Archive | Featured articles

Some of the best articles on the blog. Typically, these have a picture. It's a low entrance requirement, I know.


March 12, 2012

Mini-review: The Oresteia (Riverside Studios)

Posted on March 12, 2012 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

The Oresteia

Where:The Oresteia Riverside Studios, Crisp Road, Hammersmith, London W6 9RL
When: 29th February-24th March, 7:30pm; 2pm matinees: 6, 8, 13, 15, 20, 22 March
How long: 2h20 with 20 minute intervals
Tickets from: £15

Aeschylus's blood-soaked trilogy in just two hours? Amazing. Yet, using a 'translation' by Ted Hughes, Theatrelab, a Greek theatre company responsible for a very decent adaptation of Sophokles' Antigone at Riverside Studios two years ago, manages to get Agamemnon back from Troy then murdered by his wife Klytaimnestra, she in turn killed along with her lover by her son Orestes, and then have Orestes put on trial by the gods before Athens' first ever jury, all within the allotted span.

While you can quibble a least a bit with some of Hughes' translation, as a condensed version of the trilogy, it cuts away everything extraneous (and there's a lot) in favour of the essence of the story, resulting in a surprisingly fast-paced, accessible and engrossing play, particularly in the second act which manages to get through both The Libation Bearers and The Eumenides in an hour.

A lot of Greek tragedy when adapted for the stage can be very static, as was the case with Tough Theatre's Hippolytus, say, with characters essentially standing stock still on opposite sides of the stage exchanging lines. Here Theatrelab's director Anastasia Revi, who also directed Antigone, takes the opposite direction, filling almost every scene and exchange with movement. Sometimes this works very well, with Revi dramatising scenes, such as Agamemnon's bathing by Klyaimnestra, that usually take place off stage. Revi also deploys numerous directorial tricks and stagecraft to give modern relevance and visual impact to scenes.

Sometimes, however, she goes a little overboard - such as when there's 'synchronised falling' and 'swimming' across the stage by the chorus - it's hard not to avoid the occasional titter. All the same, you're never bored while you're watching.

The actors, many of whom were also in Antigone are fair to good, largely engaging and well cast - although some tend towards the plummier and more 'effusive' approaches to acting, shall we say? Set design is good as is wardrobe; there's even authentic Greek music played and singing at appropriate points. Possibly the only big let down is the seating, which is authentically rock solid:

Riverside Studios seating

You'd be hard-pushed to find better Greek tragedy in fringe theatre and it's no surprise that the company's previous production was commended as the best show in the International Festival of Ancient Greek Drama in 2011 in Cyprus. Go watch it if you have any interest in Greek theatre.

March 9, 2012

Mini-review: BeTipul (In Treatment) (Sky Arts 1)

Posted on March 9, 2012 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

BeTipul

In the UK: Monday-Friday, 9.30pm, Sky Arts 1/Sky Arts 1 HD. Repeated Saturdays & Sundays
In Israel: First aired 2005

In Treatment was a show I really loved. Clever, engrossing, theatrical, it was fantastic TV. Terribly scheduled, mind. Half an hour, five nights a week? That's not happening for me or for most people - as the ratings bore out.

For those who missed it (why? It was brilliant… Oh yes, now I remember…), it saw therapist Gabriel Byrne see a different patient each day, Monday to Thursday, before seeing his own therapist on Friday, where he'd discuss his feelings about his patients. Then the next week, you'd see the next session with each patient. Over the weeks, you saw his own family, occasionally the patients interacting and more.

But it was based on an award-winning Israeli show, BeTipul, that first aired in 2005. Now Sky Arts 1 is cleverly showing the original five nights a week. And it's very weird to watch.

As with the the US remake of The Killing, it feels almost frame-by-frame identical, just in a different language. It's not quite identical, for obvious reasons, but the dialogue is almost identical, as is the theme tune (which is slightly more upbeat in the Israeli version), and Assi Dayan (Re'uven) looks an awful lot like Gabriel Byrne.

But there are instructive differences. Unlike the very theatrical In Treatment which was largely shot in a studio, BeTipul is naturalistic and shot in a real apartment. Casting also affects things. The Laura-equivalent, Na'ama (Ayelet Zurer), is older than Melissa George, is less vulnerable and (sorry) less attractive. Their relationship, as a result, is different and speaks more to the therapist's difficulties with his wife than Laura/Paul's relationship did in In Treatment, which is correspondingly more about opportunity and desire than emotions.

There are also interesting cultural differences in terms of therapy:

All the same, despite the differences, it feels somewhat futile watching BeTipul having watched In Treatment. BeTipul is different rather than superior, but the differences aren't big enough that having watched In Treatment, you don't feel like you're watching an odd re-run as you do so. It's a case of watch one or the other - but not both.

Here's a trailer with a crappy voiceover or you can watch some of the first episode on the Sky Arts web site:

Read other posts about:

March 9, 2012

Mini-review: Danger 5 (SBS1) 1x1

Posted on March 9, 2012 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

Danger 5

In Australia: Mondays, 9.30pm, SBS1. Available on the SBS web site (Australians only)

So imagine a world where the Second World War is happening in the 1960s, Hitler is still alive and five secret agents from around the world have ganged up to try to stop the Nazis.

What do you mean, "Why?" Because I tell you to, that's why.

Actually, that's a very good question that maybe we should ask the creators of Australian show Danger 5, who seem to have taken some peyote while watching Thunderbirds, The Prisoner, The Champions, Inglourious Basterds, the Godzilla movies and huge amounts of those bizarre 1960s eurospy movies that Tanner writes about. They've come up with a very precise pastiche/homage that tries to walk the line between affectionate and mental, except the peyote is so strong the line actually looks like a blancmange being ridden by Anne of Cleves.

So we have Hitler sending out zeppelins to steal the Eiffel Tower in scenes that remind you of Derek Meddings' efforts on a bad day; someone with an eagle's head dressed like Patrick MacGoohan in The Prisoner; deliberately bad dubbing; seductive, smoking, talking robot dogs; bad accents; Champions-like telepathy; exploitation cinema bondage scenes; and more - but for no apparent reason other than it looks cool and people who love the 60s will go "Oh yes, that's from X". There's no plot coherence and no real jokes.

It looks fantastic. A lot of work has obviously gone into it. But it'll leaving you wondering what the whole thing is supposed to accomplish and why you should be watching it. Even more than Garth Marenghi's Darkplace, in fact.

Here's a trailer in case you missed it the first time I showed you and the Internet-only pilot episode so you can see for yourself.

Read other posts about: ,

  1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102 103 104 105 106 107 108 109 110 111 112 113 114 115 116 117 118 119 120 121 122 123 124 125 126 127 128 129 130 131 132 133 134 135 136 137 138 139 140 141 142 143 144 145 146 147 148 149 150 151 152 153 154 155 156 157 158 159 160 161 162 163 164 165 166 167 168 169 170 171 172 173 174 175 176 177 178 179 180 181 182 183 184 185 186 187 188 189 190 191 192 193 194 195 196 197 198 199 200 201 202 203 204 205 206 207 208 209 210 211 212 213 214 215 216 217 218 219 220 221 222 223 224 225 226 227 228 229 230 231 232 233 234 235 236 237 238 239 240 241 242 243 244 245 246 247 248 249 250 251 252 253 254 255 256 257 258 259 260 261 262 263 264 265 266 267 268 269 270 271 272 273 274 275 276 277 278 279 280 281 282 283 284 285 286 287 288 289 290 291 292 293 294 295 296 297 298 299 300 301 302 303 304 305 306 307 308 309 310 311 312 313 314 315 316 317 318 319 320 321 322 323 324 325 326 327 328 329 330 331 332 333 334 335 336 337 338 339 340 341 342 343 344 345 346 347 348 349 350 351 352 353 354 355 356 357 358 359 360 361 362 363 364 365 366 367 368 369 370 371 372 373 374 375 376 377 378 379 380 381 382 383 384 385 386 387 388 389 390 391 392 393 394 395 396 397 398 399  

Featured Articles

Great News

The new 30 Rock?