What have we been watching at Polari HQ this week?
If you’re up-to-speed on contemporary American musical theatre you’ll recognise the name Jason Robert Brown. He is the the heir apparent to Sondheim’s throne with his fiendishly clever lyrics and complex yet playful song structures. Often syncopated in style, giving a clear nod to their roots in classical American rhythm and blues, they are not an easy sing (but are insanely catchy), making him the number one favourite with a generation of musical theatre students. The National Youth Theatre has programmed a Jason Robert Brown season and 13 is their current show. Evan is about to turn 13 and have the greatest bar mitzvah that ever was when his parents rather inconveniently break up moving him from NYC, where he is popular, to Indiana, where he is not. The playful concept of a cast of thirteen 13 year olds, singing songs about being thirteen, is masterfully delivered by the NYT with the composer at the helm. It’s a hugely fun and surprisingly moving piece of theatre that charts the trials and tribulations of growing up, which left me lost in the memories of my own teen years long after the curtain had come down.
Michael Langan – Weekend dir. Andrew Haigh
Recently, the Guardian gave online readers the opportunity to download Haigh’s underground hit film of 2011. I hadn’t seen it since its original cinema release and it was even better second time around. I got a much clearer sense of the characters’ complexities and the difficulties of their relationship, caused mainly by the fact of them being gay and the issues that spring from that. I still found it difficult to understand what the gentle lifeguard Russell sees in the wannabe artist Glen but, overall, this film (shamefully under-distributed in cinemas and disgracefully overlooked by BAFTA) does bear repeated viewing. The cinematography’s gorgeous too and I think Haigh’s a major talent to watch out for.
Andrew Darley – The Dark Knight Rises dir. Christopher Nolan
At last, a month after its release, I got a chance to see The Dark Knight Rises. As a self-confessed Batman fanboy, I was really eager and excited to how the series Christopher Nolan would conclude his realist telling of the Batman legend… and Catwoman’s portrayal in this trilogy. Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman remains as one of my favourite characters in cinema history and I still quote her to this day. This film does not disappoint. It honours the vision of the first two instalments, whilst our Caped Crusader must brave new conquests. If The Dark Knight’s Joker presented Batman with his biggest psychological confrontation, Tom Hardy’s Bane bestows his most physical challenge to date. As for Catwoman, well I always knew Anne Hathaway would silence all her sceptics. The Dark Knight Rises poses a morally-conflicted Catwoman, yet one who hasn’t lost the character’s quintessential sense of humour or seductive personality. Nolan openly combines pulse-raising action with thought provoking and complex character development. Now that I’ve finally seen it, all I can say is “I don’t know about you Ms. Kitty, but I feel so much yummier!”.