Wednesday, August 10

Tag: BBC iPlayer

Staged (Series 2) – BBC iPlayer
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Staged (Series 2) – BBC iPlayer

The first series of Staged was one of the surprise successes of 2020, using the boundaries imposed by the pandemic and the shortage of new TV those limitations had imposed to create a low-budget and instantaneous reaction to the situation in six fifteen minute chunks. The overall narrative followed the attempts by fictional versions of Michael Sheen, David Tennant and Simon Evans (played by themselves) to rehearse remotely Luigi Pirandello's Six Characters in Search of an Author during lockdown. The attempt is ultimately unsuccessful and the episodes themselves revolve around the different distractions and problems the trio face during this process. As we find ourselves in another lockdown (is this one the second? Or third? What are the criteria?), a second series did make a certain...
A Midsummer Night’s Dream – The Globe
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A Midsummer Night’s Dream – The Globe

As part of the BBC Culture in Quarantine season, we are offered a selection of Shakespeare’s plays performed at two of the UK’s most well known theatres for Shakespeare.  Written in 1596, A Midsummer Night’s Dream is a regular feature in theatres’ Summer calendars for their Summer season.  We have seen many adaptations of this play as theatres become more creative, but this version is like the making a cocktail, the ingredients can be the same, but it is how much of each ingredient that creates its individual flavour.  In Emma Rice’s first play as Artistic Director of The Globe, we were treated to a feast of energy and colour.   The play positively buzzed with excitement as we experienced an adventurous modernised version of this much-loved play. The play is...
Hamlet – Royal Shakespeare Company
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Hamlet – Royal Shakespeare Company

In this 2016 production Simon Godwin’s version completely re-imagines Hamlet from a visual perspective.  The text largely remains the same, albeit tweaked in places and the small changes have accelerated the pace of the play - it rarely rests on its laurels. The African theme brings a freshness to one of the most regularly performed of Shakespeare’s plays.   Dressed as military guards Barnardo (Kevin N Golding) and Marcellus (Theo O’Gundipe) have asked Horatio (Hiran Abeysekera) to come along to see the ghost that has a likeness to the dead King to prove that they are not crazy.  The scene is dark, and it creates a feeling of menace but undershoots slightly as there is no ghostly apparition and we must wait until the next scene before we see the ghost of the King.&n...
Rush – BBC iPlayer
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Rush – BBC iPlayer

Writer, Willi Richards’s first play, Rush was to have opened in June at Trafalgar Studios 2 following a successful two week run in 2018 at London’s King’s Head Theatre. Although COVID-19 has, for the moment, denied Rush its West End run it is now streaming on BBC iPlayer as part of their Culture In Quarantine series in the form of an online script reading. The play explores the dynamics of a gay love triangle involving Man (Rupert Everett), Lad (Daniel Boyd) and Boy (Omari Douglas). Lad is in a relationship with Boy but at the same time engaged in an affair with the older Man who is himself one half of a civil partnership. Lad, as the link between the two other men, brings them together. It ends with Lad revealing to camera the reasoning behind the decision as to which of them he decid...
Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads: The Outside Dog – BBC iPlayer
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Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads: The Outside Dog – BBC iPlayer

One of the strong suites Alan Bennett has always had is his ability to write convincingly for women. The sort of women a boy from a respectable middle-class Leeds family would have known growing up. When he put these women into his writing they attracted the great and good of acting to portray them. Dames Julie, Thora and Patricia are the ones which spring immediately to mind. They are synonymous with the piece. It is therefore interesting to revisit the work with new faces in the frame. I have seen some of his “Talking Heads” presented with new faces on stage, but we are currently being treated with television presentations, so comparisons are inevitable. It is a testament to the skill of Rochenda Sandall that thoughts of Julie Walters (the original Marjory) are thrown out of the wind...
Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads: The Hand of God – BBC iPlayer
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Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads: The Hand of God – BBC iPlayer

Television has taken over many walks of life and given them back to us all neatly packaged. Cookery, Sport, Antiques. Indeed, the latter seems to be ever present on our screens fronted by David Dickinson, Paul Martin and that funny Scottish woman with the bob hair style. I guess those who have always made a living out of these professions have to grin and bear it and hope that one day the producers of Antiques Roadshow will come knocking and ask them to join the exalted realms of telly expert. All except Celia the talking head in this Alan Bennett look at life. She is proud of the fact that she doesn’t have a television set. Costly decision that. As always, Alan Bennett, the master of making the mundane interesting, litters his observational writing with small red herrings as...
Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads: Miss Fozzard Finds Her Feet – BBC iPlayer
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Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads: Miss Fozzard Finds Her Feet – BBC iPlayer

‘There she is on the tellybox,’ I said. ‘Who?’ asked mother. ‘Maxine Peake,’ I said. ‘Oh,’ says mother. ‘We saw her at the Royal Exchange.’ ‘Did we?’ ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘In Hamlet, A Streetcar Named Desire and Miss Julie.’ ‘Oh yes, I remember, I sat next to that travelling salesman from Didsbury with bad breath.’ ‘Yes, that’s right mother.’ She watched the tellybox and I thought there was no point telling her that they were all directed by Sarah Frankom and when Ms Peake won an award for outstanding contribution to British theatre she put down her success to the Royal Exchange in Manchester and Ms Frankom. Mother wouldn’t be interested to know that this thing on the tellybox reunited Ms Frankom and Ms Peake. ‘Don’t be so nerdy,` she’d say. ‘Who’ll be interested in that.’ Sadly, the R...
Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads: Bed Among the Lentils – BBC iPlayer
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Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads: Bed Among the Lentils – BBC iPlayer

Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads are well known for exploring the darker themes of society and the people within it. Bed Among the Lentils is no exception, diving into the alcoholism and infidelity which shape vicar’s wife, Susan’s (Lesley Manville) life. Directed by Nicholas Hytner, this dark, comic piece, particularly explores the role of the church in the sex lives of its parishioners and life behind the closed door of the vicarage. Opening in a tidy and old-fashioned kitchen, we meet Susan, a heavy smoker and heavy drinker, modestly, and somewhat drably, dressed, as she talks about her marriage to local vicar, Geoffrey. Black comedy is present from the start, as she describes Geoffrey’s recent sermon which explained how the institution of marriage gives a licence to sex and having sex ...
Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads: Nights in the Garden of Spain – BBC iPlayer
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Alan Bennett’s Talking Heads: Nights in the Garden of Spain – BBC iPlayer

Number nine in the new series of Alan Bennett's Talking Heads is a remake of the 1998 monologue Nights in the Garden of Spain.  Originally featuring Penelope Wilton, it is now Tamsin Greig's turn to recreate Rosemary Horrocks.  Like the majority of the Talking Heads pieces, Nights in the Garden of Spain is set in Alan Bennett's semi fictionalised version of Leeds. It is the 1990s and Rosemary and her husband Henry live in a fairly well to do suburb of Leeds, on a street of mostly detached houses.  Henry is keen to sell up and move to Marbella and the passive Rosemary is going along with his choice.   But one morning as she is going to the shops, her neighbour Mrs McCorquodale stops her.  Her husband is dead and she needs help.  It transpires that she ...
Talking Heads by Alan Bennett: The Shrine – BBC iPlayer
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Talking Heads by Alan Bennett: The Shrine – BBC iPlayer

In the new series of Alan Bennett's Talking Heads, ten of the twelve are remakes of five of the original six from 1988 and the another five from 1998.  Two of the original series' have not been remade as they required actors over the age of seventy.   There are two new ones, written last year and filmed this year under social distancing conditions.  One of these new ones is number twelve The Shrine. Lorna is a woman in her fifties and the monologue starts a few days after she has lost her husband Clifford in a motorbike accident.   The police have offered to take her to the scene of the accident, but she does not wish to go.  As the piece continues she has decided to visit the place of the accident and then returns regularly, making herself a seat and...