24th Feb2016

War of the Worlds (Theatre)

by timbaros
A scene from The War Of The Worlds by Jeff Wayne @ Dominion Theatre (Opening 17-02-16) ©Tristram Kenton 02/16 (3 Raveley Street, LONDON NW5 2HX TEL 0207 267 5550  Mob 07973 617 355)email: tristram@tristramkenton.com

A scene from The War Of The Worlds by Jeff Wayne @ Dominion Theatre
(Opening 17-02-16)
©Tristram Kenton 02/16
(3 Raveley Street, LONDON NW5 2HX TEL 0207 267 5550 Mob 07973 617 355)email: tristram@tristramkenton.com

London’s Dominion Theatre has been invaded by aliens causing massive destruction with people fleeing for their lives.

Well, on stage that is, not out on the streets. It’s the newest production of ‘War of the Worlds’, previously shown at the O2 in 2014 to much greater and better effect. In the smaller confines that is West End theatre, ‘War of the Worlds’ and it’s aliens, the village and the villagers are all munched together on the small stage. It’s presented as a multimedia experience with a good portion of the show on video screens hanging above and in the back of the stage. Also on the stage is the man himself, composer Jeff Wayne, with his very large 22 piece orchestra, split into two sections. And then we have our narrator – Liam Neeson – whose image pops up (or down in the case of his video screen coming down from rafters) every few minutes explaining to the audience what is happening.

Billed as ‘Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of The War of the Worlds,’ the show took close to 40 years to reach the West End, and we are graced with the presence Wayne conducting. It’s his music to the famous H.G. Wells dark victorian tale about earth being invaded by aliens that is the highlight of the show. So for two and one half hours, the audience is meant to be immersed, spellbound and scared of what’s taking place on stage, but they’re not.

What’s happening on stage is a mess. While Wayne and his orchestra are in excellent form, the narration, the story and the action do not live up to the hype. Neeson’s screen image goes up and down up and down so many times that it became very very annoying to a point dreading his next appearance. And his narration is a bit hard to understand and hear because of his accent with the noise and chaos taking place on stage. His job is to tell the story, but we can also see the story happening right before our very eyes. And it’s in front of our very eyes where we see the cast running aimlessly back and forth on stage, falling, getting back up, frightened by the aliens (on the video screens no less), and lots of flames. They, and us, are pummelled with flashing lights and high pitched sounds meant to hark the arrival of the aliens. Then an actual mechanical alien walks on to the stage, looking like an extremely large piece of shiny metal with legs – it’s not scary at all. It actually looks unrealistic and silly. And we don’t get to know the characters. David Essex is the star draw who plays The Voice of Humanity, while Daniel Beddingfield pops in to sing a nice song every now and then. But “The Way of the Worlds’ is a show that’s all over the place and I was very disappointed because I was expecting to be immersed, spellbound and scared. Unfortunately, I was none of them.

29th Aug2014

The Guvnors – Film

by timbaros

58f5f4e2-ffaa-46bc-a4cc-224803979b42-460x276Do you want to watch a realistic, gritty film about UK gang culture? Then The Guvnors is just the film for you.

Starring an excellent cast, The Guvnors is just that – a film about men in the position of authority in which everyone listens to, and follows. In this film’s case, The Guvnors are the gang leaders, the men who tell other men what to, some of the time to incite violence, other times to commit the occasional murder.
Doug Allen stars as Mitch, now a successful businessman, with a beautiful wife and a young son. When he was younger he was the leader of a violent football gang but has since changed his life around. However, things take a turn to the older days when ex-pro boxer Mickey (David Essex) is killed by a gang of young men at a local pub. You see, Mickey humiliated the group’s leader Adam (the excellent Harley Sylvester of the hip-hop group Rizzle Kicks) after they stormed into a pub and threatened the staff and customers. Mitch gathers up the members of his old gang, some of whom are not too happy to see him after he had abandoned them many years ago. These men include Richard Blackwood, who is now a policeman, Vas Blackwood as Bill – now a very successful architect, Jay Simpson as Neil who runs Mickey’s pub, and a couple other men who are far from their prime. Meanwhile, Adam leads a band of young men who cater to his every whim and bad mood. These men include Charlie Merkell as Trey – a very chilling personality amongst the rest of the young men, who bring fear to their council estate as they dictate and rule the area. This includes Adam slashing people in the face to match the scar he has – a vertical slash on his right cheek – including a young woman who had repeated something she heard that Adam didn’t want repeated. Adam then starts roughing up Mitch’s son which leads to more animosity between the two men and the two gangs. The tension continues to build up with both gangs plotting what their next moves against each other will be, which culminates in an expected ending – a fight to end all fights – and the unexpected death of one of the Guvnors.
The Guvnors is not your typical football hooligan movie. It’s better and more hard-hitting, and realistic, then other films in this genre – including The Hooligan Factory and This is England. What sets The Guvnors apart from these films is the acting and the script. Director Gabe Turner has assembled a first rate cast – there is not one bad performance in the film. Allen is very good as the central character – a man with a past but trying to look ahead to the future. Sylvester will curl your blood – his Adam is pure evil – it shows in his eyes and the way he grits his teeth – with that scar running down the right hand side of his cheek – it’s a scary character and Sylvester owns it. Also matching him is Merkell as Adam’s right hand man. He will do anything for Adam, whose got him under his wing, and under his spell. Sylvester and Merkell’s performances are all too real, and very chilling. At the end of The Guvnors, we are left wondering if Mickey’s young son will follow in his dad’s footsteps – gang culture. The Guvnors is a hard-hitting and realistic look at gang culture.