Review: The Valley of Fear

Blackeyed have kept their telling as lean as Holmes’ hawk-like face, and it pounces. If you admire 221b at all, see it this week.


Review: Hangmen

Assured, idiomatic performances. And Martin McDonagh’s distinction resonates in a manner peculiar to him alone. A must-see for anyone in Sussex.


Review: Dear Octopus

Two hours 45 starts slowly but you feel Smith’s arc move with its casual, supremely naturalist conversation to moments where time stands still. Outstanding revival.


Review: Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol

Tiny Tim’s Christmas Carol triumphs as easily the best junior take on this classic I’ve ever seen.


Review: Cold War

Cold War ends with a draining-out of hope in Anya Chalotra and Luke Thallon; a desolate beauty the cast certainly earn.


Review: Tom’s Midnight Garden

An absolutely first-rate ensemble and they tell the story with all the wide-eyed wonder of a real enchantment, beyond Christmas, beyond, perhaps time. A gem.


Review: Odyssey: A Heroic Pantomime

This compact one hour 45 show must run again. The most inventive, best-written and possibly best-sung panto in Town.


Review: Oh What a Lovely War

Musically directed by Ellie Verkerk the six-strong cast play instruments throughout. They’re a phenomenal team, singing beautifully a capella or in solo. With six young actors mostly fresh out of drama school absolutely at the top of their first game, we’re treated to acting both hungry to prove and yet touched by the world they’ve entered. This is an outstanding production.


Review: She Stoops to Conquer

Tom Littler’s team reveal rare mettle and sincerity in a classic that can take some (if not all) updating. The 1930s must prove the very limits of belief in such class confusion, but this triumphs with the snap of a cracker, or (as here) the smash of Wedgwood. Outstanding.


Review: Pygmalion

What this production gives, in its hovering over periods, is a technocratic gloss on Shaw’s optimism and female agency. That optimism and agency though is why this play continually fascinates. Not because of the mechanics of accent, or even social mobility, but sheer release of human potential. In Patsy Ferran’s Eliza that transformation’s palpable.


Review: Birthright

There’s no denying Birthright’s sheer power, authenticity and perennial struggle played out between natural justice and lagging custom. It’s the breakthrough work of a masterly writer, whom only the Finborough look set to revive, as they have here. We’d be impossibly poorer without the Finborough.


Review: Henry V

A satisfying seasonal finale: a clear, engaging, visceral production with nothing vital lost. It’s as straight-down-the-martial line as outdoor productions of Henry V need to be.


Review: Shakespeare in Love

You’ll forget the film; you might even forget any staged version of Lee Hall’s in the West End. The mystery’s in the ensemble, the production, its bewitching leads Lewis Todhunter and Melissa Paris. With Claire Lewis’ direction, Michael James’ music, and Graham Brown’s movement direction to the fore, it’s a mighty reckoning in a little room – seamlessly transferred to an ampitheatre.


Review: The Taming of the Shrew

A slowly evolving, involving reading. Alex Louise can certainly develop this to a full-scale production. She just needs to take care of the script’s truth, though it seems contradictory. Confidence and imagination will soon sort that.


Review: Makeshifts, Realities, Honour Thy Father

Finborough’s absorbing ReDiscovered season continues with a triple-bill of plays directed by Melissa Dunne that after tonight, you might never wish to imagine apart. Of course they should transfer, be far better-known, and at least they’re packed out - grab a ticket if you possibly can. We can be grateful again for Neil McPherson’s curating yet another series of early 20th century revivals.


Review: Macbeth

The strangeness of this Macbeth wraps in those three Witches/Murderers plus Seyton, slowly perambulating their trolleys around. The eerie, in Schmool’s sustained chords, remains. The horror, elsewhere.


Review: Shakespeare in Love

You’ll forget the film; you might even forget any staged version of Lee Hall’s in the West End. The mystery’s in the ensemble, the production, its bewitching leads Lewis Todhunter and Melissa Paris. With Claire Lewis’ direction, Michael James' music, and Graham Brown’s movement direction to the fore, it’s a mighty reckoning in a little room.


Review: The Sound of Music

This is a top, not just first-rate cast; a riveting, rethought revival. There’s not a weak link - and some vocal surprises. The end is almost unbearably moving. Some still come over mountains as here, some in small boats. You might not feel the same about something you thought you knew. An outstanding revival.


Review: London Assurance

Dazzle might be the name of the hero’s ligging new bestie. But it’s what Dion Boucicault’s London Assurance (1841) directed by Tony Bannister with Jacqui Freeman at LLT is about. Their production though blazes midsummer laughter through dog-days. Leave the night to Shakespeare, this is high noon with a hangover. Worth several Dreams for miles around. Applause and laughter throughout this production - the liveliest I can remember for years – prove it. Do see it.


Review: London Assurance

Dazzle might be the name of the hero’s ligging new bestie. But it’s what Dion Boucicault’s London Assurance (1841) directed by Tess Gill at BLT is about. And it’s what this production does. Gill’s production though blazes midsummer laughter. Leave the night to Shakespeare, this is high noon with a hangover. Worth several Dreams for miles around. A must-see.


Review: Cheesy Cheesy Catchy Mousey

There’s surprises here you’ll discover. A superb landmark in Mark Daniels’ gifted exploration of Absurdism’s relevance. This isn’t deadly theatre, it’s quietly lethal to deathly assumptions everywhere. See it.


Review: Yours Unfaithfully

In Miles Malleson’s play, full of probing discussions, there’s a refusal to tilt at solutions. You feel he’s lived along the line; his provisionality speaks with permanence. That’s what makes it so remarkable.


Review: Brontë

This is what theatre means. BLT and Nettie Sheridan strike gold with emerging talent here, starting their professional careers. It’s to Sheridan’s choreography too we owe a seamless ensemble production. Familiar BLT names blaze with a new fire and in every way there’s synergy between physical exuberance and indelible characterisation. Outstanding.


Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Enough questions with the child, cruelty and othering, to raise questions that don’t dissolve in a dream. Yet there’s light enough to resolve this too. A warmth between the lovers somehow drags us out from the mask of branches Terry revealingly doffs at the end. Absorbing and a must-see.


Review: The Vortex

James tears into Williams impelling the final scene with classic ferocity, though ending on a question-mark. Both exquisitely pointed, and glaring with pulsing, contained energy, the effect’s like a journey to the edge of a long night. A triumphant opening to the 2023 Chichester season.


Review: The Motive and the Cue

An extraordinary production. If it’s a homage more magnificent than wholly revealing, it doesn’t stint on a riveting performance by Mark Gatiss, who glows with the still, sad music of Gielgud’s humanity.


Review: The Circle

In short, consummate, with luxury casting, deft rethinking but still faithful to the original as it refreshes it: the finest revival of Maugham – till the next one in Tom Littler’s hands, perhaps.


Review: Dancing at Lughnasa

A flawless cast and creative team gather to a point in Josie Rourke’s often meticulously faithful revival, and disperse. This is the only play this year I’d willingly see again soon. Outstanding.


Review: Quality Street

Don’t miss this exquisite confection. After this production, there’s possibly no return to the original. It’s a rethinking paying homage to both the sentiment, which it never upstages, and the brand and its factory-workers the comedy gave its name to.


Review: Home, I’m Darling

There’s a clever containment in Home, I’m Darling that reminds us yet again of Laura Wade’s lucidity and power. Since she’s written it, it seems more like a prophesy.


Review: Dance of Death

A hectic in the blood of 20th century drama. Its just here the hectic is realised like never before.


Review: Salt-Water Moon

In exquisitely caught Newfoundland accents, Bryony Miller and Joseph Potter craft a hypnotic, unfamiliar, unforgettable world in David French’s gaunt lyric of a love-song. Their chemistry’s palpable.


Review: David Copperfield

A paean to live theatre; soaring seasonal spirit, struck with tenderness, joy, sorrow, plangent affirmation.


Review: From Here to Eternity

Grabs you from the towards the close of Act One and doesn’t let go: from here to curtain we’re in heart-stopping eternity.


Review: The Lavender Hill Mob

Certainly enjoyable and the second act shows what it might be. There’s not a moment’s longeurs


Review: Waiting For God

Sarah Mann and Nathan Ariss lead a fine company into a dash to eternity and back. With a memorable finale of two weddings and a funeral.


Review: Earwig

A fast-paced elegant exploration of female emancipation in the 1920’s world of entomology (things with wings that sting!)


Review: Dad’s Army

You feel you’ve been part of an invited audience at one of the original TV productions


Review: The False Servant

It’s not just gender-swerving but role-swerving that threatens sexual and social order. Surprises light up even the last fade.


Review: Henry VIII

A wonderful score and musicians, above all Bea Segura’s titanic act of shrivelling, make this a must-see.


Review: As You Like It

Pure holiday humour. For all outdoor markets, I’d buy this.


Review: Marys Seacole

No simple swapping of heirs and originals, but a dream of the future by Seacole, or equally present dreams raking the past. Do see this.


Review: Hay Fever

An exceptional production in so many ways, this Hay Fever boasts some superb acting, on occasion great aplomb


Review: Anne Boleyn

If it’s drama you’re after in Brighton Fringe, this is one of the two or three essential stops. Thrilling, authoritative, with Greene the jewel in a sparkling ensemble.


Review: Orlando

A gem of a production, Taylor McClaine a soaring talent to watch.


Review: Dark Sublime

Sublime acting, light-filled production. Do see this quirky, off-beat play given its finest outing so far.


Review: Rocky Horror Show

Absolutely worth seeing however many times you have already


Review: The Chalk Garden

Not quite the last drawing-room comedy. But the Janus-faced prophesy of plays that took thirty years to catch up.


Review: Mozzzi

Then it was DDT. Now it’s personal.


Review: The Tempest

Café Voltaire in ruffs invokes a magical Tempest.


Review: Mr and Mrs Nobody

A warm-hearted yet sharp-witted peek at how the Pooter half live


Review: More Grimm Tales

A rollicking production with razored timing, musical cues and ad-libs worked in to half-second slots. A must-see.


Review: Living Newspaper #6

Like all the Royal Court’s Living Newspaper series, we need this. Watch what this does with the future


Review: A Coward Coupling

Family Album is possibly the most disastrous production this already unfortunate play has ever sustained. More, Coward would declare it’s a travesty; of genius. Hands Across the Sea is pitch-perfect in a slightly outré version of what Coward meant.


Review: Amadeus

In the most spectacular production imaginable, Lucian Msamati’s supremely crafted lead sets off the quicksilver of his rival Adam Gillen.


Review: By Jeeves!

A thoroughly enjoyable period-style musical.


Review: The Mill on the Floss

Stunning. This consummate, flawless production is an event for BLT and Brighton


Review: Grimm’s Tales

An exuberant Christmas production, and a miracle of compression, blocking, set-design and ensemble acting skills.


Review: Dracula

This really is the one-stop Dracula we need.


Review: Eyam

A ringing, tolling end to a pioneering season. This play must have a life – and already possesses a miraculous importunity.


Review: The Crucible

Identity Theatre Company’s Blue Remembered Hills was a stand-out last year. Directed by Nettie Sheridan and Gary Cook, this is too: strongly-conceived and mostly well-acted with stand-outs: don’t miss it.


Review: Your Alice

A trip down the Rabbit Hole like you've never seen.


Review: Iolanthe

You’ll have to see this if you care for music theatre at all. it’s unmissable.


Review: The Tempest

A superb, fleet outdoor Tempest. What it has to lack in quiet subtlety, it more than makes up in fleet humour with dispatch, keen wit, warmth, and truth.


Review: Present Laughter

Gary Essendine’s rampant again. Will Liz Essendine with Miss Reed’s help work out a five-point peace plan as all the writhing lovers seemingly wish to embark on the same boat for Africa (pronounced Efrica, out of that Streep echo)? Will her blithe response to all latch key claimants that they spent the night at her flat make any difference? Do find out. A gem.


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: The Snowman

The most enduring British Christmas hits are melancholy, in stark contrast to say American. There’s a profound sadness in the magic. Its not a long work, perfectly proportioned for children. It’s still the ideal winter present, especially on a first trip to the theatre.


Review: Antony and Cleopatra

This is above all Josette Simon’s play as Cleopatra, with Antony Byrne nobly matching her by the hilt of something at least. Even at a late stage, Shakespeare dissolves all our previous assumptions. This production allows us to see them plain. It’s worth the illumination.


Review: Julius Caesar

Andrew Jackson’s backgrounding of current events in his production is shrewd: by suggesting film-sets with subtle obliquity he backs us into the glare of a Trump stadium, those overarching lights playing on all of us. It’s a superb conception, in some respects outstanding; in one, definitive.


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.


Review: Follies

It took a visit into past and pastiche to propel Sondheim’s language into a modernity no-one foresaw. This is the finest realisation of this Janus-faced masterpiece, ringing with towering performances: Staunton, Bennett, Dee, Quast and Forbes simply at the head. This must be the definitive production.


Review: The Stepmother

Again and again you regret what indifference did to Githa Sowerby. It silenced one of most original early 20th century dramatists. It also retarded our dramatic development. To have plays like this running in the 1920s might have blown the genteel three-acter into emotional maturity.


Review: Fiddler on the Roof

Evans allows this musical theatre to breathe on his own big-hearted terms whilst allowing the bones to show, as it does with a breath-taking diminuendo that seems to raise and settle the dust of emigration as we watch. For sheer penetration, heart and balance it’s as definitive as we’re likely to see for many years.


Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

A Midsummer Night's Dream’s ideal for open air summer nights: The Brighton Shakespeare Company produces the most joyous, certainly sweetest Dream I can remember. It’s fresh, certainly but also enormously warm-hearted. You feel the ‘silver bow new-bent in heaven’ has unloosed a shower of happiness.


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.