Monday, 19 March 2012

Review: Film

The Best, Exotic Marigold Hotel, Ol Parker screenplay from Deborah Moggach’s novel dir John Madden, Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Tom Wilkinson, Celia Imrie, Maggie Smith, Penelope Wilton, Ronald Pickup, Dev Patel

Pension-planner. Everyone is at the top of their game. Whilst the evocation of the colour, smells and vibrancy of India will do more than any tourist industry brochure could. Seven people have to adjust: to life, to death, to ruin, to loneliness and new possibilities. Some make the leap of faith to discover a new vigour and determination, while others turn their backs and run into a cultural cul-de-sac. The best exotic marigold hotel is itself the most colourful metaphor with its age-old splendour, now pealing and faded, yet waiting for the right combination of dreams and determination to kick start it into a better future. The ensemble cast are superb: one-liners and pay off lines abound, with some wonderful anticing, particularly Ronald Pickup, as a serial roue; exquisite sensitivity between Bill Nighy and Judi Dench – the sight of him in a near ‘high-five’ and the pair bombing around on a motorbike is worth the price of a ticket alone - and contrasting mis-fits, Maggie Smith and Penelope Wilton, who never compromise truth with popularity…Old age in its golden sunset, as expressed here, is an opportunity for renewal…… 

Friday, 16 March 2012

Review: Theatre

The Recruiting Officer by George Farquahar, dir Josie Rourke, Rachel Stirling, Mark Gatiss, Nicolas Burns, Tobias Menzies, Donmar Warehouse

Delightful. Like slipping into a warm bath: everything is pitch perfect. Novel, yet poignant take on Over the Hills and Faraway - manipulated by John Gay in The Beggar’s Opera, which is the same vintage. Britches part; mistaken intentions; thwarted love and intentions as Kite, the recruiting sergeant on behalf of Captain Plume dragoons, cajoles and hood-winks innocents for the army. The womanising Captain Plume is in love with Silvia yet considers her above him. Melinda her cousin, ‘has airs,’ and is in love with Mr Worthy, Plume’s friend. Enter the post-restoration fop, Captain Brazen, who is connected and known to everyone, according to him - even the Conundrums of Shropshire – who seeks Melinda’s hand and you have a heady brew of fun, romp, wit and music that fizzles with energy……Yet Josie Rourke’s poignant twist as the soldiers do indeed go over the hills and far away, that as an after-image, remains long after the play has finished…..And for anyone familiar with Our Country’s Good by Timberlake Wertenbaker, The Recruiting Officer offers a poignant reminder of those real castaways in 1789, who staged this play on the shoreline of what is now Sydney….A case of art mirroring life, mirroring art, mirroring life made all the richer for it….. 

Review: Theatre

Our Country’s Good by Timberlake Wertenbaker, dir Alastair Whatley, Emilly Bowker, Emma Gregory, Aiden Gillett, Chris Harper, The Rose Theatre, Kingston

Heavy-going. The play still sparkles and is as fresh now as it was when written in the 1980s. Yet this production is laboured and there are beats and nuances missing as it drives to its conclusion, particularly in the handling of the erratic Harry Brewer and his jealous preoccupation with his ‘she-lag’ Duckling Smith. Part of the problem is the entrances and exits and the width of The Rose stage; the episodic scenes need more defined, intimately-marked space to show the hugger-mugger existence of the convicts and officers; in this new outpost all are prisoners. Yet the central scene amongst the officers discussing the merits of theatre is still strong, as is the derisory note of a Sydney opera house; this is still deliciously sweet. Our Country’s Good uses a play within a play device, made all the more poignant as the events and most of the characters are historically accurate. The first convicts to arrive in Australia celebrate the King’s Birthday - George III, in 1789 - by putting on a play, The Recruiting Officer by George Farquahar. The play shows, particularly in the development of the character of Liz Morden - due to be hanged - just how important respect, freely given, is to the most low in spirits and circumstance, and how this can restore dignity and hope……