The Crown

The Crown
Hansard, from 22 August at the National Theatre!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

This Sunday at 15.00 BBC Radio 4 will broadcast the first episode of John le Carré's George Smiley novel. Simon Russell Beale plays the title role, Alex plays Oliver Lacon. This is the first of three episodes.

The series is part of the "Series Catch-up Trial", which means all episodes will be available on BBC IPlayer after broadcast until 20 December.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Return to Cranford

The BBC has just announced a two-part Cranford Christmas special. The special was recorded earlier this year and will have old favourites taking part as well as new characters. Alex will be back in the role of the Reverend Hutton.

BBC Press Office

Monday, November 23, 2009

Observer Review

Susannah Clapp reviewed the Habit of Art in yesterday's Observer. About Alex she writes: "Alex Jennings is trim and buttoned-up as Britten; as the actor who plays the composer, he is lissome, arch and knowing. Both Griffiths and Jennings are terrific, though neither of them are particularly like the famous men they play: they are actors not impersonators."

Full review:

NT Live - "Habit of Art"

The date for the live broadcast to cinemas around the world has changed to 22 April 2010. More details about tickets on the NT Live Homepage.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

More Reviews

Susan Elkin in The Stage has the following description of Alex: "It means several actors play two or three roles. Alex Jennings, for instance, gives us a conscientious, competent, nicely camp actor playing Britten with tortured vowel sounds and awkward, anxious body language, who relaxes only at the piano keyboard. The Jennings character also ‘reads’ for the all-knowing servant in Auden’s rooms, supported by de la Tour as Stage Manager, reading for a cleaner to good comic effect. There are some lovely moments, too, when the fictional playwright gets carried away with artistic pretensions and the cast try - and fail, of course - to make sensible drama of it."

Full review: The Stage

Henry Hitchings in London Evening Standard says: "Bennett frames the incident theatrically: we are backstage during rehearsals for a drama that deals with the two
men’s reunion. So, Richard Griffiths is crabby Fitz, an actor playing Auden. Alex Jennings with beautiful precision incarnates Britten through the actor who plays him, as well as playing an Oxford college servant unsettled by Auden’s personal habits, which include a taste for rent boys and an enthusiasm for pissing in the sink."

Full review: ThisisLondon

Wednesday, November 18, 2009


The reviews are coming in for "The Habit of Art". There are mixed feelings about the play, though most reviewers have written favourable reviews. I give just the bits written specifically about Alex's performance, if you want the whole review, there is a link to the various papers.

Benedict Nightingale writes in The Times: "Does Jennings overplay Britten’s preciosity? Maybe, but he successfully comes across as defensive, insecure and envious of the rival composers he names with a staccato sneer. He’s primly unappetising while Griffiths’s Auden, despite such displays of coarseness as peeing in kitchen bowls, is warmer, more appealing — and, at the end, a bit lost and pathetic."

Full review: Times

Michael Billington in The Guardian: "A play that could easily seem tricksy is also given a superbly fluid production by Nicholas Hytner and is beautifully acted. Richard Griffiths bears no physical resemblance to Auden but he becomes a vivid metaphor for the poet. At the same time, Griffiths reminds us of the tetchy actor who is simply playing a role. Alex Jennings offers an equally potent echo of the angst-ridden Britten, spitting out the name of "Tippett" with calculated asperity.
Adrian Scarborough as Carpenter and Frances de la Tour as the stage manager are no less magnetic."

Full review: Guardian

Quentin Letts in the Mail Online calls Alex "nicely queeny".

Full review: Mail Online

Michael Coveney in Whats on Stage refers to Alex's Britten as "uptight, prissy and over-sensitive"

Full review: What's On Stage

Charles Spencer in the Telegraph: "Alex Jennings is superb, too, as the pained, prissily fastidious Britten and as a college scout grumbling about the squalor of Auden’s room, while Frances de la Tour, as the stage manager, and Adrian Scarborough, as the biographer Humphrey Carpenter, give performances of comic perfection."

Full review: Telegraph

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The First Review

The first review of "The Habit of Art" has appeared, even while the play opens. The honour goes to the Independent. Paul Taylor has a very favourable review of the production and the actors. About Alex he says: "the inset drama is set in 1972 and stages an imaginary meeting, after a gap of twenty-five years, between Auden and his erstwhile collaborator, friend and psychological protégé, the composer Benjamin Britten. The latter is excellently portrayed in both his comic bassoon-up-the-bum inhibitedness and his tragically recessed self-repression by Alex Jennings who also plays his portrayer Henry, the kind of gay man that “trade” might call “a bit of neat”."

Full review: The Independent

More Praise for "Our Mutual Friend"

The Telegraph has a review of "Our Mutual Friend", written by Gillian Reynolds:

"Walker uses Dickens (played by Alex Jennings) as his narrator, stalking foggy streets, ears alert, eyes open for telling details of dress or manner. We follow him, let him show us the boat on the Thames, rowed by a girl, steered by her father. There’s a body in this boat. Whose is it? Why does it matter? Before the first 15-minute episode was out you knew. You could also tell it wasn’t going to be as simple as that."

Full review at: Telegraph

"Habit of Art" Pictures - More

Photographic press agency Rex has published a set of production pictures on: Rex

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Alex will appear in the radio adaptation of John Le Carré's George Smiley novel, with Simon Russell Beale playing Smiley. The adaptation is in three episodes, to be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 from Sunday 29 November, 3.00 to 4.00 pm.

For more details: BBC Press Office

Thanks to Penny!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

"Habit of Art" Tickets

All performances this year and January 2010 are sold out, but "The Habit of Art" will continue in to February and March 2010. Booking for February and March dates will open as follows:

SUPPORTING CAST: Online booking opens on Fri 13 Nov
PRIORITY MEMBERS: Online booking opens on Sat 14 Nov
ADVANCE MEMBERS: Online booking opens on Fri 20 Nov
GENERAL PUBLIC: Online booking opens on Wed 2 Dec

From the National Theatre Website

"Habit of Art" Pictures

The Playbill website has published a gallery of 13 pictures from the new play. They are at:Playbill

Series Catch-up Trial BBC Radio 4

The BBC are running a Series Catch-up Trial. This means that all episodes of "Our Mutual Friend" will be available on the iPlayer until one week after the end of the full serial, that is 11 December 2009. So for the patient, they can listen to all episodes in one go from 4 December on!

"Our Mutual Friend" Review

The Independent has a review of the new Dickens serial, written by Jane Thynne:

"If there's one realm in which television is supposedly pre-eminent, it's costume drama, and of all costume dramas, it's Dickens. So how could Dickens on radio, without bonnets and lamplight and all the glories of the BBC prop department possibly compete? The answer is magnificently. Woman's Hour's adaptation of Our Mutual Friend is like Christmas come early. Its timely theme is money and its power to corrupt. Old Harmon, a misanthropic miser who made his money from London's rubbish tips, has left a fortune to his estranged son, on condition that he marries a woman he has never met, Bella Wilfer. Yet at the start of the story a body pulled from the Thames is identified as that of the Harmon heir.

No one was more alert than Dickens to the importance of vivid dramatisation. In Our Mutual Friend, Sloppy is commended when reading out the paper because "he do the Police in different voices" whereas Silas Wegg reads "in a dry, unflinching way". Assisted by fabulously atmospheric music from Roger Goula, Jeremy Mortimer's production luxuriates in Dickens's language and the actors, including Pauline Quirke as Mrs Boffin, Alex Jennings as Dickens and Daisy Haggard as Bella, plainly relish their scripts. Our Mutual Friend was Dickens's last finished work and when it came out contemporary critics complained about the complexity of the plot, but judging by the first three of 20 episodes, Mike Walker's adaptation has overcome this problem. Even if you can't make a date with Woman's Hour, it's well worth catching the 7.45pm repeat."

The original review

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

That Elusive Alfonso Bonzo

The final episode of this children's series, with Alex playing exchange student Alfonso, has turned up on YouTube in three parts. The first one is at the following link, from there you can find the next two!

Alfonso Bonzo on YouTube

Brilliantly Cool

The Guardian's Elizabeth Mahoney has a few lines on "Our Mutual Friend":

"It's good that the weather has turned properly chilly in time for Our Mutual Friend in the Woman's Hour Drama slot (Radio 4). A month-long treat just right for winter, this adaptation is stylish and gripping from the start and Alex Jennings is brilliantly cool as Dickens. "Let's throw a stone into this pool," he says, observing his characters and relishing the ripples to follow. Almost every character and event is greeted with strong drink, with hot gin the favoured tipple when there's a nip in the air."

The Guardian Radio Review

Thanks to Jen!

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Our Mutual Friend Blog

The new instalment of the Radio 4 Blog for "Our Mutual Friend" has an entry on Alex:

"15 May. Alex Jennings. So completely at ease with Dickens, Mike's writing, the microphone. He's a joy. He's disappointed to have been such an outsider to the process, having called in to studio the day before and 'felt the love', but we can tell how crucial his voice and his interest will be to the pieces as a whole."

The whole blog is at: BBC Radio 4 Blog

Thanks to Lori

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Our Mutual Friend broadcast dates

Broadcasting of the new Dickens adaptation "Our Mutual Friend" will start on BBC Radio 4 on 9 November. The broadcasts will be part of Woman's Hour and will be at 11.45 a.m. They will be available for a week after broadcast on the BBC IPlayer.

See: BBC Press Office