Guest Blog: Nia Morais on Her First Play IMRIE, Welsh Fantasy and The Dark Fantastic

Guest Blog: Nia Morais on Her First Play IMRIE, Welsh Fantasy and The Dark FantasticA cautionary tale of what goes around, comes around, The Hand of God continues the series of Alan Bennett's wonderful Talking Heads with a story of comeuppance, karma and justice.

Celia is an antiques dealer; snobby about her customers, disdainful about their lack of expertise and happy to exploit her own knowledge about the tricks of the trade. When an acquaintance, the elderly Miss Ventris, becomes terminally ill, Celia is drawn to her and her house full of antiques. After believing she might swoop in to take the treasure, Celia is annoyed when a distant Canadian relative is left the contents of the house when Miss Ventris dies. However, the relative gives Celia a small box of items, one of which is a strange drawing of a finger. Celia is dismissive of the picture, but is rather taken with the intricate frame.

Celia is delighted with herself when she sells the picture and frame for a seemingly inflated price of £100. However, she is taken completely aback when the limitations of her expertise are revealed in the most surprising way.

Kirsten Scott Thomas is a big name to have landed for the role of Celia; originally played by a masterful Eileen Atkins. Scott Thomas is professional, refined and very convincing; the way her eyes flicker to and from the camera lens is particularly effective and natural.

The issue is that Scott Thomas does not make Celia awful enough for us to truly revel in her misjudgment. She isn't sufficiently sneering or superior to luxuriate in her eventual misfortune. She is indeed arrogant, condescending and snooty, but despite her covetous nature, you actually feel fairly sorry for her when she reveals she was physically sick when she found out the consequences of her actions.

Much of the appeal of Alan Bennett's wonderful series is the lugubrious and slightly meandering nature of the narratives. Hand of God follows the same pattern, but fails to spark enough interest along the way. The story lacks some focus; the crux of the story is not mentioned until twenty minutes out of thirty have passed.

The piece looks immersive and interesting, combined with Jonathan Kent's thoughtful and calm direction. Kirsten Dudley and India Smith's design is excellent; cluttered and busy with random furniture, fabrics and ornaments.

Hand of God fails to spark in the same way as some of the other pieces in this series. There is an overriding sense that by the end of the piece, the audience should be distinctly satisfied that justice has been done. However, overall the reaction created is not strong enough to quietly enjoy Celia's misfortune, which is surely what Bennett wanted us to get out of it.

Alan Bennett's Talking Heads is now on the BBC iPlayer

Photo Credit: BBC/London Theatre Company


Interview: Brodie Donougher A REAL LIFE BILLY ELLIOT STORY!

What do you get when you have a ballet dancer who dreams of making it professionally and showing the world that guys can dance too?  You have a real-life Billy Elliot story, which is happening to someone who played the titular role of Billy on the West End back home in the UK, and is now here in the US studying and training in professional ballet making his dancing dreams a reality! Not only does he dance, but he has done a few acting roles as well and even participated in a professional opera as a dancer. He is taking the role, and making it his real-life story!   At the end of the musical, we see Billy leaving his home and family to head off for training at the Royal Ballet School, so this is like getting to see the story continue beyond the stage!  Broadway World Detroit got a chance to catch up with Brodie Donougher, the last person to play the role of Billy, and see what he’s up to since his days on the West End stage 7 years ago!

Review: BLACK PANTHER IN CONCERT, Royal Albert Hall

Conducted by Anthony Parnther (isn’t that the perfect name to lead this specific venture?), this European premiere features Massamba Diop on the talking drum, an instrument essential to the score. Diop, who performed the original tracks for director Ryan Coogler, is a force of nature. After a beautiful introduction by Parnther (who surprisingly does a cracking impression of James Earl Jones as Mufasa!), Diop gave a taster for what was to come: a vibrant tattoo that goes hand in hand with masterful storytelling, filling the Hall effortlessly.


Few words grab the attention like murder. And few genres outside immersive theatre can pull you physically into a specific time and place. So why aren’t there more immersive murder productions like this one?


All in all, the evening is like a group session with no guarantees of being called out or receiving answers. Believers will believe, sceptics won’t. Without going into Michael’s “gift”, the two hours are, unfortunately, rather dull. He jumps straight in between tongue-in-cheek jokes and an entertainer’s spirit. A tense silence falls onto the audience and he starts pacing around, trying to “pick up” some “energy”. He is respectful, and kind, almost apologetic for his intrusions into people’s personal lives as he glances into nothingness, pulling information out of thin air.

From This Author - Aliya Al-Hassan

Aliya Al-Hassan is UK Managing Editor of BroadwayWorld. A London-based theatre critic and journalist, she has a life-long passion for the arts, with a focus on theatre. She is always keen to... (read more about this author)



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