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Cast;~

Roger Allam                         Leonard

Bryan Dick                           Martin

Oliver Hembrough            Douglas

Charity Wakefield              Kate

Rebecca Grant                     Izzy

Terry Johnson                     Director

Arrived at the Hampstead Theatre on a maiden visit, travelling some 165 + miles  from Sheffield to see this production of Seminar. I have never read any of the Playwright Theresa Rebeck’s work previously, despite having a solid background in the reading ofAmerican Literature. I knew Alan Rickman played the role of Leonard in the critically acclaimed production of Seminar at the Golden Theater, on Broadway, in November, 2011/2012. Roger Allam was a major motivation for me to see this play.
The Hampstead Theatre impressed me immensely~being extremely well designed throughout and having a rather innovative staircase which circumnavigates the building.There is a tremendous open feeling to the design allowing the theatre goer to explore places that hitherto other theatres may not allow~ the black/white portraiture which adorns the walls of the upper level of previous plays/actors and the history of the theatre are a bonus. Hampstead is an intimate theatre and really, there is n’t a bad seat in the house from my perspective~I was seated in the Circle P15, central position and had excellent unimpeded views. Hampstead also was the winner of the 2014 Theatre Of The Year London  Stage Awards.

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 Seminar follows four young writers — Kate, Martin,Douglas, and Izzy  and their professor, the once renowned novelist Leonard who has seemingly fallen on hard times having been disgraced as a plagiarist (according to Grapevine news from Douglas) and who now comes across as a self-centred and condescending #Fuckwit who rips into his student’s work with gay abandon, literally throwing their work on the floor! Jane Austen comes in for some sharp comment to Kate~ ‘Jane Austen!’~ Leonard exclaims~’You must write like Kerouac’ which insults Kate who Leonard also calls a feminist and a lesbian. (Jaysus) ~ the stereotypes abound…The Set looks plush, comfy armchairs, rugs and a central fireplace draw the viewer in and we later learn this is a New York Upper West side apartment.

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We learn fast that Kate (Charity Wakefield) is the wealthy one with talent but lacking confidence. Leonard gleams the first page of a short story Kate’s been working on for the better part of a decade and then stops, pronouncing it, as “relentlessly talent-free” and not worth another minute of his time’. When Kate accuses Leonard of failing to read far enough to identify her narrator, he barks, “Don’t defend yourself. If you’re defending yourself, you’re not listening. I do know who your narrator is. She’s an over educated, completely inexperienced, sexually inadequate girl who has rich parents who give her everything and who has nothing to say, so she sits around and thinks about Jane Austen all the time. I don’t give a shit about that person.” The other students jump to Kate’s defence, but Leonard’s wise to it~ “You’re all going to be nice to her now because her story tanked. But you’re not in this together. And trust me, you wouldn’t think the story was so great if it really were any good. If it were really good? You’d fucking hate it. Writers in their natural state are about as civilized as feral cats’. Roger Allam really does wring every syllable to the max.  The one liners, it’s true, are a joy to behold, Leonard calls Kate;~  ‘A regular little Emily Dickinson, without the charm’.
 I did initially baulk at Leonard speaking with an American accent. We have an actor here, with perhaps one of the most distinctive English voices with cadences so deep, melodic and rich, that few could even dare to compete with him and yet, we do not use it in the play. When Alan Rickman trod the boards of Broadway, he retained his English accent and I think this would have added another dimension to the play~ we have missed  a trick here and I for one was baffled as to why it was n’t changed? I guess that was the Director’s choice? Roger Allam’s timing is second to none. The weighty pause, the killer line all expertly delivered and yes, even the ‘raised eyebrow’ and that ‘direct’ gaze which somehow undoes every female he looks at….(myself included)

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Douglas, (Oliver Hembrough) is the pretentious idealist , the impressionable one , who ‘interiorises and exteriorises everything ???  He is, according to Leonard ~ ‘A name dropping whore who would fare well in Hollywood’ ~ #NICE. He never fully develops as a character for me and is never prominent enough in the play to flesh out his potential or otherwise.                                                                                               .

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Izzy (Rebecca Grant) irritated the hell, out of me~ the sexual predator who knew she was a crap writer and paraded the stage in mini skirts and at one point whips her #boobs out, just for effect. Some of the male older generation sat all around me had to readjust their pacemakers!

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Leonard can’t praise the sexual content of her written piece more highly~#sniggering  as to what this might imply for his future dalliance. Izzy proceeds to bed both Leonard and Martin.  Why?~ because she can ~ it ‘s something shes good at.  Whether it has any influence is questionable.  She may try to influence Leonard to court favour and perhaps he might throw a morsel her way….? but sleeping with the enemy~ makes little sense.

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Martin(Bryan Dick) embodies the working class stereotype~ he’s made himself homeless to attend these classes and he is n’t ready to share his work and who is goaded by Leonard as a ‘Pussy’~ #Soft. Martin, of all the writer’s is the one who challenges Leonard and challenges the beliefs of these white-collar rich boys and girls. Not unsurprisingly, it is his work, that attracts praise from Leonard in the final act. There’s a heap of guilty nostalgia for the nineteenth-century novel in Seminar, and Martin sits well in the Austen genre. He’s the irritated genius with suppressed emotions and a surprisingly tender artless simplicity beneath his external bravado.

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Rebeck within the subtext implies writers will go to extraordinary lengths to crawl all over each other in order to succeed and yet she settles for easy laughs.  Revelling in the depressed Kate consoling herself with cookie dough and ice cream ~ every girl’s dream date! rather than exploring her most complex character’s consciousness. It’s true Kate comes back with a plan using a pseudonym  to get her writing heard..(as a Cubano transvestite) but succumbs to the easy lay~ something I found almost incomprehensible~ Kate appeared to have principles and be the chief protagonist only to cave in at the final hurdle~it seemed almost unrealistic Kate settling for a ghost writing job and that Leonard had done her a favour…I did n’t buy it.

Rebeck certainly seems to be addressing the inequality of gender politics. Ms.Rebeck’s literary name-dropping makes the point even clearer. Famous male writers are in abundance~Jack Kerouac, Tobias Wolff, Salman Rushdie ( he, of Kafka’s Motorbike) and  when female authors get approval, they are disturbing ones~ Jane Austen and Emily Dickinson…  To call someone a female is not a positive comment in “Seminar,” where the gender insults fly fast and furious. There’s slang for female genitalia, and “whore” echoes when Leonard explains what’s wrong with a story by the fourth student, Douglas.  “Feminist” is another  derogatory term  — unless, as Leonard points out to Martin about Kate;~                                                        

“You catch one, when she’s right about to pop, it’s like, I could n’t get her to stop.”

As “Seminar” moves from comedy to relationships, Leonard never gets his just deserts. Amazingly, his politics become the play’s politics.The last 10 minutes of the play see Martin and Leonard banter words across Leonard’s study where we discover he has a script in his desk drawer that Martin says is really good and here we see a trajectory in the play where the teacher pupil roles are almost reversed~ Leonard’s work is good but he has been so shut down by the literary scene and his experience that he, the Master is loath to have his work on display. It was probably the first time, I felt something like empathy for Leonard as throughout most of Seminar he had so successfully portrayed the #louche bastard’ to perfection.  He, after all,  was not…    

“A soul-sucking waste of words’.

 

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I did feel that Act 2 was stronger than Act 1 where the audience glean more about Leonard’s own weaknesses and the play began to develop more emotional complexity.  Some of Rebeck’s work lacked substance, in parts, particularly in the stereotypes of Douglas and Izzy  who, to my mind, were not as fully developed  as their counterparts. I was very impressed with Bryan Dick’s performance and I thought his character was believable and Charity Wakefield threw everything in to her scenes of wailing into a depressed state  akin to Bridget Jones’~All By Myself  and ultimately I wanted to kick her ass for  going against every principle she held dear. We are taken through a whirlwind of literary angst with smart and snappy one liners hitting the spot in Seminar and yet, I felt the play needed more creativity in the writing and it is for this reason I give the play 3.5 stars. I will say however, that there is much to flesh out in the subtext from Rebeck, but you have to look closely at the signifiers’ to find out her message.

Outstanding Performance ~ Roger Allam

Prior to seeing the play, I  viewed an exhibition at the V &A called ‘Disobedient Objects’ and a display struck me there as having a strong message and with this in mind I leave you with this powerful image~ which made me reflect on the politics of Theresa Rebeck’s Seminar

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Do women have to be naked to get into the Met Museum?

Less than 4% of artists in  the Modern Art sections are female and 76% of the nudes are female.

Surely, there’s a message in there somewhere…

Dorothy Langman

 

British Drama, Drama, Endeavour, Inspector Morse, ITV Drama, John Thaw, Police Drama, Roger Allam, Roger Allam/Shaun Evans/Morse, Russ Lewis, Uncategorized
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It’s a flashback to the village of Bramford in September 1962 where a motley attired hitch hiker is given a lift by a man en route, possibly to a power station. We later learn his name is Matthew Laxman, a botanist. We are treated to a pastoral aerial view of the location & see the car brought off the road by an army truck. What happens afterwards is a tale to unfold….
Switch to present day, September. 1967 & we see a hand dealing tarot cards, 7 Trumps, The Empress, King Swords, Ace of Wands….
Meanwhile, there’s an archeological excavation going on in Bradford Mere, which coincidentally, just happens to be in the area where Laxman went missing. The Dig turns up some remains & Max De Bryn & the constabulary of Oxford are called upon to investigate. Que Endeavour & Thursday. De Bryn reveals that the body has been there some 2000 years & was the victim of some torture or ritual & that it is not the wherabouts of the misssing Laxman, however, a pair of spectacles (20th Century) are found at the site & warrant further investigation.
Picking up where the last investigation left off, the pair set about interviewing the curious residents of nearby Bramford Village who are preparing for the Autumn equinox. The Morris Dancers adding drama to the event.
Enquiries also lead Morse to the local nuclear power station, Bramford B   & we’re introduced to Professor Donald Bagley, who is a key figure in the birth of nuclear science in Britain, at Wolsey College who was a friend  & mentor of Laxman’s & he can throw little light onto Laxman’s disappearance, other than relate the work he was carrying out.
 Young Morse, initially thinks this may be a wild goose chase, stating  County have already investigated to which the ever resourceful Thursday retorts.
‘County could n’t find their arse with both hands & a map!
‘The intrepid Morse is detailed to go doorknocking in the village of Bramford, but has little success with the ‘locals’, having doors shut in his face, until he meets Ros, a young american lady from Omaha, Wisconsin, who has fairly recently moved to the village with her husband who coincidentally, also works @ Bramford B. She helpfully directs him to Dowsable Chattox, beautifully played by the wonderful Sheila Hancock, who resides in a house in the woods.
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‘Morse, that’s your name, innit? Morse, I’ve been expecting you…’
She proceeds to warn Morse about the American girl & the Lamb with two heads. Morse applies a rather more scientific explanation for the Equinox rather than the dark deeds at the power plant nearby.
Endeavour & Thursday meet Dr. Tristan Berger, a GP, who lives with his sister, Selina, whom, on the face of it, seem fairly innocuous. Russ Lewis treats us to some radio footage of the London – Aldermaston CND marches.
Meanwhile, back @ the Thursday household, Endeavour is waiting for Thursday & says ‘Goodbye’ to Win, who does n’t answer from her chair & when Endeavour leaves ahead of Fred, she says…
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Morse attempts to get into Bramford B but has no success other than getting through the front gate & needing Official Papers to go any further. Dismayed, he leaves. A moment of light relief intercedes when, during the evening, the local pub quiz is on & Strange has joined Endeavour  for a beverage. We’re treated to the Rolling Stones ‘Paint It Black’ on the pub jukebox
The song’s lyrics are, for the most part, meant to describe bleakness and depression through the use of colour-based metaphors. It was their first song that featured a sitar instrumental, which ties in with the transcendental meditative themes of the period. Perhaps an allusion to the way Endeavour has been feeling, similarities with Win’s sense of despair & also to what’s going on in Bramford.
 Enroute home, Strange mentions a job going in The Met that would be ideal for Morse, quick promotion prospects etc & eating his chips, give the young Morse food for thought. On reaching his flat, Endeavour realises his home has been burgled & the SOCO’s are brought in to dust for fingerprints & personal possessions taken to the station, one of which is a photograph of Joan , which Fred picks up & discovers her address on the back….
Endeavour sets out to interview Selina Berger who says she saw a Black Morris Oxford in the area, just after watching The Lonliness of the Long Distance Runner with Tom Courtenay  (homage to the great John Thaw) & her GP brother returns. Seeming worried about him, Selina says
‘It was alright to tell the police, was n’t it? & his reply is
‘Yes, that’s what I would have expected’.
Something does n’t quite ring true with our Doctor. ‘Shifty/Guarded, is how I would describe him. Turns out he’s head of the Village Cult, leading the Equinox Procession with Echoes of The Wicker Man, uppermost in mind.
We cut into a nice pastiche of Endeavour & Dorothea Frazil discussing Endeavour’s difficulties in gaining access to Bramford B. It just so happens she is writing a piece on the Power Plant & has Press access, she offers Endeavour up as her photographer ‘Snappy’ Jenkins & he accepts the challenge. Endeavour is walking the area of Bramford fields when he stops to rest near a scarecrow, who at closer inspection is wearing a jacket, which turns out to be the one worn by the missing Laxman & his car is discovered in a barn, secreted under a cover.
Fred, meanwhile is doing some sleuthing of his own, boyed, no doubt, by Win’s cutting jibe, he finds Joan. His observations are
‘Nice Place’ Why are you at home in the afternoon?
Joan replies that she works in a boutique & it’s half day closing.
‘Who is he?…’Some blokes fancy piece? Married?, Kids?’
Joan knows he’s married….
‘Come home’
‘How’s mum?
Joan’s boyfriend returns & tells Fred to leave…
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‘Alright, You’ve made your bed…’
Fred leaves…. & waits outside the flats for ‘Ray’ to leave & pins him up against a wall & tells him to ‘Do One!’
( #Cheering), whilst Ray intimates he’ll call the police ~ Oh, the irony….
‘Hello Ray, D I Fred Thursday, 589 LFT
 I’ll fit you up for a nonce, I’ll have you in chokey so fast, you’ll wonder what hit yer’
Cut to Donald Bagley who is apparently going away for the weekend  and wants to leave some stuff with a friend. Where’s he off to?
Dorothea & Endeavour set off for the Bramford B visit & Endeavour mentions there’s a job going in London..
‘Girl Trouble?’
‘I have n’t got a girl’.
‘Maybe that’s the trouble’.
Endeavour ends back at Dowsable Chattox’s home, where she offers Endeavour a Reading of the Cards…The Fool for Change, Lovers Inverted, questioning judgement & a Journey
Meanwhile, we return to the subject of Joan & the Thursday household. Fred’s returned home & there’s a notable change in Win’s demeanour..
‘Joan’s rang~ She’s alright….’
Fred is non committal & nods, saying nothing to Win of his meeting with both Joan & Ray.
Joan, meanwhile is waiting for Endeavour at his flat. He invites her in and on closer inspection sees the ‘blackeye’ she has..
‘Where is he?’
Endeavour, overcome with emotion & anger utters those two little words,
‘Marry Me’
Joan immediately says she does n’t want his pity & that she’s been stupid. Endeavour tells her about his job offer in London with quick promotion prospects &  then proceeds to empty his wallet & gives her all the money he has on him, which Joan insists she will pay back. Mid conversation, they are interrupted by a phonecall which temporarily distracts Endeavours attention and Joan slips out of the flat.
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Moving forward the police have found a Geiger Meter in Laxman’s car & are scouring the landscape for a likely burial ground from the radioactivity.
 Endeavour & Thursday meanwhile, have teamed up to get into Bramford B as it is suspected that Desmond Bagley is about to blow the whole power station to smithereens as the emergency hooter is sounded. With no time to lose, Thursday jumps out of his car at the check in point & is masterful in his control of the situation, on gaining entry with the control sergeant.
‘Give me your side arm…Good work Sergeant’ & the gates are opened.
What ensues is a stand off between Thursday, Endeavour & Desmond Bagley & the hitch hiker who has a grenade. Thursday eventually talks him down, giving up his own weapon & Endeavour retrieves the grenade which has been thrown by immersing it , which ends in a small explosion.
Endeavour & Thursday go to arrest Seth Chattox, whom,  it seems, inadvertently, went to help Laxman , when his car was broken down, which ended in an altercation , hitting him with one punch & thinking he’d killed him proceeded to bury him & he gained  consciousness & a spade did the rest….
Before the Police Team can carry out their task, a gunshot is fired & it is by none other, than Dowsable Chattox, killing him, muttering  something akin to
‘Walls have no place for him…’
Where did she pop up? We’re in a huge field & yet, Thursday & Endeavour failed to see any approach. OK, she may be cunning but ‘Invisible?’~ No,. Stretching credibility, perhaps….
In the aftermath,  Endeavour receives a phone call from the hospital, where Joan lies sleeping~ It becomes apparent that she has had a miscarriage, a fall, the doctor said  &  as Endeavour tries to make sense of it, he bends down to kiss her sleeping forehead.

Harvest ends on an upbeat note, with photographs of Fred & Win @ the Palace receiving the George Medal &  we now know Fred’s middle name is Albert…

 We see  Endeavour holding his medal in his hand & the fact that both men have been further promoted, Fred is now a DCI & Endeavour a Sergeant… AT LAST…
As if we ever doubted it….
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Endeavour Episode 4 http://www.itv.com/presscentre/ep4week5/endeavour via @itvpresscentre
Thanks to Russ Lewis, Roger, Shaun, Anton, Abigail, Dakota, James, Sean, Sheila  & the whole Endeavour Team
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BBC Drama, British Drama, Inspector Morse, ITV Drama, John Thaw, Police Drama, Roger Allam, Roger Allam/Shaun Evans/Morse, Russ Lewis, Uncategorized

Endeavour Series 4, Episode 3 Lazaretto Musings…

 

Another teasing episode title….

A lazaretto /ˌlæzəˈrɛt/ or lazaret (from Italian: lazzaretto [laddzaˈretto]) is a quarantine station for maritime travellers. Lazarets can be ships permanently at anchor, isolated islands, or mainland buildings.

How does this relate?

This episode is set largely around Cowley hospital, where many people pass through, or indeed, in this case just ‘Pass’ on Fosdick Ward, in bed 10, in particular, where the mortality rate is soaring

Endeavour opens with Mrs Zacharides, face down on the floor at home, a pet parrot chirping in the background to the melodic sounds of Mantovani’s Charmaine

The song was originally composed for the 1926 silent movie, What Price Glory? and most notably, the best-selling version, recorded by Guy Lombardo & his Orchestra, spent seven weeks at the #1 position in 1927. It was also featured in the movie Two Girls & A Sailor. It was recorded by the Harry James orchestra in 1944.

Charmaine is one of many popular songs whose lyrics use a ‘Bluebird of Happiness’ as a symbol of cheer: ‘I wonder, when bluebirds are mating, will you come back again?’ Poignant, as we later learn that Mrs Zacharide’s husband died in Bed 10, some months earlier & that she suspected  a thief in the midst, as some of her husband’s personal items were missing & that she was making enquiries…Was she getting too close to the truth & ends paying for it with her life.

The plot develops with further deaths in Bed 10~ the logical explanation from Matron MacMahon is that the sickest patients are usually put in bed 10 & the mortality rate is not unusual. Running contrary to this is the testimony of Fosdick Ward patients, & the Surgeon,Sir Merlyn Chubb (aka Sir Lancelot Spratt), stating these patients were making good recoveries. ‘The Game’s a foot, Watson’ & something more sinister is happening on Fosdick Ward. Dean Powell, the up and coming surgeon with an eye for the ‘gels’ is also coming under suspicion & 3 young nurses are prevalent on the ward, Daisy, Flora & Jo, but amisdst the ‘Carry On’, a more sinster Angel is plotting to bring down certain people &  it seems anyone will do. The placement of white flowers is also significant, as we discover within the storyline. The very phlegmatic ‘odd’ Porter talking to the corpses in the motuary & the relaying of certain customs when a child dies, with the laying of flowers. The DJ Oddball is thrown in as a red herring & plays his part extremely well.

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In the midst of this mayhem, a convicted prisoner is brought into the ward, handcuffed to the bed (of course) for treatment & placed, you’ve guessed it, in bed 10. Subsequently, Endeavour is instructed to keep guard as the prisoner is witness to the Matthews Gang who pulled off the bank job in ‘Coda ‘.

An assasination attempt is made on the prisoner, but Young Endeavour stops it in its’ tracks, on instinct, which results in a high speed chase through the bowels of the hospital with Endeavour & Thursday in hot pursuit. Roger Allam stated in an interview that he was severely challenged by the physicality of the chase!

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Roger Allam shows his ‘teeth’ when chasing an informant to elicit information. reminiscent of Jack Regan (John Thaw) in The Sweeney, ‘Don’t mess with me, I have n’t ‘ad me breakfast’ Who can forget ‘Get yer clothes on..You’re Nicked’ ‘We’re the Sweeney & we haven’t ‘ad our breakfast’. Classic…Thanks Russ Lewis….A fitting nod to John.

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Running alongside this plot Endeavour has booked a day off ~ Fred’s curious  & elicits ‘Family, is it? to Strange

The phone call from the last episode has prompted our young Sleuth to do a bit of personal sleuthing of his own & ultimately he tracks the call to a phone box & a block of flats nearby in pursuit of Miss Thursday. whom he finds in a well presented flat.

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An awkward meeting ensues with both face to face with each other & neither being quite able to make the ‘Leap of Faith’ toward each other, although goodness knows, Joan lays it on the line for him…’All those times you walked with me…’ & he makes a stab at telling her of how much she matters but yet. the coming ‘together’ never comes~ A bit like ‘Waiting For Godot’ really…’ Why are we waiting?… No one ever comes…. & both are caught up in this unconsummated dance. Endeavour asks her to get in touch with  Fred & Win, but Joan is reluctant to do so ~ ‘I’m not going back…’ Are Joan & Endeavour  permently at anchor, isolated islands? The allusion is there to be made. How many opportunities has Endeavour let slip, not just with Joan, but with Monica, whom he meets at the hospital, who chides him for his ill treatment of their relationship & states ‘Treat the next one better’.I do have some sympathy with Endeavour as he felt that he was protecting Monica by leaving her after the debacle of Neverland & his head was all over the place. She did, however, deserve better….

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We also have the added coincidence of Susan Fallon’s mother at the hospital, where her husband is being treated, where she takes the opportunity to belittle Endeavour at every turn, as Susan~ Morse’s true love, married another very successful man. (Hateful Cow). Please may I say that every female watching this just wanted to give her a #Smack. Just leave the darling boy alone. He’s worth a hunded of every other….

#Kudos too, to Shaun Evans for a stonking performance ~ the viewer could physically & emotionally see the hurt in his mannerisms & tone & the clear indignation of it all. I felt for you, young Morse…..

As Endeavour leaves, in the hallway, He sees a man, with a key at the door of Joan’s flat & before he goes in, he hastily slips off a wedding ring…..Suspending disbelief…’What has Joan got herself embroiled in & is she a kept woman? I can’t believe it. More likely, she has formed a relationship with a man she assumes is single. Endeavour is perturbed by this & yet, seemingly, helpless to act at this point. Should he tell Fred? Joan would never forgive him betraying her whereabouts & Win is suffering abject depression & her relationship with Fred is at rock bottom. No sandwiches, not leaving the house, on anti depressants. A cold wind of despair is blowing through the Thursday household.

Meanwhile, back at Emergency Ward 10, the prisoner is fearful for his life & asks Thursday to look out for his daughter, which Thursday obliges with his usual steadfastness. Shortly afterwards, the prisoner dies in bed 10 & Max De Bryn discovers a cause, post mortem, a needle prick, barely noticable on the prisoner’s buttock, discovered to be an insulin overdose. A recovery of previous bodies from past demises is then sought to bolster evidence.

Dramatically,  C.S. Bright is similtaneously rushed into hospital with collapse, discovered to be caused by a perforated peptic ulcer & you’ve guessed it, is moved into bed 10. Will he survive the night? Unfortunately, an intruder in the night manages to alter Bright’s drip & he is in mortal danger..It is none other than Matron MacMahon who suspects the killer & hot foots it after, where an altercation occurs, which is pursued by Thursday & Endeavour, resulting in Thursday, getting to the drip in the nick of time to save Bright. I think Bright could have been utilised a little more~ I was half expecting him to make an arrest from his hospital bed…. So many strands converging upon each other in this episode & further intrigue at the close. A further tarot card is revealed….
Is Episode 4 , ‘Harvest’ about to implode or explode?….

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British Drama, Endeavour, Inspector Morse, ITV Drama, Police Drama, Popular Music, Roger Allam, Roger Allam/Shaun Evans/Morse, Russ Lewis, TV, Uncategorized

Endeavour Series 4 Episode 2 Canticle. A Viewer’s Thoughts….

 

 

 

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Intrigued by the episode name ‘Canticle’ What is this about?

The Dictionary definition is

    a hymn or chant, typically with a biblical text, forming a regular part of a church service.another name for Song of Songs (especially in the Vulgate Bible). The expression ‘canticle’ is derived from a Latin word ‘canticulum’ meaning, literally, ‘little song’.  Liturgically, it denotes the texts derived from the Bible which are said or sung at Morning and Evening prayer – the Benedictus (Blessed be the Lord God of Israel) at Morning Prayer, and the Magnificat (My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord) and the Nunc Dimittis (Lord, now you let your servant go in peace) at Evening prayer. These three are sometimes called the ‘evangelical canticles’, as they come from the Gospel of Luke, and they refer to the Incarnation of Christ, in whose honour congregations are expected to stand while they are being said or sung.
    So, whose ‘little song’ are we listening to….

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    The plot unfolds to a singing & dancing extravaganza filmed in New College Oxford Quad of dancers, led by Mimi played by Sharlette Henry. Yes, we are transported to 1967 ‘s Summer Of Love & Flower Power, so fashionably detailed within the Singer’s dress, a la Mary Quant. There are also some similarities with the cult 1960’s drama The Prisoner within the panoramic overview of the dancers in colourful costume & kitted out with umbrella’s within a psychedelic kaleidoscope of colour.
    We are introduced to the band Wildwood,  an interesting name which prompts me to think that Russ Lewis may have been influenced by The Troggs  Wild Thing
    “Wild Thing” is a song written by Chip Taylor. Originally recorded by American rock band The Wild Ones in 1965, which reached No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in July 1966. The song peaked at No. 2 in the UK Singles Chart. The Beatles  ‘Norwegian Wood’ may also have been inspiration for the band name.

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    Wildwood are also filming for a TV Show & an appearance on Julian Calendars’s  Almanac (a parody of Simon Dee) where controversy abounds betwixt the whiter than white Pettybon & the long haired progressive youths dabbling in drugs, sex & … rock n’roll…

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    Can’t say I was impressed with ‘Jennifer Sometime’….It sounded very ‘tinny’, very unpolished, but maybe that is how it was meant to be. Jennifer Juniper or Jennifer Eccles are a different story.
    The  swinging sixties come under the radar, as Endeavour is delegated to provide protection to Joy Pettybon, (Sylvestra Le Touzela) after a series of threats, a self-appointed guardian of the nation’s morals, who is visiting Oxford to promote her ‘Keep Britain Decent’ campaign. Running parallel to this, a young man has been found dead & ultimately the strands collide in an out of body experience for Endeavour. Russ Lewis’s clever use of his character names is not lost on me. Petty/Bon signifies a fine line between trite & good & her character is based on Mary Whitehouse, the self proclaimed saviour of the human race?
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PKT2532-173573 MARY WHITEHOUSE MRS WHITEHOUSE JOINS VIGIL Anti porn campaigners who started a week long vigil outside the Home Office today are joined by Mrs Mary Whitehouse (second right) offering support to their cause. Mrs Felicity Faulkner (right) of 12 Waverley Road, Enfield leads the vigil protesting against the proposed visit to Britain this month by Danish film director Jens Jorgen Thorsen who plans to make a film about the life of Christ. Mrs Faulkner’s group claim the film will be obscene and blasphemous.

        I’ll be generous and agree she presented a certain position, based to some extent upon her own Christian values. Concerns about the exposure of certain media to children, may have some substance and give some real weight to her arguments. Yet, she was not the arbiter of tastes & people took exception to her calls for censorship from Pinky & Perky, to Dr Who & the heinous Wednesday Play, which might come under the ‘Filth’ category…God forbid, that drama  might add a smattering of realism within its’ remit. No doubt, there was a proportion of the public who praised her crusades & saw her as their ‘Voice’….Not sure, I would count myself amongst that number. She made for some interesting debates though…

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    Some classic lines came forth…
    ‘The Permissive Society? Nobody asked my permission’
     You can keep your Baudelaire & I’ll stick to Bo Diddley’
    ’14 bloodies, six bleedings, two bleeders and a b*****’
    ‘What a lyrical child you must have been, Sergeant’
    ‘The woman would n’t know culture from a dog turd’ (Nice)
    Character development continues as Trewlove mentions that the Kinks were banned from the USA because of work permits.. a not so shallow PC.

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    Thursday’s discussion with Endeavour regarding ‘Pot’ & how he tried it in the desert, called ‘Kiff’ was enlightening.
    The endearing conversation between Endeavour &Thursday..’ What day is it… ‘Corn Beef’. No words needed to be uttered….
    Endeavour leaves us on a cliffhanger with the tarot card of The Lovers, after a telephone call to Endeavour, identification uncertain, but Endeavour is heard to say ‘Miss Thursday…?’ before the line goes off. Can this be Joan’s recontact or has Russ Lewis planted a red herring here?
    Episode 3 may see the return of Monica & Joan…..

The moral of the story is don’t take drinks from strangers, even well meaning ones & don’t pinch anyone else’s chocolates~ there may be repercussions….

Looking forward to Lazaretto….

 

 

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Ken Loach

IDanielBlake

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Daniel Blake is a brutally honest and moving account of the failings of our welfare state. It lays bare the cruel realities of those left to fall through the cracks and the total lack of humanity in the system. But also shows the solidarity and support that exists in working class communities.

#WeAreAllDanielBlake

Watched in Sheffield, on 03.10.2016 @ See Film First Preview to an over subscribed audience.

Their were audible gasps throughout the film at the treatment of people, finding themselves unemployed and having to negotiate the myriad of welfare benefit claims. The truly appalling manner in which clients were dealt with was Shocking with little or no apparent regard for humanity. Kudos to Dave Johns (Daniel) & Hayley Squires (Katie) who so ably conveyed the real sense of hopelessness & despair.  

proxy-2It is fair to say that there are staff working within this environment that hate the way members of the public are being treated… as we see with Ann, who tries to support Daniel. A man who has worked his whole life with his hands, a skilled carpenter, who suffers a heart attack and virtually finds himself in a place, he never could have imagined.  The scene in the Food Bank was shocking, to witness the emotional & physical breakdown of Katie. cs3p7qvwcaa-heuThere are some laughs in the film, sadly brought about by the situation Daniel finds himself in & there is sadness….. Sadness at the bureaucratic way in which human beings are being treated. Made to feel like ‘they’ have done something wrong. Ken Loach states ”the bureaucratic inefficiency is vindictive and hunger is being used as a weapon”.

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The sad fact is, no one asks for illness & disability & when it strikes, what is needed is support to get them back on their feet, perhaps to go in another direction or to find a way of living with their situation. WHY does this government assume everyone is trying to screw it & treat people as third rate citizens? The punitive changes made by the Tory Government in the Reform of the Welfare state are far reaching & there are ill judged & unfair decisions being made by JCP & DWP lackeys bringing misery and despair to those, who may, through no fault of their own, find themselves ill or out of work & the disabled made to fight for every penny they receive. Add to this, Decision Makers who are clueless about specific disabilities & it is a recipe for societal breakdown. This is not the vision of William Beveridge, one of the founding fathers of the welfare state or indeed, Nye Bevan who made this perceptive quote…

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Ken Loach tells it how it is…’touching the Soul of the spectator’…#IDanielBlake

13332950_1060807593994463_2255552689638827760_nWatch this film~Ken Loach telling it the way it is. Food Banks in 21st Century. UK. Children & Families living beyond the poverty line..

ctbywruwiaaiz7zWatch this film #IDanielBlake & wake up to the treatment of ordinary people, you or I, who have the audacity to turn up at the door of the DWP with an expectation of support in your hour of need…… Don’t make any plans as you’ll be far too busy on job search activities, even if you have a major illness….

#IDanielBlake ~”A Cinema to represent the interests of the People…..”

#Bravo Ken Loach.

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Drama, Endeavour, Inspector Morse, ITV Drama, John Thaw, Police Drama, Popular Music, Roger Allam, Roger Allam/Shaun Evans/Morse, Russ Lewis

Endeavour Series 3 Episode 1 Ride

 It was with a little trepidation and much excitement that I greeted the first episode #Ride of the 3rd Series of Endeavour. The marvellous writer, Russ Lewis, left the viewer on a cliff hanger, stuttering on the precipice at the end of Series 2, with #Neverland. Our beloved Fred Thursday had been shot by Deare and Endeavour framed, left languishing in a jail cell.

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Russ Lewis in his foreword to Endeavour Series 111, Oxford, All Change states that it ”features both ‘a lucky man who made the grade’, and with its fairground associations, might just as easily have been titled ‘Being For the Benefit of Mr.Bright’ – for it is Easter, and the Bank Holiday funfair has pitched its tents on Cowley Green.  The Police investigate the disappearance from the Ghost Train attraction of a ‘clippie’ with the Town and District bus service”. That we are treated to allusions to The Beatles Sgt. Peppers Album, is no great hardship in my book!

Ride opens with a ‘Villain’ leaving jail, ‘Jeannie’ the clippie atop her bus, shouting ‘Oxford, All Change’ & cuts to the Funfair where Jeanie is given a stuffed monkey at the rifle range stall, despite her young man missing the targets & is last seen sitting on the Ghost Train, from which, she never exits…..

Running parallel to this and the subsequent police investigation, we cut to Fred Thursday’s abode where Fred is putting on his hat …(seasoned fans of Endeavour will know the significance of this) when Win exclaims ‘You’re not going back to work, it’s too early..’ Fred responds in tones ‘we’ know so well…

”It’s work I’m off to, not The Front!”

With a deft touching of the brim of his hat, he is out the door with Win’s sandwiches for succour.

It becomes quickly apparent that Thursday has not seen Endeavour since that fateful day at Bleinham Vale. Endeavour, meanwhile is now residing in a Log Cabin in the woods (Could I suspend my disbelief?).

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He is also reunited with some old Oxford ‘Buddies’, one of whom takes him in his damaged car to Lord Belborough’s Pile and they are stopped by a police blockade as a body has been found in the woods. Endeavour is noticably ‘edgy’.as he sees the back of Thursday and stresses an urgency to get away as fast as he can from the police scene, saying he knows a shortcut.

Ride introduces us to some of Endeavour’s contemporaries, whilst he was an Undergraduate at Oxford. Lord ‘Bruce’ Belborough, refers to him as ‘Pagan’~ ‘One of the old ‘Gang’ and makes the incisive remark to Endeavour of ”Still falling for the wrong girl?’.

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It seems that Endeavour had history with women and this was a facet of his character which developed into the Morse series with John Thaw.

Whilst at the House, Endeavour hears of a character called ‘Bixby’ whom he later meets and who is to prove pivotal to the storyline. On Endeavour’s departure, he walks back through the woods, as a police vehicle is leaving the crime scene and ever vigilant, Endeavour spots a piece of card on the ground, which on perusal is a golf club card~ He pockets it as possible evidence. A dead student is found in University rooms~ Is there a link?

Back at Cowley Nick, Fred is missing Endeavour..He stares long and hard at his empty desk. He goes to Endeavour’s flat, but elicits no reply and runs into Nurse Monica Hicks on his departure who tells Fred where he is. Fred asks ‘Any message if I find him?’ to which she replies ‘ He doesn’t want to be found…’

Endeavour attends Bixby’s Masked Ball where we are transported to the psychedelic 1960’s right down to the chain belts, mini dresses and white boots ( Think, Mary Quant/Twiggy ).

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With the pulsating lights throwing a kaleidoscope of colours and shapes onto the walls, Endeavour walks through and is offered ‘Spliffs’ and he waves his hand at them . Significant to me, as in a Morse episode, Morse asks Lewis what drugs are like?, exclaiming that ‘The 60’s passed me by…’ It is evident that Endeavour made his own choices.

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Fred turns up at the Ball and questions Bixby about Jeannie and the discovery of a token in her possession which links the Casino and Slot Machines.  As he leaves, he spots Endeavour and walks out, with Endeavour having spotted him also, following him outside. Sharp as ever, Fred says ”Poor company, you’re keeping these days…”

Interwoven with Jeannie’s disappearance is the investigation of the Show People~ Janus Creal & Conrad/The Great Zambezi who look ‘Edgy’at best, denying any knowledge of ever seeing Jeannie, despite the fact she went up on stage to assist the Act. A Flash Harry character working the rifle range who handed the soft toy over to Jeanie is in it up to his neck, just ‘filling in’ or so he says, as a break from the Slot Machines he usually manages.

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Perhaps the most satisfying scenes are the exchanges between Endeavour  and Fred Thursday, who have developed a very close relationship throughout the Endeavour Serie(s). Fred waits for Endeavour inside his Log Cabin and Endeavour tentatively asks how he is?. It transpires that Endeavour has been there since leaving jail, because he can’t put anyone else at risk.. He knows too much. The findings of the Police Corruption Investigation were a whitewash on the murky goings on at Blenheim Vale.Thursday states, emphatically to Endeavour..

”We broke them and what’s left is scattered to the four winds….I need a Bagman..’They’ ~ Jakes,  Bright and Strange all spoke for you”.

On sensing Endeavour’s refusal to come to terms with what’s happened, Fred takes stock and gently says

”Well, fair enough…Mind how you go”.

As Fred leaves, he says ”There’s a town needs looking to ~ that does n’t change just because I dropped a Suit size..”

”Throw the towel in now, ‘It was all for nothing and the b*****d’s have won”.

Endeavour informs him he is still suspended and that he is not the same…

The Bench scene with Endeavour & Thursday demonstrated the strength of both as a Team.  Fred eating his cheese & pickle sandwiches whilst deliberating the possibilities of the suspects and it is only now, that Endeavour opens up to Fred.

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He talks about the isolation of prison and how, in the first week, he hardly slept. He heard no noises, footsteps or keys.. no one came for a month.

”I did n’t know if you were alive or dead, that was the worst of it”

Fred tells hin ”You were there, at the end,  no one else….You stood…It’s not brains, It’s guts… I won’t forget it …ever”. Still, Endeavour says ‘I was too slow..’

Fred counters this with ”You have to use all you are, against all they’ve got…Don’t ever blame yourself…”.

Another notable scene was with Jim Strange at the Funfair,when Endeavour comes across him searching under a caravan and holding a handbag.Endeavour spots immediately that this is the missing handbag belonging to Jeannie Hearne. It’s somewhat ironic that Strange has leapfrogged Endeavour to Sergeant. No doubt, he is a good policeman but a poor detective whereas Endeavour is just the opposite.

Towards the resolution of the story, it is Endeavour who makes the link between Janus Creal & Conrad & The Great Zambezi. It is Endeavour’s intellect which enlightens Bixby to the Numbers quote scrawled on his car ”Be sure your sins will find you out”

It is testament to the accomplished acting skills of Roger Allam & Shaun Evans in the portrayal of their characters and the excellent writing that has made Endeavour the success it is…#BAFTA take note~ these two actors should be at the top of any shortlist.

A word of praise too, for Barrington Pheloung’s musical score and also to the musical director/Russ Lewis for choosing some excellent 60’s Pop. As Janice Nicolson  used to say on  Thank Your Lucky Stars …’I give it Foive!…..#Stars

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BBC Drama, British Drama

BBC Drama The Dresser Broadcast 31/10/2015

The Dresser: Trailer – BBC Two https://youtu.be/WVW-eUWam4g via @YouTube

Cast

Role Contributor
Norman Ian McKellen
Sir Anthony Hopkins
Her Ladyship Emily Watson
Madge Sarah Lancashire
Irene Vanessa Kirby
Thornton Edward Fox
Oxenby/Edmund Tom Brooke
Gloucester John Ashton
Kent Ian Conningham
Goneril Annalisa Rossi
Regan Helen Bradbury
Cornwall Carl Sanderson
Albany Matthew Cottle
Gentleman Martin Chamberlain
Writer Ronald Harwood
Producer Suzan Harrison
Director Richard Eyre
Production Company Playground UK Ltd

In a touring Shakespearean theatre company, backstage hand Norman is devoted to the brilliant but tyrannical head of the company, Sir. He struggles to support the deteriorating star as the company works to carry on during the London blitz during World War Two. The pathos of his backstage efforts rival the pathos in Shakespeare’s story of Lear and the Fool from his play King Lear, which is being presented on stage, as the situation comes to a crisis.

Two knights of the theatre, Sir Anthony Hopkins and Sir Ian McKellen get to spar with each other in this delicious offering from BBC Drama. Both Hopkins and McKellen have played Lear on stage and both are renowned for their Shakespearean roles, but this is the first time the pair have shared a screen together~ May I say it was worth waiting for!

Hopkins as ”Sir” brings a certain subtlety to his role, almost underplaying, in stark contrast to the turmoil within his mind, emanating from imbibing the ‘drink’, his apparent loss of senses and in the forgetting of his lines. There is a parallel between his own physical and mental state and that of Lear’s ”Madness”. Once on stage, his performance is commanding in contrast to the heap in the dressing room.

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McKellen ~ Sir’s Dresser,  is just ‘brilliant’ and should be BAFTA nominated for his performance, ably displaying all his own inner fears, idiosyncrasies, whilst trying to hold everything together. The ‘Dresser’ who is the ‘Minion’ can do the Make Up expertly, dress the players, but sadly not himself with two V Neck Pullovers and a bottle of liquor for succour and yet,…’Aye, there’s the rub’ ~Norman knows all the lines, manages the props and polishes Lear’s crown. His timing, facial mannerisms, foibles were a wonder to witness. He etched up another performance on the dressing room mirror…details, details, details…

‘We can’t do Lear without the King!” Norman could have stepped in at a moment’s notice….

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Hopkins was very adept at placing his hands on the female players’ breasts & derrieres. His locking of his door whilst examining the young actress’s legs was perhaps an example of the casting couch & yet he declared her legs were far too skinny to be a leading player which was apparently more suited to ladies with larger proportions!

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Throughout the play, the viewer learns there is something of a ménage à trois going on. Madge is secretly in love with ‘Sir’. His long suffering wife has seen more than enough and Norman who has always loved him from afar. His ”What about me?” lingered long in the air. He exclaims, that ”I had a friend, once…”.

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James Fox playing the role of Lear’s Fool was an unusual part for him and the conversation between Hopkins and Fox about playing the lowly roles was revealing. Fox says ‘I don’t mind playing the lower parts, but once in awhile, I like to be more stretched…’ There is a certain irony there as the viewer knows that Fox is a great actor. Interesting too, that he never seemed to smile, at least off stage or behind the curtains~his demeanour looked ”concerned” that the production was going to fall on it’s derriere!

624 (1)The denouement is truly heartbreaking with Sir dying on his bed in his dressing room and it is here, that McKellen spills his guts….You could cut the pathos with a knife…. ‘

Another class production from the BBC….Kudos to the whole cast.

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British Drama

The Outcast ~ BBC Drama

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The Outcast: Trailer – BBC One https://youtu.be/ARvnSMG_hJw via @YouTube
‪#‎The Outcast‬ ~ Brilliant hard-edged drama. Every Taboo explored….
The sense of loss, guilt, isolation and despair was almost too much to bear The suffering of Lewis (Finn Elliot and George Mackay) cut like a knife.

Programme Name: The Outcast - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows:  Lewis (GEORGE MACKAY), Gilbert (GREG WISE), Alice (JESSICA BROWN FINDLAY) - (C) Blueprint Pictures - Photographer: Nicola Dove

Programme Name: The Outcast – TX: n/a – Episode: n/a (No. n/a) – Picture Shows: Lewis (GEORGE MACKAY), Gilbert (GREG WISE), Alice (JESSICA BROWN FINDLAY) – (C) Blueprint Pictures – Photographer: Nicola Dove

Greg Wise as Gilbert, the absent Father returning from Army Service gave a performance filled with pathos,~ his lack of social interaction with his son and his inability to connect on any level to help Lewis’s emotional and personal angst was striking

(C) Blueprint Pictures – Photographer: Nicola Dove

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Accomplished performances from both Hattie Morahan and Jessica Brown Findlay as Lewis’s mother/StepMother

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(C) Blueprint Pictures – Photographer: Nicola Dove

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Programme Name: The Outcast – TX: n/a – Episode: n/a (No. n/a) – Picture Shows: Gilbert (GREG WISE), Alice (JESSICA BROWN FINDLAY) – (C) Blueprint Pictures – Photographer: Nicola Dove


The Carmichael’s~ Dicky (Nat Parker) and Claire (Helen Bradbury) bore out the facade of the happily married couple, hiding a heinous secret within their family.

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Programme Name: The Outcast – TX: n/a – Episode: n/a (No. n/a) – Picture Shows: Dicky (NATHANIEL PARKER) – (C) Blueprint Pictures – Photographer: Nicola Dove

Nathaniel Parker gave an astonishing performance as the abusive, sick Dicky dishing out punishment with his belt and his fists, justifying his actions by judicious review..I love Nat Parker but I actually ‪#‎Hated‬ him in this~ Job well done!
Claire browbeaten and ‘defeated’ toed the line of perfect respectability, within the knowledge of her husband’s vicious nature and the fear that she was next….
Kit and Tasmin Carmichael ( Jocelyn McNab and Edie Whitehead /and Jessica Barden Daisy Bevan ) all gave stunning performances.
The rebellious older Kit having real spirit and insight into Lewis’s plight and her love for the young boy who so compassionately picked her up off the ground as a young girl never left her.
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Programme Name: The Outcast - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows:  Lewis (GEORGE MACKAY) - (C) Blueprint Pictures - Photographer: Nicola Dove

Programme Name: The Outcast – TX: n/a – Episode: n/a (No. n/a) – Picture Shows: Lewis (GEORGE MACKAY) – (C) Blueprint Pictures – Photographer: Nicola Dove

Programme Name: The Outcast - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows:  Kit (JESSICA BARDEN), Lewis (GEORGE MACKAY) - (C) Blueprint Pictures - Photographer: Nicola Dove

Programme Name: The Outcast – TX: n/a – Episode: n/a (No. n/a) – Picture Shows: Kit (JESSICA BARDEN), Lewis (GEORGE MACKAY) – (C) Blueprint Pictures – Photographer: Nicola Dove

A word of praise too for the really rather wonderful Julian Wadham ( Dr Straechen) who, perhaps, above all, gave the compassionate, empathetic performance, sensing Lewis’s grief and trauma both at the beginning and at the end~ an ‪#‎Immense‬ actor who always puts in a quality performance.

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Google Images Julian Wadham.

The scene with Lewis and Dicky battering him, so perfectly conveyed the ‪#‎Hurt‬ he felt and that somehow, the physical pain he suffered gave him relief from the emotional mire he found himself in.

After this breathtaking drama~ the denouement sees Lewis leaving for the Army posting and Kit in a frantic dash to tell him she ‪#‎Loved‬ him…

‪”‎Love‬, Lewis… ”We’re saved”
The Outcast: Episode 2 Trailer – BBC One https://youtu.be/j1Folf3YmMA via @YouTube

#TheOutcast ~ ‪#‎Dark‬~ ‪#‎Brooding‬ with emotional angst brimming over into the abyss ~ ‪#‎Bloody‬ ~‪#‎Battered‬ & ‪#‎Brilliant‬.
Kudos to ‪#‎BBC‬ ~ Drama that ‪#‎Shocks‬.

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