27th May2017

Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge

by timbaros

"PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES"..The villainous Captain Salazar (Javier Bardem) pursues Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) as he searches for the trident used by Poseidon..Ph: Film Frame..©Disney Enterprises, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Johnny Depp is back, for a fifth time, as Jack Sparrow in the new installment of Disney’s very successful franchise Pirates of the Caribbean. This one is called Salazar’s Revenge (also known as Dead Men Tell no Tales).

Was there a need for a fourth sequel to the original, titled The Curse of the Black Pearl? In my opinion, no. It’s not that this film is not very good, it’s just that Depp’s Sparrow is starting to get a bit boring, eccentric, and at the very most unnecessary to the plot.

In this sequel, Sparrow is pursued by an old nemesis, Armando Salazar (Javier Bardem). And it’s practically Bardem as Salazar who steals the movie. His Salazar, physically half there, half not there, is one of the most exciting movie characters in recent times. He’s scary and ugly, speaks with a dark, deep voice, and is in a word fascinating. Salazar blames Sparrow for his downfall, so it’s race between him and Sparrow to find the Trident of Poseidon – Salazar wants to use it’s power to destroy all the pirates in the world while of course Sparrow spends his time in a race with Salazar to get this powerful tool.

In the meantime, we are introduced to two new characters (perhaps to inject this film franchise with fresh faces): Kaya Scodelario is Carina, an astronomer, while Brenton Thwaites is very good as Henry, the son of the characters of Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley from a previous film.

Salazar’s Revenge is dark, very dark, and it includes memorable scenes including the Devil’s Triangle (where Salazar and his evil gang do their dirty deeds) and stunning special effects. But It’s Bardem who carries, and excels, in this movie. Perhaps in the next sequel they can completely leave out Sparrow and focus more on Salazar. Sparrow’s character has become a bit dull and unnecessary, so it’s time to either leave him out completely and focus on new characters or end the franchise for good. No doubt this film will make a lot of money for Disney – but this franchise with Depp is starting to become a tale Dead (or alive) men don’t want to tell.

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23rd May2017

5 Guys Chillin’ (Theatre)

by timbaros

5 Guys Chillin' (c) Laura Marie Linck (7)There’s a chemsex party taking place at the King’s Head Theatre. No, it’s not an actual party – It’s the returning show 5 Guys Chillin’.

In the comforts of the living room of J (David Palmstrom) and M (George Fletcher), them and three other guys (actually men) are enjoying each other as well as the drugs on the table in order to experience the highs, and in some cases, the lows, of what gay men (not all gay men) are getting into nowadays; drugs and sex and more drugs and in some cases unsafe sex in private house parties.

B (Gareth Watkins) and R (Tom Ratcliffe) are a bit of an unmatched couple; R is very young but not so innocent, while muscular big daddy B is experienced and likes it any which way and loose. And the last one to arrive at the party is Pakistani PJ (George Bull). He’s a bit unsure as to why he’s there, but slowly gets into the action. But he’s got a story to tell the other guys; he’s actually married with a young child because it’s what is expected in his culture. Besides him, all the guys have stories to tell; B’s story is particularly vivid as he recounts the time he was spit roast in Berlin where sexual diseases were not discussed. It’s all a lot to take in; the plays’ honesty and brutal nature is scary because know all know these types of gay men, and parties, do actually exist. And all the actors should be admired for performing such an in your face play shedding emotions as well as bravely shedding their clothes. Writer and Director Peter Darney seems to have gotten the tone and characters right, but luckily I wouldn’t know because I’ve never been and don’t plan to go to one of these parties.

Playing until June 3rd – for tickets, please go here:

https://kingsheadtheatre.ticketsolve.com/shows/873572428/events/128101674

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22nd May2017

Judy (Theatre)

by timbaros

Judy! 11 - photocreditIt’s Judy Judy Judy in the new show aptly titled Judy now playing at the Arts Theatre in Central London.

We are treated to Judy Garland in three pivotal stages of her life. There’s the young Judy before her Wizard of Oz role – ages 13 through 16 – brilliantly played by Lucy Penrose. Then there is Palace Judy – the time in Garland’s life when she was performing on Broadway at the Palace Theatre, age 29 – with Belinda Wollaston in the role. Then we’re treated to CBS Judy – the 47 year-old star (played by Helen Sheals) who, unbeknownst to all, was in the last year of her life while having her own television show on America’s CBS network.

The intertwining of Judy’s lives in this show is both fantastic and fabulous. It’s also tragic because Judy died at the age of 47 in London due to an overdose of barbiturates in 1969 (a few days later the Stonewall riots kicked off). Judy had such a tumultuous life, and it didn’t make matters any better in that she was an extremely insecure, and nervous, woman. Young Judy’s father (played by Joe Shefer) ran a cinema, but he also had a predilection for young boys. Her mother Ethel (Amanda Bailey) was an extremely controlling stage mother. But Palace Judy’s life isn’t much better. In her 20’s she takes various drugs just to help her get through each day, and even though she married five times, it was Sid Luft (Harry Anton) who was the one who really cared for her. But CBS Judy (who actually opens the show with a rounding version of ‘Life is Just a Bowl of Cherries’ – sung brilliantly by Sheals) seems to be on the right track – she’s got a hit television show – but the network keeps on demanding more and more from her, and the bills keep piling up. It’s too much for a woman as fragile as Judy to take, and even though her death is not played out on stage, we all know what’s going to happen to her next.

Judy is excellent. It’s all due to the three women who play Judy, they are all very good – but it’s Penrose who shines a bit more because she plays the version of Judy who is young and innocent, and Penrose conveys that excellently. When all three sing ‘Almost Like Being in Love’ – it’s an event! And when all three get together to sing the finale – ‘Over the Rainbow’ – there’s not a dry eye in the house.

Director and writer Ray Rackham, along with the rest of his crew, have staged a musical that tells the life of Judy Garland who was larger than life. And the parallel timeframes used in this production is genius. Cleverly, the musicians also act in the show, including Judith Kramer, who plays CBS Judy’s assistant. This same production was at the intimate Southwark Playhouse last year and it’s good to see that practically the same cast and crew were brought back to stage this show in a bigger theatre for more people to watch it.

Judy is a fabulous and fantastic show. It’s only playing at the Arts Theatre until June 17th, so catch it as soon as you can. Tickets can be bought here:
https://artstheatrewestend.co.uk

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19th May2017

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword (Film)

by timbaros

KA-15164r5‘King Arthur: Legend of the Sword’ is Guy Ritchie’s telling of the story of the legendary and some would say mythical life of Arthur who was orphaned at a young age but who became a King and the man who would become synonymous with the Excalibur myth. Charlie Hunnam plays King Arthur in this film which is visually spectacular yet leaves a lot to be desired for it’s silly plot and poor casting choices.

When Arthur’s father the King (Eric Bana) is murdered (in a scene played over and over and over again), his uncle Vortigern (Jude Law in a very meaty role) seizes the crown. But the very young Arthur, who was cast adrift on a boat during the murder, has to grow up the hard way, and from the very beginning is unaware that he is the son of a murdered King. As he grows up, he is helped along the way by a band of warriors, but it’s when he pulls the sword from the stone is his mission clear – he needs to get back the crown from his uncle, no matter at what cost.

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No expense was sparred in this film, which cost $200 million to make, and it shows in every clip. From the most amazing costumes to the glorious scenery to the spectacular special effects, and even down to the monsters and serpents that provide this film an amazingly dark and scary and fun tone. We even get to see an old Londonium – shown to great effect. But there are some distractions and poor choices that take you out of the story (and will make you unintentionally laugh). David Beckham’s two minute scene as a soldier who prompts Arthur to pull the sword is disastrous because Beckham can’t act and his voice too soft for the part. Another bit of bad casting are most of the men who make up Arthur’s coterie – they all have geezer accents! It must be a case of Ritchie casting all of his friends to be in the film, and while these men can act, their accents are all alike! And Hunnam, while nice to look at, is a very wooden King Arthur.

But don’t worry about all of this. It will only cost you £15 to watch this film – it’s worthy because it’s a film fully of fantasy and mythology that while doesn’t quite live up to it’s hype, it is, for the most part, entertaining and escapist – and that’s the experience we all want when we to go the cinema.

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19th May2017

Kings Cross [Remix] (Theatre)

by timbaros

Kings Cross night sky landscapeTake a journey to 1980’s London, specifically the King’s Cross area, through the storytelling of Tom Marshman, in the new show Kings Cross Remix. The one man show, at the Camden People’s Theatre, is a tour de force performance by Marshman, too young to remember the stories he’s telling, yet he tells them so vividly, with such authority and believability that he makes us actually believe he was there. Through the use of video and audio tape recordings of the people who were actually around during those times, Marshman weaves together these stories in a 60-minute show to great effect. He talks about the long gone disco Bagely’s nightclub, the denizens of King Cross including the hookers and the club kids, a unique story about the late and great Leigh Bowery, and grainy video footage of the once popular gay bar and club The Bell (this footage can also be found on Youtube). But Marshman also transports us to this decade when lots of our fellow friends were dying of AIDS, and one audio clip of a man who is a patient representative at a local clinic remembers the days when gay men were diagnosed with GRID (Gay Related Immune Deficiency) and were in their last days as there no hope for them. Marshman also chillingly brings up the arrival of patient zero – the man who introduced HIV into England. This and more is all told with the songs of Donna Summers Last Dance and lots of other disco classics as the soundtrack, and footage of Jimmy Somerville in his early days who can now be found from time to time drinking at his local bar Central Station. Marshman’s show celebrates a time when the scene in Kings Cross was more fun but also a bit dangerous and not posh as it is now. It’s a great show and Marshman does a very good job in telling these stories.

For tickets, please go to:

https://www.cptheatre.co.uk

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17th May2017

70th Annual Cannes Film Festival starts today (Film)

by timbaros

Festival2017_30X18_DEFThe glitz, the glamour, the stars, the red carpet, the sun. Yes, it’s time again for the Cannes Film Festival.

From May 17 – 28, the film and party bacchanalia is the place to be and be seen. It’s a festival so unlike any other, the stars come out in full force. And for this, the 70th annual, there will be eighteen films competing in the main competition. Among these include:

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-Sofia Coppola’s American Civil War thriller The Beguiled, a remake of Clint Eastwood’s 1971 film, with high wattage stars Colin Farrell, Nicole Kidman, and Kirsten Dunst.
-Okja and The Meyerowitz Stories are two films produced by Netflix. Okja stars Jake Gyllenhaal and Tilda Swinton about a girl who risks everything to prevent a powerful multi-national company from kidnapping her best friend – a massive animal, while The Meyerowitz Stories stars Adam Sandler, Ben Stiller, Emma Thompson and Dustin Hoffman about siblings dealing with an ageing father.
Amazon is also in the game with:

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-Wonderstruck, starring Julianne Moore and Michelle Williams and tells the story of two deaf children living parallel lives in the 1920’s and 1970’s, and
-You Were Never Really Here starring Joaquin Phoenix as a war veteran who tries to save a sex-trafficking victim.
-Good Time. Robert Pattinson plays a bank robber who struggles to evade the police.
-Happy End. Isabelle Huppert, fresh from her award-winning performance in Elle, is in this family drama that is set against the backdrop of the European refugee crisis.

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-The Killing of a Sacred Deer. Kidman and Farrell (again) star in this tale of a boy attempting to bring a talented surgeon into his family, with disastrous consequences.
-L’Amant Double (The Double Lover). Popular French Director Francois Ozon’s thriller about a young woman who falls in love with her therapist before realising he’s not who she thinks he is.
-A Gentle Closure. A Ukrainian film that tells the bleak tale of a woman trying to learn the truth about a prison in remote Russia.

The year’s film festival includes 49 films from 20 countries, including nine feature debuts. The Opening night film – which is out of competition – is French film Ismael’s Ghosts by director Arnaud Desplechin – which follows a filmmaker whose life is sent into a tailspin by the return of a former lover just as he is about to start shooting a new film, and starring festival favorite Marion Cotillard. The closing, a highlight of the festival, will be, as always, the film awards that honour the best films and performances that were shown. Other areas of the film festival include the Un Certain Regard section (the official selection). There will be 16 films in this section – with actress Uma Thurman to preside over this jury. One of the Out of Competition films include How to Talk to Girls at Parties, by John Cameron Mitchell (Hedwig and the Angry Inch) and stars Kidman (again), Elle Fanning and Matt Lucas and is about a couple of British 1970’s teen-aged boys who go to a party to meet girls, only to find that the girls are very different from their expectations. Kidman will also be seen in a screening of Jane Campion’s television series “Top of the Lake” – Kidman will be very busy during the festival! The Cinéfondation is the short film section of the festival, to be be presided over by Romanian Director Cristian Mungiu. And Italian actress Monica Bellucci will host the open and closing ceremonies.
Non-film industry members of the public (who without a pass are pretty much locked out of all the events and screenings of the festival) are welcome to watch films in the evening public screenings that take place on the beach (Cinema de la Plage), while those with VIP passes will be invited to go to the many parties, events, and the A-list fundraiser gala Cinema Against AIDS.

Members of this year’s main jury include filmmaker Pedro Almodovar who will be joined by American actress Jessica Chastain, among others. One of the prizes to be given out is the Caméra d’or, awarded for best first feature film (which was won by British Director Steve McQueen in 2008 for Hunger). And the town of Cannes will be taken over by the attendees of this film festival which is a must to attend for anyone in the film industry, and even if you are not, it’s just great to soak up and take in the glitz and the glamour, and it will make you feel like you are really part of something special.

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17th May2017

Manchester by the Sea (DVD)

by timbaros

manCasey Affleck gives a devastating performance in Manchester by the Sea.

In a role that won him the Academy Award for Best Actor, Affleck is Lee Chandler, a man stricken with grief, so much grief that gets worse when he gets word that his older brother Joe (Kyle Chandler in flashbacks) suddenly passes away in their hometown of Manchester, New Hampshire. Joe leaves behind teenage son Patrick (newcomer Lucas Hedges) and so it’s left to Lee to be Patrick’s guardian.

But Lee just doesn’t have the energy, or the passion, to take in his nephew. Now a handyman, he moved to Boston after a tragic event that took the lives of his three children, a tragic event that could’ve been prevented, and a tragedy that caused the breakdown of his marriage to Randi (Michelle Williams). So he’s really quite unsure and struggles with what to do with Patrick. Lee can’t send Patrick to his mother, who he is not close to, as she is pretty much out of the picture. And Patrick doesn’t want to move to Boston to live with Lee. But everyday Lee struggles, struggling with guilt over the death of his children, and guilt that is very evident in his face and posture, and grief that will more than likely will never go away. But it is up to Lee to make sure his nephew is taken care of.

There is so much darkness in Manchester by the Sea that it’s hard to leave the film without feeling depressed and sodden. Yet it’s Affleck’s acting that propels this film to must see and award-worthy status. Affleck, who is Ben Affleck’s younger brother, gives the best performance of his career. His Lee is quite unlike any character you’ve seen all year – and Affleck plays him amazingly. Williams is also very good as Lee’s wife who eventually moves on and starts a new life, and BAFTA Rising Star nominee Hedges is a real find and perfect as the rebellious teenager. In a film produced by Matt Damon, who was originally going to star as Lee, and with excellent writing and directing by Kenneth Lonergan (2000’s You Can Count on me), who cements himself to A-list status of Hollywood filmmakers with this film, Manchester by the Sea is one of this year’s few must-see films. Now out on DVD.



Manchester By The Sea [DVD] (DVD)

Director: Kenneth Lonergan
Starring: Casey Affleck, Michelle Williams, Kyle Chandler, Lucas Hedges, Tate Donovan
Rating: Suitable for 15 years and over

New From: £4.99 GBP In Stock
Used from: £5.50 GBP In Stock
Release date May 15, 2017.
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17th May2017

Room (Theatre)

by timbaros

unnamed-319The story of a mother and son held captive in a room was so beautifully and emotionally told in last year’s film ‘Room.’ There is now a stage adaptation of that Oscar-winning film playing at Theatre Royal Stratford East.

Emma Donoghue, who wrote the book in which the film was based on, also wrote the stage adaptation, and it’s an interesting one. The stage show mimics the plot of the movie, however, more elements are added to it. First off, there’s a narrator who speaks out loud the thoughts of 5-year old Jake (ably played by Harrison Wilding on the night I saw it); it’s Jack’s perspective this show is told from (as in the book); and surprisingly the show is also told via songs – effective at times but a bit inappropriate at other times.

Room, in case you missed the film, is about a woman and her son who are being held hostage by a man simply known as Old Nick (Liam McKenna). The mother, Ma (excellently played by Witney White), has been imprisoned by him for seven years. Ma and Jack are unable to leave the room, locked in by the man who is Jack’s father who takes his liberties with Ma whenever he wants. And Ma has to be ever so grateful when he brings her and Jack the staples and necessities they need to live on. But it’s Jack who has adapted to living in the room – it’s all he knows. He also knows to hide in the wardrobe when Old Nick comes to visit – it’s these time that the show takes, to great effect, a dark and eerie tone. It’s complemented by the set – a room in the middle of the stage – that cleverly swings around when Nick is ‘visiting’ – so we see Jack’s frightened viewpoint from the wardrobe – which is also his bed – it’s expertly thought out. Jack’s thoughts come via the narration by Fela Lufadeju – Big Jack – who is Little Jacks’ voice and his conscience. It’s narration that at times is cute and funny and at times very serious, but it’s also does get in the way of the very dramatic story unfolding on stage.

Without giving too much away, and as mentioned above, the rest of story plays out in similar parallel with the movie, with the second half taking place in a home (as opposed to a room), where Ma and Jack have to adjust to life outside the room. It’s with the help of Ma’s mother (a good performance by Lucy Tregar) that shifts the second half into another gear, a bit slower and less intense than the first, but dramatic nonetheless.

Room has elements of it that work and don’t work. Room’s premise is very theatrical, with the whole story being told inside four walls, which this production excellently shows. In the first room there are the items that Jack has named (plant, TV, etc..), then there’s a hospital room, and then on to Grandma’s house, it’s a set superbly designed by Lily Arnold. And there is also excellent use of lighting and visuals on the walls that are characters and images seen from the eyes of a child. The cast do a very good job and it’s a helluva emotional show to be performing seven times a week (three young actors take turns playing the role of Jack). But the use of Big Jack is a device that doesn’t quite work, and some of the songs (music by Kathryn Joseph) in the second half just don’t quite work with the dark theme of the show. Nonetheless, if you loved the movie and read the book, then this is must see theatre, and only it’s playing until June 3rd.

To book tickets, please go here:
http://www.stratfordeast.com

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15th May2017

Salomé (Theatre)

by timbaros

SALOME by Farber ; Directed by Yael Farber ; Designed by Susan Hilferty ; at The National Theatre, London, UK ; 6 April 2017 ; Credit : Johan Persson

It was always going to be hard to produce a version of Salomé on the stage. It’s a story that’s mythical, biblical, violent, and perhaps a bit confusing. A new version of the show is now playing at The National Theatre, and it’s executed beautifully.

Staged by Director Yael Farber, this version of Salomé, at a short 110 minutes with no interval, will mesmerize you but may also confuse you as the story is told through song and dance and imagery and hebrew, and lots of sand and water. But it’s the story of Salomé who was born the daughter of Herodia who was a princess of the Herodian Dynasty of Judea during the time of the Roman Empire. Salomé, as you may or may not know, is infamous for receiving the head of John the Baptist. Played in this show by Isabella Nefar, Salome is not very respected, stands naked on the stage, has sand thrown all over her, but it’s at the end that she’s redeemed and resurrected, but the road to get there is an intense one.

A character by the name of Nameless (Olwen Fouéré) tells the story of Salomé, as Salomé the character doesn’t speak, and takes place in Roman occupied Judea. She’s yelled at and ridiculed by her stepfather Herod (Paul Chahidi), but finds something, perhaps a kindred spirit, in Iokanaan – John the Baptist (Ramzi Choukair).

But it’s not just the story, it’s the design of the show, by Susan Hilferty, that takes us on a journey, or perhaps better worded – on a ride – a ride that’s both luminous and heavenly, with lighting that adds mystery and darkness. It’s also the haunting vocals and chanting of Israeli folk musician Yasmin Levy and Syrian soprano Lubana Al Quntar that will take your breathe away. Their vocals that accompany the story told on stage is the most memorable part of the show – their voices are out of this world, and listening to them is well worth the price of the ticket.

Salomé will be broadcast by NT Live on Thursday 22 June 2017. For further details visit NTLive.com

Below is a list of connected talks and events for Salomé:
Acts of Violence and Salomé, Monday 12 June, Cottesloe Room, 2-5pm
Mothers/Daughters/Sisters, Wednesday 21 June, Cottesloe Room, 6-7pm
Yaël Farber, Friday 14 July, Olivier Theatre, 6-6.45pm

To buy tickets, please go here:
https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk

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14th May2017

When Harry Met Barry (Theatre)

by timbaros

IMG_0073n3It’s not When Harry met Sally but When Harry Met Barry at the Above the Stag Theatre in Vauxhall.

Unfortunately there is no orgasm scene in sight, just a few catchy tunes and a few laughs in a show that is cute and lively and a fun night out.

Harry (Brandon Gale) and Barry (Sam Peggs) had a ‘thing’ seven years ago, but now TV chef Harry is dating fashion designer Spencer (Austin Garrett) while junior lawyer Barry has hooked up with the quirky yet adorable Alice (Maddy Banks). Spencer and Alice are serious about their relationships with Barry and Harry, respectively, even to go so far as to discuss wedding plans! Gads! But when Harry and Barry accidentally bump into each other, their love and desire for each other is rekindled, enough so that it causes a whole heep of heartache and a breakdown in their current relationships. Set to trendy and memorable musical numbers – very modern and hummable with ‘Why Ask for the Moon’ one of the better songs – When Harry met Barry is a true musical romance with a love triangle that will set your heart aflutter. All adequately sung and acted by the very young cast, with Banks doing a particularly good job in her role as the jilted young woman. It’s got cute music, a goodlooking and energetic cast, and one all too brief scene of two of the sexy actors in their underwear. It looks like Above the Stag theatre has another hit on their hands.

To buy tickets, please go here:

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06th May2017

Angels in America (Theatre)

by timbaros

Angels In AmericaIt’s seven and a half hours long, and it’s shown in two parts, but Angels in America: A Gay Fantasia on National Themes is well worth a watch.

Calling it epic does not even describe the show. Now playing at the National Theatre, it is monumental, larger than life, phenomenal, engrossing, but it is in no way too long or too boring – sure it may be a bit complex, but it’s first class theatre. And both parts of the production – Millennium Approaches and Perestroika – really do need to seen together. And the cast in this current production is top notch – actors you might not be able to see in such a production again in your lifetime. But more on the cast later.

Unfortunately Angels in America is totally sold out – it’s been sold out since tickets went on sale, and calling it the hottest ticket in town is an understatement (the upcoming Hamilton may come close, but Angels is in limited run, only up until August 19th). So If I were you, I would do anything to get a ticket. But more on that later.

Angels In America

Angels in America has won almost every theatre award up for grabs. Written in 1993 by Tony Kushner, it’s won the Tony and Pulitzer Prize awards, and both parts were performed in London in the early 90’s. What is it about? Well, first and foremost it’s about AIDS in New York in the 1980’s – that horrible decade when friends were dying right and left, dissappearing only never to return. There was no cure, and when people started to see purple lesions on their skin, they knew that it was all over. But Angels in America is also about so much more. It delves deep into relationships that we have with each other and especially with ourselves, it deals with power, greed, lust, lies, betrayal as well as fantasy, ectasy, religion and last but not least life (notice that I did not mention death). The show is complex only in that it goes off into the deep end at times for the necessity of one of the characters. Angels is also still very timely, as it touches on immigration and discrimination based on heritage – themes we are seeing first hand in the much changed political climate that we now live in.

Andrew Garfield is Prior Walter – and he’s got AIDS. He’s goodlooking yet very thin, and has the tell-tale signs of the disease (Kaposi’s Sarcoma). James McArdle is Louis Ironson, his boyfriend who’s having a hard time dealing with Prior’s illness. Then there’s Joe Pitt (Russell Tovey), who is married to Harper Pitt (Denise Gough). The Pitt’s are Mormons from Seattle and live in Brooklyn. Harper Pitt has problems, she’s agoraphobic and has hallucinations. Joe, a clerk in a law office, is deeply-closeted.

Then there is Roy Cohn (Nathan Lane), a notorious ruthless lawyer who happens to be gay but doesn’t quite believe it himself and definitely doesn’t want anyone to know this. So for over seven hours we go on a ride with these characters as Angels in American puts them, and us, through a rollercoaster of emotion and drama. Louis is unable to care for Prior and walks out on him at the moment that Prior needs him most. Louis strikes up more than a casual friendship with Joe as they both work at the same law firm. Meanwhile, Joe, who becomes more than a bit friendly with Cohn his mentor, eventually falls in love with Louis. Meanwhile, Prior (and eventually Cohn) are taken care of by nurse Belize (Nathan Stewart-Jarrett). But alls not right in Prior’s life – he’s seeing angels, angels that are trying to tell him a message, angels that are a response to his illness, yet there’s not much these angels can do for him except only to be by his side (or to fly over him)……they’re helpless just as much as he is. There’s also a crisis in the Pitt home – Joe’s mother sells her house in Utah and goes to Brooklyn to look for her son who has just announced to her that he is gay. And Cohn can’t accept the fact that he’s got AIDS – he informs his doctor that it’s liver cancer that he’s got. And Belize turns out to be the real angel in the show – taking care of the dying, the ones who don’t accept the fact they’ve got AIDS and the ones who are way too young to die of AIDS.

Angels in American deals with a dark time in gay history – the AIDS plague. Conservative President Ronald Reagan didn’t help matters by doing nothing about the disease, Rock Hudson had just died, and the stigmatisation of the disease pretty much erased all the gains that the homosexual community had achieved in the late 1960’s and 1970’s. But in this retelling, and for those of us old enough to be around where all this actually happened, it takes us back to the time when there was nothing we could do for our friends dying of the disease but to just hold their hands and watch them die. And Angels in America takes us back to those horrible time. It’s a credit to the story and the production that the performers excel in their roles and take it to the next level. Garfield has a field day playing Prior – he’s in agony because he’s dying and because Louis has left him – and Garfield gives it his all and succeeds enormously. Lane was made to play Cohn – caustic yet not a bit remorseful, even after the ghost of Ethel Rosenburg practically stands over him waiting for him to die. Lane is just simply superb. Tovey – in his biggest stage role yet – doesn’t disappoint. His Joe Pitt is vulnerable yet determined to be who he’s supposed to be, and he accidentally falls in love with Louis yet is still in love with his wife, and Tovey is very believable every second he is on stage. Stewart-Jarrett, practically an unknown, holds his own with the acting heavyweights on the stage. His nurse and friend Belize is practically the glue that holds the other characters together – and Stewart-Jarrett does it so sarcastically and beautifully. A star is born. McArdle is adequate – he’s got a lot to do and say and it’s perhaps one of the hardest characters in the show as so much centers around him – and McArdle just about succeeds, but less so Gough as Mrs. Pitt who doesn’t quite wow us as the others do. Other notable performers include Susan Brown as Harper Pitt, Joe’s mother, and especially Amanda Lawrence, who plays the Angel, a nurse, a homeless woman, and a Sister, among others, is there nothing this talented performer can’t do?

Of course, the sets and music are all amazing, and director Marianne Elliott brings it all together in excellent fashion – but it’s all about the acting (and the message) in Angels in America, the message is loud and clear – this show is history in the making and relevant to all of us now, even 25 years after it was written.

The National Theatre is running a ballot for £20 tickets so I urge you to give it a try. There are two ballots left:
Ballot no.’s 4 and 5
Show dates included in the ballot: 11 Jul – 29 Jul and 2 Aug – 19 Aug
Ballot opens at midday on: 26 May and 30 Jun
You’ll need to log-in to your National Theatre account or create an account to register for the ballot, you can do so here:
https://www.nationaltheatre.org.uk/angels/login?destination=node/5066

Also, Angles in America will be broadcast live to cinemas around the UK and internationally. Part One will be broadcast on 20 July and Part Two will be broadcast on 27 July. For more information and to buy tickets, please go here:
http://ntlive.nationaltheatre.org.uk

Photos by AiA Perestroika Production Images (c) Helen Maybanks

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02nd May2017

Heal the Living and Four Days in France (Film)

by timbaros

heal-the-livingTwo French films opened this past weekend – one that will emotionally rip you apart and the other that will make you feel that you’ve wasted your time.

Heal the Living

Heal the Living (Réparer les vivants) deals with a tragedy that changes the lives of two families – it’s very sad and very dramatic like most French films are, but it’s also well acted and well told. It deals with the delicacy of life, family, relationships and decisions that need to be made in a tragic time. Teenager Simon (Gabin Verdet) is experiencing his first true love, but when him and his friends get into a tragic car accident it’s up to his parents (Tahar Ramin and Emmanuelle Singer – both very good) to make a heartbreaking decision.

Meanwhile, Claire Méjean (Ann Dorval) needs a new heart, and while she is waiting she can feel her life ticking away. She’s got two grown boys, and she loves them very much. But without a new heart, she doesn’t have much time to live. So Simon’s tragic accident has very sad consequences for one family but the opposite effect for another family – in a film that is both beautifully and delicately told. Heal the Living, directed by Katell Quillévéré, will leave you in tears. It’s hard hitting yet it comes with an excellent original story (Maylis De Kerangal and Katell Quillévéré) and superb performances all around.

Four Days in France

Four Days in France (Jour de France) is basically one very long advert for Grindr.

One man uses the app to find his missing partner – in the middle of France! I can’t even find a shag in my own neighborhood much less find someone in the middle of nowhere. But that’s the premise of this film, very far fetched and not quite durable.

Pierre (Pascal Cervo) up and leaves his partner Paul (Arthur Igual) in the middle of the night with no explanation whatsoever – he just gets in his car and heads out of town. Pierre drives and drives and drives and uses Grindr to hook up with various men along the way – to nowhere. He also encounters all sorts of people, including taking a man’s photograph on the very snowy border between France and Italy, is then yelled at by a woman who is tired of gay men using her neighborhood as a cruising area, and a much older man who refuses sex because Pierre smells (he’s been sleeping in his car). What is Pierre’s motivation for doing this? This very long 127 minute film doesn’t give us a clue. Paul, meanwhile, is hot on the trail looking for him, and narrows his search by using Grindr. It’s only a matter of time (a very long time) until the predictable happens, but before we are expected to believe that they both picked up the same woman on the side of the same road and had the same conversation with her (she tells both of them that they look depressed), and that Pierre goes out of his way to deliver a package to a woman who lives high up on a mountain because one of his shags asked him to do so. Really?

Writer and director Jérôme Reybaud really tests the viewers endurance as some of the driving scenes are way too long and this film could’ve been cut by at least 45 minutes. It’s a bit of an indulgence that Reybaud puts us through this journey, it’s a journey that’s very unbelievable and the payoff it not even worth it. And while there is only one hot hookup in the film, it may be better that you spend your time looking for sex in the middle of France, because according to this film there are lots of lonely and sexually frustrated men there, and all are on Grindr.

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02nd May2017

Pam Ann (Theatre)

by timbaros

pam-aystria-2Trolley Dolly Pam Ann returns to London with her 20th Anniversary tour – Touch Trolley Run to Galley – but it’s pretty much the same schtick she’s been doing over and over again.

Australian Pam Ann (real name Caroline Reid) has been making the rounds as the self-described ‘Queen of the skies’ for the past 20 years all round the world, and in this show she let’s us know it. Now playing at the Leicester Square Theatre, the ‘air hostess’ show begins with a video montage of previous shows and the famous people that she’s hung out with. Yes, from the minute the video starts we are reminded the show is all about her. She lets us know that she’s an iconic international celebrity airhostess who has developed cult status over the years with her fans (most of whom are gay and who love her bitchiness and candor), but I’ve got no idea how she’s lasted this long! The show begins by her picking four audience members onto the stage to create a new Spice Girls band (who are also celebrating their 20th anniversary). On the night I saw the show, she conveniently picked four gay men from the audience (after all, gay men are so much more likely to ‘get her’) to ‘become the Spice Girls. Picking on audience members is a time and tested old tradition used by comedians when they don’t have enough material to fill a show (‘what’s your name, where are you from’), and it’s a bit lazy to do so at the beginning! Anyways, Pam Ann was very funny with them; she was quick with one-liners and put downs, and the men took it in jest. It’s funny, but I wanted more jokes about the current state of the airline industry (she did open up with a joke about the United Airlines fiasco but it was a bit too sudden and too quick).

The second half of the show had her bring out a trolley filled with, of course, alcohol, as well as with a bevy of dolls that represented airline stewardesses from all over the world (an Australian transgender doll was quite funny), but we’ve all see this before from her, many many times. Pam Ann tells us why she loves BA, while her alter ego Lilly ‘comes out’ all too briefly, and of course she makes fun of Ryanair (who wouldn’t). But as the show goes, it ‘we’ve seen and heard it all before’, and two hours in she leaves the stage and tells the audience to expect something great – but when she did come back all we were presented with was a change to a more glittering outfit and she then proceeded to take selfies with the audience members whom she chose to be the Spice Girls, and then thud, the show ended, with not a laugh in sight. Pam Ann: Touch Trolley Run to Galley 20th Anniversary tour is 2 hours and 20 minutes long, but this consisted of a 20 minute interval and 20 minutes of video footage, including two videos of her interspersed in scenes from the Great British Bake off – it would’ve been a bit funnier if she would’ve done this live, but that would’ve been perhaps too much effort?

For tickets to see Pam Ann, who is at the Leicester Square Theatre until May 27th, please go go:
https://leicestersquaretheatre.ticketsolve.com/shows/873556409

For more information about Pam Ann and the rest of her UK tour, please visit:
pamann.com / @pamannairbitch / facebook.com/pamannairhostess

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