aka ben whiskers

Almeida to stage anarchic comedy about Rupert Murdoch at the Sun
James Graham’s Fleet Street play part of season which includes the return of Ben Whishaw and a series of films in which actors perform famous speeches, available on the Guardian website
By Hannah Ellis-Petersen

It’s a bit of a throwaway line in the article, but:

August will also see the debut of Pulitzer-nominated playwright Christopher Shinn’s new work, Against. Ben Whishaw will play Luke, a tech millionaire convinced he is the next messiah, whose calling is to confront violence in America.

It looks like there’s an intriguing new show mounting at the Almeida early next season, and Ben’s the lead!  I’ve seen rumours that it will start August 23rd, and that tickets should go on sale in May (which reminds me that I owe the Almeida another annual membership fee….).

moonwest replied to your link “Almeida to stage anarchic comedy about Rupert Murdoch at the Sun”

And that Wikipedia quote about Christopher Shinn’s character types…

Yesssss.  I literally just wrote you an ask about that (I can’t reblog from the OP, so).  It sounds like it would be so far up my alley it’s inside my flat, petting my cat and cooing at him.  A character whose hubris makes him both infinitely relatable and charming but also unlikable to the point that you’d enjoy seeing him fail, played by Ben on the stage at my favourite London theatre?  Sign. Me. The. Stuff. Up.

Like I needed an excuse to renew that Almeida membership I had lying around since last time.  A reminder, yes, but an excuse?

Ben Whishaw talks coming out, Spectre and Freddie Mercury biopic
“I think I could actually make quite a good spy,” says Ben Whishaw.

Reason #628 to despise the Daily Mail: Ben confirms that he was forced out by them in 2013 in this interview.  It’s a great interview, anyway (some potential spoilers for London Spy), but it’s really refreshing to see that he was forced out of the closet basically exactly the way his fans suspected.

How anyone can call themselves a fan of Ben and/or Mark and still support the Daily Fail in any way–even by clicking the clickbait–is beyond me.  Their journalistic integrity is so much nothing.

Hamlet at the V&A

So!  When littleowls3 and I got to London, our plan for the day after getting in was to head off to the V&A theatre archives to see Hamlet.  I’d already made an appointment months in advance–it’s terribly easy; all you do is basically email them to ask if you can see it, make an appointment, and do an application for a temporary reader’s card (in this case, temporary means it lasts five years instead of life).  We were asked to bring proof of ID, but were never asked for it–in fact, even though I emailed to remind them that littleowls3 was coming with me about two days before we showed up, they didn’t ever make a note?

The V&A theatre archives and reading room are at Blythe House in Kensington Olympia, and our day started with TFL’s trip planner giving us bus directions that left us a billion miles away from the museum.  I will say that the neighborhood was charming, but I felt bad because Owls was pushing me in the fuckoff huge wheelchair I was using, and we were left so far from the place we needed to be.  We did make it on time, however, and after some fuss with the lift, we were able to check in and were seated in the viewing room, where there were two other stations occupied, one of which was also viewing Hamlet.

First, some basics: the production is quite long.  There are two discs, and we ended up having our own interval partway through; the chairs they seat you in are pretty comfortable, but it’s important to realise you’re in a reading room at a library, basically, and not a theatre.  If you need food, water, etc., all of your things will be in a locker in the check in area, so do keep in mind that it might be slightly inconvenient to get to those things.  It’s 3h45m or so, which means you need to plan around a four hour trip, basically.

I really liked the production, though there were some aspects of it that I didn’t understand/appreciate.  The set was sparse but beautiful, and it worked very well, and the lighting was good.  I liked the casting–Ben was amazing, of course, if snotty (by which I mean liberally dripping runnels of snot at points), but the standout for me was actually Rory Kinnear as Laertes–he was absolutely amazing, and I completely bought his affection for Ophelia.  The “little sister, let me sit you down and explain to you a thing about boys and sex” scene was brilliant, easily the very best in the production, I think.  He really captured the kind of pained “I can’t believe I’m telling my baby sister not to give it up to her boyfriend; what even is my life” feeling of that scene so beautifully.  Even better, I believed that he loved his father, too–Polonius was particularly well done in this version, too–and so when he came back after his father’s murder, I believed his hurt and anger, too.  

I loved the direction of Gertrude a lot, too, especially with Hamlet’s “ew, mom, you’re too old to think about sex” line, because really? she wasn’t too old.  She played her Gertrude as the same age as Benedict’s Hamlet was a few days later for us (though I’ll get to comparisons when I post about that one)–my point is that she played the character young; I’d pin her character at the mid thirties, and so her infatuated lust with Claudius at the beginning of the play was, for once, understandable and accessible.  Even though Hamlet has an “ew, gross, mom” reaction, Gertrude was youthful and playful and I could understand her making a poor decision based on attraction.  Overall, I thought the character direction was really, really great, though I would expect no less from Trevor Nunn, who made his career with the RSC defining Shakespeare’s characters.

And of course I loved Ben.  His Hamlet was definitely depressed in a very real way, which was both heartbreaking and sympathetic.  He felt young, childish in places, and though I didn’t feel any attraction between him and Ophelia, he and Horatio hovered on the edge of that devotion that a good Hamlet and Horatio balance on, Achilles and Patroclus; he cupped the full back of Horatio’s nape every time they embraced, which was notable in a performance where he was twitchy and touch-averse in a very pronounced way (he wore a finger brace in the recording, and I couldn’t decide if it was costume or if Ben had actually hurt himself, but it drew the eye to his constantly fidgeting hands, making him look vulnerable and sad all the time).

There were a few details that really worked for me–like presenting some of Claudius’s scenes as press conferences–and others that I really didn’t care for–I felt that the added scene of Ophelia dancing in her room was muddy and I hated the printouts/colouring book pages in the “there’s rosemary, for remembrance” scene so much more than I can express for its weird change to the tone and meaning and forewarning in the scene.  Overall, I found it a really satisfying production, and if you’re in a position to be able to see it, you should.  It’s not as difficult to arrange as I’d expected, the performance itself is worth watching, and Blythe House was gorgeous.  I’d like to go back to view other recordings in the archives, and since my reader’s card lasts for five years, I just might.


Just torturing @littleowls3 with descriptions of snot-coated Ben from recent reviews of The Crucible.  After seeing Hamlet at the V&A, I knew he’s all over tears and long dribs of snot/spit when he’s really crying, so I shouldn’t be surprised, but someone already calls beards like his “germcatchers”….

And since I promised updates on the gift for Mr Whiskers:

No-go at the door again tonight. I’m starting to feel like it really is an “annoyed with people in general” thing; I wouldn’t put much stock in him showing up for at least a few more shows. He didn’t even stick his head out this time–he had no intention at all of coming to see the crowd.

I managed to leave his present with the man who does the door, but while he said he’d leave it in the office for Ben to choose whether or not to take it, he made it sound like he rather doubted he would, which made me a little sad. Even so, though, I gave it, which is really all I wanted to do. I do hope he chooses to take it, and I hope he reads the card, but there’s no guarantee. In the end, what I can do is done.

And as for the play itself, it’s grown by leaps and bounds, even in these short days. I’m incredibly impressed and proud of them all–pacing and dialogue have tightened up across the board, and characterization has changed a bit for some of the characters; Johnny is even more angelic, Mickey even more manipulative,  Sweets is both quicker and slower on the uptake, and Potts is finally becoming a very threatening character (the clown act was fun and Daniel does it very well, but I really appreciate this darker, meaner Potts). And Baby,  of course. And Skinny Luke. Both of our boys really took the show someplace special tonight. I had the pleasure of a much closer seat tonight, tucked in the corner in row B, and watching the interplay on their faces from that close was incredible. I wish I could see this show in a month–it’s going to be numbingly good.

So who wants to queue with me tomorrow? :DDDDD

Round two of the Ben Whishaw photo guessing game:

“Okay, Ben–I know these clothes are from the Juniors’ section at H&M.  Go with it; I’ve got a thing in mind.  Now, see, when I light it this way–see how the top becomes transparent enough to see nipple?  And the little girls’ cardigan really shows off the slenderness and soft femininity of your arms.  The ripped trousers are a hint of what the audience wants to see without being overt–Ben?  Ben?  Okay, amuse yourself with the props while we find some more clothes for you in the Little Miss section.”

Paddington was ADORABLE!

I liked much of the modernisation of the story, though some of the changes made me very sad, and I absolutely loved the parallels drawn between historic immigration issues and Paddington’s story–a reminder that not so long ago, Londoners expected others to take in their loved ones out of kindness and understanding, only to now be so resistant to offering a home to newcomers (and the entire story happening in Notting Hill, where the worst of the race and immigration issues came to a head in the 1950s, was a brilliant touch).

There are some jokes that I don’t think translated very well–the cabbie taking them on a tourist’s welcome to London, for one, going all the way down south of the river for what should have only been a five minute ride from Paddington Station, for one (I was terribly confused as to how they were seeing all this, and then to have it actually nodded to in the script–I don’t think anyone else in my screening understood exactly how badly he fleeced the Browns!), and a lot of other very subtle jokes.  I wouldn’t say there were any laugh-out-loud moments for me, but it’s the film version of a warm hug and a cup of tea.  The “that’s not ripe/that’s ripe!” jokes were especially low-key and charming, because they showed Paddington as an actual character, rather than a walking gag in a kids’ comedy.

It’s a very sweet, solid movie.  I don’t think it’s going to do well here in the US–I don’t think a lot of the cultural cues translate very well, and we don’t have the history with the franchise, not really, that would be necessary to fully embrace it.  I still encourage people to go see it and support the team, because it’s very wholehearted and wholesome in a way few movies are these days, and that pro-immigrant theme is important, especially in the UK where there are so many arguments about the issue (and UKIP trying to demonise all foreigners as evil wastes of society who do nothing but go on the dole and steal jobs, somehow at the same time?).

That said, Colin Firth sure got a lot of publicity for a film he wasn’t even in, in the end!  At my theatre, it was his name on the film poster, his name on the trailers, his name on the promo material, and even his name on the pre-movie trivia screen cards!  The only mention of Ben at all was in the credits, though they showed his face for about three seconds in the making-of featurette before the film.  Disappointing, considering the change was made ages ago and the film’s been out in the UK for months!  Do better, Weinstein Company–it’s okay to have a gay play the main character in a kids’ film; Paddington’s not humping the children, after all.

Please don't watch leaked copies of Ben's short films!

I’d hope it would go without saying, but leaked copies of Ben’s short films put on places like Youtube hurt small film production companies and young directors.  Each view on Youtube instead of buying access from a legitimate source like wearecolony is money that doesn’t go toward the people who made that film you’re enjoying, and it’s views that aren’t verifiable for an artist’s portfolio.  When you support a small production house for taking a chance on new directors, you’re telling that distributor that you like the choices those directors are making, be it subject matter or shooting style or cast.  You’re not only saying “thank you” to someone for creating the things you like, you’re putting money in their pockets so they can continue to make things you like.  Please, please wait for The Muse to come out in a place you can pay for it.