With his latest directorial instalment, Armando Iannucci has attempted to transform Charles Dickens’ masterpiece David Copperfield into a satirical affair which discusses contemporary social issues. The results are mixed as there are moments of genuine warmth throughout, but there are equally numerous occasions when jokes fall flat and twists in the plot fail to create the level of emotional outpouring one would have expected. Iannucci’s unique style is partially to blame for this as his ironic humour, which had elevated The Death of Stalin so brilliantly, in this instance limits the emotional heft of the source material. Continue reading Frost on Film: The Personal History of David Copperfield
Spork! is a delightful evening of poetry, comedy, rap and performance, which brings together local artists in celebration of spoken word. Hosted by Chris White, Spork! is full of the weird and wonderful, it’s variety making each show unique, exciting and guaranteed to include something for everyone. On Tuesday 11 February, I was lucky enough to see their ‘Valentine(ish)’ special, in which poetic performances were based (loosely) on theme of love. Continue reading Review: Spork! The Valentine(ish) Edition @ Exeter Phoenix
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Bang Bang!, John Cleese’s stage debut, gives us everything we could expect of a farce: dropped and misplaced trousers, slammed doors and hiding in wardrobes. While it’s undeniable that the audience enjoys this, there’s a lingering feeling of nostalgia for a genre which has certainly passed its heyday.
Adapted from Georges Feydeau’s French farce Monsieur Chasse!, Bang Bang! centres on a story of marital deceit with the wronged Leontine (Tessa Peake-Jones) taking revenge on her philandering husband, Duchotel (Tony Gardner), by setting up her own affair with Doctor Moricet (Richard Earl). The two couples end up conducting their affairs in opposite apartments which the fallen Countess Latour (Wendi Peters) manages. Leontine and Duchotel’s desperate attempts to conceal their affairs from the other result in tremendous laughter from the audience. Continue reading Review: Bang Bang! @ Exeter Northcott
Entering Exeter Phoenix’s Workshop, we find protagonist Angus (Josh Smith) sprawled on a mattress, surrounded by marks of decay and neglect. In his litter of crushed beer cans, empty wrappers and cigarette packets, it’s easy to see that this is a man who’s not doing well. Yet Angus is much less capable of admitting this to himself. On this journey towards acceptance, writers and directors Constance McCaig and Eva Lily have shaped a compelling narrative that bravely faces drug-culture, mental health, and the difficulties of youth, delving into these complex themes with fierce honesty and intensity.
Continue reading Review: Salmon @ Exeter Phoenix
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Emotional, contemporarily balletic and deeply European.
Richard Alston has been at the forefront of contemporary ballet for decades and this, his final tour, serves as a reminder of the choreographer’s opus and reach. His training with Merce Cunningham and subsequent work as director of world-renowned Ballet Rambert has had an immeasurable effect on the contemporary dance scene and environment. The evening’s programme presented four competent, moving, complex and beautiful pieces.
We were treated first to Voices and Light Footsteps, which finds images of flowing line and courtship in Monteverdi’s madrigals. The emulation of Italian renaissance dances brings the music to life, though the focus on moves which ground the dancers, with only a few lifts and leaps, makes for a slow and heavy feeling start to the proceedings. Continue reading Review: Richard Alston Dance Company @ Exeter Northcott
When I read in the Radio Times that the Profumo Affair was to be televised into a six-part BBC drama I must admit that I was underwhelmed. Although British screenwriters work wonders with recreating events of the past, with series such as The Crown and A Very English Scandal enthralling their audiences, it all seems to be a tad overdone. However, when The Trial of Christine Keeler came to its conclusion last week, the series brought to light the timelessness of political scandal, and its prevalence in the 2020 contemporary media. Continue reading Politics on Screen: The Trial of Christine Keeler
War has always been a popular subject on screen, with the First and Second World Wars finding themselves the focus of countless movies over the years. Dunkirk, War Horse, Schindler’s List, All Quiet on the Western Front, Saving Private Ryan … the list goes on. Now1917 joins the club, a thoughtful and immersive film that director Sam Mendes (Skyfall, American Beauty) co-wrote, inspired by his grandfather’s stories of the First World War. It follows two young lance corporals in the British army, Schofield (George MacKay) and Blake (Dean-Charles Chapman, aka Tommen from Game of Thrones), who are given the impossible task of delivering a message across no man’s land to call off an impending attack. If they fail, thousands of soldiers, including Blake’s older brother, will die. Continue reading Politics on Screen: 1917