Archive for the Theatre Category

Return of the Kings

Posted in FILM, Theatre with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 19, 2020 by dcairns

New edition of Forgotten By Fox over here! Looking at Fox’s remakes of silent classics: DANTE’S INFERNO gets a look in, just so I can post video of the hell sequence which is mind-blowing, and then we’re on to Henry King’s talkies of Borzage’s SEVENTH HEAVEN and Griffith’s WAY DOWN EAST, which also get clips to give you an idea. Some of Simone Simon’s close-ups in the former may take the sting out of quarantine for those indoors.

WAY DOWN EAST stars Tom Joad; Jessie Pullman; Irving Pincus: the Wicked Witch of the West; Pa Joad; Link Appleyard; Penny Sycamore; Susan Paine; Aunt Milly; Whitey; Mr. Herman Shimelplatzer; Mrs. Carol Stark; Mary Todd Lincoln; and Michaela Villegas.

SEVENTH HEAVEN stars Irena Dubrovna Reed; John ‘Scottie’ Ferguson; Dr. Paul Christian; Max Fabian; Mrs. Manette; Miser Stevens; ‘Pap’ Finn; ‘Concentration Camp’ Ehrhardt; Frau Berndl; Napoleon Bonaparte; Malita; Lo Tinto; and Dr. Leonardo.

The St. David’s Day Intertitle: Bottle Episode

Posted in FILM, Television, Theatre with tags , , , on March 1, 2020 by dcairns

I bought the complete box set of The Goodies for more money than I generally like to spend, so now we have to watch it. Which is no chore: once the show hits its stride (which admittedly took several seasons) the standard is high.

Such a weird show. Fiona and I were both traumatised by an episode called The End in which the comedy trio (writers Graeme Garden and Bill Oddie with co-star Tom Brooke-Taylor) are entombed alive in their flat in a block of concrete. Plot synopsis: they grow old and die, still entombed.

The intertitles go like so:vlcsnap-2020-02-29-22h46m59s782vlcsnap-2020-02-29-22h46m44s958vlcsnap-2020-02-29-22h49m05s252vlcsnap-2020-02-29-22h52m00s245vlcsnap-2020-02-29-22h55m31s616vlcsnap-2020-02-29-22h58m48s513

And it plays out sort of like a mad version of the stages of grief.













The blackface routine is deeply embarrassing, though I suppose it is portraying racial dress-up as a stupid, demented activity. The awkward racial moments in the show (it was the 70s, as you probably guessed) run a truly weird, wide gamut from legit satire to lazy caricature.

As a child, I loved this show but found this one terrifying. Black comedy often freaked me out more than horror, because I couldn’t understand the tone. A recurring nightmare was being chased by a horrific lizard while everyone laughed, thinking it was just a joke.

Here, the Beckettian futility and claustrophobic insanity seemed, as a child, to call out for release — surely, the way to end the story would be with an uplifting rescue and daylight? But as an adult I recognize the creators were right to traumatize the young me thoroughly with an ending that seems to fuse Star Trek to THE EXTERMINATING ANGEL.



“We can’t enjoy ourselves infinitum.”

Posted in FILM, Radio, Television, Theatre with tags , , , , on February 27, 2020 by dcairns


The above sentence is from HOW I WON THE WAR, one of the late Charles Wood’s many brilliant lines, which combine slang, gobbledygook and non sequiturs into a kind of personal language named by John Gielgud: Woodery-pokery.

The most melancholy writing task I’ve ever performed was writing obits of the Great Man for The Independent and The Stage, which you can now read. But, at the same time, it was a privilege to be asked. We can’t enjoy ourselves infinitum. Thanks to Kate Wood.