It seems everyone who's anyone in the TV blogging world is excited about this link... The series begins Saturday 23rd April.
Wednesday, 30 March 2011
New for TV and Film Chat... a little bit of theatre chat. With thanks to David Bradbury for the press tickets.
Fresh from the West End, this tale of a company of soldiers living in the WWI trenches is a moving production which has received high critical acclaim.
Olivier nominated and winner of Tony and Drama Desk awards, Journey's End follows the young soldier Raleigh, freshly recruited to the British trenches at St Quentin.
His enthusiasm escalates when he realises that the Captain of his company, Stanhope, is an old school friend whom he idolized.
However, Stanhope has been serving in the trenches for a year, longer than any one else in the company, and he is a broken man.
Addicted to whiskey to numb his relentlessly brutal reality, Stanhope is furious at the arrival of Raleigh who's sister he courted.
Raleigh is respectful and well meaning, which immediately demands audience empathy. As a result there are some heartbreaking moments as he comes to experience the trauma of fighting in a war.
He also suffers the anger directed towards him from Stanhope which is unfair and at times mentally abusive. However, it does not follow that Stanhope's bullying automatically places him into the 'bad guy' category. Due to an excellent performance by James Norton, it is possible to completely understand his disjointed behavior. It is a realistic portrayal of the complexity of the human psyche which so frequently fluctuates between what is considered typically 'good' and 'bad' behavior.
The play is performed on a single set which emphasises the claustrophobic experience of life in the trenches. You'd have thought watching two hours and forty minutes of this would be a grueling experience, however, the characters are so richly dynamic that it's easy to become involved in the narrative and not notice the time pass.
It is nearly a century since The Great War and so few of us have any real connection with it today. Real men were subject to extraordinarily cruel conditions and it is important that we take the time to reflect upon the incredible sacrifices they made. Journey's End provides a means for that reflection.
The fierce sound of artillery fire sends shivers down the spine and completely serves to give a moments snapshot of the environment that soldiers were subject to.
A recommendation I would make if you wish to see this production is to try and get tickets near the front. I was frustrated to begin with that I couldn't see the expression on the characters faces (a reminder of the limitations of theatre, the frustration is equivalent to watching a feature film shot entirely from one angle). Despite this I still became emotionally involved with the characters and was moved to tears at the poignant ending.
Women In Love Part 2: Review available NOW. Please click here.
Women in Love is an adaptation of DH Lawrence’s The Rainbow (1915) and Women In Love (1920). Originally intended to be published as one book, screenwriter, William Ivory has taken Lawrence’s original vision and combined the two stories into a dramatization for BBC4s 'Modern Love' season.
And modern is precisely the word. Whilst being set in the early 20th-century, this period drama pulls down the barriers audiences are used to within the genre, where ‘love’ is only allowed to prosper within the formality of strict social rules. Instead Women in Love actively challenges these social constraints through an intimate exploration of female sexuality. Ursula (Rachael Stirling) and Gudrun (Rosamund Pike) could just as easily be two 21st-century women thrown into a culture where sexual suppression seems innately obscure to them.
Ursula, who suffers a miscarriage after courting a soldier, Anton, believes she is meant to be free to indulge in her “passion” in life. Gudrun, who is studying to be an artist in London, embarks upon an affair with her tutor, Robert, a married man, simply “because she can”.
But in their “insatiable desire” to explore and satisfy their own sexual needs, the two women feel the sting of the repercussions of their actions.
When Ursula realises she has fallen pregnant she writes to her ex-lover Anton to re-kindle their relationship, but upon losing the baby she realises she has made a mistake. When she defiantly tells him he could never satisfy her he rapes her. It is a dramatic realisation, not only for Ursula but for the viewer, that sex can not only be an act of liberating passion and freedom it can also take the vile form of the most degrading, violating abuse. The juxtaposition of the two is a reminder that whilst to pursue sexual freedom is to honor ones basic desires, that freedom can ironically be just as quickly and violently taken away in the same act.
Gudrun’s affair effectively leads to her social suicide when the scandal is exposed, to a room full of onlookers, by Robert’s wife herself. In her self involved pursuit for freedom she naively fails to consider the emotional repercussions for those around her and is reminded that she still lives in a world where the majority of people do not share her views.
Both Ursula and Gudrun become sexual predators, using men to fulfil their sexual and emotional needs. In contrast there is a refreshingly respectful and balanced portrayal of men, who are shown to be loyal and less willing to embark in sexual promiscuity (rape scene aside).
The character of Rupert (Rory Kinnear) is particularly heart-breaking. Due to the fervent suppression of homosexuality in the early 20th-century, he battles an internal struggle between his faith and his sexuality. Tragically, he is unable to explore his sex to the same extent as Ursula and Gudrun, sharing all but a kiss with a man for which he is consequently vilified.
The themes within Women in Love are still just as relevant to today’s society if you are introspective enough to explore them. A thoroughly captivating drama, I highly recommend anyone who hasn’t seen it to catch up on BBC iPlayer here in time for episode two showing on Thursday BBC4 9pm.
Click here for Women in Love Part 2: Review