11th Dec2016

Buried Child (Theatre)

by timbaros

34016_fullIf you want to see Ed Harris sitting on a couch for close to three hours, then ‘Buried Child’ is the show for you.

Harris, film and television star, is excellent as Dodge, the father of two sons (dysfunctional doesn’t even come close to describing them). He lives in an old, ramshackled dilapidated house in Illinois with his wife Halie (Harris’ real life wife Amy Madigan), who pops up in the first and third acts. Yes, this play has three acts, with two very quick ten-minute intervals between the acts. The last show I saw that had three acts – ‘The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism and Socialism with a Key to the Scriptures’) was very painful to sit through and felt a bit like Chinese water torture. ‘Buried Child,’ playing at Trafalgar Studios, is not that bad but it still feels like a long show.

Harris does spend the whole time on centre stage, on the sofa, and he’s even on the sofa before the show even starts. Dodge and Halie share their home, unwillingly, with their two grown up sons. They’ve obviously missed the financial gravy train and are unfortunately tethered to their poor lot in life. One son, Bradley (Gary Shelford), never left home, and who continues to bring into the house freshly dug up vegetables from no one knows where because there’s not a garden anywhere near the house. Tilden (Barnaby Kay), who used to live in New Mexico, has returned to the family homestead because of an incident that happened there. It’s up to Halie to be the sane member of the family, this is until their grandson Vince (Jeremy Irvine), son of Tilden, arrives in tow with his girlfriend Shelly (Charlotte Hope). Immediately Shelly is uncomfortable in the house full of Vince’s miserable and depressed and sick grandfather, father and uncle. But there is a family secret that’s slightly mentioned which peaks Charlotte’s curiosity, and she wants to find out more. Meanwhile, Vince goes to the grocery story to buy booze for his grandfather because the bottle he had under the couch is missing, and while Charlotte is speaking to Bradley and wanting to know more about this secret, and starts nagging a bit too much, he puts his hand into her mouth (at this point if I were her I would’ve ran out of that house). But the secret that has doomed this troubled family is literally, and eventually, out of the bag, but not before Vince goes missing for the rest of the night and Halie returns home with the family pastor who’s just as uncomfortable in the house as Charlotte is. But it’s not until the final scene that leaves you with an image that you won’t soon forget.

‘Buried Child’ is a very wordy play. perhaps a bit too wordy, but it being a Sam Shepard play, there’s lots thats overdramatic, over the top, and bordering close to the unbelievable. Surely cutting out one act would’ve made this play more biting, sharper and dramatic instead of long-winded,, but director Scott Elliott is able, just, to keep the drama and tension up, while maintaining, until the very end, the mystery to this family’s tragic existence on earth.

‘Buried Child’ is now playing at Trafalgar Studios until February 18, 2017.


21st Oct2015

North V South and Howl (Film)

by timbaros

5374North V South

It’s a battle between the North versus the South UK gangsters in the new release appropriately titled ‘North V South.’

Elliott Tittensor plays Terry Singer. His late father was a gangster so he’s following in his dad’s (and ailing mother’s) footsteps. However, ‘North V South’ doesn’t begin with his story (it should), but it’s a macabre opening when a man dressed (clearly broke) as a clown walks into a restaurant with his young daughter, which happens to be gangster hangout. Two gangsters are at the end of the bar, but they walk away, leaving a wad of cash on the counter. Clown man sees an opportunity to take the cash and run, which he does. He get’s into his car but then remembers that his daughter is still in the bathroom (really? Forgetting your daughter? hmm). So he goes back inside, only to be confronted by the gangsters. He’s shot and killed while his young daughter watches. This pretty much sets the tone for the rest of the film.

One team of gangsters is led by Vic Clarke (Steven Berkoff) while other gang is led by John Claridge (Bernard Hill). They are adept at extorting money from local businesses, but when one gang starts to encroach on the territory of the other gang, all hell breaks lose. Brad Moore plays very evil lieutenant Gary Little. He will kill anyone anytime anywhere. He’ll even kill his partner if he has to, whether ordered to or not. The rivalry gets more complicated after Singer starts dating, and falling in love with Willow (Charlotte Hope). She happens to be the daughter of Claridge, but Singer’s loyalties lay with Clarke. Meanwhile, the young girl left behind by the dead clown is taken in by Clarke’s team, being looked after by Penny (Freema Agyeman). She’s been part of the team since she was a young girl, so she literally shows the ropes to the young girl (isn’t anyone searching for her? Why doesn’t she run away from these strangers?). Throw in a transvestite hit man and an ending where a gangster gets burned but somehow is able get up and continue shooting all makes for a disbelievable film. ‘North V South’ is visibly stunning, with a soundtrack to equal, it’s just not very well done. It’s like tuning into a television series that’s already shown a few episodes. We know very little about some of the main characters, don’t know their motives, and find it very hard to believe several of them are gangsters. It would be best if they all just kill each other and put them, and us, out of their misery.

North V South is now in UK cinemas


The 23:59 train out of Waterloo causes all sorts of chaos for its crew and passengers in the incredibly frightening and fun film ‘Howl.’

Poor ticket collector Joe (Ed Speleers). He’s just been passed over for a supervisor position and has been ordered (by the new supervisor) to do a double shift. This means that Joe will be overseeing the last train out of London on a night that is dark, stormy, and with a very full moon.

Along for the ride is the train conductor, and Kate (Shauna MacDonald), who’s pushes the beverage cart. As Joe checks the passengers tickets, he encounters all sorts of people; a very large man eating a kebab that looks bigger than him, a young woman chatting on the phone who totally ignores Joe’s request to see his ticket, an older couple going home from a night on the town, a stressed out businesswoman, and various other types typically found a train.

After Joe checks all the passengers tickets, the train comes to a sudden halt. He makes an announcement on the intercom that there will be a ‘delay’ to service. The conductor goes outside to check the train, and goes under the train to check it out, but he’s grabbed by someone, something. He never returns back to the train. Joe and Kate don’t know what’s happened to him, and the passengers start to get angry. Meanwhile the sound of werewolves pierces the night sky. With the train stalled for quite some time, Joe then decides they should get off the train to walk along the tracks to the next station. But this proves to be a bad decision because as they are walking, they see something moving in the bushes, and it’s a few seconds later that they see some sort of creature. They run back to the train, but the older woman is bit on the leg. It’s chaos all around as they don’t know what to do. Joe and Shauna and all the passengers get ‘safely’ back onto the train, but still not knowing what’s out there. They board up all the doors and windows, but they turn out to be sitting ducks on a track where several people mysteriously disappeared on a train many years ago. There’s nothing they can do, it’s up to Joe and Kate to keep them calm but at the same time fighting off whatever’s out there in the hopes that whatever it is doesn’t get inside the train.

‘Howl’ is 89 minutes worth of scares and chills. It’s a ride into the unknown where the crew and passengers must band together to survive. It is at it’s scariest when the cast is battling an unknown creature, but ‘Howl’ loses a bit of it’s fright when the creature is shown about halfway through the film. Nonetheless, it kept me holding my breathe throughout, and I did jump a few times. And that’s what horror films should do. Go see it, it’s a howl.

Howl is now in UK cinemas and will be released for Home Entertainment on 26th October