Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Fatal Attraction review

Fatal Attraction, Theatre Royal Haymarket- published in The Irish World newspaper 02/04/2014
 
 
FATAL Attraction, the chilling tale of the darker side of love which Glenn Close brought to the screen so spine-chillingly in’87, has come to the stage under Trevor Nunn’s direction.
It’s fair to imagine that many who do go to see this show are fans of the now 26-year-old film. In its day, this twisted tale of love gone sour, earned its popularity from the intensity of the actors performance, a feature which was integral to its success. It also coined the phrase “bunny boiler” for overly eager girlfriends!
This particular stage adaption, however, doesn’t quite hit the mark in that respect as many of the climactic moments in the play were diminished in impact by less than believable acting performances.
 
 
 
Set in fast-paced modern day New York, an attractive business man seems to have it all. However his perfect wife, daughter and career fail to satisfy his excitement and he soon becomes lured by the opportunity of love from elsewhere- “It was about curiousity, the possibility of a different life.”
However, his idea of a thrilling, yet short lived, one night stand quickly turns into a drawn out hell as he finds his choice of lover to be more demonic than divine- “I literally want to put my hands around her neck and squeeze.
 
 
 
Mark Bazeley played the lead male and for the first act he fitted well into the part of a confident business minded New Yorker. It was when the role was stretched to require a more emotional portrayal that his efforts fell flat.
Sex and the City’s Kirsten Davis played his perfect wife. A role, which from what could be seen, was the exact same as that of her sitcoms character Charlotte. As one would expect, Davis brought a genuine sweetness to the role but, similar to Bazeley, was unable to deliver when pushed to another emotional level, often delivering scenes of distress which made her look more confused than genuinely at her wits end.
The part of Bazeley’s psychotic lover is played by Natascha McElhone, whose performance certainly lifted the play as she skilfully portrayed both the alluring beauty and chilling predator which her role demanded. Her striking features and large, piercing eyes translated well on stage; their intensity could be felt from the stalls.
Overall, it failed to deliver too often at key points where the audience should have been on the edge of their seats. A particular scene that involved some intense violence aroused only uncomfortable laughs from the audience as the awkwardness and choreography of movement was quite literally laughable.
By all means, go and see this play if you haven’t seen the movie as your expectations may be at the appropriate level. Perhaps it just needs more time to find its feet and become comfortable in its own skin as a stage adaption.
Fatal Attraction is at Theatre Royal Haymarket, London until June 21. To book call 0207 930 8800 or visitwww.trh.co.uk.
By Leah Quinn
 
Check out the trailer to the original movie starring Michael Douglas and Glenn Close
 
 

Monday, 3 March 2014

Happy Days review

By Leah Quinn

Published in the Irish World Newspaper February 26th 2014
 
 
Beckett’s tendency to lean towards the absurd in his plays does not always sit too comfortably with people. His exaggerated characters who rarely finish a sentence, let alone a singular thought, can awaken frustration and confusion in those who prefer a more narrative performance.

 

Happy Days directed by Natalie Abrahami at The Young Vic may well persuade certain sceptics otherwise as Juliet Stevenson’s portrayal of the lead character Winnie is a classic example of stage acting at its best.

 

The play takes place in a baron landscape, filled only with rock and sand. Winnie is submerged up to the waist in sand and evidently unable to escape. She has few possessions, one being her handbag and the other being her husband, both of which prove to be equally lifeless companions. Winnie starts and ends her day to the sound of a hugely unsettled bell. Although her situation is bleak, Winnie tries to make the most of the days and often sighs and exclaims “Oh it is another heavenly day”.
 
 

 

Although Winnie tries frantically to recall happy memories, most of which she had forgotten, and make the most of the mundane items she has left, you constantly get the feeling her fate is sealed and only tragedy can befall her.

 

It is quite likely this two act play is unlike any you may have encountered before, and perhaps that is enough of a reason to go along. However it is truly Olivier-award winning Stevenson’s skillful portrayal of such an absurd and tragic character that must be admired. More and more sand could be seen tumbling down on Winnie as she tired desperately to get her husband to engage, Stevenson’s talent for comedic acting brings out the underlying irony which is quite refreshing in what has the potential to be a heavy play.

 

It once suggested that this play was written for Beckett’s wife who wanted him to write a happy play. The result of which is quite ironic still as it focuses on the determination of many women to make the most of a hopeless situation by finding the good in the little things, a trait perhaps which Beckett’s wife might have had.

 

Happy Days plasy at The Young Vic until March 8th.
 

 

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Tommy Tiernan Stray Sod show review


Published in The Irish World newspaper 05/02/2014

 
By Leah Quinn

 

Tommy's career has taken more twists and turns than your average country road. In previous years he has made the unusual journey from comedic king to villain in the eyes of many the critic as his often risky choice of material and energetic outbursts have turned more than a few heads and not always for the rights reasons.

 

His latest performance in Dean Street’s Soho theatre, however, proved that his best days may still lie ahead of him as Tiernan boisterously returned with a whimsical charm, a trait of his which originally attracted a very large following.

 

His rugged features, yet childlike mannerisms  brought not only comedy wisdom but also sheer lunacy, a concoction for which few comedians seem to have the ingredients.

 

His material for Stray Sod seemed to be mainly focused on the absurdities of human nature and  the bizarre cultural differences encounter as we travel.
 

 

Although this current show is much safer than some of his previous stuff, Tiernan still brings a refreshing daredevil approach to the comedy stage and in no way holds back with his opinions. Judging by his witty yet careful handling of a quite raucous heckler in the front row, Tiernan is still not afraid to speak his mind but has now mastered doing so with a pinch more affliction.

 

In what felt like a very fast moving hour and a half, Tommy  touched on a variety of topics. Some of which included the Irish in Australia, ignorance in the Irish countryside ,French lessons in school, his ginger-haired child, his thoughts on Londoners, how to distinguish which county an Irish woman is from, the news and weather, his offensive jokes in the past and the backlash he has faced since, celebrity magazines, the noises fields make at night and his mother’s funeral. All of which were delivered in Tiernan’s usual mischievous yet alluring style of delivery and had the audience hanging on his every word.

 

Stray Sod not only proved that he has surpassed the dark cloud that once hung over his career and triumphed out the other side by staying true to his original style but that ,more importantly, Tommy Tiernan may be a comedian by profession but he is story-teller at heart.
 
 
Check out Tommy a few years back...
 

 

 

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Strangers on a Train


Published in The Irish World newspaper

By Leah Quinn  27/11/2013

 

Modern entertainment tells us that everything must be computerized and popping from our screens in order to amuse us. Craig Warner’s new stage adaption of Strangers on a Train throws modern impressions on thrill- seeking out the window and brings the audience back to an era when sheer suspense and edge of your seat drama reigned supreme.

 

This latest production, based on Patricia Highsmiths novel, was a monochrome feast for the eyes and exuded the visual legacy of a Hitchcock thriller.

 

The story tells of two young men who meet on a train. They engage in conversation and agree to commit murders for each other by killing off the people in their lives who are stopping them from being fully content and successful. This agreement however is more sincere on the part of the Charlie Bruno, played by Jack Huston ( interviewed by The Irish World), who is a lunatic and fails to see that his companion, Guy Haines, played by Laurence Fox, has not shared his sentiments with mutual intention.
 
                                          Clip from Hitchcock's Strangers on a Train

 

It is from their first encounter that an intense nightmare unfolds laden with blackmail, torment and insanity as Guy Haines is slowly dragged into the twisted world of his tormenter.

 

The set changes were too numerous to count and each more impressive than the next. It baffled me how they managed to change the setting so quickly as we were brought from an elegant 1950’s train carriage to a the grand staircase of an old mansion in a matter of minutes.

 

This clever tale tells the audience of how even the briefest encounters can impact on our lives and affect events to come. It builds at the perfect pace allowing the audience to share some of Haine’s emotions as Bruno reappears all too often becoming more and more a monster and less of the gentlemen with whom both we and Haines were first acquainted.


 

This was a superb production which kept the audience wincing in their seats from beginning to end, the involvement of producers from the James Bond movies set the perfect scene for such a story and the lead actors brought it all to life. This was one of the best shows I have seen in a quite a while so if, like me, you get dizzy from 3D glasses and never quite notice when something is HD, take a trip to the Gielgud and relive authentic thrills.

 

Strangers on a Train plays at the Gielgud Theatre in Shaftsbury Avenue

 

Sunday, 1 December 2013

A Lady's Guide to the Tinder App

By Leah Quinn
Published online for The Independent 28/11/2013

I’ve been on three dates this week”- not my words but that of a friend to which I responded with sheer bafflement. Not only was I astounded that someone living in London had the time for such extreme socialising but that she managed to co-ordinate meeting three date-worthy guys within one week, a feat only the very skilled and hyper-organised can master. This was my initial introduction to the Tinder application as she went on to explain the pick and mix of men she had been chatting to and all from just an effortless thumb swipe and a click. From there, Tinder seemed to pop up in too many conversations to ignore and so I had to experience it for myself, if only to once again have something in common with my friends and to rejoin the conversation.
Becoming part of the Tinder family takes literally a matter of seconds, as does your decision to like or reject the menu of men you are shown. This is very clever on the part of the creators who have obviously recognised the blatant and inescapable fact that us humans are generally shallow and tend to make our initial judgement based on aesthetics. While it might be nice that “Roberto” enjoys romcoms and long walks in the rain, realistically most of us girls just want to see what “Roberto” looks like, and the same, of course, can be said for men. Tinder taps into this less romantic side of us all by allowing you to get chatting to or arrange a date with a guy in less than the time it takes to order a pizza.

Doing away with Tom, Dick and Harry

As the least electronically minded person I know, I managed at first to even struggle with what is really quite a basic app. It took one too many times of swiping to the right before I realised I was liking men unintentionally. Before I knew it I was receiving a message congratulating me that I had now been matched with Peter. Peter being a man whose profile picture seemed to feature him with his cat, and also someone I had wished to swipe past. I received a message from Peter quite promptly enquiring as to what was my favourite dinosaur, a line which neither in a bar nor on Tinder would work any magic for me.
Before long I found myself swiping past dozens of men, some of which I realised I was not even looking at as it was all too easy to keep swiping. My thumb seemed to form some sort of swiping spasm and I was soon leaving Tom, Dick and Harry disappearing into Tinder oblivion.
Through my intrepid travels of men in a 20 mile radius of myself, I came across some real gems. Before I divulge, please bare in mind that, like most little girls, I grew up hearing stories about princes on horseback taking princesses off into the sunset, and watching Disney movies where men would either break into sporadic song or fight a giant octopus for your affections.
On my swiping travels I came across men on horseback,  men with their arms around various women (some of whom seemed to be wives or girlfriends),
 
men with children on their knee, men in cringe-worthy topless selfies, men drinking cocktails in a pool wearing speedos, a man dressed as a bat…not batman…but as a genuine bat, a man in a balaclava, hipster men looking thoughtful and creative, men wearing sunglasses indoors, men doing some topless cooking, gym photos, a few wedding photos, bathroom selfies with loo included, and a goat.
My favourite by far was the man who simply chose a plate of curry chips for his profile picture. As a fan of said dish, I immediately clicked like, as we instantly had something in common.
After a few days it was safe to derive that Tinder surely has something and someone to suit everyone’s taste.

Achieving Tinder matrimony

I then began to receive messages, most of which were complete nonsense which in the midst of my midweek exhaustion I was too tired and grumpy to engage with. I did however have a fairly normal conversation with one man who I agreed to meet for a drink. I am neither sorry nor shocked to report that this date will not result in what may be the first Tinder marriage as two sips in I was planning my escape. This man looked about 3 feet shorter than his picture, was missing more teeth than your average pirate and had screen grabbed a picture of me to look at in his phone gallery at his convenience. On top of a bad first impression, we had nothing in common. He had just overcome a drug addiction and was wearing a shirt which his mother had ironed. I iron my own clothes and can barely remember to take my multivitamins everyday.
Although this date was not the stuff stars are made of I do not believe that can be said for all Tinder induced dates. The huge amount of users mean odds are at the very least you will make some new friends. Naturally, like all social situations, you will come across people who are only interested in booty calls, but for every one of those there are people genuinely looking to find a partner. Tinder is also extremely location dependent as it works perfectly in London where we are all too busy and important to make any huge sort of effort. It would however be a very different story in a small rural area where you are likely to be swiping past most of your cousins.
Dating sites seem to have had a dramatic change of image in the last few years, and have become much more socially acceptable. Tinder in particular has somehow bypassed social snobbery and seems to have taken the place of cool kid in the school of online dating forums.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

The London Irish Comedy Festival

Published in The Irish World newspaper 16th October 2013


It is no secret that the Irish are nearly always up for having the laugh and no more so was this evident last weekend than at Camden’s London Irish Centre. Leah Quinn went along to see was there much craic afoot at their London Irish comedy festival.

 

The comedy festival ran through the weekend and showcased many of Ireland’s best loved comedians such as PJ, Gallagher, Maeve Higgins, Andrew Maxwell, Neil Delamere and many more.

 

This, the second only year for the festival, attracted a hefty response with many London Irish attending to hear some of their favourites from TV back home.

 

PJ Gallgher headlined Friday’s gig along with Aisling Bea, Neil Delamere and John Colleary on MC duty. PJ Gallagher had the audience in tears for most of his act with the usual energetic and endearing childlike performance for which he is well known. PJ’s opening joke about the lack of romance in modern day rap music opened the room to another level of laughter which echoed on two jokes later.

 

Speaking to PJ, from RTE’s Naked Camera show, he told me why he thinks the Irish are so famed for their comedy skills “It’s our thing really. We were always huge story tellers and writers and we haven’t had much going for us for hundreds of years except for music and culture and story telling and that’s what we are known for, which is good, it’s certainly better than being known for large cars and squeezy cheese.”
 
 
 

 

The festival featured another three shows on Saturday, one of which was Captain Gingerbeard by David Burke – a comedy show targeted at kids. Later in the day Jarlath Regan recorded a live interview for his podcast Irishman Abroad with actor and comedian Brendan Dempsey. Although this held more of a relaxed conversational quality than that of the gig the night before, it was still enjoyable and a nice prelude to Saturday nights comedy gig.

 

The festival began last year as the brainchild of Maria Schweppe, now the London Irish comedy festival director. She told me that preparation started nine months previous to the festival but is expected to start straight after this years event as the festival continues to grow.

 

“I think last year was very much about building a relationship with the agents and the comedians so as that is in place this year the festival has a very good reputation and the quality of the line up is obviously quite high. People came along last year and had such a good time they are coming back this year and bringing their pals so we are extremely pleased with this year’s response to the festival”.

 

Maria also added that there are many more exciting things to come for the future of the festival, some of which will be the return of the comedy tent in Trafalgar Square for London’s St.Patricks day celebrations, and a quarterly comedy club that will be hosted by a different comedian. Each act will have free reign of what they want to do within their slot, be it music, comedy theatre or the spoken word.

 

All in all the centre put on a thoroughly enjoyable and welcoming weekend filled with many the hearty laugh. Judging by the reaction from those who attended, I expect it only to get bigger and better in the coming years so if you didn’t manage to get tickets this time, mark it on your calendar for next year.
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Forty Years of Clannad

By Leah Quinn

Published in The Irish World on 02/10/2013


Thursday night saw many of the London Irish gather together in celebration of 40 years of Clannad at the Irish Embassy in Victoria. The Irish band, from Donegal’s Gweedore, first formed in the 1970’s and have continued to produce their own unique blend of Celtic music since then. This year sees the launch of their first album of new material since their 1998 release of the Grammy award winning Landmarks.

 

Nadur, meaning nature in Irish, is the first album since 1989 with the original line up of siblings Moya, Ciaran and Pol Brennan and their twin uncles Noel and Padraig Duggan.

 

The evening was hosted by the Ambassador of Ireland, Mr. Daniel Mulhall and his wife Mrs. Greta Mulhall who took the opportunity to formally introduce himself in his new role and to remind his guests to regard the embassy as the focal point for the Irish community in Britain.

 

Clannad then joined the stage and kicked off with their melodic Scotch Gaelic song Turas Dhomhsa chon a Galldachd from the new album. This was followed by Citi na gCumann which had been given to them by Moya’s grandmother.
 

 

Speaking at the event, Moya Brennan told The Irish World she believed staying true to what they stand for as a band has lead to them to reach the forty year mark and taking short breaks which enabled them to return with enthusiasm for their music.

 

Moya also spoke of the nerves she experiences as a young girl before one of their first performances at a music competition in Letterkenny and how holding her mothers hand gave her comfort when she wasn’t sure they had what it took.

 

Forty years later, Moya describes how fans can expect the same distinctive Clannad sound from this their 18th album along with some fresh new influences.

 

Originating in their family pub in Donegal, the bands trademark sound and unique  take on Celtic musical tradition has built them a strong global fan base with over 15 millions albums sold worldwide.

 

During their time, Clannad have produced music such as the theme for Harry’s Game, and the soundtrack to Robin of Sherwood the TV series. Moya, Ciaran and Pol are also siblings to the well-known singer Enya, who originally played keyboard in the band.

 

Their album, Nadur, is due out this month and Clannad will be touring globally with Mary Black to coincide with its release. The tour will have 15 UK dates including London’s O2 Shepherds Bush Empire theatre in March 2014.