Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Book review: Half Bad

Sally Green's Half Bad is the latest attempt to create a young adult fantasy phenomenon. In a world where witches live alongside "fains," the witches are divided into Black and White, with the White side very much in charge - officially the good guys, they run the witches' bureaucracy and seem to have carte blanche to kill any Blacks they come across. The protagonist, Nathan, is the son of a White mother and a Black father, and as such is under a cloud of constant suspicion as he grows up, and relentlessly bullied. In theory everyone's waiting to see which side of him will become dominant when he comes of age, and dispose of him if it's the "wrong" one, but as he gets older he increasingly suspects the authorities have some other plan for him.

Using the classification of Black and White means Green is able to make Half Bad an allegory for racism, and of things being controlled by the side that's arbitrarily put themselves in the right and everyone else in the wrong. It's hardly the subtlest metaphor, and she hammers it home somewhat in the first half, but by the second half when Nathan has escaped the clutches of the Council and goes on the run, the story picks up. The ending is a bit too abruptly and obviously setup for further volumes but Green's story had had enough interesting moments by then that I'll probably look out for future installments.

Monday, 29 September 2014

Invisibility watch? Really?

Frankly I think Doctor Who's adaptation did no justice at all to Pinter's original.

"The Caretaker" by Gareth Roberts and Steven Moffat, directed by Paul Murphy. Spoilers after the cut.

Friday, 26 September 2014

Doctor's Eleven

Late again because of All The Theatre, I'll just do a quick blog on this week's Doctor Who.

"Time Heist" by Steve Thompson and Steven Moffat, directed by Douglas Mackinnon. Spoilers after the cut.

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Twitaceous era 28: We'll stand on a staircase like in Fame Academy

A bit late because I wasn't online much yesterday, here's what I gibbered about this week on my Twitter feed:

"Barbican audiences will be able to see 3 Beckett productions in one day." OR MAYBE THEY COULD JUST TAKE A CHEESE GRATER TO THEIR OWN FACES.
3:09 PM - 17 Sep 2014

I'd have taken a photo of the baby facepalming in his sleep on the bus cause it was adorable, but I'd have been, you know. Arrested.
10:28 PM - 17 Sep 2014

I would argue the audience got EXACTLY what they bargained for, and would normally have been cheated out of
4:41 PM - 18 Sep 2014

Saturday, 20 September 2014

I don't think that was even a real nursery rhyme

A bit late with my Doctor Who post this week - that's what happens when you have ALL THE THEATRE to see. Still, here we are with an episode that gets another of the regular BBC One idents given a Doctor Who twist - I liked the Dalek on the roundabout but the TARDIS going underwater with the hippos is a good addition, hopefully over the weeks they'll all get the same treatment. And I guess kudos for not starting with the obvious choice of the Moon rover one.

"Listen" by Steven Moffat, directed by Douglas Mackinnon. Spoilers after the cut.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Twitaceous Era 27: A Bond villain's staff meeting

This week on my Twitter feed is another theatre-heavy one, with lots of show announcements and me running around town trying to get from one show to the next...

I'd have preferred a completely new production but glad to see Rupert Goold's not ruling out Shakespeare at the Almeida.
10:49 AM - 10 Sep 2014

Charing Cross
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3:06 PM - 10 Sep 2014

Beardy-without-the-beard Spot: Andy Rush at St James Theatre.
7:01 PM - 10 Sep 2014

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Book review: Enter Wildthyme

I don't know if Paul Magrs plans to return to Brenda & Effie at any point but in the meantime he's starting a new series that crosses their own universe over with the Doctor Who one. Iris Wildthyme is a character Magrs created years ago for the Doctor Who novels and audio plays that came about when the series was off the air, another seemingly immortal time traveler who picks up companions to go around the universe having adventures with; except this one is female, much more fond of booze and fags than the protagonist of a family TV show, and travels in a double-decker bus instead of a police box. Evidently she's taken on a life of her own and has appeared in print and audio stories written by a number of writers, but now Magrs is giving her a new series of books, starting with Enter Wildthyme.

Iris' main sidekick Panda, a living stuffed toy, appeared in the last Brenda & Effie book, and there's a number of other sly little crossovers with his other series, including a cameo from Jessie the womanzee. The story itself is largely setup for a new series, with Iris acquiring a new crew for her double-decker (in addition to Panda she picks up a gay, Northern bookshop owner and a talking vending machine called Barbra) and then setting off in pursuit of a dangerous poet. You may not be able to judge a book by its cover but the tagline ("Time and Space. Good and Evil. Gin and Tonic.") should give you a good idea of the kind of sense of humour we're talking about.

Twitaceous Era 26: #sotheatre #muchreviewing #wow

This week on my Twitter feed, more celeb spots, with a bit of free food thrown in.

RSC 2015, Hugh Quarshie as Othello, Lucian Msamati as Iago. Interesting, I've never seen one where Iago's also black.
11:33 AM - 3 Sep 2014

@Weez @RobbieHand I want to see if they can do Jew of Malta without the audience spending the whole play like this
12:24 PM - 3 Sep 2014

Our project ends this month, as do our jobs. We now officially have an "ignore this and hope it goes away" email folder.
4:43 PM - 3 Sep 2014

Monday, 8 September 2014

Shoot that golden arrow through my heaaaaart

Time is a great healer, and I guess enough of it has passed for the BBC to admit that their most recent version of Robin Hood is a thing that happened, and move on.

"Robot of Sherwood" by Mark Gatiss, directed by Paul Murphy. Spoilers after the cut.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Twitaceous Era 25: A Thing That Cannot Possibly End Well

This week on my Twitter feed is mainly about me telling you where slightly famous people are, or were a couple of minutes ago.

Obviously, Norman's idea of being ambitious with flavours involves vanilla #GBBO
8:38 PM - 27 Aug 2014

"STAY AWAY FROM ME YOU BLACK WIDOW!" Every contestant next week, any time Diana comes within ten feet of them. #GBBO
9:03 PM - 27 Aug 2014

Sleb Spot: Harry Lloyd being instantly recognised by Italian tourists as he went into Pret, despite scruffy "disguise."
7:33 PM - 28 Aug 2014

Monday, 1 September 2014

The Good Dalek Guide

Second week into a new series of Doctor Who and I'm not massively annoyed by anything yet, so that's pretty good going all things told.

"Into The Dalek" by Phil Ford and Steven Moffat, directed by Ben Wheatley. Spoilers after the cut.