Archive | Theatre reviews

An archive of all the blog's theatre reviews. There's also an archive and an A-Z index of all reviews.


November 21, 2014

What have you been watching? Including Cara Fi, The Comeback, Neville's Island, Robocop (2014), Constantine and The Fall

Posted on November 21, 2014 | Post a comment | Bookmark and Share

It's "What have you been watching?", my chance to tell you what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently that I haven't already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case I've missed them.

The usual "TMINE recommends" page features links to reviews of all the shows I've ever recommended, and there's also the Reviews A-Z, for when you want to check more or less anything I've reviewed ever. And if you want to know when any of these shows are on in your area, there's Locate TV - they’ll even email you a weekly schedule.

First, I’ll apologise in advance for the typos: I’m just heading out the door to watch The Imitation Game.

Anwyay, we’re nearing Thanksgiving and the Christmas season (aka ‘December’) which means that viewing options are starting to drop off, new shows are few and far between, and old shows are giving us their mid-season finales. But I have watched a couple of new things, including State of Affairs, which I’ve reviewed elsewhere.

Cara Fi (UK: S4C)
A dying Welsh village puts the faces of its single men on the sides of milk cartons to attract women there. Starring Dave Coaches (Steffan Rhodri) from Gavin & Stacey, it’s pretty gentle, not especially romantic comedy with a sad basis in reality. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it, but it’s a different change of pace from the usual fare and it clips along decently enough.

The Comeback (US: HBO; UK: Sky Atlantic)
Lisa Kudrow plays a fading, once semi-famous actress, trying to use reality TV to make a comeback, only to discover that she might get a second chance, playing a thinly veiled pastiche version of herself in a sitcom. Technically the show’s second season, it’s first season airing in 2005, and since then, most of its young stars (Kellan Lutz, Malin Akerman) have gone on to better things, although Akerman makes a cameo in the first episode, Lutz lined up for a later appearance. However, as with the first season, this is such an insider TV show that even though I’ve been writing about TV and US TV for the best part of two decades, even I found it a bit niche. More damningly, I didn’t laugh once. Fans says the show’s simply ahead of the curve, in which case I’ll probably find it funny in 10 years’ time, but seeing as most of it is cringe comedy and laughing at people who’ve fallen on hard times, maybe not.

I’ve also watched a movie:

Robocop (2014)
Remake of the 1980s ‘classic’, this hits neither the original’s lows nor its highs, loses virtually all the satire, and ditches Nancy Allen’s tough female partner for Omar from The Wire. Nevertheless, the story of a murdered cop turned into a cybernetic police officer for a privatised police force does actually do some interesting and different things, looking at the concepts of free will, the nature of perception, media manipulation, the disabled, prosthetics, and the tensions between altruistic science and those funding it. It’s certainly not memorable and will probably be forgotten about soon enough, but it’s nevertheless a pretty decent film that would probably be a lot more noticeable and notable were it not for the original.

And I’ve been to the theatre, too.

Neville’s Island (Duke of York's)
Four Northern middle managers (Neil Morrissey, Adrian Edmondson, Miles Jupp, Robert Webb) go the wrong way on an outward bounds course and end up stuck on an island in the Lake District. How will they get on together? Will they escape? And will any of them go mad and attack the others? I’m not saying, but it’s a fun play which ultimately doesn’t say a whole lot, but is entertaining nevertheless, with some good performances. It also features one of the best sets I’ve ever seen – or smelt. Seriously, that’s some moist piney goodness they’ve got going on there.

After the jump, I’ll be running through: Arrow, Constantine, Elementary, The Fall, The Flash, Forever, Gotham, Gracepoint, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, The Newsroom and Scorpion.

Continue reading "What have you been watching? Including Cara Fi, The Comeback, Neville's Island, Robocop (2014), Constantine and The Fall"

Read other posts about: , , ,

October 20, 2014

What have you been watching? Including Strange Empire, Coverband, Electra, The Flash and Doctor Who

Posted on October 20, 2014 | comments | Bookmark and Share

It's "What have you been watching?", my chance to tell you what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently that I haven't already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case I've missed them.

The usual "TMINE recommends" page features links to reviews of all the shows I've ever recommended, and there's also the Reviews A-Z, for when you want to check more or less anything I've reviewed ever. And if you want to know when any of these shows are on in your area, there's Locate TV - they’ll even email you a weekly schedule.

You may have noticed I was playing epic catch-up on Saturday, in contravention of my normal rule of weekend blogging. So on top of Friday’s all out efforts and a couple of extra ones today, I’ve reviewed the following new shows, some of which have already been acquired for Blighty’s viewing pleasure:

Yay, me. No back log now. Time to have regular weekends again. Phew.

In fact, so ahead of myself am I that I’ll point out that ages ago, I reviewed NBC’s Constantine, which starts on Friday. Okay, it’s changed a bit since the pilot but you’ll get the general point.

But I’ve not stopped there. Oh no. Because I’ve also watched a New Zealand and a Canadian show just for luck. Okay, I was a bit behind on all of them, so I’ve only seen the first episode of each, but honestly, that felt like enough.

Strange Empire (Canada: CBC)
Set in the 1860s on the Alberta-Montana border, this sees three women (Cara Gee, Tattiawna Jones and Melissa Farman from Lost) band together for survival after virtually all the men in their town are murdered and those remaining behind battle for power. Very nicely made and already being described as the saviour of CBC, it's historically interesting but about as tedious as any other western, and none of the characters really grabbed me.

Coverband (New Zealand: TV One)
A one-hit wonder band reunite back in New Zealand years after they were famous. Unfortunately, the female lead singer was the one who was a success, leaving the terminally unsexy rest of the band to make it by themselves, something at which they fail miserably. Now having to deal with the pressures of normal lives and forced to do cover versions of other bands’ records, they suck completely until they stagecrashed by Laughton Kora, who shows them what rock charisma and singing really are, so they hire him. Kind of.

It’s an amiable and accurate enough show, based on cast member Johnny Barker’s own experiences as an Auckland cover band musician, and were there enough time in the world, I’d probably tune in for a few more episodes. But the show’s not so inspiring that I’ll throw something else aside for it and I’ve already seen The Wedding Band crash and burn, so I don’t think I need to see that happen again.

Unfortunately, New Zealand doesn’t want to produce any globally available videos of its own shows, apparently, so here’s a picture of the cast to tide you over.

Coverband

That's it for new new shows, but after the jump, I’ll be running through: Arrow, black-ish, The Blacklist, Doctor Who, The Flash, Forever, Gotham, Homeland, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, Plebs, Scorpion, Selfie and The Walking Dead.

But hey! Before you go, I should mention I went to the theatre, too!

Electra (Old Vic)
Kristin Scott Thomas as Electra, a new translation of Sophocles’ original text by Greek tragedy stalwart Frank McGuinness, music by PJ Harvey – what could go wrong? Well, not much actually, beyond a certain staticness to the direction, a slightly weak performance by Jack Lowden as Orestes and a very strange performance by Tyrone Huggins as Aegisthus. Other than that, a fine piece of work, surprisingly faithfully staged (although that’s not quite how Greek people prayed), with an outstanding performance by Thomas and a surprisingly funny text by McGuinness – in part to cover up for casting slightly older than originally written, but also to hide the unlikelihood of Electra not recognising Orestes. Liz White (Life on Mars) gives the best performance I’ve ever seen from her as Chrysothemis, Electra’s sister.  

Continue reading "What have you been watching? Including Strange Empire, Coverband, Electra, The Flash and Doctor Who"

Read other posts about: , , , , , ,

October 3, 2014

What have you been watching? Including Stalker, Bad Judge, Gracepoint, Bring Up The Bodies, The Code and Gotham

Posted on October 3, 2014 | comments | Bookmark and Share

It's "What have you been watching?", my chance to tell you what movies and TV I’ve been watching recently that I haven't already reviewed and your chance to recommend things to everyone else (and me) in case I've missed them.

The usual "TMINE recommends" page features links to reviews of all the shows I've ever recommended, and there's also the Reviews A-Z, for when you want to check more or less anything I've reviewed ever. And if you want to know when any of these shows are on in your area, there's Locate TV - they’ll even email you a weekly schedule.

Lots of new shows this week, and since I’m off in Germany on Monday – maybe I’ll report back to you on the tele, assuming I have the time to watch any – I’m not going to have time to do full reviews next week. So I’ll squeeze a few quick mini-reviews of them in today. Elsewhere, I’ve reviewed Manhattan Love Story, but I’ve also watched the following

Bad Judge (US: NBC)
You don’t have to go on an epic mental journey to work out where this show, exec produced by Anne Heche, Will Ferrell and Adam McKay, got its inspiration. Worryingly, it’s not even as good as either that TV show or the original movie, being a largely flat affair with Kate Walsh (Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice) playing a pill-popping, hungover, casual sex-having judge who doesn’t really have a lot of respect for the law, but ends up helping criminals and kids who have appeared before her in court. Walsh is fun, the character herself is fun and it’s nice to have a heroine who’s permitted to be a pretty negative role model, but the jokes are lifeless and seemingly so in awe of how transgressive they think they’re being that they forget to be funny. In the show’s defence, it’s considerably less misogynistic than Bad Teacher was and the characters do seem to like one another and are engaging. But this is comfortably the worst show of the fall season so far.

Gracepoint (US: Fox; UK: ITV)
Ironically, I’m probably the one person in Britain who hasn’t watched Broadchurch, given that I knew Chris Chibnall was writing it, so in a sense I’m also the person in Britain best prepared to watch Gracepoint, its US remake, which even features David Tennant reprising his role as a police detective who moves to a small coastal town and finds himself having to investigate the death of child. On the other hand, I have seen both the Danish The Killing as well as The Killing (US), which is basically what Broadchurch was, so maybe I’m not.

All the same, I actually really enjoyed this intelligent, thoughtful, slightly slow-paced drama, more concerned with how the death affects its family and the town than necessarily who killed the boy. David Tennant’s American accent is moderately better compared to his Rex Is Not Your Lawyer efforts, although initially I thought he was going full Scottish and not bothering with an accent at all, so it needs a bit of work, and he also seems a bit out of place among the American (and occasionally Australian) actors. But with the exception of the dreadfully hammy Nick Nolte, the cast (which includes Anna Gunn from Breaking Bad and Michael Peña from End of Watch) is uniformly good, there’s emotion and it's genuinely moving. Whether those who’ve seen the original will feel the same, I couldn’t say, but the producers have said the ending will be different – which as with The Killing I hear can only be a good thing, given how Broadchurch ended.

Stalker (US: CBS; UK: Sky Living – starts in November)
I do worry about that Kevin Williamson. He’s a good writer, but The Following isn’t exactly the loveliest thing on TV and it has some very dodgy attitudes towards women. But now we have another Williamson show entirely dedicated to exploiting women’s fears, with Maggie Q (Nikita, Mission Impossible III) leading a special LAPD unit that investigates and tries to prevent stalkers from doing unpleasant things to women. While there is an attempt to even the balance out with a secondary plot about a male stalker who stalks another man and with various comments about how bad men are, that’s largely a beard for the current Williamson antics of women screaming a lot while men do bad things to them. It doesn’t help, either, that the unit’s latest recruit, fluffy haired Dylan McDermott (Big Shots, Dark Blue, American Horror Story, Hostages), is actually stalking Elisabeth Rohm (Angel, Law & Order, Heroes) or that by the end of the first episode, thanks to some obviously stupid tactics by Q, she ends up getting her own (possibly second) stalker.

Unpleasant. Please don’t watch. Encourage Kevin Williamson to go back to making things like Dawson’s Creek again.

I’ve also been to the theatre to see Bring Up The Bodies, the sequel to Wolf Hall. Not quite as good as the first, largely thanks to history, rather than the writing, it covers how Thomas Cromwell helps Henry VIII to depose Anne Boleyn as queen so that he can marry Jane Seymour. An RSC production, it also suffers a little from having actors noticeably and confusingly playing multiple parts, as well as from having less of Nathaniel Parker and Lydia Leonard, who made Wolf Hall such as success, and from there being less of Cromwell’s personal life, too. As with Wolf Hall, it also clearly ends on a cliffhanger, which given there’s no part three, is a somewhat odd choice. But who knows what Mantel will do next?

Don’t bother watching if you haven’t seen the first one, since there’s no help beyond some awkward dialogue where Ben Miles’ Cromwell has to go around telling everyone their names for the audience’s benefit; and if you’ve seen Wolf Hall don’t feel compelled to see Bring Up The Bodies too. But if you go in with slightly diminished expectations, you should expect to see a reasonable amount of all the same qualities that made Wolf Hall such an enjoyable experience.

PS I say all this, even though it ends tonight. But just in case you’re planning on seeing it on Broadway…

After the jump, the regulars: black-ish, The Blacklist, The Code, Gotham, How To Get Away With Murder, Legends, Madam Secretary, Marvel’s Agents of SHIELD, Plebs and Scorpion.

Continue reading "What have you been watching? Including Stalker, Bad Judge, Gracepoint, Bring Up The Bodies, The Code and Gotham"

Read other posts about: ,

1 2 3 4 5  

Featured Articles

State of Affairs

Better than you'd think