something more profoundly disturbing when Abe's friends get involved and she goes along for the ride, knowing full well there's more than just a dropped ice-cream at stake here.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

CD Review: Beauty and the Beast (2017) - Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

"How could anyone be gloomy and depressed?
We'll make you shout 'encore!'"

The live action remake of Beauty and the Beast will be arriving in cinemas on 17th March but should you be so inclined, you can listen to the film's soundtrack here on YouTube, other digital platforms or buy the album from wherever it is that records are sold near you. Alan Menken and Howard Ashman's music and lyrics will be intensely familiar to fans of the original Disney film but after director Bill Condon decided not to include any of the songs that were written for the musical with Tim Rice, Menken composed a number of new songs for this film which ought to pique the interest of any right-thinking musicals fan.

None of the old-school classic feel of the music has been lost in this recording, which was a great relief to me, and its new twists on these old songs are certainly interesting. I really enjoyed Josh Gad and Luke Evans' freshly comic take on 'Gaston' and though Emma Watson is no out-and-out singer, she gives a sweetly decent account of herself. Emma Thompson has perhaps a trickier job in tackling the iconic legacy of Angela Lansbury's Mrs Potts, her accent choice is somewhat distracting but once you're accustomed to it, the lushness of the orchestrations make the title track spine-tingling and 'Be My Guest' is immense fun as Ewan McGregor, Gugu Mbatha-Raw and Ian McKellen chip in too.

TV Review: The Honourable Woman

"It's the Middle East Shlomo, enemies is what you make"

Only by chance did I find out that The Honourable Woman was leaving Netflix at the end of this month, so I quickly took the opportunity to catch up with Hugo Blick's political spy thriller and as is so often the case with these things, was left wondering how I could have taken this long to watch it.

Political intrigue and personal drama coming from kidnapped children, suspicious suicides and betrayals ranging from old blood feuds to intra-familial conflict set the scene immediately for a typically dense and complex story from Blick, centred on a refreshingly new take on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the seeming impossibility of finding a solution when the wounds of the past are still felt so keenly and deeply.

Hugely satisfying parts for
  • Eve Best's coolly ambition Foreign Office bod 
  • Janet McTeer's calculating head of MI6
  • and Maggie Gyllenhaal's indefatiguable Nessa Stein, single-handedly trying to rescue the Middle East peace process and a brilliant leading character
plus
  • Tobias Menzies' irresistible bodyguard
  • Tom Bateman's hapless (and randy) spook
  • and Dominic Tighe popping up in an episode to ensure all tastes (well, mine) were catered for.
And I've not even mentioned the delights of Katherine Parkinson, Lindsay Duncan and new-to-me Lubna Azabal, plus sterling work from Andrew Buchan as Nessa's brother Ephra and Philip Arditti as scarred assassin Saleh Al-Zahid. (I can take or leave Stephen Rea tbh, but he's undoubtedly good here too). Well worth bingeing in the weeks you have left on Netflix, or tracking down on DVD otherwise.


Cast of The Honourable Woman continued




Cast of The Honourable Woman

An assortment of Beauty and the Beast video clips

In advance of Beauty and the Beast opening in cinemas across the UK next Friday, here's just a few of the clips floating around to give you a taste of the live action in action.









Live bonus


Round-up of news and treats and other interesting things


Following the successful screenings of Measure for Measure and Ubu Roi, Cheek By Jowl have announced that The Winter’s Tale will be streamed live from the Barbican Centre on 19th April at 7.30pm*, for free.

Cheek by Jowl is an international company, with audiences around the world – as such, we will be screening The Winter’s Tale in English, French and Spanish (subtitled), partnering with BBC Arts Digital, Spain’s El País, France’s Télérama and The Sydney Morning Herald in Australia. The screening will also be available with access subtitles.

As well as on these partner sites, the livestream will be available on www.cheekbyjowl.com/livestream, where we will regularly be sharing videos of the cast. This multi-camera screening is made possible due to the support of the Barbican Centre, and funding from The Space, Arts Council England and the BBC.

*The show will be available on demand until 7th May 2017.



Running from 29th June to 16th July, the programme for the 2017 Manchester International Festival has been announced. Highlights include

  • Cotton Panic! An industrial music drama from Jane Horrocks, Nick Vivian and Wrangler
  • Party Skills for the End of the World, by Nigel Barrett and Louise Mari
  • Thomas Ostermeier directs Nina Hoss in world premiere of Returning to Reims, an urgent response to the populist politic sweeping Europe
  • Theatre-Rites create The Welcoming Party, a site-specific mix of installation, live music, puppetry and dance for families and children, following stories and real life experiences of journeys
  • Created by the people of Manchester from an idea by Jeremy Deller, What is the City but the People takes MIF to the streets for the opening event of the festival
  • Boris Charmatz;s 10,000 Gestures will transform Mayfield Depot with a 25-strong ensemble of dancers
  • Fatherland, a poignant new show created by Frantic Assembly's Scott Graham, Underworld's Karl Hyde, and playwright Simon Stephens.

An interesting diverse selection, best get looking at trains!



 
Casting is announced today for While We’re Here, a new play by acclaimed writer Barney Norris (Visitors, Bush Theatre; Eventide, Arcola Theatre). Alice Hamilton will direct Tessa Peake-Jones (Only Fools and Horses, BBC; Beacons, Park Theatre) and Andrew French (The Iphigenia Quartet, Gate Theatre; Boi, Boi is Dead, West Yorkshire Playhouse) in this world premiere which opens the Bush Theatre’s brand new 60 seat Studio. 

Co-Directors of the multi award-winning touring company Up In Arms, Barney Norris and Alice Hamilton return to the Bush following their critically acclaimed production of Visitors, for which Norris won the Critics' Circle Award for Most Promising Playwright. He has two other productions opening this spring; Echo's End at Salisbury Playhouse and a revival of Every You Every Me at Oxford Playhouse/ Reading Rep. His debut novel, Five Rivers Met on a Wooded Plain, was released last year and is now a bestseller.

“Sometimes I think my whole life has been a frightening time. Well. I remember the crunch of the gravel under my feet walking back up the drive, and thinking my life might be over. I might have had all of my fun. But I was wrong, it turned out. I’ve had a lot of good things since.”
Eddie and Carol were lovers once, but their lives went in different directions. Now they meet again in a town full of memories, and find something still burns between them. On the country’s southern margin where the towns give way to the English Channel, both search for the centre of their lives.




Shallower people than me (yeah right...) would might be interested to know in the casting new for Defibrillator's production of the Sam Shepard play A Lie of the Mind at the Southwark Playhouse. Running from 4th May to 28th May, it may not be the happiest of stories as it looks at two families torn apart by spousal abuse... But with Gethin Anthony and Robert Lonsdale in the cast (both stars of a certain list in 2014), it will at least be nice to look at (and most likely problematic!)
Defibrillator artistic director James Hillier will direct the cast which also includes Kate Fahy, Laura Rogers, and John Stahl. 

Review: In Other Words, Hope


"That song, at a moment like that, well, it just doesn’t get much more perfect, does it?’"

In Other Words isn't the first play to make me cry this year but it is the first one to make me sob. I had tears running down my face for about two thirds of the running time, just about held back the ugly crying by not saying anything to friends as I dashed out of the Hope Theatre, and then I sobbed all the way down Upper Street and the Victoria line (thank to the lady who offered me a tissue, Londoners aren't all bad you know), completely emotionally broken.

Dementia is one of those subjects that just gets me right there (in not unconnected news, it won't surprise you that I couldn't bear to watch Amour in a cinema or that I find Judy Parfitt's work in Call the Midwife as Sister Monica Joan deeply affecting). And based as it is on the playwright's studies into the condition and the extraordinary way in which sensory stimulation - particularly playing music - can sometimes find a way through it, Matthew Seager's In Other Words is a deeply sincere and moving play.