Peddling

Written and performed by Harry Melling and directed by Steven Atkinson, Peddling is an incredibly intimate piece of theatre that will draw you right in, despite the thin piece of gauze that separates the life of the ‘Boy’ from you. Going door to door and attempting to sell his wares under the guise of a Boris Johnson scheme for young offenders, Peddling is about youth lost in modern London. We see a multitude of people answer their doors, endless streets, parks, the city, all seeming to appear before our eyes through Melling’s wonderful and flowing command of language.

With the feel of performance poetry but never too much of a gimmick in its style, the blend of south London dialect and poetic imagery meshes well together, enveloping the increasingly frantic young man we see on stage. Melling appears unrecognisable from his Harry Potter days, a boring cliché about anyone from the franchise but true all the same. His command of the space is impressive, for an actor so young and with such pace being maintained throughout.

A lone telegraph pole stands centre stage, strung up with lights which act as the people answering the door to him as he performs his spiel, using a portable PA system to distinguish his voice from theirs, a simple but clever device.

A piece of theatre that never feels too caught up in its depth and knows perfectly when to stop, peddling showcases an interesting talent in Harry Melling. One to watch, as he continues to peddle his wares.

Peddling is at Arcola Theatre until 28th March. Get tickets here

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What If

Wallace (Daniel Radcliffe) is in a dead end job, living with his sister and her son, and his social life has all but evaporated. Life has taught him that love is only an excuse to do awful things, lessons learnt from his parents and a string of failed relationships. That is until he meets Chantry (Zoe Kazan), who seems to be perfect for him.. the only problem is her boyfriend. Wallace and Chantry decide to be friends, but as his best friend Allan (Adam Driver) and his girlfriend Dalia (Megan Park) ask throughout the film – “can men and women really be friends, or do you secretly wanna bang Chantry?”

Often when you watch a romantic comedy, the drive of the plot is the ever approaching realisation of both parties that they need to be together – just look at definitive rom-com When Harry Met Sally. This, as the romantic-comedy has failed and floudnered over the years, can feel pushy and staged. But the dialogue between Wallace and Chantry written by Elan Mastai (and based on T.J. Dawe and Michael Rinaldi’s play Toothpaste and Cigarettes) is quick, witty and the conversations between Chantry and Wallace feel real and spur of the moment, full of teasing and inside jokes. Radcliffe’s comic timing is spot on, and Chantry’s dialogue is full of comebacks that match that of Wallace, really putting anyone who thinks women aren’t as funny as men in their place. This is a rom-com with actual comedy oozing from all angles – I don’t think there’s an unfunny character in the whole thing.

I did wonder, however, who I was supposed to be rooting for – Wallace and Chantry are supposedly made for each other, but Chantry’s boyfriend Ben (Rafe Spall) is no bad egg. But maybe that’s the point – that love isn’t an all encompassing force, and there isn’t one solitary person for everyone – it can be a kind of messy affair. At times, the quirkiness did reach overload – do four young women in Toronto really go to a knitting club? Is that a thing? Or is it more movie shorthand for ‘these girls are not like other girls’? Chantry’s animation of a winged fairly girl (really pushing the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope to new limits) acts as a link between all the times she’s sad or thoughtful, something which soon wears thin as the animation flies along walls next to her, whenever she begins to question which of the two men at her disposal to choose from.

It’s got some great laugh out loud funny lines, and the chemistry between all of the cast feels very real, but the quirks sometimes err on the irksome.

Also check out the trailer for Horns, Radcliffe’s next film, on what looks set to be a tremendously interesting and exciting career.

Sian’s radio reccommendation of the week: I’ve Never Seen Star Wars

Marcus Brigstocke holds the hands of actors, writers, comedians and various personalities as they are given the opportunity to do those little things that passed them by, be it buying jeans (the Ian Hislop episode) or drinking a cup of tea (Benjamin Zephaniah).

This week, (a repeat from 2011) it is the turn of Giles Coren, food critic writer and TV personality. He tries a range of things from dancing to being vegan and is very candid about just why he had never tried them before – but he’s equally not afraid to u-turn, as the episode reveals. Brilliant and fun, you have 5 days to listen to Giles’ episode here.

I do also have some film reviews coming. BAFTA season has arrived and I’m ready!

Kill Your Darlings

I have been waiting SO LONG to be able to talk about this film.

Starring Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg and Dane DeHaan as Lucien Carr Kill Your Darlings is about the birth of the beat generation, the most influential period in the lives of writers such as Jack Kerouac and William S Burroughs. Ginsberg is young and naive, going away to college in the hope of living up to his father’s expectations. There he meets some fellow students intent on creating a literary revolution, changing his life forever.

As someone who loves literature, loves teenage rebellion movies and loves Daniel Radcliffe, for me this film is perfect. The soundtrack, the style, the story, the script, all of it combines to deliver you a slice of history, served up with a side of drugs, alcohol and heartbreak. Daniel Radcliffe gives such a brave and beautiful performance, it never once crossed my mind during the film that it was Daniel Radcliffe ‘of the Harry Potter films’ – his portrayal of Ginsberg is done with tremendous care.

Plus, I got to speak to him at a film event after a screening of the film. I babbled on at him (down at him, he is quite short and I am quite tall) about how much Harry Potter changed my life and made me love film because of all the wonderful people in it, and he very kindly agreed with me and said “yes me too – I’d never read a book before I did Potter.” He was gracious and humble (and handsome) and meeting a childhood hero and getting to see him in a film as brilliant as Kill Your Darlings all at once made it the best day of my life. So far. I’m yet to start a literary revolution so we’ll see how it goes.

Kill Your Darlings is in cinemas Friday December 6th.