June 1st, 2011


Forgiven/forgotten him

Last year I saw, and enjoyed, the play Party. This year, Tom Basden's expanded it into a Radio 4 sitcom which, if it's anything like the original, will be worth a listen. So here's a quick lowculture preview from me; and yes, I've used the same promo photo I did last year when I previewed the stage version. Well I googled and they seem to be promoting the radio version with the same image so... Call it recycling: Get this Party started.

Book review: Belfast Confidential

I used to read quite a lot of Colin Bateman's novels but he kind of went off my radar for a while - possibly because of the odd decision to ditch his first name and be credited on the cover of his books as simply "Bateman." I know Colin's not the coolest of names but do people really find it more offputting than a writer going by a single name? Anyway, Belfast Confidential is from back in 2006 but like I say, he'd gone off my radar. It's part of Bateman's main series of books, featuring journalist Dan Starkey who, after the murder of his best friend ends up editing the titular magazine, a sort of highly local version of Heat. It's another funny, action-packed thriller and I enjoyed returning to the series, although I did tire a bit of how relentlessly he kills off supporting characters - I find overdoing this has the same effect as the complete opposite: When writers won't kill anyone off in a thriller series it becomes hard to care since you know there's no peril; if pretty much any named character is doomed, you stop emotionally investing in them as they just end up feeling like pawns. A fun light read all the same.

We the Tweeple 11: A towel turban

So we're in June and, touch wood, at the moment we're even having the weather for it. But here's the last batch of my tweets from May, in which I spotted some slebs, ranted about some X Factor people and went to a barbecue where Dave was, as usual, a mental.

Sleb Spot: Paul "WHO THE FUCK ARE YOU?" Freeman on Waterloo Bridge. Guess it must be a Holy Rosenbergs day.
6:06 PM May 25th via txt

Sleb Spot: Oliver Chris again, South Bank. He tall.
6:23 PM May 25th via txt

Oh dear, I avoid Twitter so I don't get Apprentice-spoiled, and it turns out the person who got fired is Cheryl Cole. #cherylfreude
9:33 AM May 26th via trill

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Theatre review: Betrayal

DISCLAIMER: This review is of a preview performance. Another atypical Pinter but this time in a good way, and one of his most popular plays - it's only four years since Betrayal was revived a few blocks away at the Donmar. Emma (Kristin Scott Thomas) is cheating on husband Robert (Ben Miles) with his best friend Jerry (Douglas Henshall.) So on one level the betrayal of the title is straightforward, but on another everyone in the play feels, rightly or wrongly, betrayed in some way by everyone else. Pinter opens the play in 1977, two years after the seven-year affair has ended, and the point at which Emma and Robert's marriage has finally collapsed. Telling the story in reverse so it ends with the fateful night in 1968 when Jerry first makes a drunken pass at his friend's wife, the audience gets 20/20 hindsight. As with so much Pinter, what's left unspoken tends to be more important than what's said, but in this case we know exactly what's being held back.

Ian Rickson's production is very strong and seems a lot shorter than its 90 minutes, the reverse passage of time clearly and moodily done. In many ways Miles has the meatiest role despite its being the least showy but all three actors are good, although I have slight reservations about Henshall, I'm not sure his Jerry is charismatic enough to inspire this whole tangled web. It's not enough to derail things though and the performance didn't feel like a preview - although the crew could maybe work on making the behind-the-scenes set changes a bit quieter. Christopher, a big Pinter fan, hadn't seen this play before but was very impressed by it, and was struck by designer Jeremy Herbert's dramatic use of red and white. Personally I thought this production had the edge over the last one I saw, despite the trademark pauses it still flies by.

Betrayal by Harold Pinter is booking until the 20th of August at the Comedy Theatre.