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: 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
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: 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.
Mustapha Matura draws in and telescopes devastating consequences - perhaps telegraphs years of damage into a few weeks for dramatic licence. That doesn’t lessen his impact. The point is western exploitation kills, in many guises.
Review: Blue Mist
A stunning debut, linguistically brilliant, very funny, freighted with critique and truthful.
Review: Blood Brothers
This reinvigorated classic has overwhelming impact: as story, as lyric fable, as terrible moral for these distracted times.
Review: Imposter 22
A joyous, riotously funny, wholly untypical experience. A play to shift boundaries and ourselves.
Review: The Father and the Assassin
There’s no finer dramatization of India’s internal conflicts. Hiran Abeysekera’s Gandhi-killer Godse stands out in this thrilling ensemble and storms it too.
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.
Compelling physical theatre about the disappeared in Latin America
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.
An evocative and touching personal take on a hidden corner of London’s waterways.
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: Walking Home
A decently imagined production of a serious topic that hints strongly at the work remaining to be identified, never mind done.
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: When Winston Went to War With the Wireless
An absorbing, layered, superbly entertaining two-and-a-half hours that couldn’t be more relevant. Set against The Motive and the Cue, it also proves how history allows Jack Thorne to be even more versatile than we imagined.
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.
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.
Review: Grenfell: in the words of survivors
Grenfell isn’t quite like any verbatim theatre, and the result’s groundbreaking. If the Dorfman could stage at least one such play a year, verbatim or imaginative, then that’s one legacy of Rufus Norris’ tenure that mustn’t be lost. Outstanding.
Review: The Madness of George III
Surely the Sarah Mann Company’s finest hour, overcoming the BOAT’s wondrous yet treacherous acoustics – and weather. Alan Bennet’s 1991 The Madness of George III is their most ambitious, most jaw-dropping production. This magnificent revival poses even more urgent questions. A twitch on the thread for all of us.
Review: The Pillowman
‘The greatest 21st century play’ deserves revival, and again after this where something of its lustre might be restored. Till then it abides our question, but question it you should, if not repulsed by true reports of its darkness.
Review: Dear England
There’s a sacramental thrill as you enter the NT’s Olivier: both sci-fi and ancient Greek. James Graham Dear England, directed by Rupert Goold, is like that: tackling something seen as almost too sacred, at once transcendent for many; but so impacted by nationalist hubris it’s become sclerotic. We enter the game at a historically pivotal moment. Where English football will never be the same. Outstanding.
There’s no doubt this is an offbeat, brilliant, rude, absolutely necessary musical. Its acid test will come from younger Millennials and Zoomers. But then that’s the point: the winners rewrite history. History has just struck back, and it’s a blast.
Review: Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay!
A cost-of-living revolution in St James Street? You’d better believe it as Triada Theatre kick off the weekend with Dario Fo’s 1974 Can’t Pay? Won’t Pay! at the Lantern Theatre. Superb, energised theatre, rough occasionally, but mostly very-well performed, imaginatively staged, rapturously received. Now get out on the streets.
Review: The Return of Benjamin Lay
Naomi Wallace and actor Mark Provinelli inhabit this gestural giant with wit, sympathy, rage and an agency burning up centuries between. It’s profoundly moving too, speaks to our condition of techno-serfdom, new slavery, discrimination everywhere. The packed audience are never sure who might be picked on next, but delight in the calling-out. Superb.
Review: 30 and Out
It’s important Brighton welcomes such terrific all-encompassing shows such as this, sashaying hilarity and superbly-crafted storytelling with dance and poignant witness. You can’t go away a bit unchanged.
Chemistry is a consummate production. Yet again Sam Chittenden reminds us how theatre can punch holes into the future, partly to ensure they never happen.
Review: The King’s Speech
Outstanding. Direction is revelatory, the musical cues from Logue’s own methods culminating on the finest single scene I’ve witnessed at BLT. Even if you’re from the Republic of Brighton and Hove, do push your way to the front for this one. A study of how a Republican humanises a man mired in the cerements of his own subjection holds lessons for us yet.
Review: Anna & Marina
Dovetailing invention and quotation triumphs. It’s a narrative of thrust and weave as well as tone. Overall it's terrific: one of Richard Crane’s very best works. If you care for gripping drama, can be drawn by hypnotic verse and superb acting, haste over to this unique hour.
Review: No I.D.
The celebration of acceptance and being wholly comfortable in your own body for the first time in your life transmits to everyone. It should make you more comfortable, knowing how Tatenda Shamiso radiates the joy of his, bestowing a kind of benediction. A quietly groundbreaking show.
C. P. Taylor’s Good shows – supremely - how a liberal without developed conscience gets sucked in. It interrogates each of us, especially polite liberals who might say “I’m not political, I’m not interested in politics.” Politics is interested in us. And authoritarianism beats us into a dead-march. And unless we resist to a point of danger, we’ll fall in. A groundbreaking production of this timelessly urgent play.
An important work, not just for historical reasons; you’ll leave cheering.
Review: And Then They Came For Me
A multi-genre piece that can play anywhere, and needed now more than ever. Both to challenge denialists and most of all to illustrate the inhumanity of governments like ours towards refugees
Review: The Only White
A vital play that needs to seen. See it here and subsequently a well-deserved transfer or revival.
Review: Pussycat in Memory of Darkness
Neda Nezhdana’s play is a world: not simply a map of pain and war footage. Both essential and in the mesmerising Kristin Millward’s and Polly Creed’s hands, with this team, it’s almost a compulsory visit.
Review: Sound of the Underground
It’ll remain one of the break-out, breakthrough, certainly ground-breaking shows this year.
Review: Bus Regulation: The Musical
Fine community agitprop that makes a compelling case for joined up thinking. And roller skating. And public transport.
Review: Farragut North
The finest UK production of this play, certainly the best drama in Brighton this month.
Review: In the Net
See In the Net for its ambition, its occasionally gorgeous language, Offie-worthy lighting and in Carlie Diamond, an actor to greet and watch, making I predict one of the most assured debuts of the coming year.
Review: Watch on the Rhine
Hellman’s uneasy drama, reaching out to our own quandaries, has answers that stay news. A must-see.
Review: Mother Goose
This is more than panto: it’s an affirmation of something that panto here welcomes in, in our time uniquely invoking layers as only Elizabethan/Jacobean drama can.
Review: An Inspector Calls
Still an outstanding production we might take for granted, Stephen Daldry has overhauled it, and crafted new touches of comedy and music-hall exaggeration.
Review: Jews. In Their Own Words.
It’s Jonathan Freedland’s and Tracy-Ann Oberman’s brilliance to bring off-kilter, casual devastation to the stage; in raw unsettlings that for many keep the suitcase packed.
Review: The Doctor
A triumph for all concerned. Juliet Stevenson even gains in stature. Robert Icke’s revival could hardly go better than this.
Review: About Money
A fantastic dramatic performance of a very difficult topic performed in an exceptionally authentic manner
Review: Blanket Ban
A must see energetic powerful wakeup call with plenty of humour
Review: A Political Breakfast
An amusing hour in the company of three fixers giving us humorous solutions to the pressing issues of the day.
Review: All Of Us
As Ken Tynan once said of another debut, I don’t think I could love someone who doesn’t love this play.
Putin’s our monster too. A must-see.
An impressively finished play. Do see it.
Review: Julius Caesar
If you’re a habitual groundling, go before this production vanishes back on tour
Review: That Is Not Who I Am
Lucy Kirkwood prophesies what’s in store with savage fury, and no-one’s exempt, least of all her.
Review: Cancelling Socrates
Howard Brenton touching eighty is at the height of his powers. Tom Littler has assembled a pitch-perfect cast, reuniting two from his outstanding All’s Well. This too.
Review: House of Shades
There’ll be nothing more blazing or relevant on the London stage this year.
Review: The Father and the Assassin
There’s no finer dramatisation of India’s internal conflicts. Shubham Saraf’s Gandhi-killer Godse stands out in this thrilling ensemble and storms it too.
Review: Straight Line Crazy
Danny Webb gives the performance of his life. Ralph Fiennes is coiled majesty. Two-and-a-half hours of such material have rarely been so thrilling.
Review: Cocky and the Tardigrades
Bonkers brilliance. Cocky couldn’t have been premiered with two more stunning actors, and the author’s flawless stepping-in remains remarkable.
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: Spirit of Woodstock 2 – The Sequel
There’s no greater writer/performer working in Brighton, or Sussex, and Spirit of Woodstock Parts I and 2 is Jonathan Brown’s most dazzling show to date.
Review: Two Billion Beats
Two Billion Beats was bursting with promise before. Now it delivers with a visceral yes.
Review: A Splinter of Ice
Absorbing. With such an acting masterclass the play’s a bewitchingly-voiced fugue on the limits of belief and betrayal.
Review: The Normal Heart
An outstanding revival. If you see one play this autumn, make it this one.
Do see this work of understated virtuosity, rich in character, substance, a shape-shifting singularity.
A sumptuous run through 40 years of Black Britain that challenges and assures.
Stoppard’s written out his theatrical testament. Outstanding.
Amy Berryman’s Walden is a remarkable play where the earth itself’s at the cross-planet, and travellers in space have inner and outer choices.
Review: Julius Caesar
A fleet powerful Julius Caesar, with some outstanding performances
Continues to set the standard for rapid-fire, topical sketch comedy.
Review: Richard II
One of OFS’s strongest productions, it’s also a return to roots.
Review: On Arriving
On Arriving takes sixty minutes it seems we’ve been immersed in a Greek Tragedy of ninety. See it.
Review: The Vertical Hour
The definitive Fringe revival of a mainstream play this year. Absorbing, baggy, intimate. See it.
Review: Living Newspaper #7
Like all the Royal Court’s Living Newspaper series, we need this. Watch a group of young dramatists take on the future
Review: Living Newspaper #6
Like all the Royal Court’s Living Newspaper series, we need this. Watch what this does with the future
Review: Living Newspaper #5
Like all the Royal Court’s Living Newspaper series, we need this. Watch.
Review: We are the lions Mr. Manager
A great revisiting of the 70’s in an agit prop retelling two hander, of a time past but a prejudice still present
Review: In Dreams I
A musing on identity and the Scottishness we claim is inclusive
Review: The New Tomorrow
There’s a generosity here, a big hug. Theatre itself affirms the value of life to those who might yet shape it for the better.
Review: The Ruins of Empires
A fantastical run through the falls of Empires and how we, as subjects, can and should rise up and take the advantages back for the common good.
Review: The Madness of George III
This magnificent revival poses even more urgent questions. A twitch on the thread for all of us.
Review: This House
Vibrant proof as to why it’s been called the play of the decade
An effective cabaret style run at the issues facing women in the 21st century with a popular theatrical style of the previous century which entertains is unsure of itself.