Culture Bound – February 2020

Culture Bound – February 2020

 

Theatre

Best of the bunch

Time and Tide by James McDermott (Park Theatre) Heartfelt and heartrending comedy drama about identity and escape **** Full review here

Netflix and Chill by Tom Stocks (Drayton Arms Theatre) Mental health issues among young men is a very worthy theme and one that certainly needs exploring. But this was a world away from anything I could relate to with its jargon and attitudes aimed squarely at 20 somethings – my fault for being old! I felt the piece presented the (supposedly) reprehensible laddish behaviour as a humorous spectacle for far too much of the first half. The initial scenario with the mother and son reunion didn’t go anywhere; a couple of the other roles were seriously underwritten/one dimensional. The voice over detracted from proceedings. The one excellent feature was the central performance of Tom Stocks which was bang full of energy and some nice comic timing **

I, Cinna (The Poet) by Tim Crouch (Unicorn Theatre) An intriguing and provocative one man show; part character examination, part poetry writing masterclass, part meditation on democracy and politics **** Full review here

Tryst by Karoline Leach  (Chiswick Playhouse) Based on the real case of the “Brides In The Bath” murderer in Edwardian England this play is a psychological thriller played out by two performers who fully inhabited their characters of debonair charmer and mousey shop girl; at least that’s how they started out. As the play progressed hidden depths were revealed and, even though I knew the outcome, it was still gripping stuff. Ingenious use was made of a small black box space and simple doubled up props and furnishings; all credit, too, to the tight direction and atmospheric lighting. ****

 

Cinema

The Personal History of David Copperfield directed by Armando Iannucci   Full of verve and reflective of the comedy of the original this, necessarily, truncated version would serve as a good introduction to the novel. It was particularly good at tracing the path of how Copperfield/Dickens became a writer. Stuffed with delightful performances (e.g. Paul Whitehouse and Tilda Swinton). Ben Wishaw was particularly good as Uriah Heep, though I wasn’t sure about Peter Capaldi’s Micawber. Also, Hugh Laurie’s part seemed to have been written up simply because it was Hugh Laurie. The fuss over the racially blind casting was simply that – a fuss! It didn’t detract one bit from the finished article. ****

 

Books

The Divide by Alan Ayckbourn  Interesting to compare this with the stage version. This definitely works more successfully **** Full review here

Grand Union by Zadie Smith Too bitty and random. It just became annoying – even though the quality of the writing is high **    Full review here

Korean Journal by Michael Palin An interesting look at a difficult to visit location. Palin’s charm and wit are well to the fore ***  Full review here

The Porpoise by Mark Haddon For most of the book it looked like a real winner but the last part let it down ****  Full review here

No Country For Old Men by Cormac McCarthy This was Hemingway in style if not in content. Tailed off towards the end **** Full review here

Melmoth by Sarah Perry  Clever use of the tropes of gothic fiction and so although totally unbelievable it worked in its own terms **** Full review here

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