Fam­ily af­fairs a danger­ous area for Mary Stu­art

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - ON STAGE -

some mean tricks on me! If you don’t know the Bad Idea Bears, they are the cutest lit­tle bears you have ever seen, but they like to con­vince you that it’s a good idea to do some bad things! Once they hid all my cos­tumes and I had to go on stage in my dress­ing gown!

What do you like to do to re­lax when you are not on stage?

I’m cur­rently watch­ing House of Cards, so as soon as I get home I turn on the TV, grab some pop­corn and watch about five episodes in a row. I do love Kevin Spacey, I hope we get to work to­gether one day! AU­DI­ENCES will be taken back in time thanks to a new play to be per­formed later this month.

The pro­duc­tion of Mary Stu­art sees El­iz­a­beth I and Mary Queen of Scots go­ing head to head.

El­iz­a­beth I’s court was a pack of schem­ing, con­niv­ing self-pro­mot­ers with barely a con­science amongst them, and Mary is lit­tle bet­ter.

Too ready to trust, too eas­ily ruled by pas­sion rather than pru­dence, how could such foibles merit ex­e­cu­tion af­ter 19 years un­der house ar­rest?

In its orig­i­nal 1800 ver­sion, play­wright Friedrich Schiller ex­am­ines th­ese and other re­lated is­sues in a marathon three-hour pro­duc­tion that used Shake­spearean verse form through­out.

The English trans­la­tions that be­gan to ap­pear 150 years later grad­u­ally mod­ernised the lan­guage but still kept au­di­ences in their seats for the orig­i­nal three hours.

Then, in 2010 came An­drew Cowie’s new trans­la­tion, half the length of the orig­i­nal and in 2010 English that con­denses all the spit­ting fire, the whis­pered plot­tings, the sub­tly ap­plied pres­sures and al­liances of con­ve­nience of Eng­land’s 16th cen­tury rulers.

Whether or not you’re a con­firmed fan of Hi­lary Man­tel’s Wolf Hall, this pro­duc­tion will last well be­yond the fi­nal cur­tain as you grap­ple with the way our for­bears man­aged the gov­er­nance of this coun­try.

Mary Stu­art will be per­formed at the Court Theatre in Tring from Wed­nes­day, May 13 un­til Satur­day, May 16 at 8pm.

Tick­ets are £10 to £12 and can be bought by go­ing to www. courtthe­atre.co.uk or by call­ing 07543 560478.

EV­ERY film car­ries a cer­tain weight of ex­pec­ta­tion for the au­di­ence based on the cal­i­bre of tal­ent in front of and be­hind the cam­era, as well as word of mouth.

More of­ten than not, dreams are silently crushed when re­al­ity un­spools at 24 frames per sec­ond on that big screen.

So it’s a gen­uine thrill when a fea­ture ex­ceeds its prom­ise with un­der­stated con­fi­dence and flair.

Top Five sounds like the worst kind of van­ity project: an in­sider’s por­trait of mod­ern celebrity di­rected and writ­ten by Chris Rock, in which the stand-up co­me­dian turned film star plays a stand-up co­me­dian turned film star who wants to be taken se­ri­ously.

Art and life walk hand in hand here and they are the best of friends be­cause this oc­ca­sion­ally filthy-minded com­edy is smart, know­ing and laugh-out-loud funny, con­ceal­ing a heart of gold be­hind a blis­ter­ing bar­rage of pol­ished quips.

Ad­mit­tedly, in his role as the ring­mas­ter of this de­light­ful cir­cus, Rock al­lows too many show­busi­ness chums to flash their pearl whites – DMX, Whoopi Goldberg, Adam San­dler and Jerry Se­in­feld cameo as them­selves – but they don’t dis­tract from the ten­der love story at the heart of this lit­tle gem.

Rock plays An­dre Allen, star of the hugely suc­cess­ful Hammy The Bear film fran­chise in which he plays a cop in an an­i­mal suit with the catch­phrase, “It’s Hammy time!”

Au­di­ences and the film stu­dios are hun­gry for an­other in­stal­ment but An­dre is at­tempt­ing to rein­vent him­self by head­lin­ing a se­ri­ous drama en­ti­tled Uprize, set against the tur­bu­lent back­drop of the Haitian Revo­lu­tion.

Pro­mo­tional du­ties for Uprize co­in­cide with An­dre’s forth­com­ing wed­ding to re­al­ity TV star Erica Long (Gabrielle Union) so, nat­u­rally, cam­eras are track­ing their ev­ery move.

So too is re­porter Chelsea Brown (Rosario Daw­son), who has been granted a rare au­di­ence with An­dre, even though her news­pa­per has been less than kind in the past about his work.

The spark be­tween An­dre and Chelsea is pal­pa­ble and as the day un­folds, they trade cheeky ban­ter, con­firm his wed­ding prepa­ra­tions with Erica’s manager Benny (Ro­many Malco) and give the slip to An­dre’s body­guard Silk (JB Smoove) so they can spend some qual­ity time with his friends in­clud­ing ex-girl­friend Vanessa (Sherri Shep­herd), who knew him be­fore he was fa­mous.

Gal­vanised by the smoul­der­ing on-screen chem­istry be­tween the two leads, Top Five is snap­pily scripted by Rock, who gen­er­ously dis­trib­utes the best lines and in-jokes among his en­sem­ble cast.

Dia­logue has a nat­u­ral rhythm that feels like we are eaves­drop­ping on the char­ac­ters mid-con­ver­sa­tion, par­tic­u­larly in crowded scenes where An­dre and his co­terie ar­gue about their top five favourite rap­pers.

Chris Rock is at the cen­tre of events in Top Five

Cer­tifi­cate Stars

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