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Matthew Lacey "matthewlacey"

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The House of Cards Trilogy [1990] [DVD]
The House of Cards Trilogy [1990] [DVD]
Dvd ~ Ian Richardson
Offered by Quality Media Supplies Ltd.
Price: £19.49

19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars From an exceptional start, diminishing returns, 3 Sept. 2006
There is no doubt that the first series, 'House of Cards', is television of the very highest order and has been justifiably praised. All I would add by way of caveat is that the later efforts fall short of the meticulous original. Somehow, Urquhart in power is a less entertaining prospect than his pursuit of it: not least because the following series seem determined to tell a story on a larger scale, often at odds with the creepily enclosed atmosphere of 'House of Cards', and sometimes openly fantastical. Although Michael Kitchen gives an excellent (and often daringly impressionistic) performance, the narrative of 'To Play the King' borders on the absurd once it moves beyond the corridors of power and out into the country with depictions of sectarian violence and armed insurrection(perhaps due to budget constraints). 'The Final Cut' proves least satisfying of the three, partly because Urquhart is denied the opportunity to take us into his confidence as often as in the past, but also because the central crisis has a manufactured, almost artificial and rushed quality to it, which is ironic given the lengthy set-up required across all three series for the crucial revelation of the incriminating dictaphone tape.

Black Comedy (Acting Edition)
Black Comedy (Acting Edition)
by Peter Shaffer
Edition: Paperback
Price: £7.50

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Peter Shaffer in fine comic form., 23 Jan. 2003
One of the finest modern farces written, 'Black Comedy' exists in a strange world of the opposite. Set in a struggling artist's studio, Brindsley Miller (the artist) and his debutante girlfriend Carol plan to impress German billionaire philanthropist Georg Bamberger into buying some of Brindsley's work. In so doing they also hope to impress Carol's truculent and "psychologically disturbed" father, Colonel Melkett.
Unfortunately before either's arrival a power-cut plunges the whole apartment block into darkness, or it would do were it not for Shaffer's central conceit: the lighting is reversed throughout. So, the play opens in darkness and following the power-cut the lights come on full (dipping whenever a match or torch is brought). This enables a clear view for the audience of a group of people frantically stumbling around, feeling the furniture, the walls and even eachother.
Mistakes ensue, not least the glorious mix-up over teetotal upstairs neighbour Miss Furnival and a glass of gin (followed by another, and another...) and the increasingly frantic efforts of Brindsley to conceal the furniture he has stolen to smarten up his studio whilst attempting to reassure the Colonel of his mental state. This furniture belongs to another beautifully observed comic caricature, Harold Gorringe, an outrageously camp, Lancastrian antique dealer. Needless to say, the unheralded arrival of Brindsley's jilted girlfriend and a German electrician do little to improve matters.
Though brief, this play packs more than enough laughs into 45 minutes to leave any audience satisfied and is a suitably balanced work in terms of lines to recommend itself to any acting company or even school production. Physically very demanding, but all the more worth it for that, and still packed with Shaffer's gift for painstakingly well observed wordplay along with more farcical physical elements makes 'Black Comedy' a thoroughly enjoyable play both to watch and perform.

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