Thursday, 26 May 2011

Review: Dance

Still Moving, Putney Library, initiative Siobhan Davies

Pari Naderi, unusual angles, Elemental Water showing Counterpoint by choreographer Shobana Jeyasingh; Grace, Dancing Stage at the Royal Festival Hall with East London Dance, the expressions on the faces here are wonderful; I love the way it looks as though she has stamped her foot and that’s what has catapulted him into the air; Contact by Emma Higham from This Way! The white company; Jump, where shadows steal the show from Youth Dance Day with London Youth Dance….. Dance whether in rehearsal or performance provides rich pickings for an eye hungry for a beautiful image; this sums it up beautifully. This exhibition is compact, mobile and on its way around the country. Perfect for a lunch-time or after work dip.....

Review: Dance

Royal Ballet, White Lodge Tour

Rare. Tour of the new build, pink dormitories for years 7,8 and 9, a royal hunting lodge, the cull of a cedar tree in the recent bad weather, the steps which mask the entrance through which Queen Mary rode her horse, a clutch of studios dedicated to Pavlova, Galene Stock and Darcey Bussell, bronzes of Fonteyn, Merle Park, Antony Dowall, the death-mask of Pavlova, and the stunning Robert Macdonald bronze at the top of the steps which looks down on the avenue of trees, the museum with its time-line of dance and the lodge itself, Leonardo Da Vinci’s Renaissance man, the archetype for all ballet moves, interaction, projection, the Margot Fonteyn Theatre in which a year eight class were going through their classical class, discipline, mark, present, amend, mark, present, a lesson in showing not telling, an ordinary class showing an ordinary routine, in an ordinary life on an ordinary day who would doubt otherwise… 

Review: Film

Blitz, dir Aiden Gillen, Paddy Considine, Mark Rylance, Ken Bruen, dir Elliott Lester

Messy. There are many backstories to this movie. There is the good cop bad cop; there is the good cop bad cop acting outside of the law; there is the good cop bad cop just out of rehab; there is the good cop bad cop burying incriminating evidence; and there is the good cop bad dispensing moral law. The awkwardness is that they are not the same cops throughout. Throw in a psycho-cop-killer, a few snitches of the switchy, youth and killer-dog owning variety, a maverick local reporter and the   confusion is complete.  Blitz is part domestic police drama, everything seems to happens in and around Paddington Green; part James Bond in the character of the chisel-jawed, hard action-man Brandt; yet filtered through the urban-Brit lens of a Guy Ritchie. Ken Bruen writer, producer, and would-be actor cannot resist a cameo as an Irish vicar, either.  At least when Hitchcock did this he was aware of what could and could not be stretched: namely, audience credulity…..

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Review: Theatre

The Brontes, Richmond Theatre, Polly Teale, dir, Design Ruth Sutcliffe

Vintage. As you would expect this revival shows all the shared experience theatrical hallmarks: expressionistic style, presentational text and vivid internal and external characterisation. Polly Teale’s text interweaves the real lives and disappointments of the Bronte siblings, counterpointed with fictional episodes from Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall. Their authorial success is brief as each is consumed by the very landscape and conditions that is the rich source for their stories. The production as a whole rises to this brutal, yet tragic story, in its stark gothic backdrop, designed by Ruth Sutcliffe and pacey direction by Nancy Meckler. Yet too many blackout changes, particularly in the second half, cut into the rise and fall of the action, which at times comes up short. But it is great to see this company in action, particularly in the light of its recent fortunes at the hands of the arts council, go and see them……

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Review: Theatre

Kingdom of the Earth, The Print Room, Dir Lucy Bailey, Design Ruth Sutcliffe

Terrific. It’s got everything: complicated love, sibling rivalry, beauty in the bleak, fragility and three strong characters that interleave and lock horns in a bid for status and ultimate survival. Lot has come home to die but intends to thwart his half-brother’s due inheritance by producing a wife. The levee is rising and the three are isolated from help or hope. This production is biblical in its proportions: the mud mountain set, like a modern-day Sinai, is ingeniously used throughout. The kingdom of the earth is fought over by a dark complected guy, a show biz variety girl and Lot who sits at its top, Norman-Bates style in an armchair, dressed all in white, TB-ridden, who like his biblical counterpart, turns his back towards his dead mother. The performances are uniformly excellent, the direction taut, intelligent, theatrical with a soundscape of the Mississippi created by drips, rain and an eerie percussive score worthy of Hitchcock’s Bernard Herrmann…..Fantastic!

Saturday, 7 May 2011

Review: Theatre

Gyles Brandeth, Riverside Studios

Entertaining. A natural raconteur and entertainer, Gyles Brandreth, has an innate sense of his own physicality. He has beautiful, graceful hands which he can soften and harden like gossamer wings or hatchets, evoking Donald Woolfit, Michael Redgrave, Lord Curzon, a brace of British Prime Ministers or members of the royal family. And this was very much the measure of the evening: a feast of anecdotes, some directly related to his experience as a student, an MP, Countdown or his Oscar Wilde crime series. Others graced the stage of apocryphal but were no less entertaining for all that: Prince Charles with tulips and hamster jam being one of the funniest. The king of the gab, Brandreth has a mellifluous voice, like honeyed syrup, which goes down well whatever the subject or muscular turn of phrase: a rake on his progress..... 

Monday, 2 May 2011

Review: Theatre

Chekhov in Hell by Dan Rebellato, Soho Theatre, dir Simon Stokes

Chaotic. Chekhov wakes from a hundred-year coma to find himself in twenty-first century Britain. There is a kind of plot of sorts: Linda, a descendant of Chekov’s, reports him as a missing person; and Aleksandr, a sex trafficker, passes himself off as Chekhov, whilst pursued by police as he looks for a girl named Irina. Throw in a couple of scenes in Russian and German for authenticity, projected lines from scenes as motifs on the wall, such as You’re having a fucking laugh or Yo Soy un Fashionista; the lack of props, unless essential to Chekov, no change in costume and a range of accents, reminiscent of an agents’ showcase, and you begin to have a measure of this hotchpotch, chaotic evening. What was the point? No help in the programme which suggests this bitterly comic new play asks where we came from, how we got here and what do we do now? This could be said about the play itself. It feels like an early draft with too many ideas and directions, and never digs deep enough as its bitter-comic tag suggests.