Review: White Girls
Clever but raw self-referential storytelling that will likely divide audiences
Review: White Girls
Clever but raw self-referential storytelling that will likely divide audiences
Review: S/he/it Happens
Not Your Typical Day At The Office
Review: Arr We There Yet?
A Madcap Mashup of Circus and Storytelling with a Little Tango for Extra Spice
Review: A Brave Face
This is a piece for everyone over 10 and should be seen at all costs.
Review: One Woman Alien
I can predict that by the end of its run, this should be the most outstanding one-person show you’ll see in the last week.
Review: Police Cops in Space
Full-on wacky energy with impressive physical theatre and dance.
Review: Pigspurt’s Daughter
Guardian obituary, 2008. ‘Ken Campbell was one of the most original and unclassifiable talents in British theatre of the past half-century.’ It just happens that his daughter Daisy is both that and far more. She’s one of the most cunning crafters of comedy and storytelling in the anti-business
Review: The Looker
A show about freedom. Funny, subversive, deeply philosophical - and beautiful.
Review: Laud of the Rings
This show deserves to go on the Road - ever, ever, on.
Review: The Prudes
Neilson’s piece twists an unexpected root out of recent debates over power and sexual abuse the Royal Court has addressed so consistently. Uniquely Neilson’s made the faintly horrible full-on hilarious.
Review: How To Suffer Better
You Won't Suffer To Enjoy This Laugh Out Loud Comedy
A Fast Moving Fast Talking Look At Life On The Road
Review: No Oddjob
Nothing Odd About This Fine Job
Review: Random Selfies
This is sweet, fleet story-telling with just the right amount of pitch and yaw for anyone to take, without it becoming too dark or didactic. Ten-year-old Lola’s engaging, and in Natalia Hinds’ hands utterly believable, energetically inhabited with a sense of fun clearly relished by this revelatory actor.
Review: Black Men Walking
There’s a resolution and a few late epiphanies. It’s an important work, satisfying in its refusal to over-imbue a situation which needs less plot-driven conflict than to lay open its stories like a knap of stone revealing the shine.
Review: Old Fools
There’s truths to discover here. Indeed, to remember love, happiness and life vigorously to combat the oblivion surrounding it. It’s still a hidden gem of a piece, and you should see this brief hour-long odyssey, either to reflect from its early evening finish or if visiting, as a sweetly sad, perhaps wiser prelude to whatever you choose from the later lights.
Review: The Woman in the Moon
This superb production has shifted our sense of Lyly’s pre-eminence still further. Lyly hugely influenced Shakespeare like no other writer. Lyly remains the Globe’s Read Not Dead greatest rediscovery, and this production underscores that more fully and emphatically than even before, in unexpectedly to this bold, necessary reading.
Review: Peter Goers is Hard Rubbish
"Goers has a story to tell, a joke (or three) and some genuinely interesting anecdotes"
Review: How To Be a Kid
More than an enchanting diversion Sarah McDonald’s play does ask just how quickly we need to grow up, even when we have.
Review: The Open House
It’s a wholly original drama, and if you like the super-naturalist verismo of Amy Herzog’s Belleville recently at the Donmar or Annie Baker’s John at the National, you’ll enjoy this sidling from that. It’s conceptually even more original. Do see this. It’s a masterly play - in a theatre famed for its dishevelled uniqueness.
Terry Johnson’s two-hander might seem a low-key hommage but his script’s brilliant. It’s a re-affirmation of Campbell’s comic epic theatre, and inspires you to look out for what his daughter Daisy might be bringing to us at the Brighton Festival.
Review: My Mum’s a Twat
‘Have you ever tried to sustain a relationship with a twat?’ Some debuts establish more than a new voice. Anoushka Warden’s My Mum's a Twat certainly revels in its compelling and sassy distinctiveness; but it nails to this a cause. Beyond this though is the thrill of a debut writer with the tang of their own voice stinging the air. As Warden says about something else: ‘You’ll have to take my word on that.’ So see it.
Review: Large Trash Print
This very fine 2007 work by Jonathan Brown strikes a blow for tolerance and inclusivity now as it did a decade ago. Brown’s superlative writing and acting is ridiculously confined to this city.
Review: The Bashful Lover
What this production enjoys in particular is a fizzing energy: nothing sags in Eastop’s expert cut and parry of Massinger’s final flight. The actors’ cracking pace reflects the martial tang of the play. Finally it’s the mutual understatement and mobile intelligence - etched on their faces – of Wicks and Eyre that make this already crackling reading treasurable.
Review: The Real Thing
To luxuriate in a witty play with valiant emotional gambits, you’ll have to see The Real Thing for yourself. Fox bestrides this production like a hopeful monster who’s got lucky. He’s irresistible, and especially in the second half, enjoys the support of an energised cast. Do see this.
This masterly ensemble piece affirms relativity as a human agency, for which physics provides analogues but no solutions. Insignificance will be signifying for a long half-life, and this pacey production ensures its probing at fragility won’t be lost in brilliant collisions.
One brave attempt on a recent play cast as it were in the dark; and one really fine stab at another darkness, in Orton’s debut one-act play.
We need more Calderon and more of the Court’s excellent International Playwrights programme. ‘Those who are still laughing’, Brecht claimed grimly, ‘have not heard the terrible news.’ Yet he always laughed and Calderon, in William Gregory’s idiomatic translation ensures this piece is memorable because we laugh, scratch our heads, perhaps look furtively at our bags.
Review: Dreamboats and Petticoats
It’s back again. Laurence Marks and Maurice Gran’s nine-year dream Dreamboats and Petticoats returns to Theatre Royal, Brighton with a cast and creatives deserving high praise for creating the lightest touch out of slight narrative. Those who’ve seen it should start marvelling at the musicianship, and those who haven’t will increasingly join in.
Review: Summer’s Last Will and Testament
It might be Summer’s Last Will and Testament, but whether Summer’s or Will Summers Henry VIII’s fool, is a riddling not only Nashe but the superb Edward’s Boys from King Edward VI School Stratford determine on our guessing. An extraordinary production. It’s good to know these Edward’s Boys are preserved on DVD.
Well performed, fascinating, intelligent and powerful - A Must See!
Review: To Hell in a Handbag
A sparkling lunchtime comedy
Review: Me and My Bee
"genuine moments of belly laughter throughout"
Fun forty-five minute introduction to Shakespeare. For parents as well as their offspring.
Review: Jenny Bede: Eggtime
"Fast-paced, full-on and painfully funny"
Review: Terry Alderton : All Crazy Now
Review: The Tempest
You won’t forget the spectacle. But it’s the lonely spectators of their own powers that’ll beat on your mind. Gregory Doran’s RSC production realizes that more fully than ever before. Simon Russell Beale’s riven letting-go of a man’s potency relinquished along with his moral son sounds deeper plummets still.
Marianne Elliott with her superb cast and ramped-up effects towards the end ensure this episodic freewheeling fantasia hooks you compulsively, beating you over the head with angels’ wings as Part One shuts them hypnotically and we’re suspended.
Review: Wifi Wars
A genius technological marvel of a show
Review: All or Nothing
Carol Harrison’s written the band proud and plangent; her split hero strategies work to make this one of the best possible storylines of a British band, given hell-bent Marriott burning his talent at both ends, just like the decade.
Jim Cartwright’s 1992 play with music The Rise and Fall of Little Voice sings out of damage into heartbreak and redemption. Those who don’t know the play or its outcome should see this, even those who have. Jade Clarke making her second LV might now be the go-to choice in this part of the country for some time to come. LLT’s on its best form, and following the éclat of Mr Foote’s Other Leg the other highlight of the season.
James Graham’s Ink persuades us of the combustion following a challenge to a cornered editor with everything to lose; and the irony of the most ruthless media operator in living memory given a desperate, humbling masterclass. In their friction it’s not only the Sun that bonfires every liberal vanity, but our naked selves.
Review: These Trees Are Made Of Blood
A necessary piece of theatre, the band are superb; a couple of numbers will take residence in your ear. Theatrically it’s almost achieved too, and if it feels slightly clunky it’s that the brilliant conceit of political trickery can’t be sustained over the sombre facts the second act introduces us to. The end’s overwhelming. Two audience members sat quietly weeping together and could not move for minutes after. Others sat stunned.
Uproarious “kamikaze cabaret” history of Brighton Theatre Royal told through song and amusing anecdotes.
Review: An Octoroon
Of Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ brilliance there’s no doubt whatsoever. With such a wonderful cast led by the stunning Nwosu this makes the most persuasive and certainly comical case for a re-fashioning that’s now (almost) the only way we can look at the Boucicault original of this play.
The ingredients are there: it’s a magical idea, and just needs a quieter rationale and – to make it a great show - a few more memorable numbers. But if you care for musicals, see it for an outstanding clutch of performers and a dream of something perennial.
This is the most affecting bittersweet piece of theatre seen at the Fringe for a while and a masterly play. That Hall and Lacey invest it with such pathos humour and delicacy whilst working to pinpoint direction is equally winning, equally devastating and makes you dream sequels. It’s a must-see.
Review: Lucy Hopkins: Ambition
Powerful Women Are About
Review: Sleeping Trees: Sci-fi?
Rollicking furiously paced exquisitely skilled physical comedy
Germany Calling , Germany Calling, Germany Calling - "an entertaining and enlightening hour"
Review: Comedy Club for Kids
A lot of fun, a lot of laughs, a lot of joy. And (mostly) age-appropriate.
Review: Bug Camp
Paul Macauley’s garnered outstanding praise and Bug Camp adds to his reputation. All four cast give exemplary performances though Douetil and Spencer hit a top register of something teetering on tragedy, laughing over an abyss.
It’s as if Billie Piper’s Yerma does stand-up. Caroline Byrne’s Blocked reveals a writer whose images stamp a scream-out-loud theatre drawn into an arc of devastation. Curnick inhabits a performer’s meltdown from a technique and emotional agency as strong as… a recording black box. Why? Find out. Superb theatre.
"....saving you the need to go to Calais or any other refugee camp"
Review: Woman in Mind
Some fine and one excellent performance in this Lewes Little production of Woman in Mind – Ayckbourn being a house speciality. Despite the occasional lack of shadows, there’s much to bask in and it’s more than worth seeing this production if you don’t know the play, or refreshing your memory if you do.
Review: Christopher Nibble.
"The Guinea pigs of Dandeville are munching the poor over-stretched dandelion population out of existence and heading for eco-disaster!!
Review: Enter the Dragons
Classic clowning exploring the subject of female ageing
Review: Die Die Die Old People Die
A stunning new work from Ridiculusmus, the multi-award winning theatre company who specialise in transforming complex mental health issues into warm, witty and accessible performance.
This eco-warning musical can hardly be billed as feel-good but the music is. Mark Hollmann’s music and lyrics are as fresh as they were in 2001, and Greg Kotis’ book and lyrics are sadly prescient. This ambitious professional standard musical is something we almost take for granted with BLT. In festival time, we lose sight of some regular theatre work But this is overall the finest Fringe theatre event I’ve seen so far.
It’s not been done like this before. This play fully deserves its accolades. Though we associate the First War Pals Battalions with the north (the Accrington for instance) this show localises it to every community it tours.
Review: According to Angelica
‘It’s about this nurse.’ Angelica, former nurse to the Capulets sets out her moonlight vegetables quite literally. The essential point is that’s it a fascinating take, and a compelling story.
Review: Plan B for Utopia
With its low tech props, starkly minimal staging, and exquisite performance, Clevillé has constructed a piece that teeters between being hilarious, heart breaking, and intensely hopeful.
A good evening out and if you’re in the area, more than recommendable. The overall production and costumes, abetted with strong pace, a good use of Coleman’s narratives and finally finally top-flight amateur performances by Jennifer Annetts, Aisling and Thomas Edie, and Charlotte Eastes, makes this a recommendable production, the most ambitious I’ve seen from these players.
Review: Don Juan in Soho
Don David Tennant’s priapic thrusts might rise above the title but of course he’s in the classic armour (aka condoms) of two guvnors, Moliere and updater Patrick Marber; it’s exhilarating. This is one play you must see, so transcendent in its theme it asks you the same questions.
Review: The Trials of Harvey Matusow
Informative, infuriatingly endearing it’s also Cohen’s first masterpiece, however small-scaled. For that reason too, it holds a particular freshness, a discovery of a remarkable voice. Or two.
What Yellow Earth manage so well is to forge a contemporary life for Tamburlaine. Stylised, stylish and sassy in the best sense, this touring production make Tamburlaine accessible. With caveats noted, it renders the first early modern English language play the greatest service: a horrible relevance.
What’s so distinctive in Torben Betts is his misleading us into an almost farcical comedy that turns darker. Just as stereotypes settle, plots unravel them. The climax is devastating, not explosively but in revelatory shudders. A fine unexpectedness marks both this superb play and outstandingly-acted revival.
Review: The Kid Stays in the Picture
In the best sense this production’s stupefying, a spectacle shot through with theatrical tropes suggests that, if Evan’s revelations could be more frequent, Kid would be dramatically breathtaking too. And it is thrillingly itself.
Review: Nell Gwynn
Swale’s unique: she writes a play of feline-scratching wit that’s a feelgood hommage, where intellectual pyrotechnics never feel out of place. We’ve recently enjoyed The Libertine’s brilliantly-lit darkness revived too, and revived Nell Gwynn is the antipode to Jeffreys’ profound masterpiece. Just as clever, as fiendishly witty, Swale’s orange-girl raillery refuses the other’s command to dislike. It ends too, in a startling reality, and tenders a shock.
Review: Low Level Panic
Claire McIntyre’s Low Level Panic might seem a slight play at seventy-five minutes of apparently low-key plotting and vestigial images, but after thirty years it loses nothing in impact. Time’s conferred both an indictment and uneasy classic status to this masterly first sliver of a much-missed dramatist.
Review: The Duke of Milan
A fine curtain-raiser to a year of Massinger, a later Jacobean whose career took a while to fly, was always poor and eleven of whose plays ended as pie-liners. There’s fifteen solo-authored and many collaborations to discover, several in this year’s RND. Frances Marshall ensures a superbly spirited ensemble piece, with apposite small props and a freshness you can smell. Though three hours with a break this never once even falters; it’s as realized a performance as you could ever wish, touched with scenic brilliance.
Review: Stewart Lee: Content Provider
Providing beautifully scathing content since ... whenever
Review: New Nigerians
As a snapshot of political compromise and impossibly contrary pressures African politicians encounter, it’s of the keenest interest. Agboluaje’s characters are vivid, and in one great scene they breathe fire.
Review: Rattle of a Simple Man
Sad prostitute meets superannuated virgin in 1962. A fine thoughtful and very welcome revival, with Leah Mooney and Des Potton bravely baring all their vulnerabilities at the least.
Review: The Cherry Orchard
A joyful sadness more nearly than most strikes the balance Chekhov mockingly prescribes in The Cherry Orchard: a comedy, grasping a clutch of infernos. Jade Wlliams’ grief-clenched crumpling as Varya perhaps steals the show but Simon Scardfield’s misery-infused Epikhodov, Abhin Galeya’s weedily gauche Trofimov and Sian Thomas’s giddy Ranevsky round out a memorable whirligig of a production.
Tim Key, Paul Ritter and Rufus Sewell dazzle in this Old Vic revival of ‘Art’ directed by Matthew Warchus. Reza joked of her Olivier Comedy award: ‘I’m surprised, I thought I’d written a tragedy’ and this visceral but almost (dare one say, given the subject) cubist probing of the hairline crack between the two both affirms and denies Reza’s claim she’s not a cerebral writer. She asks dangerous questions of just what the ‘art’ of friendship consists of, and why.
Review: Escaped Alone
Escaped Alone frames four women chatting in deckchairs in this everyday talk of tea and catastrophe - just as one of them steps into the void to prophesy a smorgasbord of Armageddons. The protean Churchill touches yet another dimension too. Do we have to wait to her eightieth in 2018 to proclaim her our greatest living playwright?
Review: Seeing Stars
Here’s Tycho Brahe to lead us by his gold nose. You can never start star-gazing too young; this Rust and Stardust production is a dazzling place to start. Enchanting, informative and exhilarating in equal measure; Conlon and Sommers’ singing sets a magical seal on this star-breaking look at the universe.
Review: Sunny Afternoon
What makes this outstanding is Penhall’s wit and deft charactering of core band and satellites who interact with the complexity of a play, the way the songs move the narrative forward and are given believable geneses. This outstanding musical deserves the awards its original incarnation garnered – and it brings back The Kinks forever sharing the peak of British pop with The Who, The Stones and pre-eminently The Beatles.
Review: The Wizard of Oz
It beggars belief that on one tiny stage we can be subjected to so many scene stages so expertly handled, so many backdrops and scenery shifts, not to mention a cast of twenty-two who can all sing. This production is good enough for a larger professional stage. If you get a chance, ask for a ticket or return.
Ninety seconds into this newly-revised one-woman play, Joanna Rosenfeld - emerging in a poke of fingers from a cagoule of brown paper - over-voices herself giving witness to tens of verbatim experiences we hear. This tells us the baby’s a parasite, sucks all your nutrients, calcium from your teeth for instance, causes injury, often permanent, can kill. This is - literally - epic interior theatre.
Review: The Tempest
Walter’s is a reading riven with pained clarity – a conflicted anguish visibly traced on her face – sealing the broken majesty of this performance. It’s the pinnacle of the rough magic of a production fresh, streetwise with animated verse deliveries, vocal range and above all the new-minted, brave new world.
Review: Whose Sari Now?
This is consummate storytelling, and Moorthy’s narrative variables attest to pitch and speed, a charactering that gifts all it can to the individual and in some cases real tales. There’s much here we cannot forget.
Review: The Tempest
It’s clear something miraculous and patient is born from this simple but endlessly detailed production, releasing The Tempest into its fullest consciousness for a long time. However many Tempests you might have attended, see this one.
Review: The Shakespeare Revue
A consummate delight in this now rarest of forms; a tight song-and-dance of words. New material sizzles, inserted towards the end, the whole box of Bards from Bernard Levin’s Quoting Shakespeare to McKee’s arrangement of Shakespeare lines for a musical lights-out dances on the edge of hilarity before falling headlong into it.
Spectacle costumes and use of machinery are outstanding, even by Wanamaker standards. Granted there’s a lower dramatic threshold in Comus, it doesn’t mask as it were the fact that this is the most outstanding production of Comus we’ll ever see.
Review: Guerilla Aspies
This is an absolutely necessary and enagaging show about Aspergers we need to see back. The audience was packed, and exhilarated, Wady making contact with nearly everyone but in a creative and – yes – neutrotypical way.
Moments into this one-woman play, Joanna Rosenfeld - emerging in a poke of fingers from a cagoule of brown paper - over-voices herself giving witness to tens of verbatim experiences we hear. This tells us the baby’s a parasite, sucks all your nutrients, calcium from your teeth for instance, causes injury, often permanent, can kill. This is - literally - epic interior theatre.
Review: The Clean House
Sarah Ruhl’s The Clean House is paced by director Sam Chittenden with clean elegance, counterpointing the messiness of existence with the neatness of fable, and the human need to straddle, even celebrate both. In a play about the perfect one-liner, we get the joke and far from killing us it offers us a small lesson in loving.
Review: The Boys in the Band
Mark Gatiss might be the best-known of the ensemble in The Boys in the Band but delights in being just one of this nine-hander which never falters, never droops and dances words to actions in a small masterpiece that seems poised to remain contemporary forever.
In the most spectacular production imaginable, the antagonisms between the black-suited and marzipan fight it out in this extraordinary sumptuous and consummately musical production. Far from seeming out of place, Adam Gillen’s Young Ones-style shrilling brat with his technicolour frock-coats seems almost more attuned than Salieri to his milieu. It’s naturally the corresponding gravity this production looks to though: Lucian Msmati’s supremely crafted lead sets off the quicksilver of his rival to an unprecedented extent.
Review: Blue Heart
A major Churchill season is long overdue, and her eightieth in 2018 shouldn’t be the only occasion of it. Orange Tree’s production is as good as it gets in Blue Heart.
Review: Hotel Cerise
Ellen Thomas fills the central role with warmth, quixotic generosity, occasional faded grandeurs and a bewitching illusion. Greer has otherwise ingeniously captured the Chekhovian amplitude and capacity for delicacy and tenderness in the face of death, her description of Chekhov. That’s really something.
Review: The Entertainer
Gawn Granger carries the memory of greatness and it’s this elusive elixir Archie, consummately but seedily played by Branagh, which stands in for those lost ideals Osborne’s first great character Jimmy Porter grasped at. It’s the toppling of Archie Rice’s own inner idol, or failure to do so, that sends this absorbing production out whistling into the dark.
Persephone and Eurydice, embodiers of two Greek myths, find themselves reaching out in the Underworld. Except Persephone’s an overworked bereaved junior doctor with huge attachment issues. She has to deal with a flock of Eurydices: distrait child, disturbed teenager, new mother, someone with mental distress seeking out seven dwarves in a lopped tree trunk. Welcome to the world in an Acorn.
Review: Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Character-acting keeps this near-impossible-to-dramatize story a play. Since the film’s different, this charmingly-attempted soufflé of an adaptation might do the best service of all: send people in search of a ninety-page novella, and that’s in large print.
Review: The Merchant of Venice
This outstandingly layered production seethes with Antonio’s and Shylock’s polar hatred. At the end of Judgement they’re both broken. Jonathan Pryce’s Shylock details as much hatred as Antonio (Dominic Mafham exhaling melancholy) and Venetian anti-Semites direct in spittle.
This production sucked in a whole audience and breathed it out with laughter. Its power’s a popular, indeed populist one. And in Maddy Hill’s furious dove we’ve identified an Imogen many can reclaim, or claim for the first time.
Holes sashays between naturalism and fable, some predictable some not. Noad and McGann strongly characterise. Roberts and Purchese make something special out of the comically horrifying. Richards has produced a sovereign reading of a troubled, brilliantly unequal question mark.
Review: A Room With a View
This is about as good as you could reasonably hope for. The latter half is a delight, and should send people back to the theatre for different fare, and to the book.