Below the Surface

There is a new Danish crime thriller currently showing on BBC4.  It sounded very promising- made by the producers of Borgen and the Killing (both of which I loved, particularly Borgen for its superb acting, great storyline and stunning shots of Copenhagen including some interiors with lighting to die for (Danish design rocks).

Anyway back to the new Danish drama: Below the Surface is about a terrorist attack on the Copenhagen metro resulting in 15 members of the Danish public being held hostage and the whole underground system being shut down.  OK, that could happen, I guess, and I was gripped by the first 2 episodes which were fast moving and left you hanging on.  But episodes 3 and 4 just got too far fetched with mass shootings, implausible interactions between the terrorists and an uber ambitious  journalist/blogger and I gave up on it. Am hoping for something more on the lines of Borgen next time round….

Below the Surface is currently airing at 9pm on Saturdays on BBC4.

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ABBA Super Troupers

As an antidote to Bergman, I made a trip to the Southbank Centre to see the pop up exhibition, ABBA Super Troupers.  And so I entered a world of nostalgia for the 1970s,  when ABBA mania hit Britain, following the bands now famous win of the Eurovision Song Contest in Brighton.

The exhibition takes you on an hours musical journey through the history of ABBA from their coming together to their break up; it is full of Abba memorabilia, costumes and recreations of 70s interiors including the hotel room where the band stayed during Eurovision and the flat full of packing boxes, that appeared in the video ‘One of Us’. There are clips of interviews with band members and a recreation of Abba’s Stockholm recording studio with an opportunity to try your hand at karaoke. Our guide was great- brimming with an infectious enthusiasm, and overall it was all a bit of kitsch fun.  Definitely one for the die-hard ABBA fans.

Abba Super Troupers runs at the Southbank Centre until 29th April.

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Fanny and Alexander, Old Vic

I was at the Old Vic last night to see the new stage production of Fanny and Alexander that opened last month.  Fanny and Alexander is probably Ingmar Bergman’s most well known and also most accessible film winning him the Academy Award for best foreign language film in 1984. I sometimes struggle with Bergman but I love Fanny and Alexander and the Christmas scene at the beginning is by far the most wonderful portrayal of a Swedish Christmas that I know (I watch it every Christmas).

I went to see the play with a slight sense of trepidation, not quite sure what British theatrical creatives would come up with in a stage adaptation.  But Stephen Beresford had   done a wonderful job with a clever balance of the funny and entertaining with the dark and cruel. The acting was in part excellent Penelope Wilton as Helena Ekdahl was a strong and humorous matriarch presiding over her complicated theatrical family and Kevin Doyle played the evil bishop with a chilling stillness.  I also enjoyed Michael Pennington’s performance as the endearing and kind ‘Uncle’ Isaak.

The production managed to feel sufficiently Swedish despite being acted in English; I was impressed with the singing of Sweden’s most well known drinking song, Helan går and the catchy Christmas song Nu är det Jul igen. Bergman’s film is a very hard act to follow but this play succeeded in capturing the powerful, funny and moving story of Fanny and Alexander to a degree that I, for one, was not expecting.  I talked to a member of the Old Vic’s staff after the performance and she mentioned that Pernilla Allwin, who played Fanny in the film, had been in to see the play and given it her firm seal of approval which I think says a lot.

Fanny and Alexander runs at the Old Vic until 14th April 2018.

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