Blakeson - Writer

Cardiff-based film, theatre and gig reviews, cultural ramblings, whingeing, short films, etc.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

"Sinners Club" / "Flash"

My latest theatre-reviewing assignments are both singular, musically-oriented pieces of work. 

First up was “Sinners Club” from Gagglebabble at The Other Room, written and composed by, and starring the ridiculously talented Lucy Rivers. It places the audience in the studio as a concept album on the theme of the sad life of Ruth Ellis, the last woman to be hanged in Britain (who happened to have been born in Wales) is being recorded – highly innovative and heartfelt.

Lucy Rivers (photo: Kieran Cudlip)
The other was a work-in-progress by Morgan Thomas, staged at the University of South Wales: “Flash” which uses his fan-dom of Freddie Mercury’s Queen to reflect, in an apparently shambolic manner, on mental health issues. A fascinating project, and one which looks likely to develop further in the months to come.

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Wednesday, February 01, 2017

"T2: Trainspotting"

I was probably too old and non-druggy to identify over-much with Danny Boyle’s original adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s “Trainspotting”; I simply recognised it as a powerfully significant cinematic achievement. Obviously, when the sequel was announced, I feared the worst, such ventures seldom going well. I need not have worried, however – the sure hand and visual inventiveness of Danny Boyle, not to mention John Hodge’s gifts as a screenwriter, the narrative richness of the source material and a remarkable cast have ensured that a “Gregory’s Two Girls”-style disappointment is avoided by some distance.

The plot of “T2:Trainspotting” involves the return of Ewan MacGregor’s apparently sorted Renton to his home town of Edinburgh, 20 years after abandoning his friends, having let them down badly. The ensuing events involve the varied reactions of Ewen Bremner’s hapless Spud, Johnny Lee Miller’s scheming Sickboy and the psychopathic Begbie, played by Robert Carlyle, who pretty much steals the film; while Veronika, Sickboy’s East European girlfriend (Anjela Nedyalkova) looks on in bemusement.

The film is about nostalgia, and regret and the pull of home, not to mention the problem of coming to terms with a disappointing middle age. Boyle gives us brief, telling images of the first film (occasionally to confusing effect, not helped by the fact that MacGregor and Miller hardly look older than they did in 1996), as well as making full use of his box of cinematographic tricks. The music of Young Fathers is cleverly threaded throughout the soundtrack, multiculturalism being part of the new subtext.

T2…” is a more than worthy successor to the epoch-making original.

"T2: Trainspotting" (Sony)

My most recent theatre reviewing assignments have been two wildly contrasting one-person shows: Conor Mitchell’s “The Moot Virginity of Catherine of Aragon” – an avant-garde musical meditation on the life of Henry VIII’s first wife; and “A Regular Little Houdini”, written and performed by Daniel Llewelyn-Williams, and set in his home town of Newport in the early part of the 20th century. Each fascinating in its own way, but aimed at entirely different audiences.

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