Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Samuel West: Firth inspired me

Samuel West: Firth inspired me

Samuel West has revealed he was inspired, not intimidated, by following Colin Firth's Oscar-winning performance of King George VI.

Samuel plays the British monarch in new film Hyde Park On Hudson, opposite Bill Murray as former US president Franklin D Roosevelt.
Colin won several awards for his portrayal of the Queen's father in The King's Speech earlier last year.
Samuel said: "If you play a part that's been done before, on stage for instance, you feel like you're carrying a torch and staggering under the weight of it for a bit and then passing it on to somebody else.
"If you play Hamlet you're not the first person to play Hamlet, but while you've got the crown, they're your problems.
"If Colin hadn't played George, I probably wouldn't have got the chance. The fact that he won an Oscar for it probably made our film easier to make, so I was extremely grateful.
"Plus I was inspired by a performance from an actor that I've always admired."
Hyde Park On Hudson, directed by Roger Michel, tells the story of the love affair between Roosevelt and his distant cousin Margaret Stuckley, played by Laura Linney and is set during King George's visit to Roosevelt in 1939.
Samuel added: "Although the canvas that I got to play it on was much smaller, this is two days in the king's life instead of 15 years, he's a fascinating man and in researching him and seeing how important this trip was for his reign and hi marriage, I really got to admire him, even as a republican."
Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2012, All Rights Reserved

Friday, 5 October 2012

Why ‘Hyde Park On Hudson’ is a Presidential Bromance

Why ‘Hyde Park On Hudson’ is a Presidential Bromance

Features By Caitlin Hughes on October 5, 2012 | Be the First To Comment

“What stutter? This goddamn polio!” – FDR, Hyde Park on Hudson
“You have all of the skills in the world but you have no confidence. Now, sack up, man!” – Sydney Fife, I Love You, Man
In recent years, the bromance genre has come into full fruition. Most of these films center on male relationships with similar dynamics, with one man taking the role of ribald bad influence on his more nebbish, uptight friend. Take I Love You, Man, for example – uptight, friendless Peter (Paul Rudd) meets freewheelin’ Rush enthusiast Sydney (Jason Segel) and gradually comes out of his shell over the course of their bonding.
Similarly, the heart of Roger Michell’s Hyde Park on Hudson (review here) is the “special relationship” between FDR (Bill Murray) and King George VI (Samuel West). In a sense, the film connotes that the US supports Britain during WWII because of the fact that FDR and Bertie become bros. After some bonding and chatting (and presumably some deep research in foreign policy), FDR makes the decision to help his buddy out and encourages him to have confidence in himself as a leader. Thus begs the question: what if Hyde Park on Hudson was re-purposed as a bromance? And so it goes:

FDR is a ladies man who likes to hit the sauce from time to time. He has a tried and true method for snaring the womenfolk – he shows them his vast stamp collection – and it works every time. In addition to running the country, he’s got 99-type problems now that his mistress found out about his other mistress… and let’s not forget that old battleax wife Eleanor is still milling around!
Meanwhile, King George VI (aka Bertie) and his wife are making their way to stay at FDR’s home for the weekend. Both are super uptight and have a comical misunderstanding of America. When they stop for a rest on a road alongside a cornfield, for instance, he proclaims, “I want to meet some Americans!” as he sees a tractor go by.
Some drama – word gets out to the royal couple that the FDR plans to serve them hot dogs at their upcoming picnic! Queen Elizabeth, forever the pill, thinks the hot dogs are an insult. Bertie, however, is willing to roll with the punches. Though the doubt lingers on whether or not FDR is trying to make a fool out of them…
FDR with Bertie at PicnicDinner that evening is a real turning point for the two bros-to-be. Influenced by FDR, Bertie enjoys a cocktail (in public!) and starts mimicking his zany behavior. Without provocation, a shelf holding all of the dinner plates collapses mere feet away from the dinner table and fortified by martinis, Bertie is first to call “party foul!” Egged on by FDR’s laughter, Bertie calls out another when one of the maids falls down while holding the tray. Queen Elizabeth looks on disapprovingly – why, he’s acting absolutely American!
After dinner, FDR and Bertie go to the study for a man-to-man talk. It’s time to talk chicks… and foreign policy, too. FDR shares his favorite method of nabbing “birds,” the stamps, and emphasizes the necessity in getting his women off his back. He proclaims, “You have to give them a reason not to bother you!” Bertie nods excitedly, since Queen Elizabeth is always on his case about something. Bertie shares that he’s not confident in his kingship, considering his stutter and all. FDR smirks, “What stutter? This goddamn polio!” An exchange of meaningful looks and giggling occurs, and thus the bromance is in full bloom. After imbibing, a drunk Bertie scampers up the stairs, enlivened by this hearty man-to-man chat, and into the bedroom…
A day or so later, temperatures climb and our bros decide to take a swim. It’s cool – the paparazzi can’t capture this “boys gone wild” moment, since FDR forbids any photo taking. Gleefully, the two drive past the paps in their bathing suits, smiling with self-satisfaction.
The day of reckoning is upon them: the hot dog picnic. Is FDR being forthright with all this hot dog business? Queen Elizabeth is still doubtful about the sausage fest, and Bertie cheekily snaps back that he will eat ten of them! Sure enough, FDR was keeping it real. The hot dogs are delicious (and also symbolically strengthened relations between the US and Britain).
FDR also agrees to help his bro out in WWII. Our boys have forged a special relationship indeed!

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Radio review: Close the Coalhouse Door; Hard Boiled Eggs and Nuts; Don’t Start

Radio review: Close the Coalhouse Door; Hard Boiled Eggs and Nuts; Don’t Start

When Lee Hall was called upon to update Close the Coalhouse Door, his mentor Alan Plater’s 1968 theatrical history of coal mining in the north-east, he announced with due reverence and sensitivity that it was a matter of “keyhole surgery”.
The original run of the docudrama had become a legend in Newcastle, being extended five times and attracting, among others, coach loads of miners. This may explain why those preparing its spring 2012 revival – a Northern Stage co-production with Live Theatre – seemed to tiptoe around the original text as if it were some holy edict.
Now that Samuel West’s new stage production has been adapted for radio, I only wish Hall had sharpened his knives and come at it with the instincts of a butcher. Based on stories told to Plater by Sid Chaplin and underpinned by Alex Glasgow’s glorious songs, the drama interleaves set pieces depicting the pitmen’s political struggles since 1831, when trade unions were set up, with scenes from a golden wedding party at a Geordie home in 1968. The righteous agitprop, while disinterring bruising statistics about mine owners who treated men – and boys as young as six – with callous indifference, sits uncomfortably beside the family story that does not have the space to move beyond cliches.
Written in the wake of kitchen sink drama, Plater’s play throws in everything including the kitchen sink. It’s a bit Brechtian, a bit surrealist and a bit JB Priestley, in what could be retitled A Feminist Calls, as the family’s university-educated son brings home his politically aware girlfriend, who turns up her nose at the other son – an unreconstructed miner – then makes a play for him. I loved the arrival of Harold Wilson and other 1960s politicians in the family’s living room to explain why coal will soon be as old hat as music hall, but much of the play’s structure seems lifeless and its components jar.
Hall’s contributions, though, grafted on to the beginning and end, are dazzlingly inventive. They include a sardonic skip through the political landscape of the past 40 years and an epilogue in which Tyneside workers now toil in a call centre, hinting at how much further Hall could have gone.
The adaptation to radio is wittily done, with scenery and setting transposed into words and the actors talking of coming to the studio. It features the stage production’s original all-singing, all-dancing cast, including Tarek Merchant as our guide, the Expert, and Paul Woodson, Jack Wilkinson and Louisa Farrant as the love triangle. Glasgow’s songs remain timeless and elegiac, with the lament of folk music and the caper of music hall.
Vaudeville made Stan Laurel the performer the world later acclaimed in his films with Oliver Hardy. With five marriages, a doleful onscreen persona that won hearts, and a career that took him across the Atlantic to work in a stage troupe with Charlie Chaplin before entering movies during the silent era, his life has been the stuff of several radio plays.
Colin Hough’s Hard Boiled Eggs and Nuts takes us back to the 16 year-old Arthur Stanley Jefferson (James Anthony Pearson, hinting at Laurel without parody), whose relationship with his invalid mother, Madge (Alexandra Mathie, spirited and humorous), was pivotal. Their scenes with the whiskery, doom-laden nurse (Ann Louise Ross) reach a delicious comic pitch.
Talking of which, Frank Skinner’s Don’t Start – his duologues about a couple who revel in arguments rich in intellectual one-upmanship, puns and verbal slapstick worthy of vaudeville – has just completed a second series. Katherine Parkinson is delightfully acidic opposite Skinner’s inventively comedic other half. Is it possible that it is more delightfully funny than ever?

Close the Coalhouse Door, R4, Saturday, September 29
Hard Boiled Eggs and Nuts, R4, Friday, September 28
Don’t Start, R4, Wednesday, October 3

Monday, 24 September 2012

Poetry Week - 8 to 12 October at the Arts theatre

Grandage directs stars in poetry week

, first published

Michael Grandage will direct a star-studded line-up of actors including Derek Jacobi, Felicity Jones and Dominic West in The Josephine Hart Poetry Week, five nights of readings from some of the world’s greatest poets.
Taking place from 8 to 12 October at the Arts theatre, Jacobi, Jones and West will be joined by Rosamund Pike, Eddie Redmayne and Samuel West as they read work from T.S. Eliot, Auden, the World War I Poets, Larkin and the American Poets. Each evening will also be introduced and hosted by a leading figure in the arts world, with Melvyn Bragg, David Hare, Richard Eyre, Alan Yentob and Tom Stoppard set to read from Hart’s writing on the poets before the actors take to the stage.
Presented by the Michael Grandage Company, the week follows two similar seasons at the Donmar Warehouse programmed under Grandage’s former Artistic Directorship at the theatre. Grandage today announced that he was “thrilled to continue our collaboration with the Josephine Hart Poetry Foundation, adding: “It’s wonderful to continue Josephine’s legacy to hear the work of these great poets in such distinguished company.”
The first female director of Haymarket Publishing, Hart enjoyed an illustrious career in poetry and writing, founding the Josephine Hart Poetry Hour at numerous libraries in London and New York, and publishing books including Damage, Sin, Oblivion and The Stillest Day. She also worked in theatre, producing shows including the first ever West End production of T.S. Eliot’s poetry with Let Us Go Then, You And I at the Lyric theatre.
In keeping with the first season of programming in the West End by the Michael Grandage Company, which includes Daniel Radcliffe in The Cripple Of Inishmaan and Sheridan Smith in A Midsummer Night's Dream, all tickets for The Josephine Hart Poetry Week will be price £10, with Grandage commenting it was to continue the company’s commitment “to make work of the highest quality accessible to everyone”.

Stars Line Up for Poetry Week at West End's Arts Theatre, Including Derek Jacobi, Eddie Redmayne and Rosamund Pike

Uncle Vanya News

Updates on castings and general news clippings ..

Downton Abbey's Lady Edith becomes a West End girl in theatre debut

Russian Uncle Vanya to transfer to Noel Coward

Lady Edith joins Uncle Vanya

Downton Abbey's Laura Carmichael Joins West End Uncle Vanya, Starring Anna Friel & Ken Stott

Weekly Hyde Park Roundup ...

More from the Toronto Film Festival & Other Hyde Park News (apologies for this being a little late this week ... So there are a few article from the pervious week)

Screened - Toronto International Film Festival

The Film Experience

Toronto Film Scene

Time Entertainment

Pittsburgh Post Gazette

Total Film - London Film Festival


The Varsity

Screen International

Awards Circuit

Opposing View (additional clips from Hyde Park On Hudson)


Salt Lake Tribune

The Independent