“Grapes of Wrath” preview / German “Taking the Flak” review

PORTSMOUTH TODAY: “Christopher’s on a journey of discovery”

Actor Christopher Timothy, who plays Pa Joad in “The Grapes of Wrath” at Chichester Festival Theatre, gave an interview to “Portsmouth Today”. He gives some insights into the rehearsal process.

Rehearsals, he reflects, have been largely satisfying, ‘but also dissatisfying because you sometimes take two steps forward and three back.

‘You try different ideas, but what seemed a good idea in the bath suddenly doesn’t seem as good in the rehearsal room with 17 other actors.

‘But you have to try. It’s called courage, though it’s very difficult sometimes.’

While the British media can’t make up their mind whether to love or loathe “Taking the Flak”, Britcoms.de, a German website dedicated to – yes, you guessed it, Britcoms – has reviewed the first episode. I wondered how the show would be received internationally (nothing travels as bad as humour); here’s a (very rough) translation for those interested. All translation errors are mine.

BRITCOMS.DE: “Drop the Flak” (…)
(Flak =/= “Flag”!)

“Taking the Flak” (BBC 2, Wednesdays 10pm), the new, expensive comedy-drama about a news team of the BBC, going about their business as frontline reporters in a fictional African state was announced as an acerbic satire. It does look expensive: shot on location and with top-class casting (among others Doon Mackichan and Mackenzie Crook (“The Office”)), the first 60 minutes episode did look impressive. Unfortunately, there was hardly any humour that went beyond stereotypical Africans with funny names, non-stop diarrhoea and other obvious jokes. The characters around the completely superficial senior reporter, the always-stressed producer who’s got a fling with a hard-nosed cameraman and the chubby, sad, lonely radio reporter are all vapid and lack so much a human touch that one hardly notices any of the drama in this comedy-drama (with exception of the drama-department of the BBC having probably increased the budget significantly).

The subject would have offered more, though: “Drop the Dead Donkey” proved it, and the makers of “Taking the Flak” should have more material to work with; Tira Shubart, co-creater, -writer and -producer, is in the news business for 20 years and has worked in more than 40 countries.

But maybe this will work, after all, in the next episodes.

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