Tag Archives: review

Shortcutting… Les Miserables

12 Jan

Les Miserables, or Les Mis to its friends, has been around for (I looked it up) 28 years. 28 years. That’s a long time for one musical. However, having been to see it last week, I can confirm it’s still got it. For those of you who don’t know the plot, it’s a cocktail of escaped convict turned nice, blended with angry, determined parole officer, a sprinkling of unrequited love and requited love that’s complicated all dipped into a large serving of French revolution. Yum. There are some truly iconic songs, such as I Dreamed a Dream and On My Own, and there’s even some comedy courtesy of the innkeeper and his wife. It’s a really good show, and I’d definitely recommend it, unless you really hate music. There’s a lot of that.

But why am I telling you all this now? You’ve had 28 years to see this thang, and no doubt have 28 more. Well, as you may have guessed, the real topic of this post is Les Mis’ new makeover: the big screen. As a follow up to my recent trip down to the theatre, this afternoon I went to watch the ‘major motion picture’ itself, and compared notes. If I had to describe in six words, I’d say, not unlike its theatrical counterpart, it is ‘really good, intense, sad, and long’. So let’s break that down a bit.

Good: it is definitely enjoyable, as it has a riveting plot (as previously mentioned) and it’s not hard to empathise with the characters, as the acting is of a high-quality, hence the Oscar nominations for best actor in a leading role, best actress in a supporting role, and best film.

Intense: there’s a lot of emotional singing, which is very much intensified by the fact that the singers’ faces are always so close-up you can practically feel their spit, sweat and tears falling on you. You will be moved by this film at least twice, I guarantee.

Sad: this is war, my friends. People die. Men die. Women die. Children die. Love doesn’t always work out. So if you’re looking for a light-hearted bit of comedy, try Pitch Perfect. I hear that’s pretty good too.

Long: at 157 minutes running time, plus 15-20 minutes of adverts and trailers depending on where you go, you need a bit of stamina. And they’re singing the whole way through. I have to admit, I got a bit frustrated at some points that it wouldn’t get a move on, but maybe I’m just impatient. Just make sure to stock up on pick ‘n’ mix.

So there you have it, my much-sought-after review. Go and watch it, and I’m sure you won’t be miserable…

Keep shortcutting,

Zoe

Shortcutting… London Road

4 Sep

Yesterday I went to see what can fairly be described as a weird play. London Road‘s plot synopsis is something along the lines of a music-based retelling of the events of the 2006 murders of five prostitutes in Ipswich from the point of view of the residents of London Road, the street at the heart of the murders. Hmmm. Perhaps I should have guessed from that that it wouldn’t be your standard, middle of the road (excuse the pun) National Theatre production. But I looked at the five star reviews and I figured ‘what the hey – it’s gotta be good, right?’ And it was. Weird, very weird, but good.

The entire script constituted of things said by real-life residents of the road, and so it contained a lot of ‘umm‘s and ‘err‘s and ‘you know‘s which made it seem at first as though the cast didn’t know their lines, although it soon became clear that this was all intentional. (I should mention that the very versatile cast consisted of only eleven people, who each took on a variety of roles, some of which involved thick Suffolk accents that were a little difficult to decipher.) And then certain lines of the script would be taken and sort of sung and repeated over and over as a sort of refrain, the one that got stuck in my head being ‘begonias and petunias and… umm… impatiens and things.’ So yes, all a bit odd, but it did work, and it was also pretty funny, as hard as that might be to believe given the subject matter. I do wonder if the people who actually said these things have seen the play, as they might not find their own words quite so amusing, but for those of us who weren’t involved, the words of disgruntled residents fed up of all the cameras were funny, in a slightly dark sort of way. It was actually pretty interesting hearing the residents’ take on things, and there were moments when you could really imagine the fear of knowing that there was a serial killer somewhere in your midst, and the stress of having the press around all the time, and the sight of hundreds of police officers (at one point, there was an investigation team of 650) with their imprisoning blue-and-white tape. Oh and I liked the theme of having happy music playing while dark things were being said. All very antithetical.

One final word about London Road is that after you see it, you will be very conscious of your own umming and erring and trailing off half way through a sentence, and will be tempted to repeat what you just said in a Suffolk accent, which is a bit disconcerting but kinda fun. The play hasn’t got long left to run, but I thought I ought to alert you to the work of Alecky Blythe and Adam Cork, should you ever come across them again, as, in this case anyway, it’s definitely worth a watch. Even if you don’t thoroughly enjoy it, you will remember it for a looong long time.

London Road poster

Keep shortcutting,

Zoe