wed 28/10/2020

Theatre Lockdown Special 8: A film star plays tough, and several familiar titles are examined anew | reviews, news & interviews

Theatre Lockdown Special 8: A film star plays tough, and several familiar titles are examined anew

Theatre Lockdown Special 8: A film star plays tough, and several familiar titles are examined anew

Tom Hiddleston reminds us of his stage roots, as does Christopher Walken as Captain Hook

(Caius) Martial law: the company of 'Coriolanus'Johan Persson

As we continue into a third month in lockdown, the arts continue to suggest ever-changing worlds beyond. The invaluable National Theatre at Home this week looks across the Thames to a smaller venue's large-scale Coriolanus, starring a certain superhero movie icon, whilst the equally cherished Graeae streams their lively musical theatre tribute to the late Ian Dury.

As we continue into a third month in lockdown, the arts continue to suggest ever-changing worlds beyond. The invaluable National Theatre at Home this week looks across the Thames to a smaller venue's large-scale Coriolanus, starring a certain superhero movie icon, whilst the equally cherished Graeae streams their lively musical theatre tribute to the late Ian Dury. Beauty and the Beast, from a Chichester ensemble of young people, reminds us of the durability of that tale as old as time, even as The Shows Must Go On continues to look beyond Andrew Lloyd Webber to other musical mainstays, this week alighting on a made-for-TV iteration of the 1950s perennial favourite, Peter Pan. Read on for more details below, and enjoy. 

Coriolanus, National Theatre at Home

Tom Hiddleston, as we know from his career-making role as Loki, can play tough onscreen and now comes a reminder that he can do the same onstage. National Theatre at Home from 4-11 June is wandering beyond the South Bank to air the 2013 Donmar Warehouse revival of Coriolanus, with Hiddleston in fiery command of the title role.

The director Josie Rourke was shrewd to cast Hiddleston as the aristocratic Roman general possessed of a heightened sense of his own worth, not to mention some fairly serious mother issues. Taking a break from musicals, Hadley Fraser (a mainstay of Rourke's career) plays Aufidius, with the ever-terrific Deborah Findlay on hand as that supreme Shakespeare matriarch, Volumnia: casting that further ices an already rich cake.

Christopher Walken as Captain Hook in 'Peter Pan'Peter Pan, The Shows Must Go On

Americans know Peter Pan more from the perennially popular 1954 Broadway musical of that title than from Scotsman JM Barrie's far-darker 1904 play that spawned the song-and-dance version and many further adaptations besides.

Now comes a 2014 TV rendering of the musical (performed live at the time) that will stream for free for 48 hours starting Friday (5 June) as part of the weekly stage-to-screen series under The Shows Must Go On banner. Girls star Allison Williams plays the eternally boyish Peter this time out, with Christopher Walken as Captain Hook (pictured above, photo c. Virginia Sherwood/NBC | 2014 NBCUniversal Media, LLCand two Tony-winning Broadway mainstays, Christian Borle and Kelli O’Hara, as the Darling parents. Oh, and Tinkerbell appears courtesy CGI.

Reasons to be Cheerful, Graeae

The stage musical Reasons to be Cheerful has been around off and on now for a decade, having managed over time a 1600-plus mile tour and a one-off gig as part of the opening ceremony at the Paralympics in 2012.

Now, the director Jenny Sealey’s celebration of the late singer-songwriter Ian Dury is being made available online through 3 August, allowing audiences to feast on the radical work of Graeae, the disabled company for whom this punk rock cavalcade of hits was written – and where Sealey is artistic director.  Thrill anew to such songs as “Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick” and “Spasticus Autisticus” and to the sort of coming-of-age story, written by Paul Sirett, that never dates.

Beauty and the Beast, Chichester Festival Youth Theatre

There’s nothing like a fresh take on a familiar story, so all the more reason to welcome the availability online through 19 June of Chichester Festival Youth Theatre’s 2017 production of Beauty and the Beast. A favourite title is here re-imagined in distinctly non-Disney mode – there are no singing candlesticks - by a team led by Dale Rooks, whose directing credits include a second popular tale for children in Michael Morpurgo’s Running Wild.

Suitable for ages 7+, the show folds a score by Richard Taylor (Flowers For Mrs Harris) into adaptor Anna Ledwich’s parable about the need to love and be loved, and we're promised a few engaging frights along the way to keep audiences of all ages held throughout.

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