Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Downton Abbey's Lady Edith Will Face Even More Devastation Next Season

Julie Miller
July 29, 2014

Last week we learned that Downton Abbey will finally give Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess the air time she deserves with an especially juicy plot. (Our Downton mole tells us that the story arc involves a character suddenly resurfacing from her past.) And now, we learn that the makers of Downton, somehow believing that Laura Carmichael’s Lady Edith has not been through enough personal tragedy, will heap even more pain and heartbreak her way during the show’s upcoming fifth season.

We, somewhat naively, thought that after Edith was left at the altar by her handicapped love interest, knocked up by a married man, and consequently abandoned to deliver her bastard child alone, the Downton Abbey writers would—I don’t know—cut the middle Crawley sister a break. But no, in a new panel interview, the cast revealed that Edith will be abused even more than usual.


Benedict Cumberbatch is Alan Turing in trailer for The Imitation Game

By Simon Reynolds

The first trailer for Benedict Cumberbatch's The Imitation Game has premiered.

The highly-anticipated drama will open the BFI London Film Festival on Wednesday, October 8, StudioCanal has confirmed.

"I am thrilled to be returning to London to share The Imitation Game with the audience of the BFI London Film Festival," said director Morten Tyldum. "The experience of directing this film has been so tremendously rewarding, and I am humbled to share Alan's Turing's incredible story on Opening Night."

In The Imitation Game, Sherlock star Cumberbatch takes on the role of pioneering mathematician and scientist Alan Turing, whose code-breaking work at Bletchley Park proved vital to Germany's defeat in World War II.

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Richard Armitage in THE CRUCIBLE

What a wonderful play.  Rich and I saw The Crucible at the Old Vic on July 14 (I think).  We had unbelievable seats - dress circle, first row, smack in the middle.  I had no idea what to expect, and was disappointed, at first, when I read on the side of the theater that it was in the round.  I hate theater in the round.  Usually I get distracted very easily - slight attention span problem there - and, I end up worrying about the actors or if they're going to fall or trip over someone's big feet.

(Actually, in this play, one had to be concerned about the sighing women in the audience with RA in the lead.  One very funny bit - when he removes his shirt to wash up - there was a drastic intake of breath causing a severe loss of breathable oxygen in the room!)

 But, I digress.  I said I hate in the round theater, but happily this was very different.  For one thing, the stage is rather foggy, so that the audience across from you looks more like other characters in the play somehow; almost as if they were sitting in judgement over the proceedings.  And the theater felt more oblong than in a round, with the rows of seats across from us facing ours, with the tiers of balcony seats reminding me of representations of the Globe theater.  Instead of sloping away, the different levels where stacked one directly over the other, giving the theater a more closed in feeling - absolutely perfect for this play.

Enough about all that! The play was wonderful, from the very first moment with the eeriness of Tituba's silent (nearly silent) walk around the stage.   Richard was really magnificent.  Even my husband, who had fallen fast asleep last year when we visited London and saw Perfect Nonsense, was captivated by the play, especially the second half which is magnificent.  The girls - oh, you just want to slap the lot of them - but, when they begin chanting in unison, it is incredibly creepy.

All of the actors were equally wonderful, with two standouts.  Richard, of course, and also Jack Ellis (I think that's his name - I was much too cheap to buy a program).  He played Deputy Governor Danforth, another person deserving a slap on the face.

The only thing that bothered me was RA's voice.  Normally it's such a soothing sound, but he sounded very hoarse here - and no wonder.  We saw the matinee show and then they did it all again for the evening show two hours after we left the theater.   Actors are wonderful.  How they can project such emotion, such heart wrenching tragedy, night after night, is amazing to me.


Anyway, what I really wanted to say was this.  At one moment during the play - don't ask me when because my mind froze up completely - RA exits the stage by walking up a staircase.  A staircase that led directly to where I was seated.  I watched his shadowed figure come up the steps, one at a time, very slowly - and he kept coming closer, and this dark figure kept getting larger and larger, until I thought he was going to jump over the dress circle wall I was grabbing onto in front of my seat.  I truly was smack dab in the middle, and there was a time in my life when that man would not have made it out of the theater alive.  As it was, the girl next to me began making strange hawking noises in the back of her throat.

Anyway, he did get almost eye level and then the steps head downward.  I don't think I took a breath the whole time.  All I remember is that my eyebrow began to twitch and get really, really itchy, but RA was walking straight toward me and I was afraid to move.   I finally went nuts and began gouging at my eyeball to scratch it during this very, very dramatic ascent.  He must have thought I was a looney bird.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Richard Armitage: Crucible is 'a full-body experience'

By Tim Masters
Arts and entertainment correspondent, BBC News
July 3, 2014

Richard Armitage

After 12 years away from the stage, making his name in Spooks and The Hobbit, Richard Armitage is back in a "visceral" new production of Arthur Miller's The Crucible at the Old Vic.

Three days before starting rehearsals, Armitage drove from his home in New York to Danvers, Massachusetts,

Originally known as Salem Village, Danvers is most associated with the famous witch trials of 1692 - the inspiration for Miller's classic play that draws parallels with McCarthy's anti-communist investigations in postwar America.

Armitage, in his dressing room before a preview performance at the Old Vic, explains that the trip was useful preparation for his role as the Puritan tragic hero John Proctor.

"I got this sense that they were real people who had experienced this terrible contagion. These were a tough frontier people who had very little concept of what was beyond their small realm. Because of their staunch religious nature they truly believed it was the Devil that would come for them."

Armitage first encountered Proctor when he played a scene from The Crucible at drama school some 20 years ago.

"I had no idea it was a three-hour 'opera'... it resonates now and it will resonate in 10 years."

The Crucible, directed by Yael Farber, is the latest play to be presented in the round at the Old Vic.


New series of detective drama Sherlock and one-off 2015 special announced

July 2, 2014

It has been announced that Sherlock will return to screens for a television special, followed by a series of three new episodes.

The last series saw Sherlock’s life change a lot - he returned from the dead, his best friend John Watson married Mary Morstan and he met his match in Charles Augustus Magnussen. After the briefest of exiles, Sherlock came back only to face one of his biggest mysteries yet. Why is Moriarty’s face being broadcast on every television in the land?

Speaking about the return of the series, co-creator, writer and executive producer Steven Moffat says: "A special, plus a new series of three episodes - it's a record-breaking run!

"Of course, it's far too early to say what's coming, but we're reasonably confident that the very next thing to happen to Sherlock and John, is the very last thing you'd expect..."

Co-creator, writer and executive producer Mark Gatiss, added: "Series four! At last! It's always special to return to Sherlock but this time it's even more special as we're doing...a special! Not only that, we'll then be shooting three more episodes which will take Sherlock and John Watson into deeper and darker water than ever before. The whole Sherlock team are terrifically excited to return for four new adventures. The game is on - again!"