IT’S only at the very end of this latest Hollywood reimagining that narrator Janet McTeer intones “the story is not quite as you were told”.
Indeed it’s not. For this is a fairy tale tinged with elements of Tolkien, albeit Tolkien as envisaged on screen by Peter Jackson. And with warring kingdoms, walking trees that fight the good fight and a pure-hearted fairy who becomes a warrior queen so the essence of the story of Sleeping Beauty is thoroughly corrupted. Or augmented. Take your choice.
Maleficent is a strange and beautiful expansion of what should be a most simplistic fable. Like it or not the good versus evil quality of this story is what’s enthralled children for years. Much of that simplicity is lost as Angelina Jolie undergoes a transformation borne not so much of inherent evil but instead hatred and revenge.
The root cause is clear: she was betrayed by one she loved. And love turned to fury. But love remains at the heart of this loud and occasionally disturbing drama. The violence may be of the lite variety but still it packs a wallop. It is balanced by the truest of loves – that of a mother for a child.
Elle Fanning is the teenaged Princess Aurora, the child cursed by the evil fairy at her christening. Kenneth Cranham the king locked in combat with Malificent. Sharlto Copley the loyal son who assumes his crown and kingdom.
But the movie belongs to Jolie as a statuesque and misunderstood icon of fairyland who brings a new direction to one of our most beloved sagas. “TONIGHT’S the night and everything’s gonna be alright” sings rock and pop legend Rod Stewart. He’s spot on when it comes to the former West End musical based on his plethora of hits. It’s now touring the UK and at Sheffield’s Lyceum Theatre the audience was up for a night of nostalgia as familiar tune after tune was performed by the young energetic cast.
It perhaps doesn’t have the “joie de vivre” of Mamma Mia, or the spectacle of that other Ben Elton-penned West End hit We Will Rock You but Rod fans won’t be disappointed.The story? Boy meets girl etc, with it all woven together by the Scottish superstar’s biggest hits. We’re not talking plot twists and big reveals here. You have the comfort of knowing that every few minutes another classic will come along to keep the audience happy.
Two stand out performances for me. Great to see Jade Ewan in the role of Dee Dee showing why she was the outstanding UK entry for Eurovision in the last decade. She came fifth in 2009.
Also, Ricky Rojas steals the show as the hugely entertaining Stoner. The character’s title hints at how he interprets the role.
Some of the audience needed a little encouragement to get to their feet and don their paper sailor’s hat for the big finale of Sailing. Did I wear mine ? I don’t want to talk about it.
To May 31. SOMETIMES it’s difficult to see the reason for a production to be staged in a particular time and place.
While Boeing Boeing is undoubtedly a successful piece of work – the most successful French farce in history no less – watching this production feels like being trapped in a timewarp. In look and feel it is very reminiscent of a scene from an Austin Powers movie, although it lacks the insight and incisiveness of the work of Mike Myers.
The “comedy” accents, particularly the French and German ones on display are clearly meant to be grotesques, but there needs to be some sense of weight to them too if they are to have any sort of appeal beyond that. Marc Cannoletti’s 1960s farce receives little updating in this production.
Director Jonathan Humphreys tells the story of Bernard, whose life is worked out to perfection with the help of a flight schedule – his three “fiancees” are air hostesses on different airlines. As long as he keeps his trusty schedule to hand, everything runs smoothly. Things go, predictably awry in the air, which has the inevitable impact on the ground.
Bernard finds himself on a collision course with destiny as all three women come together in his Paris apartment at the same time.
Joseph Kloska as Bernard’s friend Robert mugs his way through the entire piece. There really should be a rule that the a performer shouldn’t YORKSHIRE artist John Middleton, who is now 74, is holding his first public exhibition since 1972 – when he exhibited work at what was then Leeds Playhouse.
For many years Middleton was a lecturer at Harrogate College of Art and he still paints every day in his studio in Harrogate. His work – which treads the lines between the abstract and the figurative – will be shown at the Coningsby Gallery in London from June 9-13. For more information visit www.coningsbygallery.com THE West Yorkshire Playhouse is brilliant at being inclusive and accessible and their latest initiative is to stage a Dementia Friendly performance during the run of their seasonal production of Irving Berlin’s White Christmas. The performance, which will take place at 2pm on Tuesday December 16, will be specially adapted IT’S 10 o’clock on a damp Wednesday night in Leeds.
But close your eyes and listen to the band and you can imagine you’re back in the late 60s and Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix are still alive.
The band evoking these spirits is No Sinner, a fourpiece band from Vancouver, who’ve been getting glowing reviews from the likes of Bob Harris, who recently had them in to do a session for his BBC Radio 2 show. No Sinner are unapologetically rock and roll and while they might not be breaking new ground here, what separates them from most others who follow this well-worn road is their musical prowess.
Sultry lead singer Colleen Rennison has a voice that bears favourable comparison with the likes of Joplin and Imelda May, while lead guitarist Eric Campbell is virtuoso brilliance personified. All of which is lapped up by an appreciative audience.
The band are obviously enjoying themselves as they plough through an energetic set featuring songs from their impressive debut album Boo Hoo Hoo, including rousing versions of Rise Up and Devil On My Back. They might look like they’ve just stepped straight out of Haight-Ashbury circa 1969, but if they can light up a little corner of West Yorkshire, then who cares? THE Brontë Society have just announced the winners of the 2014 Brontë Creative Competition. There were entries from all over the world in three categories – short story, poetry and illustration. The winners were, respectively Dr Tracy Rosenberg, Diane Pacitti and Nicki McNaney who each receive £500. Entries were judged by novelist and scholar Dame Margaret Drabble, award-winning poet Simon Armitage and Yorkshire artist Victoria Brookland.