WEEK IN REVIEW
Cameron Crowe of Singles fame directs a new vehicle for Tom Cruise who plays a sports agent who loses his job and gains a conscience. The film has nabbed Oscar nominations for Cruise and Best Picture and done boffo box-office in the US.
139 mins, Cert 15, Empire Leicester Square and on general release
John Lyttle pinpointed the movie's masterstroke to be transforming "a star's tardy market repositioning into a sign of the times: white collar, out of work". "It's the screenplay that stands out ... has both sharpness and bite in its incidentals," praised The Guardian. "Cruise gives a good performance but it hardly warrants an Oscar nomination," sniffed The Times. "A happy-clappy fraud of a film ... Forrest Gump with beauty and brains," sneered the Standard. "Lauded elsewhere as a witty moral fable [it] is, in fact ... deeply reactionary fare," snarled Time Out. "A high-decibel fanfare for the status quo," concluded the FT.
Crowe's script and direction gives Cruise the chance to grow up and act.
Orpheus and Eurydice
Lesley Garrett and Michael Chance sing in Martha Clarke's ENO staging of the 1762 version of Gluck's opera complete with happy ending, conducted by Jane Glover and designed by John Conklin in a co-production with the New York State Opera.
At the Coliseum, London WC2 (0171-632 8300) until 19 April.
Edward Seckerson eulogised over "its wonderfully subdued colourations ... beautifully mirrored in the ... texture of her staging." Not so Jane Glover's conducting in which "a greyness pervades". "Arty farty," snorted the FT. "Achieves the almost miraculous feat of turning one of the most harrowingly emotional operas into a limp little affair," withered The Guardian. "I quite liked Clarke's attempt to free Gluck from the neo-classical tag: no Ionic pillars or white togas," smiled The Telegraph. "Honest, beautiful simplicity in this big space ... there is nothing monochromatic about Jane Glover's conducting," asserted The Times.
A weak ending from all departments spoils an otherwise strong evening.
Women on the Verge of HRT
Marie Jones's part-populist, part-propagandist new play about menopausal women has songs by Neil Martin. The West End opening after its premiere in Northern Ireland in 1995. Jones also stars with Eileen Pollock under Pam Brighton's direction.
At the Vaudeville, London WC2 (0171-836 9987). Booking until 31 May.
Paul Taylor found it "an enjoyable but patchy comedy". "Hardly great but it undoubtedly offers honest, professionally outspoken entertainment on a subject which could cause complacent men in the audience a few hot flushes of their own," mused The Telegraph. "Deeply provincial ... merely a soft feelgood core ... Menopausal defiance, when given ballad treatment, turns into marshmallow," frowned the FT. "It's a forceful, pugnacious evening but, at the end, I had the feeling that in telling a West End audience that women over 40 should have a full, rich sex life, it was preaching to the converted," preached The Guardian.
The flipside of the Cliff Richard experience. A refreshing change from all the "Boy's Own" new plays.
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