The DCH Blog
Corn Hall Comedy Club @ Diss Rugby Club - a review - Monday 30th November 2015
Chris Betts introduced another night of Corn Hall comedy with a relaxed style that was as much conversation as it was routine. He worked the crowd hard, and though his discursive delivery took some getting used to, it proved an effective sorbet for the weirdness and acerbity that followed.
Darren Walsh roamed around the stage like an excited praying mantis, and could fill his act with the funniest puns this side of Tim Vine. This gifted and restless young comic gave us so much more, though, and his surreal flights of fancy were my favourite bits. The resulting dissonance did make you wonder if he is still working out what kind of comedian he wants to be, but he’s such a delightfully personable fellow, the audience was more than happy to watch while he decides.
Good though Walsh was, Stephen Carlin is a comedian that can raise the comedy bar just by walking on stage. Like a lot a hard working circuit acts, he creates the illusion of effortless wit and spontaneous rumination when in reality we are watching a superbly crafted and beautiful judged routine. In such capable hands, it’s a conceit the audience were more than happy to indulge.
By David Vass
Slow West - a pre-screening review - Monday 23rd November 2015
The idea of a hard-boiled shootist chaperoning an ingénue across a relentlessly cruel Wild West is nothing new, but John Maclean (in a remarkably accomplished debut feature) has managed to produce a startlingly original take on this hardy perennial, offering up a delightfully eccentric tale of Quixotic misadventure that is both thrilling and funny.
Whether it’s the British director, or the Irish-German star, or the richly coloured landscape of New Zealand, there is something pleasingly off kilter about Slow West. Riffing off John Carpenter Assault of Precinct 13, Sergio Leone’s spaghetti westerns of the seventies, and just about anything by the Coen brothers, Maclean has nevertheless managed to carve out a niche of its own. Fassbinder is excellent as Silas Selleck, the bounty hunter with a heart, while Kodi Smit-McPhee manages to stay just the right side of irritating with his nicely judged portrait of a silly young man hopelessly out of his depth. These two actors contrast and complement each other perfectly as they make their episodic pilgrim-like progress, bouncing off a delightfully varied ensemble cast.
With a labyrinthine plot and an elusive moral compass, the film manages to pack in more characters, more set pieces, and more sheer fun than movies twice its length. Slow West leaves you hungry for more, and wondering, with anticipation, what next we can expect from this talented writer/director at the start of his career.
By David Vass
Uncle Vanya, Open Space Theatre - a review - Friday 20th November 2015
With its focus on the self-worth, the work ethic, and ecological disaster, Chekov’s Uncle Vanya has become spookily prescient. On the opening night of their tour, the cast of Open Space Theatre jumped headlong into this maelstrom of ideas with their customary commitment, offering up a classic Chekov primer, done straight, with a genuine respect for the text.
Drenched in misery and alcohol, Uncle Vanya is tragic, but it is also absurd, and David Green’s direction tackled this dichotomy head on in a handsomely dressed production with some fine ensemble work from its hard working cast. Tim Hall comfortably bore the mammoth role of Uncle Vanya on his broad shoulders, while Cathy Gill was every bit as good as his touchingly gauche niece. Of particular note was Emma Martin, whose acting skills demonstrably grow with each production she appears in.
The pace could do with cranking up a notch, and the blend of comedy and tragedy needs clearer delineation, but all this will come as the actors work things through in front of an audience. Fundamentally, it is the ambition of taking on such a challenging play that should be acknowledged, and then should be applauded.
By David Vass