The DCH Blog
The Perils of Pinocchio - a review - Friday 19th December 2014
The Corn Hall’s Christmas show once again demonstrated what community theatre can achieve. In a marked contrast to the gentle melancholy of last year’s Wind in the Willows, this years’ Perils of Pinocchio was a determinedly more knockabout affair. There were still jokes for Mum and Dad to enjoy, but for the most part, a family audience was kept entertained with well-choreographed prat falls and wince inducing Christmas cracker jokes.
In a production where the most important element was enthusiasm, it seems invidious to point out individual performances, but Henry (director Mark was keen we were on first name terms with his crew) did a great job of carrying the show as Pinocchio. Robbie brought his badger like gravitas to Geppetto, while Grant and Penny made a fine Fox and Cat. It was, though, Ben that commanded the stage - as the evil Mozzarelli he was the classic pantomime villain.
This sort of productions demands good staging, and it should be said that the sets and costumes were excellent, as was Will’s imaginative lighting design, while the use of puppetry was simply good fun. This sort of event brings the best out of local communities, and surely exemplifies the true spirit of the season. And what’s more, there’s still a chance to catch one of four more performances this weekend.
by David Vass
Begin Again - a pre-screening review - Thursday 4th December 2014
Eight years after John Carney wowed the Sundance festival with Once, he is back busking on the streets again, having moved the action from Dublin to New York. This time he has bigger stars and a bigger budget.
Fans of Keira Knightley and Mark Ruffalo are well served by their naturalistic performances – she is characteristically fey, while he is typically gruff – and there is some solid backup from a strong supporting cast. Maroon 5’s Adam Levine bravely plays an egotistical sell-out rather well, while Catherine Keeler as the ex-wife brings sophisticated understatement to what is sometimes a broad brush affair. The elephant in the room is not so much Knightley’s voice – she is set up as a songwriter, not a singer – but Gregg Alexander’s songs. To accept them as works of genius does require a suspension of disbelief, but reports of an overproduced sound miss the point. This is, in all but name, a musical.
The real star of the movie, in any case, is New York itself. Knightley and Ruffalo play in the shadow of the Empire State Building, under the Washington Arch, and on the boating lake of Central Park. They hang out in grungy East Village, and wander around gaudy Times Square. As a love letter to the city it is set in, this is probably the best since Woody Allen shot Manhattan over 35 years ago.
By David Vass
Of Horses and Men - a pre-screening review - Tuesday 2nd December 2014
Of Horses and Men, is a quirky, and sometimes bleak, examination of the men and women whose lives revolve around the pony sized Icelandic horse, and is almost certainly unlike anything you’ve seen before.
This is director Bendikt Erlingson’s first film - a quite unique mix of tragedy and farce. Assisted by an excellent musical score by David Thor Jonsson, and beautifully filmed in the great Icelandic outdoors, it is about horses, but it’s also about the curiously claustrophobic community that relies on them. Sometimes funny, sometimes bizarre, but always intriguing, this is a window into a world where the skyline is dotted with the twinkling of sunlight reflected off the binoculars of your nosey neighbour, and where, ironically, there is usually very little for that neighbour to see.
Everyone involved in the film rides and loves horses, and their empathy with the animals is easy to see - the cool Nordic temperament on show here should not be confused with disinterest. While this film is utterly unsentimental – to the point of uncomfortable viewing on occasion – it nevertheless reveres the beauty and dignity of these magnificent animals in way that is emotionally charged and inexplicably moving.
by David Vass