Watching a huge production of a play or musical can be great. But there is something magical that happens when you enter an intimate venue like The Gaslight Theatre in the Central West End. Inside there are only ninety-nine seats, meaning the worst seat in the house is only a few rows away from the stage. You don’t have to worry about seeing or hearing the actors, and there is nothing to detract from the art which is being created before your eyes. Which is a good thing, because you wouldn’t want to miss a second of this beautifully dark and chilling story.
The Pillowman was written by Martin McDonagh, and debuted in 2003 at the Cottesloe Theatre in London, England. It earned the honor of receiving the 2004 Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play, two Tonys, and both New York Drama Critics’ Circle and Drama Desk Awards. The play revolves around a short story writer named Katurian (Jason C. Klefisch), living in a totalitarian state, who is detained for questioning about recent child murders which bear a striking similarity to his stories. He eventually finds out that his brother Michal (Nick Kelly) is also being held, as their lives are placed in the hands of detectives Tupolski (Eric Dean White) and Ariel (Darian Michael Garey). The question is, are the two brothers being held unfairly, or is their something to the hard-nosed detectives’ antics?
There are only four characters in the entire play, but don’t let that scare you away. That is twice as many as appeared in Theatre Lab’s first ambitious project, The Sunset Limited. And what incredible actors were chosen for the roles. Jason Klefisch is fantastic as Katurian, who you aren’t quite sure what to think of at first. His stories are dark and twisted, yet the audience isn’t so quick to pin any guilt on him. The actor gives it his all as he turns in a gut-wrenching performance, running the gamut of emotions. Alongside him is Nick Kelley as his brother Michal for much of the show. Kelley is faced with not only performing some heavy material, but also portraying a character who has special needs. He does an excellent job with the balancing act, making his character’s actions never less than believable. He is also tasked with bringing levity to the show, while never coming across derogatorily or insensitively.
Take a look at all of the photos from the contest, featuring special guest judges: Jason David Frank (Green Ranger) and Professional Cosplayers Aaron Rabe (Captain Jack Sparrow) and Alexa Heart (Ryu):
Around this same time last year, Divergent was a box office success – pulling in almost $300 million dollars worldwide on its $85 million dollar budget. This was yet another attempt to kick-start a movie franchise based on a YA property, similar to that of The Twilight Saga and The Hunger Games. Where other similar attempts like Vampire Academy and The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones have failed, The Divergent Series seems to be right on track to cash in. But has the lackluster second film in the series predicted the future for the franchise?
Taking place only days after the events of the first film, Tris (Shailene Woodley) and her love interest Four (Theo James), along with brother Caleb (Ansel Elgort) and frienemy Peter (Miles Teller), take refuge in Amity until they are ready to take on Jeanine (Kate Winslet). Meanwhile Eric (Jai Courtney) and his army have been searching Abnegation for a box marked with all of the symbols of the factions. After uncovering the artifact and taking it to Jeanine, we learn that only a Divergent can open it – causing her to order the capture of their kind. When Eric shows up to Amity, Tris and her friends escape on a train to Factionless territory – where we are introduced to their leader Evelyn (Naomi Watts). She asks that Dauntless join forces with the Factionless to take on Jeanine and the Erudites.
In 1950 Walt Disney Productions was $4 million dollars in debt, and took a huge gamble on producing the $3 million dollar animated feature Cinderella. It was a film that would either make or break the studio. Yet here we are, and we all know the outcome of the film – 65 years later as we watch the live-action re-imagining of the classic, which is revered as one of the greatest animated features of all time.
Kenneth Branagh (Hamlet, Thor) directs a screenplay by Chris Weitz (About a Boy, Antz) in a straight forward adaptation that doesn’t try to flip the original story, which audiences know and love, on its head. The film follows the classic animated version pretty much beat for beat, and it isn’t at all a bad thing. We do gain more insight into Cinderella’s childhood, and relationship with her mother (Hayley Atwell) and father (Ben Chaplin) before they pass away, which only helps to grow the connection we feel with the main character – played by the charming Lily James (Downton Abbey).
Before Ella’s father passes away, he tries one more attempt at happiness by marrying the widowed Lady Tremaine – masterfully portrayed by Cate Blanchett (Lord of the Rings, Blue Jasmine). Blanchett may look as lovely as ever, but she is evil incarnate as the wicked stepmother. Never before has a cartoon villain come to life on film in such dastardly fashion, as the actress makes it extremely easy to hate her character to its core. Blanchett is in good (bad?) company, as she brings her terribly nasty daughters Drisella (Sophie McShera) and Anastasia (Holliday Grainger) with her to live in the house. True to form, the wicked stepsisters are just as cruel and awful to Cinderella as you would expect. All three actresses do a fantastic job of making the audience loathe them.
Test your skills with Oscar Bingo!
So you consider yourself a fan – no, a savant of the entertainment industry. You know who’s who and who’s played what, and you know better than anyone what’s going to happen at this year’s Academy Awards because you’ve seen them all. You know what today’s celebrities are like and you know who’s been nominated and who’s likely to win, what they’re likely to say, and what they’re likely to do. How exactly do you put this knowledge to the test?