#57 - "Exquisite comic timing and wrenching sadness" - theatre review, Much Ado About Nothing, 27/07/2017

Shakespeare's Globe

What did the Mexican have under his carpet? Underlay, underlay! This joke doesn’t appear in Matthew Dunster’s lively transposition of Shakespeare’s comedy to the Mexican revolution, but it could. This is a sunny but tumultuous world, where women and men tote guns, smoke cheroots, and drink and dance because, you sense, they might soon die. Beatriz Romilly is a spirited Beatrice and Matthew Needham has exquisite timing as Benedick, but there’s wrenching sadness too when Anya Chalotra’s Hero is spurned at the author. The recasting of Dogberry as an American silent movie director is amusing but awkward: otherwise, I have seldom seen lesser characters – Leonato, Ursula, Margaret – better served or showcased.


#56 - "Culinary alchemy at work" - restaurant review, Rigo, 27/07/2017

277 New King's Rd SW6 4RD

The people in Parson’s Green are at least 40% more beautiful than in my neighbourhood, and on the evidence of Rigo, the restaurants are 60% more sophisticated. In this small, cool, cream room, Michelin-garlanded chef Gonzalo Luzarraga serves up intriguing experiments in flavour and form – deep fried rose petals and tripe, Tuscan pork with oyster, a tomato salad ‘reconstructed’ as a tart – that draw on his travels across Europe its high-end kitchens. I’m not usually a fan of fanciful dishes representing a ‘journey’ but there is culinary alchemy at work in this tasting menu. Not for the first time, I wonder if I should move.



#55 - "Rough magic battles hi-tech" - theatre review, The Tempest

Barbican Theatre

The rough magic of Simon Russell Beale’s irascible Prospero does battle with some serious hi-tech in Gregory Doran’s rather aimless Tempest, produced by the RSC ‘in collaboration’ with Intel: there’s a partially CGI’d Ariel and morphing Hockneyesque backdrops for the Juno/Ceres scene. As so often, the new media interrupts rather than augments the live action, and adds to the sense of a disjointed evening. It’s as if the scenes between Prospero and the lovers, Caliban and the insufficiently funny clowns, and the shipwrecked lords, have been directed in isolation without a thought for the whole. Russell Beale captures some moving moments but seems simultaneously underpowered, and overpowered by the set.

#54 - "Those outside the metropolitan bubble would find it exasperating" - theatre review, Committee 16/07/2017

Donmar Warehouse

I was intrigued and amused by this musical drawn from verbatim exchanges between politicians and those who ran the charity Kids Company into the ground: but I can see how anyone outside the metropolitan bubble would think it exasperating. Unlike in its obvious antecedent, London Road, the music adds little but novelty value to a sorry tale here, where everyone acted for the best reasons but apparently with a complete lack of accountability. There’s arch pleasure in watching Camilla Batmanghelidjh and Alan Yentob mouth self-justifying mock-arias, while well-known MPs badger them in song. But at a stark 80 minutes the show never gets beneath the surface. And really, what was the point?

#53 - "Stagey and lacklustre" - Theatre review, Queen Anne 16/07/2017

Theatre Royal, Haymarket

It’s fitting that the RSC should redress its gender balance a bit with this thoughtful play about Queen Anne’s relationship with Sarah Churchill, written and directed by women. But the personal, political and religious complexities of the troubled monarch’s early 18th-century reign – and the painstaking echoes drawn with today’s fraught polity - eventually overwhelm Helen Edmundson’s script, and Natalie Abrahami’s production is stagey and lacklustre. Romola Garai makes an imperious Sarah, Emma Cunniffe a whiny and underpowered Anne, though part of the point is the tyranny of the sickly queen’s weakness. The realities of the relationship between the two women remain unresolved, and the ending fizzles out.

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