Kristen Stewart: Back from the Twilight

Arrival (Film Review)

 Arrival is now available on Blu Ray, DVD and Curzon Home Cinema 

5 STARS

From the moment the soul-piercingly brilliant sounds of Max Richter’s ‘On the Nature of Daylight’ play at the beginning of Arrival you know that this is no ordinary alien invasion film.

Director Denis Villeneuve stunned and mesmerised audiences last year with an artful betrayal of genre conventions.  His film brought humanity, style and delicacy of storytelling to a sci-fi world that has often been riddled with clumsily written, overstuffed and disposable blockbusters like Independence Day: Resurgence – which came out few months prior.

The story begins as mysterious spaceships hover above the ground at twelve locations across the planet. In a bid to understand and communicate with the extra-terrestrials, linguistics professor Louise Banks (Amy Adams) and theoretical physicist Ian Donnelly (Jeremy Renner) are recruited by the US government to offer their expertise at a site in Montana.

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As Louise gets closer to an amazing truth, her progress with the aliens is threatened by growing civilian panic, media pressures and volatile international relations.

Like previous Villeneuve works, Arrival unravels in unexpected – but immensely gratifying -fashion. The director has already shown he can handle twists with the endings of Prisoners (2013) and Sicario (2015), but the first viewing of this film exceeds those efforts. It is truly an awe-inspiring experience. The story then takes a different shape– still equally as moving – upon second viewing, similar to Fight Club (1999), Memento (2000) or The Usual Suspects (1995).

 Arrival also bucks trends in its visual style. A far cry from the bright popping colours of Moonlight and La La Land, cinematographer Bradford Young instead focuses on the mundane.

The Montana site (where much of the film is set) is constantly shrouded in heavy cloud, a pathetic fallacy for the uncertainty that lingers over the planet. These muted colours pervade most of the film and brilliantly accentuate the scarcely used warmer colours when they arrive at pivitol moments.

Likewise, Young discards the frantic camera style we expect from these types of films in favour of a slow and still approach. It allows for stunningly photographic shots, especially those which underline Adams’ radiant performance. The camera can’t help but close in on her big luminous blue eyes – a captivating gateway into her character.

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The failure to recognise Adams’ performance at the last month’s Oscars remains bewildering.

Even still,  Arrival only acts to solidify Villeneuve’s reputation as one of the best non-American filmmakers in Hollywood. After proving he could master sci-fi, the French Canadian director was given the daunting task of reviving Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner (1982). There should be excitement rather than apprehension surrounding this reboot.

In Arrival, Villeneuve gave us a glorious film that celebrates language, life and the human spirit – something we should all cherish.

Read more:

Beauty and the Beast review

The Love Witch Review

Full Metal Jacket Q&A

Personal Shopper Q&A

 

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The Arrival – 5/5

Dir: Denis Villeneuve

Scr: Eric Heisserer, based on story “Story of your Life” by Ted Chiang

Cast: Amy Adams, Jeremy Renner, Forest Whitaker, Michael Stuhlbarg

Music: Johann Johannsson

DOP: Bradford Young

Year: 2016

Runtime:1hr 58

 

 

 

Beauty and the Beast (Film Review)

1 STAR

DISNEY’S stellar run continues with their finest live action remake to date.

Emma Watson takes the lead role as Belle, a beautiful and dignified bookworm who finds herself branded ‘funny’ by the village locals. One day Belle’s father, Maurice (Kevin Kline), goes missing and the hunt to find him leads her to a mysterious and decrepit castle hidden deep in the woods.

When Belle ventures inside, she is horrified to discover Maurice has been imprisoned by a hostile Beast (Dan Stevens) – formerly a dashing socialite prince whose vanity and conceit brought this physical curse upon him. In an act of selflessness, Belle trades places with her elderly father and vows to escape the Beast’s clutches.

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As she starts to discover there is more to the beast and the castle he inhabits, Maurice races back home to seek help from the villagers. In desperation, he enlists the help of narcissistic former solider Gaston (Luke Evans) – whose obsession with Belle has more to do with a ballooning ego – and his blindly loyal sidekick LeFou (Josh Gad).

Of course, most of us are aware of what follows before we purchase a ticket. But the beauty of these live action remakes is that they bring a renewed sense of purpose to these beloved stories. We obviously don’t want our childhood attachment to the 1991 animated version to be spoiled. Yet we must accept that even the tale as old as time needs to be reframed and modernised for younger generations.

Luckily, director Bill Condon captures the Disney fairy tale spirit in way that should enchant young, old and in-between.

That begins with Watson’s well-measured performance which thrives on its gentle simplicity and also sets the tone for a cast of endearing displays. No more so than McGregor’s voicing of Lumiere, the charismatic candle that brings a glowing energy to the magical castle.

His chemistry with McKellen (Cogsworth) is a highlight alongside the film’s other dynamic duo: Evans and Gad.

Much has been made of the sexual orientation of Gad’s character but it all feels secondary to their thoroughly entertaining scenes together. They deliver the film’s biggest laughs while keeping their child-friendly menace intact. Together Gad and Evans make for perfect Disney baddies.

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With slightly distracting CGI to overcome, Stevens’ does a fine job conveying the Beast’s conflict of bitter frustration and uneasy optimism.

The songs retain that classic Disney charm and are paired with dazzlingly designed visuals, some of which pay homage to The Sound of Music (1965) and Busby Berkeley among others.

Unfortunately, a frustrating misstep comes in the ballroom scene, made iconic by the innovative sweeping camera shots in the animated film, which suffers from an ill-advised and contrived cocky accent from Emma Thompson (Mrs Potts).

But it is merely a small thorn in this rose of a film. One that marks an improvement on last year’s Jungle Book and bodes well for the plethora of Disney live action remakes in the works.

So be my guest. Put this complimentary review to the test. Go and treat yourself to Beauty and the Beast.

Also Read:

‘A work of tonal genius by Biller’ – The Love Witch (Film Review)

Full Metal Jacket Q&A with producer Jan Harlan

Personal Shopper Q&A with director Olivier Assayas

Kong: Skull Island and Elle (Film Review)

Beauty and the Beast – 3/5

Dir: Bill Condon 

Scr: Stephen Chbosky, Evan Spiliotopoulos

Cast: Emma Watson, Dan Stevens, Luke Evans, Josh Gad, Kevin Kline, Ewan McGregor, Ian McKellen, Emma Thompson, Audra McDonald, Stanley Tucci, Gugu Mbatha-Raw

DOP: Tobias A Schliessler

Music: Alan Menken

Year: 2017

Runtime: 1hr 50

 

The Love Witch (Film Review)

5 STARS

ANNA Biller’s follow up to her debut feature Viva (2007) is a deeply artistic study of female psychology, shot in spellbinding 35mm.

The film focuses on Elaine (Samantha Robinson), a devastatingly beautiful witch who enjoys making ‘love potions’. It starts with her driving to a small California town to start life afresh following the suspect death of her ex-husband.

When Elaine arrives, she is invited out to a stylish Victorian Tea Room by her friend Trish (Laura Waddell) – a dazzling introduction to the multi-talented Biller’s tremendous flair for set and costume design that shines through in this ode to 60’s and 70’s Technicolor.

As a harpist serenely plucks, the two discuss their differing outlooks on relationships with men and uncover many of the feminine traumas that are probed throughout the film. ‘You sound as if you’ve been brainwashed by the patriarchy,’ is career-driven Trish’s response to Elaine’s deadpan claim that she aims to fulfil men’s sexual desires with the hope of unlocking their ‘love potential’.

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For all of her talk about love, we soon find out that Elaine has an unnervingly methodical – and deadly – approach to her encounters with men. It is reminiscent of Scarlett Johansson in 2013’s Under the Skin, as these hapless men fall prey to the witch’s enchanting sexuality – as well as a wicked dose of her hallucinogen-filled potions.

Despite the casualties, Elaine remains resolute in her quest to find a strong man who can give her the unwavering love that she desires, without crumbling into a feeble mess. When police officer Griff (Gian Keys) comes to her door asking tough questions about one of her missing victims, Elaine believes she has finally found the man to satisfy her needs.

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The Love Witch is a work of tonal genius by Biller. The auteur strikes an absorbing balance that finds room for bizarre occult rituals, blubbering men and period jokes, while continuing to pose powerful intellectual inquiries into feminine constructs.

This is certainly a film that will benefit from the multiple viewings and close readings that its inevitable cult status will bring.

If anything, Robinson’s bewitching retro acting alone is worth a second viewing. The British-born actress leads the way in an impressive cast that skillfully gives voice to Biller’s cutting satire.

I dare you to take a sip of Biller’s cinematic potion. You will undoubtedly fall head over heels for The Love Witch.

ALSO CHECK OUT:

Personal Shopper Q&A with director Olivier Assayas

Full Metal Jacket Q&A with producer Jan Harlan

The Love Witch – 4/5

Dir: Anna Biller

Scr: Anna Biller

Cast: Samantha Robinson, Gian Keys, Laura Waddell, Jeffrey Vincent Parise, Robert Seeley, Stephen Wozniak

DOP: M David Mullen

Music: Anna Biller

Year: 2016

Runtime: 2hr

Full Metal Jacket Q&A with Producer Jan Harlan

Personal Shopper Q&A with Director Olivier Assayas

‘THIS is a ghost story. It deals with the invisible.’

So says Olivier Assayas, director of Personal Shopper, a film which boldly confronts perceptions of the supernatural.

Maureen Cartwright (Kristen Stewart) is a young American woman in Paris who makes a living selecting clothes for a rich celebrity. The work is thankless and unfulfilling but Maureen is willing to bear it while she waits for her deceased twin brother to make contact from the afterlife.

As Maureen’s frustrations grow, a series of anonymous text messages spark a personal turmoil that begins to bleed into her professional life.

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Speaking to esteemed film writer – and host for the night – Ian Haydn Smith in front of a captivated audience at the Curzon Soho, Assayas cited John Carpenter (Halloween, The Thing), David Cronenberg (The Fly, Videodrome) and Wes Craven (Scream, A Nightmare on Elm Street) as the inspirations behind his venture into supernatural themes.

He said: ‘They [the directors] deal with issues that are very profound and ultimately they are more disturbing and more profound than what is considered serious filmmaking –  especially when dealing with issues of visual and invisible, and life and death.’

He continued:  ‘When I am dealing with abstract, metaphysic ideas we don’t feel that it should be associated with genre filmmaking, but I think the opposite.

‘I think genre filmmaking is our best key to getting there because genre filmmaking connects physically with the audience.’

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Yet it is Assayas’ European approach that brings a refreshing twist to the genre and allows for a cerebral examination of an individual’s relationship with the invisible.

At times, Personal Shopper feels like a psychological study not too far from Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan (2010). It is riveting, but also leads the audience down a path of self-reflection that opens up a more nuanced discussion about our own interpretations of the supernatural.

The director stated: ‘I wanted to make a film that deals with the supernatural but not in the way that American genre movies relate to the supernatural.

‘In the sense that American culture is so defined by mechanism – by good and bad. Visible is good and what is happening outside of visible is evil. I don’t think that way. I think there is something fascinating in the invisible.’

He explained: ‘We all have a completely different relationship with the invisible because ultimately we live in societies where religion has faded, so very few people have a solid religious vision of the world and of the afterlife.

‘It’s nonetheless a question that we all have, even if it is pushed under the rug. It is there for every single one of us. We all build our own convictions.’

As Assayas pointed out in his introduction to the screening, the supernatural elements of the film are made credible by an extraordinary lead performance from Kristen Stewart.

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The two worked together on Clouds of Sils Maria in 2014, a wonderfully acted film observing artistic expression and filmmaking. It proved to be a ‘watershed moment’ (Ian Haydn Smith’s words) in Stewart’s career.

Of course, the director has taken much of the praise for breathing fresh life into her career following the commercially successful – but critically panned – Twilight franchise.

Assayas said: ‘I think I was the right person at the right moment. I didn’t invent her. Everything she does is her own hard work. I am just the person who happened to give her the space to express it because it’s all a matter of control.

‘When you are working in a Hollywood framework, it is all about control and there is very little room for actors. It’s all about supervision.

‘In independent European filmmaking tradition it is the opposite. Actors have a lot more space. I did with Kristen what I have done with all the actors I have worked with – give her space. But for her it was completely new.’

Assayas gave insight into this fluid approach to the storytelling process, including his laissez-faire approach to scenes – allowing actors to work on instinct rather than meticulous notes. Also, his willingness to let actors adapt the dialogue to fit their own voice. It is a platform that allowed Stewart to flourish.

The highly engaging 62-year-old went on to say: ‘I was also the one person who told her: ‘It’s ok to be yourself’. It is extremely basic but I think it was useful for her.

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‘All of a sudden it gave her confidence. I was the one who helped her with that but it is also to the credit of Juliette Binoche.

‘When we made Sils Maria together, part of the story was that Kristen wanted to work with Juliette because she admired her. She admired her freedom, the way she has been able to move between independent filmmaking and more mainstream filmmaking, protecting her freedom.

‘That was something Kristen was interested in, and the way Juliette improvises and constantly reinvents her scenes is something that Kristen used as a model.’

After a follow up film to Clouds of Sils Maria fell through the day before shooting – an exasperating blow for Assayas and a sad loss for audiences – the director returned to Paris and began conceptualising Personal Shopper.

When writing the film, Assayas came to the conclusion that the lead character would have to be a foreigner in Paris, his main reference point being Stewart. It soon became apparent that the role was not only inspired by Stewart but written for her. Unsurprisingly, the actress took the role immediately after receiving the script.

We can only hope that there is more to come from this partnership although Assayas noted that Stewart will be making her own films in the future (she made short film Come Swim this year).

The director’s admiration for Stewart was clear to see, and one remark from Haydn Smith about her incredible use of body movements sparked a fascinating anecdote about the level of detail that goes into the actress’s performances.

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Assayas revealed: ‘When we started making Sils Maria, I had seen her in movies, I had loved her, I had met her a few times. I liked the person and thought she had very big potential but I didn’t realise how unique she was.

‘What made me realise how unique she was is how she uses her body on screen. The preciseness of the consciousness she has of the space where she is acting and where the camera is. What lense it is and what she can do to position herself.

‘It is very silly but in one scene in Sils Maria all she had to do was open a curtain but the way she opened the curtain I could not believe my eyes.’

There are plenty of ‘curtain opening’ moments for Stewart in Personal Shopper.

Make sure you do not miss them.  Personal Shopper will stun, grip and probe your inner self, even if you consider yourself the most obdurate of supernatural cynics.

PERSONAL SHOPPER IS OUT IN CINEMAS ON FRIDAY THE 17TH OF MARCH

Visit Curzon cinemas 

Kong Skull Island & Ellie Review

In Other Words – A Play About Dementia That Hits Hard (Theatre Review)

Antonio and his glorious weeping guitar (Live Music Review)

Kong: Skull Island and Elle (Film Review)

BEAUTY and the Beast does not arrive in cinemas until this Friday (March 17) but I was treated to my own cinematic beauty and beast – of sorts – on my recent trip to the Curzon in London (a sublime Victoria and closure-threatened Soho).

Kong: Skull Island is the second ‘MonsterVerse’ film from Legendary Entertainment following on from 2014’s Godzilla. It takes place at the close of the Vietnam War in 1973.

Government official Bill Randa (John Goodman) pushes for approval to survey a mysterious and uncharted South Pacific island. His expedition is sanctioned on the basis that the US will be securing a potential gold mine of resources ahead of the Russians. But Randa is more concerned with proving the existence of deadly monsters that he believes inhabit the island.

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Randa is assigned a military troop, fresh from ‘Nam. It is led by Lieutenant Colonel Preston Packard (Samuel L Jackson) and accompanies his team of scientists, along with tracker James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) and photojournalist Mason Weaver (Brie Larson).

As their helicopters make a violent and disruptive arrival on Skull Island, they are greeted by the mammoth figure of King Kong who proceeds to tear them down in rage. This encounter turns the expedition into a fight for survival, which leaves the remaining members of the team just three days to navigate across the perils of Skull Island and reach the safety of their rallying point.

As Conrad and Weaver begin to realise that Kong is not the monster to be feared on this island,  Packer remains hell-bent on exacting revenge on the colossal primate for killing many of his soldiers, resolutely stating: ‘’this is a war we can’t lose.’

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Of course, if you are looking for any semblance of nuance or depth beneath ‘copter crushing and Samuel L Jackson cursing, you have definitely chosen the wrong film. Skull Island’s brittle script is littered with an array of undeveloped characters that feels all too reminiscent of recent ‘blockbuster’ disappointments such as Jurassic World, Ghostbusters and Suicide Squad

Randa’s statement at the start of the film that ‘they’ll never be a more screwed up time in Washington’ is a jolting precursor to the film’s dense approach to storytelling.

In fact, Randa’s character arc seems to end once he has given everyone a reason to be on the island. It is a disappointing waste of Goodman’s abundant talent and sadly none of the monsters in this film are half as threatening, imposing or sinister as the one he so expertly played in 10 Cloverfield Lane.

The film’a scatter-gun approach is reflected in its careless use of music, albeit nowhere near as unbearable as Suicide Squad’s overhanded pop tracks.

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Yes, Jefferson Starship and Credence Clearwater Revival are reminders that we are in the 1970’s. But their sound is almost as distracting as the appearance of Hank Marlow (John C Reilly) midway through the film.

Marlow, a former World War II pilot who has been living on the island since his plane crash-landed, gives the impression that he has just walked off the set of Step Brothers – certainly not of a man who has just spent close to 30 years battling for survival on a terror-filled island.

It is all irritating, bewildering and outright skull-numbing stuff that no amount of explosions and spectacle can cover up.

 LUCKILY my second film of the day, Paul Verhoeven’s Elle, provided just the right dose of medicine to sooth this cinephile’s gorilla-induced headache.

Successful video game chief executive Michele Leblanc (a glorious Isabelle Huppert) is confronted by a monster of different sorts when a masked man breaks into her home and rapes her.

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Rather than calling the police – her father’s scandalous past makes her wary of the authorities – Michele’s response is shockingly composed and reserved. She cleans up the mess, takes a bloodied bath and then orders some sushi.

As a series of lewd text messages from Michele’s attacker spark a tense game of cat and mouse, she changes the locks, shops for weapons and learns how to fire a gun, ready to fight back if necessary.

The masked man rapes again and on one occasion leaves a message for her on a computer resting on her bed, accompanied by a healthy dose of his semen.

Michele’s desire to resist victimhood and maintain control of her life also gives her fresh impetus to confront other lingering personal issues which largely involve emasculated men.

Michele’s ex-husband Richard (Charles Berling), whom she regrets having separated from, is in a relationship with a young student (and yoga teacher) who is only interested in him for his modest literary fame.

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Their son Vincent (Jonas Bloquet) is still asking Michele for financial support and is subservient to his bossy and disagreeable pregnant girlfriend Josie (Alice Isaaz). A child we discover whose father is patently not Robert but a work colleague (the smile on the latter’s face in the maternity room after a difficult birth says it all).

Robert (Christian Berkel) – the husband of Michele’s best friend and business partner Anna (Anne Consigny) – is having an affair with Michele. Not surprisingly, Robert is desperate to keep their wilting romance alive but Michele’s disinterest is clear to see.

That is not all. Michele’s mother (a marvellous Judith Magre) is threatening to marry a young toy boy, much to her daughter’s disgust – while the latest video that the company is working on is corrupted by an employee, showing Michele in a less than flattering light. An extraordinary scene follows when one of the employees is asked to drop his pants to prove to Michele that he is not the rapist.

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Most of these simmering relationships and situations provide an amusing backdrop to Michele’s darker issues, especially when some of these people are gathered together for a dysfunctional Christmas dinner party.

As you can tell from all this, Elle is certainly not your conventional revenge story.

Instead, it subverts the genre in ways that are outrageously dark and devastatingly enthralling. Huppert’s brave and unyielding performance – in some truly disturbing scenes – is sublime.

I thought she was good in last year’s Things to Come. But Elle sees Huppert reach new heights.

Reason enough to visit your local cinema and be terrified, appalled but thoroughly entertained by yet another challenging and provocative Verhoeven classic.

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Kong Skull Island – 2/5

Dir: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Scr: Dan Gilroy, Max Borenstein, Derek Connolly

Cast: Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L Jackson, Brie Larson, John C Reilly, John Goodman, Corey Hawkins, Tian Jing, Jason Mitchell, Thomas Mann

DOP: Larry Fong

Music: Henry Jackman

Year: 2017

Runtime: 2 hrs

Elle – 4/5 

Dir: Paul Verhoeven

Scr: David Birke, Philippe Djian (novel)

Cast: Isabelle Huppert, Laurent Lafitte, Anne Consigny, Charles Berling, Virginie Efira, Judith Magre, Christian Berkel, Jonas Bloquet, Alice Isaaz, Vimala Pons

DOP: Stephane Fontaine

Music: Anne Dudley

Year: 2016

Runtime: 2hr 10

Limehouse – ‘Woy’ would have loved it (Theatre Review)

‘WHAT if?’

It is the question asked by Debbie Owen right at the end of Steve Waters’ splendid new play Limehouse at the Donmar Warehouse about the Gang of Four and the setting up of the Social Democratic Party in January 1981.

‘What if there’d been no Falklands War?’ she reflects, referring to the electoral boost that the war gave Margaret Thatcher in 1983.

‘What if Shirley had stepped up to the plate and led instead of Roy?’, she asks again. This  alludes to the fact that Shirley Williams was a far more appealing and earthy politician (and party leader) than Roy Jenkins, the first SDP leader. Indeed, at one stage, before Thatcher’s emergence, she was tipped to be the country’s first female Prime Minister.

Questions, questions, questions for which there are no definitive answers.

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All we now know is that the SDP is no more, having faded into oblivion in the early 1990s. A party defeated by a mix of patriotism and the country’s first past the post electoral system that fails to acknowledge close runners up.

Jenkins, sadly, is no longer with us while other gang members Bill Rodgers, David Owen and Shirley Williams have become Baron Rodgers of Quarry Bank, Lord Owen and Baroness Williams of Crosby. Success out of failure.

How the three remaining gang members would view Limehouse is unknown (none of them could be seen hiding in the audience on opening night). Waters covers his backside by stating quite clearly that Limehouse is a ‘fictionalised account of real events’ (faction) and ‘not endorsed by the individuals portrayed’.

Yet I am sure the gang of three would not be able to resist a chuckle or two at Waters’ take on events on that momentous day in January 1981 when the SDP was hatched from David and Debbie’s home in Limehouse, London.

Rodgers is delightfully played by Paul Chahidi (self-deprecating but still passionate about his Labour roots) while Tom Goodman-Hill’s David Owen is an incendiary mix of bombasity, connivance, arrogance and self-promotion. A shame he looked more like David Cameron than lady’s man Owen.

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Debra Gillett skilfully portrays Shirley Williams as the principled politician she has always been. Also, a female politician with no idea about dress-sense (no thigh-high boots for Shirley, just horrible brown cardigans). Sadly, every time I looked at her, I could not help but think of Mavis Wilton (Coronation Street fame, side-kick of Rita).

Stand out star is Roger Allam as ‘Woy’. He gets Jenkins’ lisp off to a tee and looks the part.

Indeed, much of the play’s great fun is centred around pompous (but loveable) ‘Woy’. I am sure Woy would pat Allam on the back and say: ‘well done’ – if he could.

So, when Jenkins arrives late at the Owens’ home (having got lost), he immediately gives his views on German  wine. ‘Should we even classify Riesling as a wine?’ he opines. ‘The exact tincture of human urine and not a little of its taste.’

He is then impressed when Debbie (sensitively played by Nathalie Armin) offers him a bottle of Chateau Lafite (1964), just as the Gang of Four is about to implode because of David Owen’s wish to railroad them into leaving the Labour Party.

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‘Good year, I was Minister for Aviation’,  he quips. He then smells the cork and remarks: ‘One detects the warm soil after a summer downpour. Mmmm. Now I think you [Debbie] may pour.’

Later on, a second bottle of Lafite is opened. Woy ensures that when he has a chance to pour, he reserves more for his glass although it does not stop Bill from remarking later on that he is feeling a little ‘squiffy’.

Waters has painted a wonderful montage of politics at work. The clashing of egos, scheming, brinkmanship, vacillating minds, constant need for self-publicity  and the ameliorating role that Debbie (an American literary agent) played in the Gang of Four drawing up the Limehouse declaration.

What makes Limehouse so brilliant (as was This House which has just ended its run at the Garrick) is its relevance to today.

Labour schisms, hatred of the Labour leader (then, Michael Foot, now dear Jeremy) and Europe (Jenkins was a total Europhile).

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There are many other aspects of Limehouse that I love – the smell of leeks being cooked by Debbie that drifted up to the Circle and sent hunger pains searing through my stomach, Debbie using a typewriter to produce the declaration (nostalgic) and  Rodgers’ bad back (cured with a mix of wine and pills).

The audience also laughed out loud when Bill suggests the party they are forming should be called New Labour. ‘No, banal’, responds Woy.

Like the SDP, Limehouse has an expiry date – 15 April. Tickets are as scarce as SDP supporters. So, if you can dig one out, you will not be disappointed. Ovations all round on opening night.

www.donmarwarehouse.com