Not Talking

The two hot playwrights in the UK now are James Graham and Mike Bartlett. Mr Bartlett has been responsible for Dr Foster on tv, and the wonderful King Charles III. He is a very prolific chap.

His first ever play, Not Talking, was never produced on stage. It was nabbed and turned into an award winning Radio 3 play. Now the Arcola has but it on as a 75 minute four hander.

It is really four separate one person plays, with intertwined stories and the actors/characters not interacting.

It’s an interesting piece. Having seem Brief Encounter the night before, there were similarities: restrained emotions, not discussing things, Englishness, pianos…

The night I attended, the actors and director talked about how it was to create such a piece. On the face of it, it seems simple. For the actors, though, there are challenges. You need a good cast, and this is.

You might wonder about the staging, but that is just a weirdness of the theatre.

It won’t transfer to central London, so see it if you possibly can.

Eurovision – the end

Congratulations to Israel for winning. On the night, she really gave it all.

We voted for Lithuania, which was a rather quiet and rather sad little song.

And the voting, which is the best part of the show, gets shortened every year, but even so the show ran nearly four hours. Perhaps they could remove the interval acts? And since it’s presented in English, why do we need a UK commentator talking in English over people explaining things perfectly clearly anyway. And he was talking over the songs!

As you may have seen, the much hyped UK entry did not do well. We were third from bottom. Had we been made to compete in a semi-final, we may not even have got through to the final.

During the song, some man ran onto the stage, grabbed the microphone and shouted a message. You have to wonder what the security people were doing. The singer, SuRie, was given another microphone and finished the song, and was offered an opportunity to sing it again, but declined. I don’t know why. It wasn’t a bad song, and she sang it OK. Another expose does help people get used to the song, and she may have done better than she actually did. Perhaps she declined because she already knew it was a lost cause.

Tell us your thoughts.

Too much of a good thing

One of the, perhaps, surprise hits on Dave TV is called Taskmaster.

If you don’t know, Dave is one of those channels that shows really old sitcoms, topical comedy from the 1990s and American reality shows. But they do have a small amount of original content, like Dave Gorman’s Life is Goodish, which has now finished because Dave Gorman can’t be bothered, and Taskmaster.

Take five familiar faces, mostly comedians, give them silly tasks to do, a bit of gentle bantering and you have a fun comedy show of maybe 5 or 6 often excellent episodes.

Now we are on series 6. It has been stretched to 10 one hour episodes, and the ideas so far, after episode two, seem a bit lacking and warmed over.

The five guests are not people you would want to spend time with. There’s the shouty and unfunny Russell Howard, dismal Lisa Tarbuck, stand up Tim Vine, who has the attitude of “I’ll dress up in silly clothes but I’m not bothered about this” and two other people you have not heard of. Well, I haven’t, but one is a radio presenter.

Episode one was mildly amusing, episode two was grim, humourless stuff. In the past there have been some genuinely hilarious moments.

But not  as bad as the American version, which is reduced to 30 minutes (ie 20 minutes of programme and 10 minutes adverts), five pretty awful, loud contestants who clearly hate Alex Horne and minute clips of tasks. To me, seeing how the contestants approach solving the tasks is the most interesting.

Oh, and there’s something on BBC1 with Alex Horne giving people in a family silly tasks to do. Sound familiar. I didn’t watch. The idea of ‘family’ viewing puts me off.