Category: Theatre


514oymgsnpl._sx323_bo1204203200_The seemingly unstoppable momentum that culminated in what many regard as the greatest movie of all time was the basis for ‘The Road To Xanadu’, the compelling first volume of Simon Callow’s four-part biography of Orson Welles.

Prior to Citizen Kane, Welles brought his radical vision and insatiable creative energy to bear on innovative radio broadcasts and ground-breaking theatre productions.

Having achieved so much at such a young age, the remainder of his career was, by common consensus, anti-climatic. Welles himself joked of his movies that he started at the top and had been working his way down ever since.

Volume 2 of his story is therefore an attempt to explain what went wrong when this larger than life actor, writer and director seemed to have the world at his feet. Continue reading

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Why Woolf Works works

woolfworksIt might seem an odd notion to base a dance performance on three novels by Virginia Woolf, but Wayne McGregor is a choreographer who makes his own rules. He proves that great prose can inspire and captivate in the same way that the rhythmic flow of lyrical poetry can.

Woolf Works was premiered to huge acclaim in 2015 and is divided into three sections: ‘I Now, I Then’ is based on the themes in Mrs Dalloway; ‘Becomings’ takes its cues from the surreal wit & vitality of Orlando and ‘Tuesday’ is inspired by The Waves, Woolf’s most experimental novel.

This final section is also named after the heading to the suicide note Woolf left for her husband. This letter, which begins “I feel certain that I’m going mad again”, is beautifully read by Gillian Anderson as a preface to the profoundly moving conclusion.

The revival of these pieces was a hot ticket at The Royal Opera House but has now reached a wider audience thanks to a live worldwide broadcast in over 1,500 cinemas and more than 35 countries on February 8th 2017. Continue reading

The power games of Denial

DENIAL directed by Mick Jackson (UK/USA, 2016)

denial1It is something of a paradox that in our fact check dominated world, liars and cheats continue to flourish.

A quick Google search will expose the most blatant of falsehoods but, as the campaigns of Brexit and Trump have proven, you can win votes simply by repeating lies ad infinitum.

Holocaust denier and credited British historian David Irving was and is a pants on fire specialist but he has never wavered from his position as a Hitler apologist. This film gives a clue as to what motivates him and how he is a potent (and pungent) example of someone who redefines the ‘truth’ to justify his own ends.

The movie is adapted from David Hare’s stage play which was in turn based on Deborah E. Lipstadt’s book ‘History On Trial: My Day in Court with a Holocaust Denier’.

At its centre is the Irving vs Penguin Books Ltd trial which took place in 2000 at the High Court of Justice in London and gave judgement on Irving’s claim that Lipstadt had made libellous statements against him in her 1993 book ‘Denying The Holocaust’. Continue reading

SHAKESPEARE by Bill Bryson (Harper Press, 2007)
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Do we really need another book about William Shakespeare? The answer is, of course, a resounding ‘NO’.

In fairness, Bill Bryson is fully cognizant of this fact. He is honest enough to admit that this book contains not so much his own opinions “but is instead about what I learned of William Shakespeare from people who have spent a lifetime studying and thinking about him”.

Bryson makes the accurate observation that the Bard of Stratford-Upon-Avon is “not so much a historical figure as an academic obsession”.

He is in his element when debunking some of the unsubstantiated claims the so-called ‘experts’ have made in an attempt to uncover the man behind the myth. Continue reading

THE HATEFUL EIGHT directed by Quentin Tarantino (USA, 2015)

 hatefuleightPretty well every Tarantino movie has been accused of being gratuitously violent. By now viewers should know that at some point there’ll be some splatter.

Get used to it or stay away, I say.

But his 8th movie is hateful for other reasons. I found certain scenes distasteful because the sadistic elements were so plainly included for shock value alone.

I’m thinking in particularly of the flashback scene [spoiler alert] near the end. Continue reading

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