Review added of the National Theatre’s new “Film for TV” of Romeo & Juliet (SEE LINK), starring Jesse Buckley as Juliet and Josh “The Crown” O’Connor as Romeo. Filmed in 17 days during the pandemic in the empty theatre. Definitely a film, not a streamed play, though it remains tightly in a theatre. 5 star reviews from The Guardian and Telegraph too. Repeated on 5th April and 8th April on Sky Arts in the UK (Freeview Channel 11). Coming to PBS in the USA on 23 April for Shakespeare’s birthday.

Review? Or possibly an incentive to watch this 6 part TV series SEX, CHIPS & ROCK ‘n’ ROLL (FOLLOW LINK) , first broadcast in 1999. Just watched it for the third time … 1999, on buying the DVD on release and again this week. It’s a wonderful view of Manchester in 1965 with struggling pop group The Ice Cubes and two twin sisters, Arden and Eloise, and their family. Standout performances all round … especially David Threfall as creepy Cousin Norman, Phil Daniels as Larry B. Cool, and Sue Johnstone as the twins’ stern and snobby grandmother. Joseph McFadden as lead singer Dallas is a credible rock star too. It gets better every time I watch it. On DVD and episode by episode on YouTube too.

Review of the much-vaunted DREAM – Interactive from the Royal Shakespeare Company. Warning, this is one of my most negative reviews ever.

NEW! A dystopian pandemic novel. Now available on Kindle or as a paperback from amazon. It should be in your local market wherever. It’s aimed for adult and young adult. Only 200 pages- a fast read!

It’s twenty years after the Great Pandemic, a new virus that destroyed the brain in the late 2020s. The Isle of Wight shut itself off right at the start. It is the last bastion of the old world as it was before the disease, protecting its frontiers from the crazed ‘Frenzies’ on the mainland by any force necessary. However, it’s an isolated world with no imports, no internet connectivity. That means everything to do with money has gone. No cell phones. No GPS. No tea, coffee, cotton, synthetic fibre. No more petrol or diesel or gas.

Then one day, Nat, a young frontier guard is abducted from the beach by two women and a man. Nat is taken to a rugged community on the mainland run by a research scientist and his adopted daughter, Freya. The frontier guard controller, Edwin, begins to question the type of society that has grown up on the island, with its ‘navy’ consisting of an escaped American guided missile destroyer, and patrol boats with steel rams to run down any boat that tries to approach the island. Who runs things on the island and how? Can Nat be rescued, or will he bring back the virus and destroy the island?

It’s a fast moving story, full of action, as well as speculation on a world devoid of so many familiar things.

Amazon LOOK INSIDE gives you all of chapter one.

Follow the link above.

A review added of the 1981 TV mini-series of Malcolm Bradbury’s THE HISTORY MAN (linked). The TV version is said to have had a major effect on attitudes to higher-education during the rise of Margaret Thatcher. The review goes into several side alleys on tertiary education. It also has some autobiography, as Malcolm Bradbury supervised my MA just two years before the era the book is set in (1972). The cast is tremendous … Anthony Sher, Michael Hordern, Geraldine James,Isla Blair, Laura Davenport, Miriam Margolyes, Paul Brooke, Maggie Steed. It’s extremely watchable and very funny.

Michael Hordern and Anthony Sher

Review added of TO OLIVIA (linked to review) the story of Roald Dahl and Patricia Neal in 1962. It’s on Sky, and stars Hugh Bonneville as Dahl, Keeley Hawes as Patricia Neal, with a wonderful cameo by Geoffrey Palmer as the archbishop of Cantebury. Because the subject matter is mainly sad, I’d class it as ‘admirable rather than entertaining.’

I’ve just reviewed THE MAN IN THE HAT (linked). We just tried it on Amazon Prime and were rapidly transfixed. On the surface it’s a near wordless journey in rural France set sometime in the 1960s. Think Tati. But then the director and writer is Stephen Warbeck, the composer. The lead actor, Ciaran Hinds as the classic French figure, is Irish. English actors turn up in cameos. I’ve held back any plot spoilers or surprises in the review. It’s a must-see 5-star film. The music is brilliant throughout. So is the cinematography. And it’s very funny.

Major review added of STAGE FRIGHT, the third album by The Band, both past and present in the remastered and resequenced new edition. Linked here to the AROUND and AROUND blog. Just click.

Review added of NEWS OF THE WORLD (link to review), Tom Hanks’ first Western. Now out on Netflix and it is a classic in both form and in quality. We loved it.

Review of the TV series hit of the moment, BRIDGERTON (linked). Eight episodes on Netflix (everything we watch seems to be on Netflix). It was something of a struggle to get through but we persisted. I’ve avoided plot spoilers, and have gone for humour. Comments box is open on the page.