Review: The English Moor

Richard Brome’s 1637 The English Moor marks a new departure for Read Not Dead. You might say with this play it’s Read to be Dead.


Review: Lived Fiction

Unique, spellbinding, groundbreaking; above all makes everyone more alive to the possibilities of being human.


Review: Captain Amazing

Simon Stephens commented “If I could get all your numbers I would ring you all up individually and urge you to see Captain Amazing.” That can’t be improved on. It’s a must-see.


Review: Rock, Paper, Scissors

A joyous revival. Though working in TV production, Hayden’s writing is too good, too well-shaped not to develop in theatre instead.


Review: Dawn Again: A Rap Opera

Elliot has a problem: two girlfriends, both giving birth on the same day in the same hospital


Review: The Promise

With a first-rate cast and team it’s a groundbreaking work.


Review: Laughing Boy

Stephen Unwin directs his own play as a sweep of storytelling, laughter and devastation.


Review: Frozen

Frozen is far more than a thriller: it’s an interrogation into the limits of what evil-doing is, what redemption and some capacity to forgive might be, and its consequences: and above all it ends in a thaw cracking like a Russian spring.


Review: Testmatch

A superbly witty interrogation of identity, abuses many histories deep, asking questions it sets up in not too sober a fashion. Testmatch is a lightning-conductor.


Review: Banging Denmark

This production’s 100 minutes are so absorbing you’re not quite sure if the time’s stopped, or just your preconceptions. Stunning, a must see.


Review: Life With Oscar

Nick Cohen’s exceptional powers as writer and performer are mesmerising


Review: Punchline

Destined to be a riveting play in Kay’s late-emerging canon.


Review: Queers

All I can repeat is: see it.


Review: Muswell Hill

Cook and team have shown commendable disregard for comfortable options, sharing a rediscovery.


Review: Dream of a Ridiculous Man

A definitive telling of that rarest thing, an uplifting Dostoevsky tale. It’s unlikely to be rendered better than this.


Review: Hide and Seek

An absorbing two-hander with as unexpected an ending as Lauren Gunderson’s I and You


Review: Casserole

One of the finest small-scale plays to come out of Arcola’s Studio 2 recently. Do see this.


Review: Rika’s Rooms

Emma Wilkinson Wright manages the narrative as an odyssey punctuated by screams. It’s a pretty phenomenal performance and the actor is so wholly immersed in Rika you know you’re in the presence of something remarkable.


Review: Good-Bye

Wholly absorbing, wholly other, it’s a gem of the Coronet’s dedication to world theatre.


Review: Drop the Dead Donkey: The Reawakening

This is as fresh as an AI paint set, and far more transgressive than the original. The fizziest, most outrageous assault on common decency since – I’ll leave it to the gibbons. A must-see.


Review: The Duchess of Malfi

There’s so much to admire here that it’s a happy duty to urge you to see it, if you can, any way you can.


Review: Stitches

The end’s both poignant and visionary. A show to remember long after the Bear’s imagined batteries run down.


Review: Vanya

This is the greatest one-man performance I’ve seen, said a Chekhov-immersed director of 45 years’ experience next to me. Yes.


Review: Jab

Highly recommended, it’s also essential.


Review: ACT Playwriting Course

Mark Burgess and his students should feel immensely satisfied. And of course the students themselves divinely dissatisfied as they develop their craft.


Review: King Lear

This smouldering production – fast-talking or timeless - fully engages with the play. It makes almost perfect sense: and two families’ DNA ring true as rarely before.


Review: Just For One Day

Despite history’s caveats, O’Farrell’s core message isn’t about white saviours or pop stars but how ordinary people unite to change things.


Review: Before After

A pristine, heartwarming Valentine of a musical, it fully deserves its revival


Review: Till the Stars Come Down

Even this early, it’s safe to predict we’ll look back at the end of 2024 and proclaim it as one of the year’s finest.


Review: Othello

With institutional racism and trauma compounded in a feedback loop, this Othello’s a timely, and timeless broadside on everything toxic we inhale and expel as venom.


Review: For Entertainment Purposes Only

Philip Ayckbourn’s songs are the heart of this collection. It’d be thrilling to see a full musical here; and staged in London. Enthusiastically recommended, there’s gems, with more of Ayckbourn’s elegiac sensibility than I’ve ever seen. More of this please.


Review: A Chat With Adonai

Jacob Kay and Helen Baird are both exemplary and funny – there’s explosions of laughter. At 40 minutes there’s much matter hurled at the speed of dark. See it if you can, and check out the other Bitesize plays at Riverside.


Review: The Beautiful Future is Coming

Beautiful Future engages throughout though the near future is where it beats quickest. Flora Wilson Brown’s play makes you wonder what life, not just the playwright, might do with her characters. Urgently recommended.


Review: Afterglow

It’s conquered both sides of the pond. Stunning, heartwarming, heartbreaking. We need this.


Review: Taking Care of Baby

Exemplary performances and production: with Charly Sommers outstanding as a woman hollowed out by everyone she knows. An auspicious full-length debut for Neil Hadley.


Review: Leaves of Glass

This is possibly Ridley’s masterpiece. Always exercised by the spectral presence of something just out of eyeshot, he never lets that intrude. Scorching and necessary, Leaves of Glass delves into family toxicity, ceaselessly dragging us back into the past.


Review: Boy In Da Korma

A necessary, engaging, original variation on finding your voice: and a theatrical coup. Acting, writing, directing, video, lighting and tech support, indeed singing are first class. A gem.


Review: Protest Song

Tim Price’s magnificent one-man play reminds us – yells at us - how much we’re all connected, and unless we stand together, how much we lose.


Review: Bullring Techno Makeout Jamz

Bullring Techno Makeout Jamz is neither complex or fiendishly plotted. But it’s very witty, linguistically inventive and light-hearted: so its downside is highlighted.


Review: Refilwe

At just 45 minutes, a delightfully adapted fairy-tale, adapted in its turn. Bisola Aalbi’s rewrite is a lively, timely take on a silent culture war to make people of all ages think again.


Review: Clyde’s

Clyde’s follows Sweat, also seen at the Donmar in 2018, which won Lynn Nottage her second Pulitzer Prize. A play of redemption, indeed love. Outstanding.


Review: Ikaria

Ikaria’s an essential play and marks Philippa Lawford – already at 25 with her own theatre company of six years and as director – a voice unafraid to use - and kern - direct experience; and create riveting theatre.


Review: Pitchfork Disney

Unique - and compelling - with high-calibre acting throughout.


Review: The Good Dad (A Love Story), The Mitfords

Now a superb double-bill, and makes a compelling case for these two shows to be yoked together, with their intertwining of family, sisterhood, abuse and terrible consequences.


Review: Men Talking

The end, as it inevitably must be, is a way of recollecting emotion with emotion. An inspiring act of witness, before others, and beyond ourselves.


Review: Mates in Chelsea

Mates in Chelsea is definitely worth seeing, and apart from adaptations surely the best thing this writer’s produced in a decade. Royal Court Theatre


Review: Phantasmagoria

There seem enough potential endings to make what happens neither predictable, nor entirely obvious. A first-rate cast with enough residual fascination in the characters they create to wonder at what life, and not just Deepika Arwind, might do to them. The terror is existential and we should ask what it might do to us.


Review: Kin

Outstanding cast! A must see! Ground breaking physical theatre.


Review: Passing

A mesmerising play, one that won’t fade and whose topicality will only reverberate more. The dialogue’s consummate and touching, the gradual reveals of blindness – and blandness - to racism on a memory-trip with a disastrous family album, releases a slow detonation of all that’s wrong still. One of my comedies of the year. Pretty outstanding.


Review: Influence

A superb debut show, Influence enjoys quite a long run and suggests that Stockroom’s an exciting fresh venture. And that embedded with Collective Theatre’s acting studios and writing rooms provided, this company and theatre synergy is more like a gleaming hub where magic in non-magic shows is poised to happen.


Review: The Inquiry

An absorbing, in many ways authoritative first play Refusing cynicism, trying for humanity all round, Harry Davies is already striking the right balance. His next play should be eagerly awaited.


Review: 2:22 A Ghost Story

A ghost told me it’s better now than in the West End. Sharp, satisfying in itself, above all hauntingly intelligent in its questions.


Review: The Confessions

Though not the ordinary made phenomenal, Alexander Zeldin’s touchstone, it’s an outstanding personally-inflected testament and striking advance.


Review: Educating Rita

Even if you’ve seen this play, know the film, get a fresh education in masterly acting and see this.


Review: Blue Mist

A stunning debut, linguistically brilliant, very funny, freighted with critique and truthful.


Review: Jock Night

With one-liners and wit in nearly every exchange, it’s a beautifully-scripted, scream-out affirmation of love, lust, loss and forever’s time being. And built to last.


Review: Death of England: Closing Time

Hayley Squires blazes Carly as a revelation wielding the writers’ language like a Swiss army-knife with secret gouges, and renders her still loveable. Yet here after all’s said, talked through, it’s when Denise’s “It’s closing time Carly. It’s over. Come on babe, let’s do this” and takes her hand you’re not sure whether to cry or cheer.


Review: Greatest Days

It’s a one-stop night out to spot upcoming with established talent. Everything from costume-change to curtain-call is a kaleidoscope.


Review: Blood Brothers

This reinvigorated classic has overwhelming impact: as story, as lyric fable, as terrible moral for these distracted times.


Review: This Way For The Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen

Based on the writing of poet Tadeusz Borowski and the paintings of Arnold Daghani This Way For The Gas bears explosive witness to shape the pulse of that post-Holocaust world. Bill Smith, Angi Mariano and their colleagues have wrought an enormous service. In the last great reprise of 'Never' we realise we're seeing the finale of an emerging masterpiece.


Review: Imposter 22

A joyous, riotously funny, wholly untypical experience. A play to shift boundaries and ourselves.


Review: Manual

Unique creative and very entertaining!


Review: Black Mountain, I Dream Before I Take the Stand

In Black Mountain Brad Birch shows in part how fine he can be. Arlene Hutton’s I Dream Before I Take the Stand is a short assault on the way the law assaults its victims, particularly women.


Review: Humble Boy

A revelatory production of what we must now think of as a small masterpiece, where Ayckbourn and Chekhov echoes recede to Charlotte Jones’ uniqueness. Jones really deserves her place in the forefront of contemporary dramatists. Humble Boy confirms its own place, pivotal to her oeuvre which has grown more robustly and cleverly than the flora or indeed bees that ululate to the end.


Review: That Face

Its qualities are extraordinary, that of a Greek tragedy on Prozac performed by St Trinian’s. Prozac Nation’s referenced, but Polly Stenham’s point is how parental damage numbs you out of feeling anything at the right time, with displacement activities chateau-bottled around a bed. Yet it is, of course, very funny. An outstanding revival, given extra intensity by the staging; an intimacy so palpable you both flinch and laugh at the same moment.


Review: Accidental Death of an Anarchist

The adage that farce is tragedy speeded up met its greatest progenitor in Dario Fo. In a ferocious new version by Tom Basden of Franca Rame’s and Fo’s Accidental Death of an Anarchist, directed by Daniel Raggett in a stunning production now at the Haymarket, the target here is squarely the London Met. And if you slowed down Basden’s brilliant, no-holds-unbludgeoned telling, details prove tragic enough.


Review: A Mirror

This is a far more ambitious work than Sam Holcroft’s Rules For Living, and grounded in things she’s wished to write for a decade. It’s ingenious, necessary and occasionally at the end needs a tweak more to land. It’s still unmissable.


Review: Fergus O’Donnell, Losing the Plot, Rebecca Frew Safe, Bernadette Cremin Painless

Erin Burbridge kept tech sound and lighting effectively sashaying throughout, and tre propsl, particularly in the latter piece, attractive and undistracting. In just three months work, with term-breaks, this course run and directed by Burgess tonight has produced something vital. It needs celebrating and its best work a swift life in full-scale productions.


Review: CREEKSHOW

An evocative and touching personal take on a hidden corner of London’s waterways.


Review: The Effect

It’s as if a decade’s experiment has altered this headlong, mind-rippling play. Returning to the National Theatre after 11 years, Lucy Prebble’s 2012 The Effect directed by Jamie Lloyd now comes out bigger than ever, one of the finest 21st century British plays, questioning identity and emotion under the effect of drugs, placebos, what we imagine ourselves into. What, in fact, the imaginary of love is.


Review: Where Is Love

Gritty coming-of-age experience with an uplifting twist


Review: Spiral

Because she’s almost permanently working as an actor, including in her own work, Abigail Hood doesn’t seem to have attracted the praise other late Millennial writers already have. On this evidence she’s one of the very finest, perhaps the most distinctive. I will go anywhere my budget allows to see a new work by Abigail Hood, and so should you.


Review: Sectioned

A raw and poetic journey through the experience of being sectioned


Review: NSFW

A stunning vindication of an underrated early play of Lucy Kirkwood’s. With superb direction and tech, the mostly professional and professionally-trained cast would grace any stage. NVT triumphantly prove NSFW can join the modern canon.


Review: Word-Play

Here though, Rabiah Hussain’s greatest strengths are allied to an excoriating sense of the limits of first language, how it colonises, even destroys mother tongues, and marginalises, even imprisons those who buck the monolinguistic norm. Hussain’s poised for remarkable things.


Review: Cuckoo

Michael Wynne bringing something full circle touches where the floating island of home and family might bring sanctuary, or last refuge before the cuckoos come and kick you out. A must-see, particularly for those who’ve not thought the Royal Court could rock with laughter.


Review: Union

After his breakthrough Rainer, much is expected of Max Wilkinson. Here he dazzles in depth with a fable of the limits of human agency, and conscience. Do see it.