‘Consent’ review – Nina Raine’s thought-provoking elaborate production raises many questions in a tense blend of love and justice

In a detailed exploration of love, justice and the law, Consent raises a lot of questions for the audience to ponder – both curious and confusing ones.

One would think that such confusion would come from the technicalities of the play being one of a legal nature, but Raine’s research shines confidently throughout in the writing. Instead, in a production which explores the many relationships of the characters on stage, what starts as a straightforward tale expands into something far more complex and puzzling.

From left: Adam James, Stephen Campbell Moore, Lee Ingleby, Clare Foster and Claudie Blakley. Credit: Johan Persson

Thankfully, this doesn’t stop Raine from raising some interesting points in the dialogue of her characters. The History Boys’ Stephen Campbell Moore and The A Word‘s Lee Ingleby are amongst the cast who deliver powerful performances and showcase excellent character development. The atmosphere’s tense, and the individuals three-dimensional – often expressing contrasting opinions throughout, which is particularly interesting to see.

Mix the topic of the play and the characters with a classical score and limited set design, and things start to feel a little more intense. Yet such a tone and pace for a play which explores many ideas does lead to some points being lost. It’s upon re-reading the play text that you begin to see some of the foreshadowing and wider, underlying discussions.

An impressive cast and excellent dialogue feature in Consent, but as the plot develops, some of the production’s underlying points get lost along the way.

Rating: 3.5/5

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‘The Lieutenant of Inishmore’ review – Poldark’s Aidan Turner is hilarious in this bloody brilliant black comedy

Swapping the lovey-dovey vibes of Poldark for dark comedy, Aidan Turner’s latest performance is a surprising – but nonetheless refreshing – change from his role in the popular BBC period drama.

Set in the 90s during The Troubles, The Lieutenant of Inishmore at London’s Noël Coward Theatre sees Turner portray an Irish terrorist shocked by the news that his pet cat, Wee Thomas, is ‘unwell’ – to put it lightly.

From left: Chris Walley, Aidan Turner and Denis Conway. Photo: Johan Persson.

What follows is a play which is extreme in every meaning of the word – absurdist humour, blood and gore are being crammed into two intense, hilarious acts.

It’s a tone quickly established from the outset, with Chris Walley and Denis Conway delivering an incredible performance as duo Davey and Donny – one which almost rivals that of Turner.

A perfect balance between strong humour and shocking violence is struck throughout – something which is testament to Michael Grandage’s directing and ensures that the brave satire contained in Martin McDonagh’s (Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri) script is never once lost.

Gory, daft and extremely engaging, Aidan Turner leads a fantastic all-Irish cast in this thoroughly entertaining comedy.

Rating: 4/5

Fandoms, we need to talk about copyright…

Disclaimer: I am not a legal expert. I have studied media law at university and have a basic understanding of copyright legislation.

It’s easy to lose yourself within a fan community. News and updates about our favourite stars are constant and soon circulate on social media sites such as Twitter and Tumblr. Fandom members are passionate, dedicated and excitable, and whilst such a mindset is understandable, it can sometimes lead to some oversight – particularly when it comes to copyright infringement.

Timothée Chalamet (centre, in red) on set for The King, coming to Netflix next year. It’s photos and videos I took of this shoot which were reposted online without my permission or credit. Photo: Liam O’Dell.

It was the start of a boiling hot week in Lincoln and news of filming on the grounds of the city’s cathedral had soon spread across the county. Local residents had gathered outside when news spread that one of the film’s producers, Brad Pitt, could possibly be in town.

Alas, he was not, but the lead actor in the new Netflix drama, Call Me By Your Name’s Timothée Chalamet, was. He plays the role of Henry V in The King, which is believed to come out next year.

News emerged that the historic cathedral would be used for Henry’s coronation, and this appeared to be the case when a blue carpet was rolled out, and Chalamet emerged nestled in a line of people marching towards the building. Keen to do some reporting, I got out my phone camera and started taking photos and video to share online. Things were going well, and the fact that I was seeing a film shoot unfold right in front of me was very exciting indeed.

Just moments after sharing a video of the shot being filmed on Twitter, tagging the actor, things took an interesting turn.

First of all, a fan account for the drama was quick to get in touch, asking if they could repost my image. I wasn’t so keen, preferring a retweet so that the content was on my account, rather than being reposted on somebody else’s – potentially without credit.

On this occasion, they did repost with credit – which was fine – and I soon settled for this as a compromise, knowing that even a credit on any reposted image could still help my social media following. Yet, as more people came across the photos and video, some weren’t providing the credit I asked for.

Granted, they probably weren’t aware of my request to provide credit until I notified them asking them to do so, but even this alludes to a larger problem within fan communities. This being the issue of copyright, and fans sharing any content displaying their favourite celebrity without real understanding of the consequences of doing so.

In fact, in around eight instances, I had to submit takedown requests to Instagram and YouTube (seven for the former, and one for the latter, I believe). In one case, an individual said my video was not copyrighted, which is not true.

Of course, under Section 11 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, “the author of a work is the first owner of any copyright in it”. In terms of ‘broadcasts’ (this being the video I shared on Twitter), it’s “the person making the broadcast”.

Nevertheless, I have, for the most part, been lenient on fan accounts sharing my images and videos – I understand their excitement. In fact, it happened in January when fans of Downtown Abbey star Michelle Dockery reposted a photo of me meeting the star in London. However, all it takes is for one fan to share a copyrighted image online which the original owner doesn’t like (or feels infringes on their copyright) and then there’s a very difficult situation indeed.

Sure, in the case of, say, television shows, the networks may be okay with fans sharing promotional images, even though these photos are still copyrighted. This is probably on the grounds of free promotion (hundreds of fans sharing their promotional image is great for getting the word out), or the act of submitting hundreds of takedown requests is probably too laborious.

I remember the discussions we would have in school about how taking an image from Google Images is a big copyright faux pas. Are we now seeing said faux pas making its way into fan communities instead?

If so, then we need to build upon the cautiousness we already possess on social media when it comes to fake news, and introduce a greater sense of awareness around copyright within fan communities.

As someone who mingles in a couple of fandoms myself, these groups open up opportunities for creativity, collaboration and friendships. Such an experience should not be diminished by a careless approach to sharing images of our favourite stars online.

‘Quiz’ review – James Graham’s ‘coughing major’ play explores justice in a post-truth era

James Graham’s latest play Quiz is one of binary oppositions. At its heart, audience members tackle the question of whether ‘coughing major’ Charles Ingram was guilty or not guilty of cheating on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?, whilst also exploring truth versus falsehood, and showbiz versus justice.

Photo: Johan Persson.

No doubt a political playwright, Graham says the “curious overlapping of light entertainment with criminal justice” in the Ingram case became a “prominent theme” whilst working on the play. Yet this particular point feels lost in amongst the nostalgic, exaggerated and slightly excessive quiz presenter impressions by Keir Charles (although this portrayal was most likely deliberate), the brief media circus scenes, gimmicks in the court case and the audience pub quiz. Although a treat for hardcore gameshow fans, the connection is a weak one.

Perhaps the strongest point suggested by Graham is one around post-truth – a political concept surging in importance in a time of Trump and Brexit. As both acts explore different narratives in the trial before asking the audience to vote, confirmation bias and manipulation are thrust into the spotlight for the crowd’s scrutiny. In a time where we find ourself subscribing to different narratives and interpretations of the facts, the investigation of this through the courtroom is Graham’s strongest point.

Accompanying the thought-provoking writing are some great performances from the cast. Utopia‘s Gavin Spokes delivers an impressive performance as the eccentric major, Stephanie Street is a solid Diana Ingram and Greg Haiste plays a variety of roles with vibrancy. Sarah Woodward and Paul Bazely also give enthusiastic portrayals of the two lawyers involved in the trial.

Chuck all this in with audience participation and a fourth wall break, and you have a thrilling multi-media production that both investigates and challenges reality. Quiz is a must for big thinkers and gameshow fanatics.

Rating: 4/5

Trump’s UK visit cannot be ignored | Liam O’Dell

Just like you shouldn’t fight fire with fire, you can’t defeat bigotry with ignorance.

The comments on the official Facebook page for protesting Trump’s UK visit makes for interesting reading. In amongst the comments opposing Donald’s presidency are a few suggesting a different reaction to POTUS’s arrival, which is to simply ignore him.

Donald Trump
First people wanted Trump’s UK visit to be revoked outright, now they’re suggesting we ignore him completely. Both are the wrong approach. Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/legalcode.

This is particularly interesting when one considers the response to the news already. When May made the extremely premature offer to Trump just a few months after he was elected, petitions were launched calling for the invitation to be revoked. It hasn’t, and rightly so. At a time where people voice concerns over speakers being censored on university campuses (a place people say is the centre for debate, critical analysis and discussion), it would be incredibly hypocritical for us to take the stance of banning him outright, rather than allowing him to visit the UK to be met with opposition. The former shows ignorance and hostility, the latter sees a fair and decent approach to differing opinions which we need to see in our society.

Now that that option is off the table, the next idea seems to be simply ignoring the fact that the so-called ‘leader of the free world’ is visiting the UK – something which is not only completely impossible, but has failed to get the President’s attention in the past.

Those holding this opinion most likely believe that for a man who came from the world of reality television, not getting the attention of a large audience is the most irritating thing to happen to Trump. Quite possibly, but in all the times that the leader has unleashed anger and frustration in less than 280 characters, it has been with regards to more public acts of defiance. Meryl Streep, Alec Baldwin and others have all succeeded in getting the President riled through high-profile political messages, not members of the public who have decided to not pay attention when Trump is in their country on a visit.

Donald’s affinity for Fox and Friends and extensive rants on Twitter paint the picture of a man who is, primarily, a man who prefers visual, easily understandable information – something which both platforms provide.

This brings me to the planned protests on Friday, 13 July. When images surfaced of the crowd size for Trump’s inauguration, the 45th President didn’t take the news too well. Some might argue that protesting may lead to further unnecessary hostility or Trump seeing it as a positive, but if enough people protest, and it makes the news, he’ll realise that all the attention is for all the wrong reasons.

Not only that, but the right to protest is an essential part of British democracy, and would be a welcome return to a peaceful and civilised approach to public discourse around socio-political issues. As one of the organisers, columnist Owen Jones wrote on the Facebook event: “We’re not just protesting against Trump, we’re protesting against Trumpism, including in our own country: where minorities are blamed for the injustices caused by the powerful.”

People thinking of ignoring Trump fail to realise the bigger issue here and to separate personalities from politics. As Owen says, the protest will also take a stand against Trumpism. Ignoring the president when he visits could very well be the right response when it comes to an individual with such an ego, but we must remember to protest what he stands for – something which cannot be ignored, no matter what.

By not paying attention to Trump, we would also reveal the polar opposite of the hostile political debate which we see in our society. While anonymous Twitter users fire hate and personal attacks at politicians and commentators online instead of criticising the issue itself, a new idea has emerged where outright refusing to acknowledge or challenge political ideas is considered the best approach. It is not, and such an idea must be tackled before it finds itself nestled in our political discourse.

In today’s climate, we must strike the middle ground which is devoid of ad hominem remarks or plain ignorance. A return to passionate but civilised discussions on the topic at hand is needed now more than ever.

To meme or not to meme? Thoughts on the EU Commission’s Article 13 copyright directive | Liam O’Dell

Try to regulate the Internet, and you will get memed.

In the middle of a controversial debate around net neutrality in the United States, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai tried to win support with a cringeworthy promotional video. In addition to the strong opposition to the new plans, the video was repeatedly mocked and parodied by Internet creators around the world.

Photo: World Bank Photo Collection/Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode.

Next in line to propose new regulations on the Internet is the European Commission, who, through a new copyright directive known as Article 13, want to “[improve] the position of rightholders to negotiate and be remunerated for the exploitation of their content by online services giving access to user-uploaded content” and make sure that “authors and rightholders receive a fair share of the value that is generated by the use of their works and other subject-matter”.

The concern comes from campaign groups such as Save Your Internet, who argue that websites will have to “implement complex and expensive filtering systems and will be held liable for copyright infringement, potentially incurring fines that threaten their economic viability”.

“The days of communicating through gifs and memes, listening to our favourite remixes online or sharing videos of our friends singing at karaoke might be coming to an end,” it goes on to add. It was these specific concerns about memes which made the headlines in media organisations such as BBC News and Sky News, and led to many young and witty remainers to joke that they now support the vote to leave the EU in 2016’s referendum.

As with most policies, there is a degree of ambiguity and over-the-top formality in the EU Commission’s proposal, but campaigners are right to voice concerns about Article 13 affecting memes. In the UK, there’s certain instances where duplicates of copyrighted work such as photos and videos can be monetised – provided the new version is transformative. In other words, creative forms such as reviews and parodies are covered under fair use or fair dealing because they bring new ideas to the table, and thus don’t infringe upon the market of the original work.

Before I elaborate, I should stress and issue a disclaimer that I am not a legal expert or lawyer, and so my knowledge of copyright and fair use comes from my time on YouTube and as a journalism student whose dabbled a little bit in media law.

Upon hearing this news for the first time, I was curious to know how such a proposal – if fully backed and passed within the different organisations within the EU – would be enforced. However, after seeing the term “recognition technologies” within the document, it’s clear that we’re talking about systems similar to YouTube’s Content ID function. Yet, even that has it’s problems…

With any legislation – especially those regarding any form of expression (e.g. free speech laws or copyright laws) – it’s important that it allows for context. On a site like YouTube, for example, video game cutscenes may be flagged for copyright infringement when they may be a part of a play through by a games reviewer. YouTube film critics face issues around copyrighted movie footage which, for a video-sharing site, is essential for illustrating their review. In all of these instances a computer system may struggle to understand the underlying context in which the copyrighted content is placed. Searches for matching content can be easily coded and incorporated into an algorithm – context cannot.

Therefore, I am mainly sceptical of this proposal, but that’s not to say that I don’t see where the EU Commission is coming from. Whilst the possible restriction on memes is ridiculous and nonsensical and falls under transformative fair use, I do believe that more adequate protection needs to be put in place for talented artists who may find companies using their drawings and illustrations online without credit.

Although, this brings me to another issue with this policy. Whilst legislation can be a blanket law to address a rare event or a small instance, group etc., on this occasion, using algorithms to scan whole websites for this one specific issue may actually do more harm than good. We have to protect artists and illustrators who are having their content duplicated without no transformative element, but a dragnet algorithm is not the right way. Instead, much like some sites already have flagging and reporting systems, each platform should have a report button which allows creators to request to have the duplicate taken down.

As much as we should be concerned about what Article 13 means for memes, we should also question what alternative laws there needs to be to protect artists’ work.

REVIEW: ‘The Silent Child’ – an authentic and emotional Oscar-winning film

‘Short and sweet’ is perhaps the best way to describe Rachel Shenton’s Oscar-winning film, The Silent Child. At a length of just 20-minutes, the debut production from the former Hollyoaks actress succeeds at painting an authentic and pure picture of a scenario many deaf young people face today.

Photo: BBC See Hear/The Silent Child.

Set in a rural countryside village, the film follows a typical family with bubbly child Libby (played by deaf actress Maisie Sly) at its heart. Born deaf, it’s soon established that she has struggled to communicate with the wider world. That is, until support worker Joanne (played by Shenton) is called in by the family to break down the communication barrier.

With charming shots from Chris Overton of Joanne riding her bicycle across country lanes, Shenton’s character has an air of Nanny McPhee about her. With textbooks in hand and the occasional sweet treat, Joanne offers her own real-life magic when she introduces Libby to the magic of sign language – one of the most heart-warming moments of the short film being when Libby signs for the first time.

What follows is the growing anxieties of a mother who sees a child deviating from the ‘mainstream’ route of speech and oralism. From the start, we see mum Sue (Rachel Fielding) portrayed as a snotty, arrogant mother which, at times, falls into cliché traits deaf viewers would have seen or experienced all too often – most likely because the forced oralism of hearing parents on deaf children is far from a rare occurrence.

As soon as we see the upbeat and powerful proof of how expressive British Sign Language can be, the film takes a much more tragic turn as a result of the above. Visual set-ups on-screen create a perfect visual metaphor for how mainstream schools for deaf children – without the right support – can only exaggerate the communication barrier that they face.

The tragic feel, dramatic but in no way inauthentic, is the perfect tone upon which to campaign for more sign language recognition and support in schools, with statistics displayed before the credits roll allowing the film to transcend the realms of fiction to illustrate a real-life problem that many deaf children and young people in the UK face today.

In a production well and truly worthy of its Oscar win, duo Rachel Shenton and Chris Overton perfectly illustrate the communication barrier some deaf young people face with raw, emotional and tragic honesty.