Blithe Spirit’s Charles Edwards on Downton Abbey, His J-Law Moment & Angela Lansbury

first_img The rehearsals must have brought back copious memories for her. What’s been wonderful is to hear about Angela’s life. She’s often quoted as being born in the East End but actually she was born in Regent’s Park, where we rehearsed, and her grandfather, George Lansbury, was a Labour politician, and then of course her mother was an actress who made her debut at the very theater where we are now. All that is very touching for her to remember and she does so with such vivacity. There’s no sense of the wandering recollections of a woman of a certain age. She remembers it all as if it were yesterday. Presumably there have been concessions made to age—naps, for instance? [Laughs.] Any naps have taken place during the lunch break and not during afternoon rehearsals! What’s amazing is that we have a director [Michael Blakemore] who is himself 85, though he’s another one where you simply would not guess it. And if he or Angela sometimes like a rest at lunchtime, so do I. It sounds as if you are on tenterhooks just as we are. Actors are often the last people to know! And the fact that she will be 89 later this year really is extraordinary. Yes, but you just simply wouldn’t know it. She’s got so much vitality in her body and in herself—she’s extraordinary. I think it’s a fascinating play, not least the extent to which Charles is surrounded—hounded, even—by the women he loved, whom he must then escape. Yes, it’s such a fascinating oddity, this one. I do think as always in Coward there’s that element in his central male character of the drifter and the traveler and the man who just won’t commit. It’s as if Coward is going, “Isn’t it wonderful not to have any ties?” This production has the feel of something special, in part because of its leading lady. Does it feel that way from the inside? Without a doubt, it has been very special to be part of the feeling that is generated every night by the London audience seeing Angela back on stage. There is applause on her entrance, which I think is quite right, and the reception has been extremely warm. Yes, and in Blithe Spirit, there’s the added factor of more stage business than in any other Coward play. So it’s got physical comedy folded into the mix, as well. The verbal repartee of Coward is rewarding but it can also be a little wearing, so what’s immensely satisfying here is the way the play escalates into extreme Feydeau-like, farcical situations. Those extremities are great fun and at the same time the play is asking how human beings handle the wilting of a sex life and can a relationship survive that. It’s a very interesting play. Charles Edwards has quietly but firmly asserted himself as one of the finest English actors of his generation, moving from London and Broadway runs in The 39 Steps, to National Theatre stints in This House and Strange Interlude, to a buoyant Much Ado About Nothing at Shakespeare’s Globe—oh, and as Lady Edith’s love interest in Downton Abbey, too. But this month he has arguably his highest-profile stage gig to date, starring opposite Dame Angela Lansbury in Blithe Spirit, opening March 18 at the Gielgud Theatre. Both Lansbury and Edwards are reprising their roles in the Noel Coward comic classic—Lansbury won a Tony Award for her performance in Michael Blakemore’s 2009 Broadway revival, while Edwards made his theatrical debut as novelist Charles Condomine in 1993. Broadway.com chatted with Edwards about sharing the stage with a spritely 88-year-old, channeling Jennifer Lawrence and the “great fun” of filming Downton Abbey. Angela Lansbury and Michael Blakemore previously collaborated on this play five years ago on Broadway. Has that made a difference for you and the other new cast members? We were all certainly aware that Michael had done the play before and had a blueprint of it, and he has also referenced original Coward productions at various times. But naturally because we were a new cast, anything was welcome and there was no suggestion of “we did it this way before.” In that way, it’s been quite different to The 39 Steps, where people who have subsequently played Hannay have had to stick to a fairly rigid blueprint. There’s been none of that for us. View Comments We have to touch on Downton Abbey and your distinguished arrival in season three as Michael Gregson, the society editor who captures Lady Edith’s heart. Is he coming back? That was great fun, and I miss Laura Carmichael [Lady Edith] very much. We had a really lovely time. But I can honestly tell you I have no idea what happens next. I really haven’t any idea at all. Michael is still trying to get a divorce, but of course is also the father of Edith’s child, so if that leads anywhere, he’ll want to see the child. Think of that as your Jennifer Lawrence moment! But 24? That must have been a challenge given the history Charles has in the play. Yes, I know, what with [first wife] Elvira having been dead for seven years and Charles having been married to [second wife] Ruth for five. I was too young to take much else of what the play was saying into account. You’re no stranger to Coward, having appeared in Hay Fever and Private Lives. In fact, my very first play out of drama school was Blithe Spirit at Harrogate [in Yorkshire] when I was 24! All I remember is coming down the stairs all suave and sophisticated and then tripping on the carpet, and that was my very first professional entrance [laughs].last_img read more

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Fun Performances Elevate a Flash Thats Mostly Filler

first_img Coming off of last week’s thrilling, meaningful episode, you’d hope The Flash would try to capitalize on that momentum. Instead, we got an hour that was 80 percent filler. At least the actors ensured it was enjoyable filler. Iris is putting her journalistic abilities to work in the fight against The Thinker. It’s about time the show remembered she has a job too. She’s gathered every file on DeVoe, and she’s going to write a piece exposing his plan. It’s not a bad plan, but Barry’s worried about it because that’s just what Barry does. The rest of Team Flash is trying to think up some plans of their own. The best idea anyone can come up with is looking for some kind of organic weapon to shoot DeVoe’s satellites down. Right away, the episode is noticeably more focused now that we actually know the villain’s goal.Caitlin figures out a plan, but it takes some convincing for the rest of Team Flash to sign on. She suggests recruiting Amunet. Yeah, she’s done some bad things this season, but she might be their only hope to stop DeVoe. Plus Caitlin has an ulterior motive. She wants to get Killer Frost back, and Amunet has a device that might make that happen. Killer Frost is a powerful ally and a really cool character. Getting her back might be worth overlooking a little human trafficking. There’s just one problem. She’s missing. The Flash and Caitlin run to her hideout to find out her underling has taken over, assuming she’s dead. The team figures out that after her deal with the corrupt prison guard fell through, she’s been laying low. They guess she probably went back to her old job as a flight attendant under her old name. They set out to search for her, but first it’s time for the Can-I-Talk-To-You hallway.Jesse L. Martin as Detective Joe West (Photo: Shane Harvey/The CW)Yes, it’s been a few episodes, but The Flash’s most-used setpiece makes a return. This time it’s Barry pulling Iris into the hall to share his concerns about his article. It’s not great. Barry has already learned some form of this lesson so many times over now. A friend does something he finds risky, and he frets over it and tries to stop them. Then he realizes that he can’t, and shouldn’t, and apologizes. We hope he learns the lesson for real that time, but he never does. This time, he only convinces Iris not to share her article with the city until she’s finished it. She concedes that’s a good point. Otherwise, the city might not believe her. So at least she doesn’t seem to realize what a jerk Barry’s being again. Yet.The team finds Amunet, who’s gone underground as a dealer in an illegal gambling den. She agrees to work with them, as the dumbening of the world would have an adverse effect on her business. There is one problem, though. To shoot down a satellite, she needs a lot more metal to control. And not just any metal. It has to be from the plane she was on when the S.T.A.R. Labs accelerator exploded. She’d been keeping it in her storage unit, but someone broke into it and stole all her things. Unfortunately for Caitlin, they also stole the splicer that could maybe bring back Killer Frost.Danielle Panabaker as Caitlin Snow and Katee Sackhoff as Amunet Black (Photo: Shane Harvey/The CW)The performances really uplift a fairly by-the-numbers episode of The Flash. Amunet is still a lot of fun, and Katee Sackhoff hams it up in every scene. She’s clearly having a blast with this character, and it makes me wish we got more of her this season. She isn’t the only one who gets to indulge her sillier side either. As Harry Wells is rapidly losing his intelligence, Cisco gets the idea to bring the Council of Wells back. Only the original council is a bit too snobby to work with a dumber version of themselves. That means we get a few new characters for Tom Cavanaugh to play around with. I like the New York Italian gangster from the universe where people still use VHS. This episode lets its actors really go for it, and it’s much better for it.They figure out who stole Amunet’s stuff. It’s Norvok, the assistant who took over the minute she disappeared. They spend exactly one scene not being able to find him, that really only serves to have everyone find out about Caitlin’s other goal. Thankfully, there’s not a ton of time left in the episode at this point, so we’re spared the overlong anger-talk hallway-makeup cycle this show likes to indulge in sometimes. Besides, Amunet admits that the splicer never worked in the first place. It was just a placebo. The power to bring out Killer Frost was inside her all along. Not that that helps her now, but it’s a nice sentiment.Danielle Panabaker as Caitlin Snow and Katee Sackhoff as Amunet Black (Photo: Shane Harvey/The CW)The placebo talk helps Amunet figure out where Norvok is hiding, and we actually get a really fun battle. The story of this episode leaves a lot to be desired, but the acting and action mostly make up for it. Norvok’s snake eye still creeps me out, and it’s fun watching The Flash narrowly dodge the fleshy tendon. The whole team gets to join in on the fight, as Norvok was in the middle of selling Amunet’s metal to some criminals Caitlin may not have Killer Frost around anymore, but she’s pretty good with the cold gun. Norvok poisons The Flash, too which adds some necessary tension to the scene. While he’s busy phasing the gas out of his body, Amunet defeats Norvok in the coolest way. She wraps him up with her metal, and almost kills him. Team Flash convinces her to embrace what good there is in her though, and she compromises by slicing his eye-snake off.We have two episodes left of this season of The Flash, which means The Thinker’s plan really gets going next week. Knowing that, and remembering last week’s excellent Marlize-focused episode really makes this one feel like filler. De Voe has conveniently disappeared so the team could go on a McGuffin hunt. By the end, Team Flash really isn’t much farther along than when they started. Amunet isn’t even sticking around, which is disappointed considering how much life she brought to this episode. She gives Caitlin snow enough of her metal to take down Devoe’s satellites, provided she gets a good shot. Harry puts himself in DeVoe’s shoes, and pieces together that Marlize was his motivation. If he’s not acting now, it must be because Marlize is gone.Grant Gustin as The Flash and Danielle Panabaker as Caitlin Snow (Photo: Shane Harvey/The CW)And Iris publishes her article after Barry decides to be a decent partner in their relationship again. It blows up, and the citizens of Central City start posting DeVoe sightings. So this episode at least set things in motion for the final two of the season. You know, the ones where The Thinker finally gets to the point. I know I keep harping on this, but really, he’s only worked as a villain in a few episodes this season. He’s had moments where he’s been scary and cunning the way you want a supervillain to be, but those have been few and far between. The rest of the season, he’s been kind of a dud. Just sitting in his chair waiting for something to happen. Here’s hoping these final two episodes can fix that. Stay on target Top Movies and TV Panels to Keep on Your Radar for SDCC 2019’The Flash’ Season 5 Finale Recap: 2 Big Bads and 1 Pre-Crisis center_img Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.last_img read more

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