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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

 

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

Endeavour Series 5, Episode 2 Cartouche

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Cartouche begins with a show @ The Roxy Cinema & immediately cuts to Brown’s Cafe where a wide boy called Liam Flynn is collecting ‘Protection’ money for Eddie Nero from the Cafe’s owners.

The following scene finds a deceased person lying on his bed in a room, whom Max de Bryn is attending alongside Endeavour. His identity is that of Ronald Beavis who was once  a detective sergeant @Banbury,  County Police..  In his pocket, a fob watch with an inscription is discovered. He also lately worked at the Museum in Pitt Rivers, which will become more relevant as the plot line develops with the Keeper of the Archaeological  Finds, Dr. Moharram Shoukry, who is dedicated to the preservation of his ancient culture & increasingly fired by the motives for British Imperialism. The heritage of colonialism is a major theme in Cartouche with arson attacks directed at Asian families, proving to be a thorn in the side of Thursday and Bright. A cinema ticket is also found amidst his possessions indicating a visit to the Roxy the previous evening. Beside his bed, his false teeth lie resplendent in a glass & the oft witty Max states.

‘He won’t bite…

A further development sees an arson attack with petrol having been poured through a letterbox in a house with Asian inhabitants.  Fred is heard to remark…

Two Bob BlackShirts..

making reference to the rise of the para military wing of the Fascist Union, Mussolini,  Nazi Germany & the rise of the Fascist Union in the UK under Oswald Mosley.

Max remarks

Cruelty, torture and Kensington gore…

Fred & Endeavour seek out Amand De Vere the Manager of The Roxy to make enquiry, where they find a Horror Extravaganza event in the planning, honouring legendary star Emil Valdemar (Donald Sumpter), currently shooting a horror film in Oxford. A further nod to the legendary Boris Karloff, whom as a young girl I used to watch in Hammer House of Horror films, very often hiding behind the settee!

Joan, meanwhile is seen assisting an Asian family, doing some p/t admin. work in a public advice centre, when a brick is thrown through the window~ No surprise that the building where this happens is also owned by Eddie Nero, a local gangster.

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Endeavour, is seen entering a phone box to call in that he is knocking off duty & on exiting sees a young attractive girl stood outside & gets talking. It appears she has been stood up by a friend she had gone there to meet ( Later, we learn this is in fact, Joan!) Endeavour lost no time in accompanying the damsel in distress to his Inn of choice for a beverage. Well, I may well of had to suspend my disbelief at this contrived plot line, however, at this point, Endeavour did not know who she was, but obviously, had his head turned by a pretty girl. When we return to Strange’s flat, busy making breakfast, Endeavour appears & in the background Carol emerges. The look on Strange’s face is ‘priceless’.

‘Thought you were done with Birds?’ Whose she?

Endeavour replies ‘Just some Girl’

I was a little surprised at Endeavour’s night of passion, as somehow it seemed incongruous with his past faltering steps with Joan, where he had plenty of opportunity. Perhaps, he compartmentalised it. His attempts at showing Carol round Oxford fell on deaf ears until he asked he to suggest what to do & they end up at the Cinema Event.

Photo Credit@ Nasir Hamis@ SimplyOxfor@Twitter

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We return to Max who has found strychnine in the deceased’s blood & contemplating that his orange squash may have been the cause.  Max is heard to remark

For some of us, it’s horror season all round

Fred seeks out Mr Bullings’ the Assistant Manager of The Roxy & reminisces over

the threepenny rush going to the Saturday Flicks, seeing a ‘Western’, If you’re lucky & Laurel & Hardy.

defaultPhoto Credit @Onitube @Google Images.

Roger Allam delivers his lines as though he has lived it! It brought back many memories for me, going to the Saturday morning Pictures @ The Hippodrome in West Derby Road, Liverpool, previously Hengler’s Circus where, I  used to spend my ‘Tanner’ to watch a varied programme every week & yes, we used to ‘bunk in’ if we could!!, if the side doors were left open & charge down the aisles before the programme began. The Keystone Kops on the big screen!

Fred seeks out the usherette, Betty Persky ( no small coincidence that a nod is made by the writer to Lauren Bacall who was born  (Betty Joan Perske) who talks of the building being under threat of demolition, being pulled down for flats or a car park by a Developer & discusses recent events with the Cinema Organist, Leslie Garnier who relates that the cinema is owned  by the Jepson Family & he  reveals that Beavis had a meeting with someone  he observed from the cinema’s rooftop on the night he visited the cinema.

On the home front Fred & Win are hosting Fred’s younger brother, Charlie *(played convincingly by the inimitable Phil Daniels), his wife, Paulette (Linette Beaumont) & their daughter, Carol (Emma Rigby)

Charlie can hardly hold his pride at the car parked on the Thursday’s Drive as he says to Endeavour, with a smirk….

See the car did yer?

DV8_t6tWAAI0z_MPhoto Credit’@Nasir Hamid@SimplyOxford@Twitter

The two cars juxtaposed says it all really….  Charlie is brash & outspoken, where our Fred is a wee bit more circumspect even though he surprises the viewer with his Thursdayisms.

Fred & Win being coiffured on set.

Photo Credit @ Nasir Hamid@ SimplyOxford@Twitter.

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Linette Endeavour Collage

 

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On an evening out fine dining @ Chez Andre, Charlie displays some irritating shouting to the waiter to fetch a drink & remarks

My mouth’s like Geronimo’s sock!

An odd reference which I immediately thought referred to the Indian Apache Leader, Geronimo, maybe a nod to the western franchises run in cinemas at the time, however, I think this may be more likely~ SWF Sock Wrestling Federation. Charlie being so parched, his mouth felt like an acrid sock!

Photo Credit @ Geronimo Sock Festival @ Google Images

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Charlie rambles on to disclose Fred’s background much to Fred’s chagrin! & the embarrassment factor gets even higher when, Reginald Bright turns up as Charlie proceeds to call him ‘Reg’. Bright could hardly contain his disdain & corrects him immediately~ ‘Reginald’.  Charlie continues in the same vein,  discussing Fred’s early upbringing which irritates Fred, no end & Bright responds by saying he finds it ‘interesting’.. Strange arrives on the scene ~ stating there’s been an incident…The Organist has been found dead, slumped over his Organ @ The Roxy.

Meantime we cut back to the Horror Event at the cinema, where Emil Valdemar is being presented with a watch in honour of his services to the Industry, however, the watch has gone & in its’ place is a Cartouche which Valdemar  immediately rejects. Debryn makes a further pathology assessment & declares that cynanide has been used & an autograph book is found in the Organist’s pocket with a signature from Emil Valdemar & a drawn cartouche underneath.

Fred & Endeavour proceed to question Emil Valdemar during his film shoot in Oxford & he tells them that it is his signature, but that he did not add the Cartouche drawing.

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Photo Credits@ Endeavour ITVtumblr_p3wc8g9hA61v7kqr8o1_1280

We’re next back at Cowley Nick where Mr Kenneth Bullins’ has been brought in for questioning & it transpires that he has had Previous. He was convicted for ABH 10 years ago & was pulled in by DS Ronald Beavis. Could he have a revenge motive?  Bullins’states he’s a changed man & that he made the martini for the cinema organist & put in a Lemon Twist, which was how he liked it every performance, however, an Olive was in the Martini, the straw of, which was found to contain the poison.

Liam Flynn, meanwhile is busy collecting his extortion money for Eddie Nero & is found stabbed outside Browns Coffee Shop….the Cafe owners denying all knowledge of any profiteering racket. Someone’s got motive but WHO?

DV3tOsjWkAAoggdPhoto Credit@ Nasir Hamid@SimplyOxford@Twitter

Joan turns up at Cowley Nick & an awkward conversation occurs between Fred & Joan with him expressing his concern as he had n’t seen much of her & he leaves her with a fatherly hand on her shoulder. A little progress from the cold thaw of late. Joan also bumps into Endeavour & mentions her cousin, Carol & Endeavour must be shuddering as the elephant in the room is released.

Photo Credit @Magog83 @Google Images.

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Emil Valdemar receives a Letter headed Peninsula & Oriental HO with a white feather the emblem of cowardice & alarm bells begin to ring. Someone is on to him! By the time we reach the denouement, The Roxy is ablaze.

Amand de Vere falls into the collapsing auditorium & we discover the perpetrator of  the cinema demises. 50 years after the event, a  character ‘wants justice for the boys’ & is facing up Emil Valdemar who in a previous life, had been ‘Second Lieutenant Roberts’ before joining the cinema acting bandwagon.

Revenge is a dish better served ‘Cold’….

From a personal viewpoint, I enjoyed Episode 2 Cartouche  more than episode 1 Muse as I felt there was just too many strands vying for attention  & it did n’t quite work for me as a viewer. Having read the production review from Damian Barcroft for the 6 episodes, I’m anticipating  Episiode 3, Passenger to be a Fire Cracker as Neil Duncan stated he loved the scripts for Ep. 3 straight from the first draft.

Series Trailer for Endeavour Series 5

 

 

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Crucible Sheffield, Musical, Robert Hastie, Sheffield Theatres

The Wizard of Oz, The Crucible, Sheffield, December 7th, 2017 (PDR)

WIZARD OF OZ, by Baum,      , By L Frank Baum, Director - Robert Hastie, Designer - Janet Bird, Choreography - Ewan Jones, Sheffield Theatres, 2017, Credit: Johan PerssonWIZARD OF OZ, by Baum, , By L Frank Baum, Director – Robert Hastie, Designer – Janet Bird, Choreography – Ewan Jones, Sheffield Theatres, 2017, Credit: Johan Persson

Hugely enjoyed Robert Hastie’s production of The Wizard of Oz last night @ The Crucible, Sheffield. Remarkable staging & set, which adapted from a rural setting in Kansas, morphing into a tornado, (great work from the cast splaying the debris, tremendous movement & flow) into Dorothy & Toto’s adventure on to the Yellow Brick Road toward the Emerald City and en route they meet a Scarecrow that needs a brain (Andrew Langtree) a Tin Man missing a heart, (Max Parker) & a cowardly lion who needs Courage (Jonathan Broadbent)Remarkable nuanced performances from all three, adding humour to despair & some truly special dance sequences & songs which literally swept the audience into the maelstrom.

WIZARD OF OZ, by Baum,      , By L Frank Baum, Director - Robert Hastie, Designer - Janet Bird, Choreography - Ewan Jones, Sheffield Theatres, 2017, Credit: Johan PerssonWIZARD OF OZ, by Baum, , By L Frank Baum, Director – Robert Hastie, Designer – Janet Bird, Choreography – Ewan Jones, Sheffield Theatres, 2017, Credit: Johan Persson

Dorothy~ a remarkable Gabrielle Brooks won hearts & minds with her sparky performance & beautiful renditions of the classics, Somewhere Over The Rainbow, We’re Off to See The Wizard, The Jitterbug. We meet Toto as a real dog & Toto morphs into a puppet dog expertly handled by a member of the cast who manages to achieve a life like performance throughout the play (RSPCA Award for Interpretation)
Catrin Aaron (Miss Gulch / Wicked Witch) is also wonderfully cast, achieving the exaggerated cackle to a tee! & manages to irritate the audience with her stuffy Miss Gulch.

Photo Credit@ Johan Persson

Sophia Nomvete (Aunt Em / Glinda) has a positive presence within the home & in her regal entrance as Glinda advising & directing Dorothy in her quest.

Photo Credit@ Johan Persson

Ryan Ellsworth (Professor Marvel / The Wizard Of Oz) also impresses with his interpretation of two very different characters. Photo Credit Johan Persson

A wonderfully plucky & colourful performance from the young cast of Munchkins delighted.
Praise has to go to Set Design & Dance Choreography which managed to achieve a pulsating yellow brick road, a petrified Forest & an absolutely stunning portrayal of The Jitterbug. The Audience with Oz, with it’s mechanical noises & lights was exceptional & so well captured the atmospheric nature of the original film made in 1939 with Judy Garland, Ray Bolger Jack Haley & Bert Lohr. Orchestration from Larry Wilcox enhanced the whole production.
Several encores & loud applause showered this amazing cast
performance & production. What more can I say, except being a #Dorothy~ I clicked my red shoes & I was in Kansas…..
#Kudos to all…#BegBorrowStealATicket😘 5 *

  • Robert Hastie Director
  • Janet Bird Designer
  • Ewan Jones Choreographer
  • Toby Higgins Musical Director
  • Richard Howell Lighting Designer
  • Mike Walker Sound Designer
  • Rachael Canning Puppet Designer
  • Will Burton CDG Casting Director

 

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Blues, Conor Mcpherson/ Irish Playwright, Drama, Melodrama, Popular Music, The Old Vic, Theatre

Girl From The North Country The Old Vic. Conor McPherson, July~October, 2017

My first visit to the beautiful Old Vic Theatre & I was n’t disappointed. You see the building before you as you exit Waterloo Station, beckoning like a beacon in the night, illuminated, a place you want to snuggle inside…

Having undergone many reincarnations over its’ 200 year history, Artistic Director Matthew Warchus is building on 200 years of creative adventure, with The Old Vic recently being hailed as ‘London’s most eclectic and frequently electrifying theatre’. The Old Vic is London’s independent not-for-profit theatre. Their mission to make theatre accessible to all is to be applauded, offering seats from £10, which is an added incentive to experience the Old Vic’s diverse & exciting productions, especially if you live outside the Capital. I felt like ‘A thief in the night’ having secured 2 tickets to see Girl From The North Country.

19933024_109566226354096_8145980366826504192_nPhoto Credit @ Old Vic Theatre @Instagram

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Photo Credit@ Katy-Rixin@ Instagram

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As you enter this stunning building you are immediately ‘hit’ by a vivid red neon sign to 20399004_1888688758118530_618254679628840960_n”Dare, always Dare….A sign, that, Lilian Baylis kept on her desk.

Lilian Baylis was named as the lessee for the building in 1912. She obtained a theatre licence and set about turning the building into The Old Vic we know and love today. Lilian was passionate about theatre, opera and dance and became one of the greatest theatre managers in Britain, striving to make the performing arts accessible to all. Today, theatregoers can sit in the Lilian Baylis Circle & imagine the work this industrious lady dared to do.

The lighting installations in the Old Vic are a joy to behold..20633637_1457255964361368_970610132985577472_n

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This chandelier was created by designers Rob Howell and Hugh Vanstone for a revamp of the Foyer lighting. Truly innovative with the lights cascading from the top of the building to the bottom, architectural in composition, the pulleys & hooks give an industrial feel with the grid structure encapsulating the lights, perhaps symbolic? Leading lights, unleashed. (I’m now in fantasy land.)

the-old-vic Interior@ Old Vic Theatre@Google Images

A stunning theatre, visually. I was sat in the Dress Circle, fairly central & with a good view of the stage. Beautifully ornate & intimate with a central ceiling fresco which is put to good use by the lighting dept in Girl From The North Country, literally raising the roof with circulating, pulsating strobes of kaleidoscopic illumination & boy, were my feet tapping! Such is the strength of the singers in this production that you literally feel ‘swept’ along in the maelstrom & the melody.

McPherson sets the scene in a boarding House,in Duluth, Minnesota where Dylan was born, some 7 years after this play is set during the 1930’s Depression.

Dylan revealed in a Bill Flanagan interview that his early life was in an Industrial town, March 22nd, 2017 Credit Bob Dylan.com exclusive..

”It’s hard not to think of World War II when we hear some of these. You were born during the war – do you remember anything about it?

Not much. I was born in Duluth – industrial town, ship yards, ore docks, grain elevators, mainline train yards, switching yards. It’s on the banks of Lake Superior, built on granite rock. Lot of fog horns, sailors, loggers, storms, blizzards. My mom says there were food shortages, food rationing, hardly any gas, electricity cutting off – everything metal in your house you gave to the war effort. It was a dark place, even in the light of day – curfews, gloomy, lonely, all that sort of stuff – we lived there till I was about five, till the end of the war”. 

Dylan recalls a very lively but bleak landscape with the cold bitter winds blowin’ through his town.

Rae Smith’s set for Girl From The North Country is spartan, displaying all the signs of austerity & bleakness & yet the darkness draws you in like an interloper.

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 Photo Credit@lelembee@ Instagram

GFTNC-DR1-148-1456x976The cast in full flow at a rare celebration.

Photo Credit@ The Old Vic

I think it’s a very clever device to introduce the characters by their back stories which unfold throughout the narrative & it’s executed well by Conor McPherson.allowing the viewer to eavesdrop into the interaction. We realise that each character has a story to reveal which interacts with the trauma happening within the Laine household & their struggle for ‘survival’.

Meet  the cast….

The Old Vic’s Artistic Director, Matthew Warchus  introduced Girl From The North Country on Press Night &  discussed where to place it in terms of genre. He related back to the historical Melodrama, literally a play with songs, where ‘the music unlocks the irrational & singing gives ‘voice’ to the soul…’ Matthew mentions ‘The Singing Detective’ for it’s naturalistic scenes interpolated by dance numbers which connects on a literal level as an exploration of interiority. In Girl From The North Country, we progress from the interior rooms of a boarding house to the quality of being focussed on one’s inner life & identity through the life stories of the characters.We realise that each character has a story to reveal which interacts with the trauma happening within the Laine household & their struggle for ‘survival’. Shirley Henderson exemplifies this & gives a very nuanced performance, flitting through the vagaries in her mind, whimsical, wild & unusual. Obviously trained in the Sharon Stone School of Acting, unashamedly uninhibited where basic instinct seems second nature & puts her own indelible print onto the prose of Bob Dylan & the wordsmithery of Conor McPherson~ A ‘writer’ directing with a ‘guitar’ in his hand…’

Photo Credit@ The Old Vic Rehearsals. Conor McPherson.

 

20046602_10154121668787185_3092433782189968435_nShirley Henderson as Elizabeth Laine @OVGirl

 ‘I know a louse when I see one!’

Conor McPherson has said that;~

Each song has its’ own landscape. Setting Girl From The North Country before Dylan was born would allow the songs to exist,  in 1930’s Depression. ‘Girl’ has its’ own imagery & the language & imagery is so inventive & unique, yet it is still symbolic & resonates. It opens the play up as opposed to moving the play along’.

 

19904936_10214091717713360_4403143672643531546_nCredit @Karen Anspach @Twitter

The strength of the Singer/Actors is breathtaking & profound, each putting their own indelible mark onto the prose of Bob Dylan. Poignant & powerful renditions of ‘I Want You’, ‘Like A Rolling Stone’ & ‘Make You Feel My Love’, left me dewy-eyed. Sam Reid as Gene & Claudia Jolly as Katherine broke hearts with their duet, ‘I want you…’

DFUzIigWAAEjTXp.jpg        Sam Reid as Gene&Claudia Jolly as Katherine Photo@OVGirl

nzhi9gwe         Shirley Henderson as Elizabeth Laine

‘If you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose’

goes the lyric to Like A Rolling Stone.  

‘How does it feel?’

Bob asks the question….

‘When you ain’t got nothing, you got nothing to lose
You’re invisible now, you’ve got no secrets to conceal
How does it feel, ah how does it feel?
To be on your own, with no direction home
Like a complete unknown, like a rolling stone’

Video Credit@ Edgar Caramelo@ Vimeo

Kudos to Arinze Kene who delivered the lyrics to ‘Hurricane’.& an unbelievable Slow Train Comin’.

”You’re an idiot, babe…It’s a wonder that you still know how to breathe”.

Dylan ensures he’s not spared from responsibility. “It’s  a wonder we can even feed ourselves,” he sings in the last line.

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‘Big-time negotiators, false healers and woman haters
Masters of the bluff and masters of the proposition
But the enemy I see
Wears a cloak of decency
All nonbelievers and men stealers talkin’ in the name of religion
And there’s a slow, slow train comin’ up around the bend

People starving and thirsting, grain elevators are bursting
Oh, you know it costs more to store the food than it do to give it
They say lose your inhibitions
Follow your own ambitions
They talk about a life of brotherly love show me someone who knows how to live it
There’s a slow, slow train comin’ up around the bend’

Sheila Atim’s voice is right on the money, (Tight Connection To My Heart, Has Anybody Seen My Love) together with vocals from Debbie Kurup, who also gave a killer performance in ‘Anything Goes’.

Video Credit@ Zdekor @ Vimeo

This play will draw you in & absorb your very soul. Conor McPherson has written a masterpiece which runs the gamut of every emotion, running the line from hope to despair, with every stop along the way. Beautifully paced drama enhanced by the truly wonderful Dylan Songbook, performed by a cast of extremely talented singer/actors. Hurricane has such a brilliantly crafted narrative, based on a true story of Rubin Carter, a boxer framed for a crime he never done….

‘Now all the criminals in their coats and their ties
Are free to drink martinis and watch the sun rise
While Rubin sits like Buddha in a ten-foot cell
An innocent man in a living hell’.

This was the song my American Studies tutor played to his students & we would listen, totally absorbed within the narrative, afterwards discussing the wider societal ills within the USA & the race card played to the hilt.  An ‘Invisible Man’?  

‘How can the life of such a man
Be in the palm of some fool’s hand?
To see him obviously framed
Couldn’t help but make me feel ashamed
To live in a land
Where justice is a game’.

Video Credit@ Mike Beerley @Youtube (Emmylou Harris) – background vocals for this take but mid-tour, of The Rolling Thunder Revue, Dylan wanted to rerecord the song and used Ronee Blakley, who was doing background vocals for the tour, as the background vocalist for the final take that was released on Desire.

Here is a list of the tracks utilised in the play listed in the programme for Girl From The North Country. A herculean task for Conor McPherson to extract from the Dylan Songbook but the song choice is effective within the narrative &  opens up the desperate situations these characters find themselves in, reinforcing the emotional inner being and literally giving voice to the soul.

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Nick Laine (Ciarán Hinds) is the character that all the other characters revolve around, stoically working hard in every department from ‘welcoming’ guests to attempting to cope with every life situation thrown at him. His son Gene, jobless and with no ‘direction’ home.  A man with the weight of the world upon his shoulders & as he says

‘There ain’t no safety net to catch us…’.

Offering 2 glasses of whiskey to Joe Scott & Reverend Marlowe, on their arrival at the guest house, there is beneficence in the air, until Nick says

‘That’ll be 2 bits’….

Times are hard.

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Photo Credits@OVGirl@TheOldVic

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His livelihood threatened with foreclosure, his ill wife, severely challenged by the vagaries of her disintegrating mind. A very poignant scene where he feeds her soup with a spoon is heart wrenching & a slight uplift when he dances with her at a celebration. His adopted daughter~( Sheila Atim), pregnant & his attempt to marry her off to Jim Norton weigh heavy on his mind & yet he finds time to dally with Mrs Neilsen, (Debbie Kurup). A welcome release perhaps, from the damaged relationship between he & his wife who has told him she does n’t love him.  It is notable that Nick is the only cast member who does n’t participate in the singing, perhaps because he can’t give voice to his desperation?

Girl-From-The-North-Country-Old-Vic-542                 Photo Credit@Tristram Kenton @ The Stage

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Hinds is so stoical, that he continues with his duties, his responsibilities to his sick wife, whilst trying to hold it all together. Perhaps a man more sinned against than sinning? There are some parallels between Hinds’ Character Tommy in Conor McPherson’s The Night Alive & Nick Laine.  In The Night Alive, Tommy helps a victimised girl & offers her a place to stay & protection from an abusive psychopathic partner, literally offering her room at the Inn. The thematic threads which run through Girl From The North Country can also be linked. The themes of Christianity, the nativity, salvation, redemption, transcendence all feature within the narrative.

There is some delicious repartee expertly delivered by Ciarán Hinds as Nick Laine providing moments of light relief, injecting humour amidst the debris of life.

‘Excuse me Mr Hennesey! Don’t confuse me with my own double standards’  

Ciarán Hinds says he does n’t get asked to do comedy, but his satirical delivery is ‘spot-on’ & there were a few little ‘gems’ sprinkled throughout the narrative, which he delivered with aplomb.

‘Knockin’ on heaven’s door’ might have been used to good effect when Nick picks up a gun, with a sense of foreboding enveloping the stage. The play ends on a more positive yet, poignant note with Nick & Elizabeth sat at the kitchen table & a voice over (narrator) relating the subsequent history of those that had passed through the boarding house. I half expected & was reminded of Ciaran Hinds’ most moving performance in The Man Who Cried, sat at the table & clearly from the audience reaction, the sense of pathos touched them too.  When Shirley Henderson sings Forever Young, hope lingers in the air….

The audience reception is remarkable,  I’d say ‘exceptional’.  A few standing ovations and the audience on their feet applauding & whistles throughout the theatre. My daughter was beside herself & thought it was the best play she’d ever seen. She would buy the soundtrack to Girl From The North Country.  Yes, it was that good.
If you see just one play this year, make it this one!
5***** A visual & auditory treat for the soul.

 

 

Video Credit @ @Llcoolj90@The Old Vic @Instagram

Video Credit @Daniel Bejarano@Youtube

CAST

  •                                                 Sheila Atim
  •                                              Marianne Laine
  • Ron Cook

    Dr Walker


  • Bronagh Gallagher

    Mrs Burke


  • Shirley Henderson

    Elizabeth Laine


  • Ciarán Hinds

    Nick Laine


  • Claudia Jolly

    Katherine Draper


  • Arinzé Kene

    Joe Scott


  • Debbie Kurup

    Mrs Neilsen


  • Kirsty Malpass

    Ensemble


  • Jim Norton

    Mr Perry


  • Tom Peters

    Ensemble


  • Karl Queensborough

    Ensemble


  • Sam Reid

    Gene Laine


  • Michael Shaeffer

    Reverend Marlowe


  • Jack Shalloo

    Elias Burke


  • Stanley Townsend

    Mr Burke

     

  • CREATIVE TEAM

    • Conor McPherson

      Writer & Director

    • Bob Dylan

      Music & Lyrics

    • Rae Smith

      Designer

    • Simon Hale

      Orchestrator, Arranger & Musical Supervisor

    • Mark Henderson

      Lighting

    • Simon Baker

      Sound

    • Alan Berry

      Musical Director

    • Lucy Hind

      Movement Director

    • Jessica Ronane CDG

      Casting Director

    • Joe Murphy

      Associate Director

    • Jessica Daniels

      Baylis Assistant Director

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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….
 gm
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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