Vanity Fair ~ ITV

This wasn’t a television adaptation I expected to like, let alone enjoy and desire more of. William Makepeace Thackeray’s classic has not only been transformed into a glitzy ITV period drama with a subtle modern twist, there’s a cast of names and faces whom many television aficionados will be familiar with. As we linger on the past three episodes and dwell on the highlights of what has become, for me anyway, a must-watch series – here are a few of the many best bits so far…

Carousel

I love the carousel which opens the programme so wondrously and the appearance of Michael Palin as Thackeray. The carousel itself and the characters we see riding the horses is utterly symbolic of the story and tells a take just in that simple scene. A genius idea.

Olivia Cooke

In the leading role of Becky Sharp, she has me hooked. Those facial expressions wouldn’t be out of place in a theatrical performance and her every move proves that she’s sharp by name and sharp by nature. The chemistry with every performer she crosses paths with is electric, quite as one would imagine it would be for those who fell under Miss Sharp’s spell. The character is the epitome of a person who falls into manure and comes up smelling of roses, and Cooke carries that air of smugness which this ‘trait’ necessitates.

Clunes behaving badly

As much as I’ve grown to love the series, I had found it a little slow going to begin with, therefore the introduction of Martin Clunes in the role Sir Pitt Crawley grabbed my attention. Clunes looks like he’s having a whale of a time playing the villain and he’s predictably bringing plenty of humour to the role too.

Tour De Force

Frances de la Tour as Miss Matilda Crawley is as resplendent and batty as I know she has the capacity to play, another television favourite who looks as though they’ve had great fun with a well written role. Her humour and raucous laughter enhance the character and she plays brilliantly opposite both Cooke and Clunes.

Crawley’s a Crawler

Tom Bateman as Rawdon Crawley, a character so overtly benign it’s a wonder Miss Sharp didn’t see spot it a mile off as his lack of money is surely a hindrance. However, whatever her game, it appears that he and she have married for love and that crawler Crawley may be blissfully unaware of his secretly wedded wife’s motives.

Summary

There’s tongue-in-cheek humour and nods towards the classic story not having been taken too seriously, perhaps to attract and retain a younger audience. However, from the pop soundtrack to the perfect casting – this adaptation has surprised me in the best possible sense. I can’t wait for Sunday evenings and hooray for autumn telly! Vanity Fair has landed on our screens at just the right time.

Photo Credits: ITV

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Anne Reid: I Love To Sing! ~ Malvern Theatres

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An evening of cabaret with national treasure and legend, Anne Reid is an opportunity not to be missed. An actress who has graced the stage, the small and big screen and whose reputation precedes her, to see the star of Last Tango in Halifax, Dinnerladies and Coronation Street, up close, personal and singing? Well, it was all I expected it to be and more!

Looking resplendent in a glittery black number, the diva was accompanied by Jason Carr who provided piano accompaniment and some vocals. They were a formidable duo, a visibly relaxed partnership and Carr’s musicality was divine. Hardly surprising as he has worked with a number of singers at the top of their game, such as Maria Friedman to name just one. I had not had the pleasure of listening to Ms Reid sing before, but it was a delight to hear her beautiful voice and the songs complemented her autobiographical banter, wonderfully.

So many of the musical numbers were favourites of mine, but I must pick out Addicted to Black, Memories and Makin Whoopee as some of the highlights. As an actress first and foremost (and one of the finest actresses, in my opinion), she connects with the pieces on a level that surpasses other singers. Once Upon a Time brought a tear to my eye, the lyrics really hit home and the way she can convey the emotions added an extra dimension to this number. Similarly while listening to Makin Whoopee I realised I had never considered the words upon hearing the song on previous occasions, but now I can remember them!

The stories that the star regaled us with were fascinating, I was personally interested to hear of her long friendship with Sarah Lancashire (who plays her daughter in Last Tango In Halifax) and also Lancashire’s parents. It was pleasing to hear that she enjoys playing the role of Celia in Last Tango as much as the public like watching her play the role. There was also a secret shared from the cutting rom floor of the hit film Love Actually, it seems we missed out on Reid and Frances De La Tour playing a pair of lesbian lovers!

I can’t recommend this show highly enough, this lady is one class act and cabaret suits her. The tour continues into 2016, so look out for it at a venue near you.

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