Ralph Fiennes shines in latest Almeida production of Shakespeare's Richard III
RIchard III (Almeida Theatre)
Titanic (Charing Cross Theatre)
A ticklish stunt marks the start of the Almeida’s new production of Richard III.
They open it with a scene from the archaeological dig under a Leicester car park where the real King Richard’s bones were recently discovered (they now rest in the cathedral).
The dramatic point? Marginal, but I suppose it reminds us that Richard was real, even if Shakespeare’s king is a hyped-up villain with a creepy penchant for vulnerable women.
Showing some backbone: Ralph Fiennes is rather brilliant in the title role in the Almedia's new production of Richard III
Ralph Fiennes is rather brilliant in the title role. What an adornment to the London stage he is at the moment.
In the early scenes it could almost be the late Leonard Rossiter (Rigsby in Rising Damp) playing Richard, Mr Fiennes does so much wide-mouthed shrugging and self-deprecation.
pre bonded hairWe have just seen the archaeologists removed a bent spine from their dig. Now we see Richard’s bent spine showing through his black polo-neck shirt.
Richard, at this point the mere Duke of Gloucester, flatters and joshes his fellow courtiers — even while plotting some of their murders.
As he goes about his grisly work, skulls pop up on the back wall, like some ghoulish trophy cabinet.
When he becomes king at the end of the first half, this Richard stands at the front of the stage, caught in TV-style lights. He slowly raises his arm and we perhaps think he is going to do a cheesy wave to his public. How cynical he has been at this point.
But Mr Fiennes raises his hand further and betrays a clenched fist and a hardening expression on his face, from glee to deadly intent. It is a striking moment.
Director Rupert Goold has assembled a strong cast including Finbar Lynch as Richard’s collaborator Buckingham, Aislin McGuckin as Queen Elizabeth and Susan Engel as a thoroughly regal Duchess of York. Oh, and Vanessa Redgrave as dotty Queen Margaret.
A strong cast also includes Vanessa Redgrave as a dotty Queen Margaret
Miss Redgrave is in battle fatigues and spends most of her time holding a doll. She does OK. I suppose the Redgrave name still creates a buzz.
Mr Fiennes's Richard is uninterested in the trappings of kingship, discarding his outer robes and hanging his crown on the back of his throne as soon as the coronation is over.
What he lusts for is power, political and sexual. Mr Fiennes speaks the verse with expert precision, albeit sometimes at the expense of pace.
The sheeplike behaviour of the privy councillors and the political-patronage games portrayed by Shakespeare seldom fail to ring topical bells. The Bishop of Ely goes along with Richard’s power games. Modern prelates are just as politically pliable.
remy hair extensionsIn the closing moments, Richmond (Tom Canton) expresses a hope for stability — just as we may soon hear in Westminster. Mr Fiennes is so good, it may seem a pity that the Almeida is only a small theatre, but the show is going to be broadcast live to cinemas on July 21.
This production of stage musical Titanic (different from the film) is not on its maiden voyage. It was seen on the London fringe in 2013 and has resurfaced at the Charing Cross Theatre.
Yet it is worth catching and deserves four stars for bringing rare artistic flair to one of London theatreland’s dingier docks.
Stage musical Titanic is not on its maiden voyage but brings rare artistic flare to one of London theatreland's dingier docks
Maury Yeston’s music and lyrics are artfully crafted. Some of the songs, particularly the richly chorded Godspeed Titanic, In Every Age and The Blame (lots of tense harpsichord as senior personnel try to apportion blame) are of a high quality. A large cast belts out the music with impressive conviction.
The problem lies with the absence of plot twist. There is no escaping that doom-laden ending and this colours everything that goes before.
The ship hits the iceberg at the end of the first half and, after that, things become decidedly glum. A sub-plot about an elderly couple who choose to die together is milked a little too much.
Look out for Claire Machin as a social climber in second class, David Bardsley as the villainous boss and Philip Rahm as a juttingly bearded captain.
Final thought: in these egalitarian days, would ‘women and children first’ still be legal as an order?
Caitlyn Jenner's docu-series has officially been cancelled after two seasons.
The 66-year-old confirmed weeks of rumours that I Am Cait is coming to an end on her Twitter page on Tuesday.
'After 2 amazing seasons of @IAmCait, it's time for the next adventure,' Caitlyn shared. 'Thank you E! & thank you to the best girlfriends I could ask for!'
Coming to an end: Caitlyn Jenner (pictured last month) confirmed on Tuesday that I Am Cait has been cancelled after two seasons
The news doesn't come as a surprise following much speculation that the show would not return due to low ratings.
I Am Cait debuted strong in July of last year, with 2.73million viewers tuning in for the series premiere.
However the show failed to hold onto its audience in its second season.
Just 860,000 viewers watched the season two finale, with ratings dipping as low as 480,000 during the season.
perruques cheveux naturels'Thank you E!': The 66-year-old announced the news on her Twitter page and said 'it's time for the next adventure'
Sharing her story: The docu-series followed Caitlyn after her gender transition
'There just weren’t enough viewers,' a source told Radar Online earlier this month. 'The show can’t compete with other programming.'
E! released a statement shortly afterwards saying that 'no decision had been made' at that time regarding the future of the show.
I Am Cait followed the life of the Olympian, who was born Bruce, after her gender transition.
The series was announced by E! immediately after Caitlyn's 20/20 interview with Diane Sawyer in April 2015, in which she revealed she identifies as female.
Losing its audience: The show debuted strong, but failed to hold onto viewers during its second season
Call me Caitlyn: The series was announced by E! immediately after Caitlyn's 20/20 interview with Diane Sawyer in April 2015, in which she revealed she identifies as female
Caitlyn starred in the show alongside other members of the transgender community, including Jennifer Finney Boylan, Candis Cayne, Chandi Moore, Zackary Drucker and Kate Bornstein, and famously clashed with her co-stars over her support of the Republican party.
Jenny shared on Facebook following the news: 'It's official as of today-- I AM CAIT will not be renewed for season 3. I am so very proud of being part of this show, and of its creators Andrea Metz and Jeff Olde in particular, who directed us with passion and grace.
'I am grateful for the warm friendships I made with Chandi Moore and Candis Cayne and @katebornstein and Zackary Drucker and @ellagieselle and all of you. (and Kip Zachary and Courtney Nanson, who made us look so fine!) There is more work to do, and I send everyone my love.'
'I am so very proud': Jennifer Finney Boylan shared a Facebook post thanking her cast-mates following the cancellation
perruques cheveux'It was one of the best times of my life': Kate Bornstein also tweeted after hearing the news
She added: 'Official word from the network today- a hard choice for them, I know. I'll have more to say about this in weeks to come, but for now I'll simply say I'm proud of everything we accomplished, and I send everyone involved my very sincere gratitude, and my love.'
And Kate tweeted: 'Ah, #iamcait is done now. It was one of the best times of my life. Made such good forever friends. #allshowsclose.'
Caitlyn's ex-wife Kris Jenner, daughters Kendall and Kylie Jenner and former step-daughters Kim and Khloe Kardashian also made appearances on I Am Cait during its run.
Support network: The Olympian was joined on the show with fellow members of the transgender community, including (L-R) Chandi Moore, Candis Cayne, Ella Giselle and Jennifer Finney Boylan
Lady Gaga is to star in the remake of THE hit musical A Star Is Born alongside Bradley Cooper, who also makes his directorial debut with the weepie.
The movie is due to start production next year in California and Gaga will compose and perform new music for the soundtrack.
The 30-year-old's name was first mentioned in association with the project back in June but her casting was confirmed on Tuesday by Deadline Hollywood.
lace front wigsShe was born for it: Lady Gaga, seen at Tony Bennett's 90th birthday bash earlier is August, is to star in the remake of hit musical A Star Is Born alongside Bradley Cooper
The movie tells the story of a young singer-actress who finds fame and romance after she captures the heart of a fading movie star, to be played by Bradley, 41.
As his plummeting career and alcoholism take their toll, her star continues to rise.
The new film is the third remake of the original love story released 80 years ago in 1937.
Back then, Janet Gaynor played the ingenue and Fredric March was the falling star. Judy Garland and James Mason had a go at it in 1954.
Double hitter: The 41-year-old actor, pictured at the Los Angeles premiere of War Dogs on Monday, will also makes his directorial debut with the weepie
In 1976, Kris Kristofferson played a fading rock star with Barbra Streisand as a songstress on the rise.
It's the first starring role in a movie for Lady Gaga, whose real name is Stefani Germanotta.
cosplay wigsHowever, the Born This Way songstress has been building her acting creds by co-starring as The Countess in FX's Golden Globe winning American Horror Story.
Ups and downs: The 30-year-old stars as a young singer-actress who finds fame and romance after she captures the heart of a fading actor, to be played by Bradley
Meanwhile, the movie has been a long time in the works.
Beyonce was earlier pegged for the role of the young star on the rise, but the casting fell through after the Crazy In Love singer became pregnant with her daughter Blue Ivy, now four years old.
'The world is in for a treat as these great artists craft an all new vision of A Star is Born,' Greg Silverman, Warner Bros. president of creative development and worldwide production, said in a statement.
Small screen to big screen: The Born This Way songstress has been building her acting creds by co-starring as The Countess in FX's Golden Globe winning American Horror Story