Thursday, 6 May 2021
Cyprus Avenue's star Stephen Rea for his own company, only to be cancelled by lockdown. The BBC and Lyric Theatre Belfast (where Conleth Hill's production was filmed) stepped in to ensure the show (presumably slightly rewritten as it includes a few references to Covid-19 and lockdown) could be seen after all. A kind of memory play, it begins with middle-aged office cleaner Sadie (Abigail McGibbon) conjuring up her long-dead uncle Red (Patrick Jenkins,) a Catholic communist who'd married into her Protestant Northern Irish family but largely stayed out of their political conflicts.
Sunday, 2 May 2021
Friday, 30 April 2021
Tuesday, 27 April 2021
Saturday, 24 April 2021
Tuesday, 20 April 2021
stream.theatre, for the premiere of his play Cruise, but this particular "stage-to-screen" presentation is actually more like "screen-to-stage," as before the filmed version had been seen online a live production at the Duchess was announced. I'd already booked to watch online before I knew there was the option of seeing it live, but having now watched it I can see why producers might think it was worth a punt as one of the shows to reopen the West End with: Not only is it in the top flight of actor-written monologues, but after the huge TV success of It's A Sin this taps into a similar vein; not just in the subject matter of London's 1980s gay society being ravaged by AIDS, but also in balancing grief for the lives lost with a celebration of the hedonism that was its flipside.
Thursday, 15 April 2021
INSIDE, the Orange Tree live stream returns with a second trio of new short plays - this time all written by people who've worked at the venue before, if not necessarily as a writer. Unsurprisingly the theme this time is OUTSIDE, and Sonali Bhattacharyya's Two Billion Beats interprets this as a school playground, where star pupil Asha (Zainab Hasan) is uncharacteristically having to clean up graffiti as detention, while her little sister Bettina (Ashna Rabheru) loiters, not wanting to get on the bus alone and get bullied. Unfortunately I can't critique Two Billion Beats as Hasan's microphone failed just as we were getting to the crux of the play, so I didn't hear most of her dialogue from that point on; but the start did seem promising, with Asha comparing her school essay-writing technique to clickbait that gets her teacher hooked.
Friday, 9 April 2021
coming soon I had a look, and it seems that Cactus had quietly arrived online a few months ago, along with a new fifteenth instalment. Ridley's monologue cycle for Zoom, directed by Wiebke Green, was something of an underrated epic of the first lockdown - you can read my reviews of the first, second and third sets of monologues I watched, and I think this fourth one will be the last... but with a playwright as prolific as Ridley you never know when something else might pop up.
Monday, 5 April 2021
Monday, 29 March 2021
Friday, 26 March 2021
Hymn this is only my second live-streamed show of 2021, and perhaps it had an extra touch of nostalgia for me as the Orange Tree is where I saw my last in-person show before the first lockdown. Their streaming commision is six short plays from a mix of writers who've worked there before and others who haven't; presented in two triple-bills, they're reactions to the last year's events under the rough themes of Inside/Outside. Directed by Anna Himali Howard, the INSIDE collection is first.
Tuesday, 23 March 2021
Monday, 15 March 2021
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom, which I found good but lacking some of the dimensions of the original; today I tackled Amazon Prime's offering, One Night In Miami... which if anything has the opposite effect of building up the play's world. Part of that is simply down to time: Ma Rainey cut at least an hour off the original play's running time, but when I saw Kemp Powers' play at the Donmar Warehouse in 2016 it ran at a tight 90 minutes, meaning this nearly two-hour film is actually longer than the original. Powers himself adapts the screenplay for Regina King's film, which takes place in 1964, hours after a boxer still known as Cassius Clay (Eli Goree) first becomes heavyweight champion of the world.
Wednesday, 10 March 2021
The Two Noble Kinsmen I listened to a few weeks ago, using the same cast and production team.
Friday, 5 March 2021
Hecuba, Carr returns to the aftereffects of the Trojan War to look at the Greek side of the story. The play focuses on the first major murder of the Oresteia, but like Robert Icke she first looks back ten years to the inciting event: The sacrifice of Iphigenia.
Sunday, 28 February 2021
Friday, 19 February 2021
Red Velvet, team up with her husband Adrian Lester; in Hymn he plays another charismatic character, although perhaps not this time with quite the same depth to back it up. We meet Lester's Gil giving the eulogy at his father's funeral, a family man who built up a small business empire of dry cleaners and stationers. Whether the father Gil describes was quite the open book he thought is put into question immediately after the service though, with the revelation that Benny (Danny Sapani,) only six days younger than Gil, may be his half-brother: It was only when she saw the death notice in the paper that Benny's mother admitted the identity of the married man who got her pregnant then abandoned her.
Monday, 15 February 2021
Tuesday, 9 February 2021
Stage-to-screen review: Romeo and Juliet (Shakespeare's Globe / Playing Shakespeare with Deutsche Bank)
Macbeth, and now for their 2019 offering, and a 90-minute edit can't be a bad call for a play I tend to lose my patience with, can it? Certainly playing the story at speed can only accentuate the way Romeo (Nathan Welsh) and Juliet (Charlotte Beaumont) decide they're in love with each other having barely met.
Sunday, 31 January 2021
Ma Rainey's Black Bottom was exactly five years ago; the fictional story of the real-life "Mother of the Blues" who weaponised diva behaviour feels much more recent to me than that. The 1920s instalment of August Wilson's Century Cycle (better known as the Pittsburgh Cycle, except for the fact that this one play isn't set there) has been one of the more notable stage adaptations for the screen in recent months, unfortunately notable in large part for being Chadwick Boseman's final onscreen role. He plays Levee, horn player for the superstar singer, and the most cocky, vocal and jumpy member of the four-strong band waiting in a rehearsal room for her to arrive and begin recording an EP of some of her most famous songs. This includes the one which gives the play its title, and for which Levee has prepared a new arrangement.