Nicky’s Showbiz Diary: It’s been Show busy!

This column is a little later than usual, purely down to my busyness, or showbusyness as I like to call it. Over the last week I have seen seven shows, conducted five interviews and also met my first deadline for the Greenwich Weekender.

I’ve also done two restaurant reviews and hobnobbed with the stars at the Chelsea Flower Show as well as recording my weekly segment for BBC Radio Kent.

My feet have barely touched the ground and with three deadlines in Dorset looming my writing head has become a little frazzled.

It’s been fantastic but with a house move also getting ever closer, I have begun to panic about getting everything done.

Luckily there’s always a helpful person around to advise you on how best to manage your workload. I’ve had at least eight people ask if I’ve thought about writing a list and I’ve had to stifle my sarcasm about the wonderfully in-depth counsel!

Anyway, the shows I’ve seen lately have been a mixed bag. I watched the tour of The Play That Goes Wrong (excellent), The Addams Family (sensational), Richard III (a bit slow), The Color Purple in concert (amazing), Samantha Barks Live, with special guest Kerry Ellis (great), Judy! (fantastic) and a show I’m not going to mention, because it was so bad, I had to leave at the interval for fear of a hysterical attack.

I watch a lot of amateur shows, so I’m used to things occasionally being rough around the edges, but this ‘professional’ production was so poor, I felt it best not to pass comment on it at all.

The Celebrity count has been very high this week too, because I went to Chelsea Flower Show on Press day.

Sadly, I was on my own so I couldn’t engage in the hilarious celebrity touching game and there were few famous faces I hadn’t seen before. I guess I’ve got so used to seeing celebs now, that it would take the likes of Madonna, Kylie or RuPaul to really get me excited.

Joan Collins looked amazing among the roses in the main Pavilion however and Kelly Brook seemed very friendly as she supped on bubbly. It was nice to see Peter Kay again wandering around in the sunshine and I was a bit in awe of Paralympic Gold Medalist Ellie Simmonds.

I always find it funny that if you walk with confidence, people assume you’re someone worth looking at and take a second glance to check whether you’re famous or not, so yes, I did pretend to be someone, with my head held high. It’s the simplest little games, which amuse me!

Next week, a work experience minion is joining me in the form of my teenage daughter, so my London trip will be filled with food and drink stops. I’m seeing Wicked again (well, 26 times just isn’t enough!) and Woyzeck at the Old Vic, starring John Boyega. I’m then off to see Miss Meena and the Masala Queens at Greenwich Theatre, which looks fabulous.

You can read all of reviews and interview on my website thesweetlondonlife.com and follow me on Twitter for all of the latest news @NickySweetland

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Review: “I almost fell in love with the medieval brute”★★★ Richard III, Arcola Theatre

The last time I saw Greg Hicks on stage at the Arcola Theatre, he was playing a macho old-school tabloid editor in Clarion, reminiscent of some I have had the pleasure of working with.

Seeing him now play the infamous tyrant Richard III may perhaps seem as if he is being typecast, but his portrayal of Shakespeare’s martinet is so much subtler, that dare I say it, I almost fell in love with the medieval brute.

Sara Powell as Queen Elizabeth and Greg Hicks as Richard III at Arcola Theatre

As the final installment of the Bard’s tetralogy (which also contains Henry VI parts 1-3), Richard III lends itself perfectly to modern-day interpretation, with the good versus evil plot line easily lifted into almost any era.

In Mehmet Ergen’s production we are transported to, well I’m not sure when, as there’s a real mishmash of costumes. Some of the more mature cast members appear to be in 70s garb, while the royalty are clothed in robes, so the timeframe in which it is it set is a bit lost.

The wealth of seasoned actors on display, including Peter Guiness as Buckingham and Sara Powell as Queen Elizabeth, deliver a good quality if not slightly slow depiction, but I must say, I prefer the tale of the dastardly wannabe King portrayed by a more youthful cast, as I feel they bring a more realistic torment to the rival factions and a desperation to their thirst for power.

There are also a number of occasions when the iambic pentameter becomes a bit much for some of the performers, particularly in the scenes with the young princes, which are stiff and feel under rehearsed.

The acumen of the lead cast thankfully outweighs the occasional slow Shakespearian waltz however, and Greg Hicks (disabled by chains in a masterstroke by costume designer Sarah June Mills) and Peter Guiness both put in accomplished performances.

Anthony Lamble’s multilevel, yet sparse set design ensures the focus is on the dialogue at all times, while David Howe’s lighting helps to differentiate between friend or foe, for those new to the play.

With a bit of tightening up, this production could be a regal romp, but it lacks the youthful exuberance, which gives Richard III its teeth.

Richard III is at the Arcola Theatre until 10 June 

Photo Flash: Take a look at Greg Hicks and the cast rehearsing Richard III at Arcola Theatre

 

Greg Hicks is celebrated for his acclaimed performances as Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Coriolanus and King Lear at the Royal Shakespeare Company.

As Coriolanus at The Old Vic, he was nominated for the Best Actor Olivier Award and won Best Shakespearian Performance at the Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards,.

Now he’s returning to Shakespeare after many years to play the one major character left – RICHARD III.

Arcola’s thrilling new production of Shakespeare’s RICHARD III, starring RSC Associate Artist Greg Hicks and directed by Artistic Director Mehmet Ergen, begins previews on 11 May.
www.arcolatheatre.com

Photos by Alex Brenner

Following his celebrated performances as Macbeth, Julius Caesar, Coriolanus and King Lear for the Royal Shakespeare Company, RSC Associate Artist Greg Hicks takes on the role of the tyrant king Richard. Hicks was nominated for the Best Actor Olivier Award, and won Best Shakespearian Performance at the Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards, for playing the title role in Coriolanus at the Old Vic. He is returning to Arcola Theatre having previously played Morris Honeyspoon in two sold-out acclaimed runs of Clarion, Dr Thomas Stockmann in An Enemy of the People (both directed by Mehmet Ergen) and The Kreutzer Sonata.

The rest of the cast are: Jane Bertish (Margaret) played an M15 Director in Charlie Brooker’s Netflix series, Black Mirror: Hated in the Nation, and was last seen on stage in In The Depths of Dead Love at the Print Room. Jim Bywater (King Edward/Lord Mayor) co-starred with Greg Hicks in Clarion and was in The Cherry Orchard and The Lower Depths (all at Arcola). Jamie de Courcey (Keeper/Richmond) is in The Crown on Netflix, Six Wives and Taboo. His recent films include playing Vincent van Gogh in Vincent van Gogh – A New Way of Seeing. On stage he recently appeared at The Sam Wanamaker Playhouse in Every Man Out of His Humour – Read not Dead. Femi Elufowoju Jr (Rivers) has performed extensively at the National Theatre, Royal Court Theatre and Theatre Royal Stratford East. He was in Out of Blixen at The Print Room, and in Lion Boy at the Tricycle and on Broadway. Annie Firbank (Duchess of York) is a veteran of seasons at Stratford-upon-Avon, Royal Court, Prospect Company, Actor’s Company, Stratford (Ontario), and the National Theatre. She was recently in Oresteia (Almeida) and The Crucible (Old Vic). Peter Guinness (Buckingham) has recently been seen on TV in Lucky Man, Critical, Strike Back and DaVinci’s Demons. On stage he was in After Independence (Arcola) and Claudius in Hamlet at Glasgow Citizens Theatre. Mark Jax (Hastings/Ratcliffe) has been in several RSC productions, including King John, A Soldier In Every Son, and Edward IV and several NT productions including Pravda, The Government Inspector and The Futurists. Paul Kemp (Clarence/Stanley) was Professor Goodman in Ghost Stories in the West End and Smee in Wendy and Peter Pan (Royal Shakespeare Company). Sara Powell (Queen Elizabeth) was in The Crucible (Old Vic), Disgraced (Bush), Macbeth (Almeida). Georgina Rich (Lady Anne) was Portia in The Merchant of Venice (RSC) and was in Rabbit Hole (Hampstead) and Between Us (Arcola). Matthew Sim (Catesby) was in the film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. On stage his previous Shakespearian roles have included Prospero in The Tempest, Duncan in Macbeth, Mark Anthony in Julius Caesar and Edward Plantagenet in Richard III and Saint Joan (NT).

Creative team: Director: Mehmet Ergen. Design: Anthony Lamble. Lighting Design: David Howe. Sound Design Dinah Mullen

King Edward is on the throne, and England is at peace. But don’t worry – it won’t be that way for long. Gripping and outrageous, Shakespeare’s Richard III is the tale of a ruthless, power-crazed misogynist who lies and cheats his way to the highest seat in the land. “England hath long been mad and scarred herself.”

Richard III begins previews at the Areola Theatre from 11 May