Blakeson - Writer

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

Monday, October 30, 2017

"The Cherry Orchard" / "Little Wolf" / "Of Mice And Men" / "P.A.R.A.D.E."

It’s been a busy couple of weeks, theatre-going-wise; headlined by three notable adaptations of extant pieces.
Simon Harris and his Lucid Theatre Company presented “Little Wolf” at Chapter, his take on Ibsen’s “Little Eyolf” – as stylish as a tale of parental loss can be. Also there was August 012’s minimalist version of Steinbeck’s “Of Mice And Men” – typically oddball and adventurous from director Mathilde Lopez.
"Of Mice And Men" (photo: Jorge Lizalde)

"Little Wolf" (photo: Jorge Lizalde)
The highlight, though has to be Gary Owen’s updating of Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard”, set in Pembrokeshire on the brink of the Thatcher “revolution”. Playing in the main auditorium at the Sherman Theatre, and having extended its run even before it opened, it’s slickly done, and both funny and moving.
"The Cherry Orchard" (photo: Mark Douet)
And then there was “My Name Is Rachel Corrie”, from Graphic at The Other Room – a very well acted revival of Alan Rickman and Katharine Viner’s love letter to a martyred student activist.

"My Name Is Rachel Corrie" (photo: Kieran Cudlip)
Not to mention the most high-profile and large scale event of all – “P.A.R.A.D.E.” from the National Dance Company of Wales at the Wales Millennium Centre – conformity-themed dance pieces by Caroline Finn and Marcos Morau preceded by a spectacular revolution-oriented outdoor event featuring a robot walking down the side of the building. Impressive, if ultimately unclear in its intentions.
"P.A.R.A.D.E." (photo: Mark Douet)
There was also the local Made In Roath festival, where, as well as seeing a rehearsed reading of “Little N”, a tender tale of aunt-hood from Kelly Jones, I presented something of my own – a video installation comprising my film “In Limbo”, the aria I wrote with Carlijn Metselaar, and a new film of Edwin Markham’s poem “Brotherhood”.
I also had a couple of short plays performed last week. Firstly, I took part in the Scriptdawg event at the University of South Wales’ Atrium, where I wrote a short relationship comedy over a couple of days to be presented and appraised. Then, most recently, a piece I’d submitted to a “Seen” event at The Other Room was read, along with work by Catherine Lucie and Annie Thomas. This was “The Actress”, part of a mini-trilogy I’ve been working on, which was performed by Caroline Berry. There was enough positive audience reaction to give me confidence in a female-centred script which contains both comic and potentially difficult elements; and some pleasing post-show feedback.

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

"Blade Runner 2049"

Like all right-thinking people, I consider Ridley Scott’s “Blade Runner” to be a masterpiece, having seen it in the cinema shortly after its initial release (in those pre-home-video days when films were occasionally given another chance on the big screen). Let’s face it – no great film (or novel or play) needs a sequel. Nevertheless, having been impressed (and baffled) by “Arrival”, I was keen to experience Denis Villeneuve’s take on the tale.
Ryan Gosling stars as a detective whose role, in a not entirely pleasant but high-tech future world, is to find and destroy rogue and obsolete androids. On a routine mission, he uncovers a mystery the solving of which may shed light on his own past.
The look of the film is impeccable (the cinematographer being Roger Deakins), the doomy soundscape powerful, and the presence of original screenwriter Hampton Fancher on the team ensures that no liberties are taken with the universe of the narrative. The performances are also excellent, Gosling suitably stoical, and late arrival Harrison Ford giving full rein to his patented “what the hell is going on?” expressivity, his raddled presence putting to bed one of the original film’s enduring mysteries.
Ryan Gosling and Harrison Ford
If the film has a real flaw, it is its length. During its 164 minutes, there are several over-long scene-setting sequences during which tension drains away. And while the theme – what it is to be human – is meaty enough, the fairly straightforward plot does not provide much for us to puzzle over; not necessarily a bad thing.
Blade Runner 2049” is a fine, serious entertainment. Inevitably however, its impact is dulled by the fact that it is merely an adjunct to a classic. Like Danny Boyle’s “Trainspotting”, Scott’s film was a phenomenon; like Boyle’s “T2”, this is just another perfectly decent film.

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