Our Church review – quietly powerful parish abuse reckoning

Watermill, NewburyMarietta Kirkbride’s play about a village torn over forgiving a sex offender convincingly channels older voices The #MeToo movement has inspired a number of plays giving voice to the victims of sexual predation. Now comes drama tackling the inner lives of sex offenders themselves, the most prominent of these being Downstate, a Steppenwolf and National Theatre co-production, and David Mamet’s current West End play, Bitter Wheat. Marietta Kirkbride’s Our Church is far quieter and more English than either of these. It is set in a fictional village that could be the backwaters of Ambridge. Three church committee members eat Hobnobs and discuss parish matters, from dwindling volunteers (“We need fresh blood”) to a diseased pear tree, a renegade cow and a game of croquet for villagers. At the Watermill, Newbury, until 20 July. Continue reading… [hmp_player]

Hi-de-Hi! repeats as the bad boys of Brexit meet Su Pollard

Arron Banks and Andrew Rosindell are supplying their own Brexit metaphors now, partying with the star of a show about a clapped-out 50s holiday camp full of scam artists Behold, a wonderful and warming snap from this week’s 31-year Hi-de-Hi! cast reunion. As someone who has watched every episode of the seminal 1980s holiday camp sitcom, it is a pleasure to see old castmates back together like this. Dear Su Pollard, who played hapless chambermaid Peggy Ollerenshaw, hasn’t changed a bit. Indeed, to caption this photo, we may as well use a line from her amusingly exhaustive character biography on Holiday Rock, the Hi-de-Hi! fansite: “Peggy had a rather vivid imagination and was often easily taken in by others’ lies, particularly Ted’s ridiculous tales when he needed a cover story.” Continue reading… [hmp_player]

The 30 greatest Disney songs – ranked!

Yes, of course Let It Go is in there somewhere … but where does it rank among Disney’s other big-screen belters? It is not clear if Little April Shower is supposed to sound as sinister and hallucinatory as it does – the middle section of the song, with its wordless, seasick vocal chorus and surging orchestration seems to cast a pall over its cuter moments. In a certain light, it sounds like the kind of thing the acid-addled Brian Wilson dreamed up for the Beach Boys’ Smile album. Continue reading… [hmp_player]

Ruders: The Thirteenth Child review | Andrew Clements’s classical album of the week

Shafer/Mumford/Sewailam/Boehler/Bridge Academy Singers/Odense SO/Starobin/Shwartz(Bridge)Poul Ruders’ new opera, based on a little-known Brothers Grimm story, veers between neoromanticism and something a little edgier It’s very rare for a new opera to make it on to disc before it is seen in public. But Poul Ruders’ fifth stage work, due to receive its world premiere at Santa Fe Opera next week, is an exception. Continue reading… [hmp_player]

Tell It to the Bees reviews – honey-glazed ham of a romance

Anna Paquin and Holliday Grainger star in this slightly silly magic-realist adaptation of Fiona Shaw’s novel Despite the hefty talent involved, there’s a preposterous pass-agg tweeness to this film – a contrived and self-conscious affair adapted from Fiona Shaw’s 2009 novel and directed by Annabel Jankel. It’s about forbidden love seen through the uncomprehending and then semi-comprehending eyes of a child in that foreign country famously described by LP Hartley: the past. The setting is a pinched and disapproving town in provincial 1950s Scotland, where Charlie Weekes is a lonely little lad in heartbreaking shorts and school satchel. He is played by Gregor Selkirk and his grownup self is supplied in voiceover by Billy Boyd, looking back at the momentous events of his childhood. Continue reading… [hmp_player]

Thank You Very Much review – disabled dancers strut Elvis moves

Ukrainian Cultural Centre, ManchesterThe King’s unique physicality is the source for Claire Cunningham’s compelling and illuminating show The world of Elvis tribute artists proves far more than a medley of quiffs and capes in Claire Cunningham’s Thank You Very Much. From a consideration of the King and his impersonators, the disabled dancer and choreographer draws together a thought-provoking and poignant show about identity, performance and disruption. While Elvis unsettled staid white America with his hips, Cunningham draws attention to the confounding force of disabled bodies, recognising in Elvis’s way of moving a physicality that, like her own, is free of straight lines. Sporting a leather jacket, collar popped, she introduces these ideas via a 50s chrome microphone, while perched against one crutch and balancing on her toes; her protracted, rubber-legged shake a demonstration of bodily limitation and formidable control. At Ukrainian Cultural Center, Manchester, until 20 July. The Guardian is a media partner of Manchester international festival, which runs until 21 July. Continue reading… [hmp_player]

Loopers: The Caddie’s Long Walk review – going a round with golf’s unsung heroes

Narrator Bill Murray adds some welcome merriment to this plod through the history of the sport’s bag men and women Viewers and critics versed in golf lore can pass judgment on how well this documentary about caddies enhances their knowledge of the sport itself. But on the behalf of those utterly uninterested in golf, I can report that it is moderately interesting. Director Jason Baffa’s film is a mostly bland, workmanlike amble through the history of caddies. However, the film does reveal that Bill Murray, noted golfing enthusiast and co-star of that revered comedy of golfing ribaldry Caddyshack (1980), can smooth talk a microphone with the best of the world’s slumming A-listers as a documentary narrator. Here, he enhances an otherwise plodding, cliche-riddled script with wry, tongue-in-cheek merriment, throwing in a delightful, fluting whimsy to his lilting, mock-Scots pronunciation of the name Carnoustie, which crops up a lot here given it’s the name of both a course and a posse of 300 Scots immigrants to the US who helped shape the game there in the last century. Continue reading… [hmp_player]

Does Andrea Arnold’s experience on Big Little Lies suggest that auteurs are doomed?

When film-makers are lured to the small screen, things don’t always go smoothly – but the situation is barely any better in the movies The first episode in the second season of Big Little Lies was more tellingly titled than most of us could know: What Have They Done? Still, there was high excitement around the show’s return. The previous series – in which a murder elegantly bled into a group portrait of five complicated women in Monterey, California – had been an award-winning slice of golden age TV, a show with the cast of a movie, led by Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon. Giddily, for season two, they would be joined by Meryl Streep. And there was another intriguing coup. The whole series was to be directed by the Oscar-winning British film-maker Andrea Arnold. Kidman spoke on behalf of the production. They were, she said, “in the hands of [a] visionary”. That was then. Now, the season finale will air this weekend only after an industry scandal: an exposé in IndieWire revealing that once the series had been shot, creative control was taken from Arnold by the producers and all seven episodes recut by Jean-Marc Vallée, the director of the first season. Reportedly, Arnold was informed Vallée had always been due to resume his involvement; it was just that nobody had told her. When the re-edit was done, she had to spend 17 days reshooting under his “extremely hands-on” supervision. The experience is said to have left her devastated. A statement was provided by HBO. “There wouldn’t be a season two of Big Little Lies without Andrea Arnold,” it read. There was no denial of the basic story. We think of directors as gods with megaphones, the top of the food chain, when most are just anxious freelancers This era calls for something more anonymous: a custodian, there to chauffeur the story from instalment to the next Continue reading… [hmp_player]