Miss Marx (2020)

Miss Marx
Director: Susanna Nicchiarelli
Writer: Susanna Nicchiarelli
Cast: Romola Garai, Patrick Kennedy, John Gordon Sinclair, Felicity Montagu, Karina Fernandez, Emma Cunniffe, Philip Gröning, George Arrendell, Célestin Ryelandt, Oliver Chris
Part of: Viennale
Seen on: 22.10.2020

Plot:
After the death of her father Karl (Philip Gröning), Eleanor Marx (Romola Garai), who has always been a socialist activist, takes over her father’s mantle. She works hard to make workers’ concerns heard and takes a particular interest in female workers. When she meets Edward Aveling (Patrick Kennedy), also a speaker and activist, she falls for him hard – and he is equally taken with her. Despite their passion for each other and for the socialist movement, their relationship isn’t always happy.

Miss Marx was an excellent start into the Viennale, shedding light on a woman we probably know way too little about. I would have liked it if the film had focused a little more on her political activism and a little less on her relationship with Aveling, but it was really well done.

The film poster showing Eleanor Marx (Romola Garai), blurred because she is moving, her hair wild.
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One Man, Two Guvnors

One Man, Two Guvnors
Director: Nicholas Hytner
Writer: Richard Bean
Based on: Carlo Goldoni‘s Servant of Two Masters
Cast: James Corden, Jemima Rooper, Oliver Chris, Suzie Toase, Daniel Rigby, Claire Lams, Tom Edden
Seen on: 9.4.2020
[Here’s my review of an Austrian production of Goldoni’s play.]

Content Note: rape joke

Plot:
Pauline (Claire Lams) and Alan (Daniel Rigby) are celebrating their engagement when Frances (James Corden) knocks on the door to announce that his employer Roscoe (Jemima Rooper) is there. Roscoe supposedly died a couple of days ago and his sudden appearance is doubly upsetting because Pauline, and more importantly her dowry, were promised to him long time ago. What Pauline doesn’t know is that it isn’t actually Roscoe but his twin sister Rachel who comes to collect the dowry, so she can flee with her fiancé who did kill Roscoe. As Rachel-as-Roscoe waits for the dowry, she takes camp in a hotel. Also in that hotel – unbeknownst to Rachel – is her fiancé Stanley (Oliver Chris). Thinking him unemployed, Stanley hires Frances who is always looking for a way to get to some food. But serving two guvnors isn’t easy, as Frances soon discovers.

I missed this production when it came to the cinemas and now that National Theatre is offering some of their plays to watch at home, it was the ideal opportunity for me to catch up with this one, since I heard a lot of good things about it. And I have to say, it was a very enjoyable production that definitely made me laugh.

Frances (James Corden) holding out a flower.
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Emma. (2020)

Emma.
Director: Autumn de Wilde
Writer: Eleanor Catton
Based on: Jane Austen‘s novel
Cast: Anya Taylor-Joy, Johnny Flynn, Bill Nighy, Mia Goth, Myra McFadyen, Josh O’Connor, Callum Turner, Rupert Graves, Gemma Whelan, Amber Anderson, Miranda Hart, Tanya Reynolds, Connor Swindells, Oliver Chris
Seen on: 11.3.2020
[Here are my reviews of other Emma adaptations.]

Content Note: antiziganism

Plot:
Emma Woodhouse (Anya Taylor-Joy) is “handsome, clever, and rich” and also very interested in matching the people around her. She credits herself with matching up her former governess Miss Taylor (now Mrs Weston) (Gemma Whelan) and Mr Weston (Rupert Graves) and encouraged by that success, sets about her next “victim”, naive and unrefined Harriet Smith (Mia Goth). Despite the warnings of her friend Mr Knightley (Johnny Flynn), Emma wants to match Harriet with the local vicar, Mr Elton (Josh O’Connor). For herself, Emma has no plans – other than Mr Weston’s son Frank Churchill (Callum Turner) (who she has never met) excites her curiosity.

Emma. was absolutely delightful. It has one of the best comedy ensemble casts I’ve seen in a long time, wonderfully lush production design and really captures the spirit of the book. I was very taken by it.

The film poster showing Emma (Anya Taylor-Joy), Frank Churchill (Callum Turner) and Mr. Knightley (Johnny Flynn).
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A Midsummer Night’s Dream

A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Director: Nicholas Hytner, Ross MacGibbon
Writer: William Shakespeare
Cast: Oliver Chris, Gwendoline Christie, David Moorst, Isis Hainsworth, Tessa Bonham Jones, Paul Adeyefa, Kit Young, Kevin McMonagle, Felicity Montagu, Hammed Animashaun, Jermaine Freeman, Ami Metcalf, Jamie-Rose Monk, Francis Lovehall
Seen on: 17.10.2019
[Here is my review of an old Austrian production.]

Plot:
Duke Theseus (Oliver Chris) is about to marry Hippolyta (Gwendoline Christie) when he is approached to solve a dispute: Hermia (Isis Hainsworth) is supposed to marry Demetrius (Paul Adeyefa), but she is in love with Lysander (Kit Young). When Theseus tells her to obey her father, Hermia runs away with Lysander, followed by Demetrius who was warned by Hermia’s friend Helena (Tessa Bonham Jones) who also follows the three into the forest. But the forest is a dangerous place. Even more so since fairy king Oberon (Oliver Chris) is having a fight with his queern Titania (Gwendoline Christie).

I absolutely loved this production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It isn’t perfect, but it is really close. It is definitely funny, beautiful and really cool.

The production poster showing Titania (Gwendoline Christie), Puck (David Moorst), Oberon (Oliver Chris), Bottom (Hammed Animashaun) and the changeling child sittiing on and around a bed in a forest.
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Young Marx

Young Marx
Director: Nicholas Hytner
Writer: Richard Bean, Clive Coleman
Cast: Rory Kinnear, Oliver Chris, Nancy Carroll, Laura Elphinstone, Eben Figueiredo, Nicholas Burns, Tony Jayawardena, Miltos Yerolemou, Duncan Wisbey
Seen on: 7.12.2017

Plot:
Karl Marx (Rory Kinnear) lives with his wife Jenny (Nancy Carroll) and children in poverty in Soho. Karl seems at odds with everyone around him, from creditors to police to his fellow critical thinkers. He doesn’t seem to mind much because, really, Karl is mostly interested in hanging out with his friend Friedrich Engels (Oliver Chris), who helps keeping the creditors at bay, and getting drunk whenever he gets half a chance.

I assume that Young Marx intended to get away from the revered by stuffy image Marx has acquired in the past 150 years, but it only partly succeeds in pushing Marx of his pedestal. And it only partly succeeds as a play.

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