Monday, 21 July 2014

Boyhood, Richard Linklater

Richard Linklater’s film Boyhood is compelling. Not only do the characters age before you, but its narrative drive nets more than one ‘hood.’ This is a film about mothers, fathers, sisters and grandparents. It’s not the first film to show the passage of time as we watch Mason Jr aged six mature into college student, but there are rich contexts both political and cultural. In his young leads, Ellar Coltraine and daughter Lorelei, Linklater makes a neat parallel to the child actors in the Harry Potter movies who go through a similar, maturation experience. Linklater documents the seminal moment when childhood crashes into adolescence, as Mason declares after the launch of The Deathly Hallows there is no elves’ magic. From the opening shot as young Mason looks up to the sky the film is shaped by his perception of what he sees; and he looks at life from different angles. This response is as much part of him as shaped by the fallout from his estranged parents’ experiences, played by Patricia Arquette, and Linklater stalwart, Ethan Hawke. This is the film’s masterstroke. Boyhood is a metaphor for life and the human instinct to always march doggedly forward.......

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Shakespeare in Love, Noel Coward Theatre directed by Declan Donnellan

Shakespeare in Love adapted by Lee Hall and directed by Declan Donnellan from the film, featuring Gweneth Paltrow and Joseph Fiennes, has come home. Will needs inspiration. In walks Thomas Kent, aka Viola De Lesseps, who is moved by his plays and poetry; the scene is set. Romeo & Juliet, rough-hewn from Romeo & Ethelred the Pirate, takes shape as the two fall in love, defy convention, and with a little help from Kit Marlow and a motley crew of rufflers, produce the greatest love story ever told. Any production about theatre is a sure-fire hit, even if transported to 1593. Add in a wager, mix with real people Richard Burbage, Philip Henslowe, Kit Marlow, the goulish John Webster and Gloriana herself, pepper with lines from Shakespeare’s other plays and you have a hit on your hands. The creatives Declan Donnellan, designer Nick Omerod and composer Paddy Cuneen deliver up a real treat; while the acting ensemble led by Tom Bateman as Will and Lucy Briggs-Owen as Viola is first-rate. The gags are there, the tone finely balanced, with some truly stunning singing and musicianship.... 

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Bakersfield Mist by Stephen Sachs, directed by Polly Teale, Kathleen Turner, Ian McDiarmid

Kathleen Turner and Ian McDiarmid

Maude, a lived in/life lived, ex-bartender believes she has a genuine Jackson Pollock. Lionel, former director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, has been asked to verify the painting as real or a fake. Their backgrounds are diametrically opposite, but the situation plays out in Maude’s stuffed, trailer-park home and she calls the shots. There is some neat plotting and some implausibility in Stephen Sach’s play. There are a few good lines and a few over-written self-revelations. Yet Kathleen Turner is superb as Maude; while Ian McDiarmid is at his best in Lionel’s more phlegmatic moments. Direction is by Polly Teale, a departure from Shared Experience, in this entertaining two-hander about who and what is real......... 

Under Milk Wood, Dylan Thomas, Richmond Theatre directed by Terry Hands


Under Milk Wood, a play for voices, presents the lives of the inhabitants of Welsh village, Llareggub. Read this backwards and Dylan’s whimsical style is apparent. It also has bite; not dimmed since first produced in the 1950s. Polly Garter, Blind Captain Cat, Mrs Ogmore-Pritchard, Mr Pugh, the schoolmaster – the list goes on - characters born out of rhythm, musicality and sharp observation. Terry Hands’ production is a timely revival; his acting ensemble superb, led by Owen Teale. The set offers a birds’ eye view of ‘the town that was mad’, a perfect universe in which the sun and lighted windows frame the characters’ dreams, losses and infamous secrets over 24 hours........a treat