FringeReview UK

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FringeReview UK 2018

4.48 Psychosis

An outstandingly imaginative, fearless recreation of Kane’s testament in another medium. It triumphs and is easily the most remarkable, necessary opera to have been produced in years.


Absolute Hell

This can’t be seen as anything less than a triumph of Ackland’s skein of characters caricatures and remarkable vision – which Hill-Gibbins consummately brings off. We’re not used to this scale, perhaps, from this period either. It’ll take some time to settle, and can’t be essayed too often with such a cast. But it is treasurable.


Act and Terminal 3

everything – set, actors, script – come mesmerizingly and painfully together.


All’s Well That Ends Well

This is an All’s Well to believe in, and plucks, just this once, a happiness Helena so richly deserves with a husband who equally doesn’t.


Animal Farm

A swift and telling production that’s quick-swerving on its feet with memorable vocal projection and physical acting that’s a delight and enticement. This outstanding outdoor version feels special.


Antony and Cleopatra

Supremely worth it to see these characters weighing equal in their own balance, perhaps for the first time.


Antony and Cleopatra

Supremely worth it to see a pair so famous weighing equal in their own balance, perhaps for the first time.


Aristocrats

Turner terraces a reading of Aristocrats that heightens Friel’s study in dislocation.


As You Like It

A ripping discovery, a spontaneity and transparent skin to the process makes this thrilling. An As You Like It for the moment, certainly. But a moment of change.


Be My Baby

Like several NVT productions recently, you should see this.


Believe As You List

A work rich in a few characters and poignant recognitions touching some of Massinger’s greatest. It’s the larky stoic Berecinthius though, who adds a dimension to the Caroline stage.


Belleville

Poots and Norton achieve a quivering fright and tenderness that alone make this a must-see. but if a touch incredible in one choice, it shows Herzog’s ability to combine the new post-naturalism with a rare character-driven ride to apotheosis, recalling dramas more ancient and elemental.


Betrayal

A really fine mid-season revival: after forty years, it’s good to see Pinter back at Lewes Little. Perhaps this season presages more daring things to come.


Billy Bishop Goes to War

Overall though, it’s those songs.


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.


Black Mountain

Brad Birch has won awards recently, and in Black Mountain he shows in part how fine he can be. It’s in the speech by the partner of man who’s cheated on her. That’s the rich ore mined on this particular mountain. That, and an ear for dialogue that shows Birch will do even finer things.


Brighton Rock

Greene’s original will continue to tease with its unrelieved religious intensity. Otherwise for a secular age this adaptation, and this production, is as good as it gets.


Cat on a Hot Tin Roof

There have been classic accounts to eclipse this production, but Jack O’Connell in particular throbs with a ferocious identification few can have matched. Here too, director Benedict Andrews takes Maggie literally about who’s now the stronger, and Sienna Miller seizes her chance. It’s a riveting conclusion, for the right reasons.


Cock

A superb revival of Bartlett’s warmest, most ground-breaking, perhaps most enduring play so far.


Confidence

This is a must-see in reviving the theatrical profile of a fine dramatist for too long shrouded in the digital of radio and TV when the acoustic world is claiming her back.


Copenhagen

A superb revival that can hardly be bettered, it’s more than enough to persuade us of Copenhagen’s classic status.


Dance Nation

As an airborne metaphor for how you get to be grown-ups, what it does to you, Dance Nation takes as it were some beating.


Dealing with Clair

Superb and horribly timely, as we crest the next crash.


Dial M for Murder

This production of Dial M for Murder is in the best traditions of the house. A superb entertainment, suavely and consummately executed with some depth, it must feel reassuring to tread in such a solidly realised black and white world.


Doctor Faust

If this Wanamaker is hell, you should queue for two-and-a-half hours of it.


Dracula

This really is the one-stop Dracula we need.


Dust

This is outstanding. See it.


ear for eye

Listen for our commonality, don’t look for difference. Here’s a memorable place to start.


Edith in the Dark

Will Edith always be in the Dark?


Electra

As a gifted exploration of Electra’s themes and a transposition of them to 21st century values, this is as exhaustive, detailed and convincing as you’d wish.


Elephant’s Graveyard

It’s in NT’s best American vein. Forget Rehearsed Reading. It’s the real thing.


Emilia

This is a necessary, thrilling play, its energy and message spill straight into the audience.


Exit the King

We need such risk-taking theatre back. This outstanding production of Exit the King might just remind us how to get it.


Eyam

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


Female Parts

Adult Orgasm Escapes from the Zoo. That title, from the 1983 version of one of the plays presented here summarises what you can expect. Sadly, subversion has to be rationed. Franca Rame and Dario Fo’s five short plays from 1977 Female Parts, get two outings – they’re joined in a similar bid for self-determination by OneNess Sankara’s The Immigrant, the first black woman in space. Go: it’s likely someone will vault over your head.


Girls & Boys

When you hear an opening like: ‘I met my husband in the queue to board an easyJet flight and I have to say I took an instant dislike to the man’ you relax. Too soon. Thus the chippy wit of Carey Mulligan’s opening of Dennis Kelly’s monologue Girls & Boys at the Royal Court Theatre Downstairs, directed by Lyndsey Turner stretches ninety minutes into something else. Fourteen years after her debut on this stage, it confirms Mulligan as a great stage actor.


Great Expectations

An excitingly-conceived adaptation of a familiar story. Ahead lies some astonishment.


Grotty

Know the Dalston lesbian scene? Verbally and dramatically as well as breaking new ground, this sings. Do see Grotty at the Bunker and be illumined. It’s rare to see such brutal tenderness laugh itself to the lip of the balcony.


Gundog

This Theatre Upstairs production lends a striking suspension of time to the middle of a sheep nowhere. Simon Longman’s Royal Court debut Gundog exudes the kind of stark belonging his plays seem made of. With such faultless direction and acting, Longman’s reach is patent.


Hamlet

In Michelle Terry’s quicksilver, quick-quipping Hamlet, much has been proved, from interpretive to gender fluidity in tragic action, that sets a privilege on being in at a beginning.


Happy Now?

However fine the original 2008 cast, you won’t miss them with this company’s revival of a stunning contemporary play. See it.


Home, I’m Darling

It’s a moment when rejoicing to concur with the general public, as Samuel Johnson once did over Gray’s Elegy, is the only thing to do.


How It Is

You’ll have to see this. It’s in no way a continuation of their previous Beckett. and it’s immersive, outstanding, unrepeatable and unimaginable anywhere else: Gare St Lazare, and in the UK, no-one but the Print Room it seems would dare to stage it.


Humble Boy

Jones really deserves her place in the forefront of contemporary dramatists. Humble Boy confirms its own place, pivotal to he oeuvre which has grown more robustly and cleverly than the thematic flora or indeed bees that ululate to the end.


In the Night Time (Before the Sun Rises)

This production’s sheer inventiveness, the feral truth of the acting and fabulously exploding set surely reinvent something; and land this drama where it should be: in the bleak dark before a bleached-out dawn.


Instructions For Correct Assembly

As an ingenious commentary on everything from genetic manipulation to over-determining children’s achievements, Instructions For Correct Assembly is a necessary unforgettable object lesson, in all senses.


I’m Not Running

Compelling dissection of what hampers the mindset of our main progressive party.


John

After Annie Baker’s outstanding The Flick in 2016 also in the Dorfman, her 2015 play John written two years later, has raised expectations that punch the roof of this intimate space. Whatever the premise, her priorities remain: the aching possibility of love in bleak solitudes inside or out, of healing, of forgiveness for the past, recent or historic.


Julie

A revelatory Julie for our time.


Julius Caesar

Together with several definitive and newly-founded interpretations, it’s Hytner’s lithe political thriller that emerges by contrast as a physical assault on the senses. From out of the smoke and flashes of this outstanding production, there’s jumpings-on and off as participants run up from all sides and even jostle people out of the way.


Katie Johnstone

Most of all you take away the sheer bravura of Georgia May Hughes’ throwing everything up in the air. She carries the energy to a cheery bleakness. And you want to cheer.


King Charles III

This is an outstanding production, one of the two or three finest amateur ones I’ve ever seen. It can hold its head amongst consummate professional ones.


Lonely Planet

If you know Angels in America, you’ll be grateful for Dietz’s concentration and economy. Much reckoning is packed into a little room.


Losing Venice

A play we need, and a production that honours it.


Love Me Now

There’s an almost tragic power to the two endings, amidst glimpses of redemption. How difficult it seems to admit love, particularly for men in the toxicity of casual sex where people become apps and black voids to delete. Unmissable. Michelle Barnette’s next play will be worth waiting for.


Loves-Lies-Bleeding

A slow-burn wonder. We need the Print Room.


Lovesong

It remains a highlight of the season, a mostly wonderful celebration of this rare gift from Abi Morgan. Let’s have more drama like this.


Macbeth

There’s a visceral intent and bravery, a willingness to tear though every received nostrum, some wild use of the revolve with an admittedly frantic cast trying to catch a magic roundabout, that suggests something magnificent could be made of it all. The rationale’s an urgent one: in a post-Trump post-Brexit post-climate-refugee state we could even be looking at this world soon.


Macbeth

The one to see.


Machinal

Only when we see the best of Sophie Treadwell’s other thirty-eight plays will Machinal’s lonely pinnacle be augmented. This triumphant revival by the Almeida could signal the start. You must see this.


Mayfly

Mayfly’s a play conscious of its deft artistry. Equally though it’s a work that despite its buzzing coincidences never loses the pulse of its profound ache. That’s why it’s so heartbreakingly funny, tender, even affirmative. A superb debut, the first it’s to be hoped of many others here. Joe White’s one to watch, and so is the magnificent Orange Tree, invariably staging a mighty reckoning in a little room.


Measure for Measure

The most thoughtful and thought-provoking recreation of a Shakespeare play this year.


Moormaid

Bott asks serious questions. How can a terrorist redeem themselves, and how do individuals negotiate this? Can art play any part in rehabilitation?


Nine Night

Natasha Gordon emerges as a playwright whose capacity to balance seven characters in profound ambivalence – and shuddering proximity - to each other is both thrilling and wholly assured. Anything Gordon does now must be eagerly anticipated.


No One is Coming to Save You

No One is Coming to Save You makes me want to see a lot more of Nathan Ellis.


Not Talking

Not Talking is a superb, affirmative debut play, up there with Bartlett’s finest, prophetic of much later work.


Of Mice and Men

This is a first-rate revival. Everything snaps and sings with a lyric devastation that asks with Guthrie just whose land this is, in a year where presidential excesses have seen the US population ask the same question for the first time in generations.


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.


One For Sorrow

Cordelia Lynn’s a compelling dramatist whose political imagining is swept into musical paragraphs, landing on rhythmic details, pitches of self-betrayal.


Orphans

It might be nearly sold out but queue for returns if you possibly can.


Othello

Othello will never quite seem the same again; that’s an achievement and a marker.


Our Lady of Sligo

The fact that sadly you’ll not see another Sebastian Barry in these parts unless you pick up one of his Booker-shortlisted novels is one good reason to see this. The fact that there’s some magnificent acting though makes it a must-see, for the soul as well as theatre-goer.


Out of Love

There’s much in this sweet, fleet and heart-breaking narrative of female friendship over thirty years that needs to be seen, including the poignant and unexpected epilogue. It’s a thumbnail classic.


Owls

A sensitive, potentially important addition to plays about distress.


Pity

Those receptive to those energies unleashed in the Ionesco, or more fitfully in Saint George and the Dragon will readily see Mullarkey’s almost unique position. What he writes next might define him.


Precious Little Talent

Do see why this un-preciously funny, inherently angsty play deepens.


random/generations

In a season featuring not before time several superb women dramatists – Enid Bagnold and Charlotte Jones follow – starting with tucker green is a proud moment for Chichester.


Reared

Reared is above all forgivingly funny, John Fitzpatrick’s comedy exquisite in group dynamics but sometimes on a telling image also contains create one of the most gripping story-telling scenes in recent drama.


Richard II

A savage anointing, a revelatory reading.


Rita, Sue and Bob Too

A first-class revival of a timely, still-urgent play, from an untimely-ripped dramatist, this is a must-see for anyone who cares about British drama, British history, and its more thoroughly-beleaguered people.


Romeo and Juliet

This Romeo and Juliet has all the pace and heart any production, modern-dress or period, demands. Karen Fishwick’s radiant Juliet is the soul that imprints itself on it.


Romeo and Juliet

This Romeo and Juliet has all the pace and heart any production, modern-dress or period, demands. Karen Fishwick’s radiant Juliet is the soul that imprints itself on it.


Sary

The imaginative force, language and unique serenity of this work demands another run.


Section 2

This is an urgent, compellingly written stunningly acted piece of naturalistic drama. It should be filmed for mental health awareness week, and acted wherever possible.


Sense and Sensibility

An adaptation to surprise and thrill you. Jessica Swale’s made Sense and Sensibility wholly hers, and quintessentially Austen at the same time. The cast render it a delight.


Sir Thomas More

This the second RND this year easily maintains the bar set so high by Eastward Ho! It’s fleet, superbly characterised in major parts but inevitably John Hopkins takes the palm for centring a superbly-realized portrayal.


Spun

The genius and universality of this play is that Hussain writes stingingly of what it’s like to be working-class as well as Asian.


Starfish

What does a home mean? What's it like to lose yours?


Stay Happy Keep Smiling, Fury

Where else in Brighton can you see two new acclaimed plays so swiftly?


Stories

Utterly compelling. Anything Nina Raine writes now is routinely expected to touch greatness. No pressure.


Strangers on a Train

This ATG production should reach anyone who’s curious about Warner’s rather different outcome to the original, which Highsmith herself, writing later, might well have approved of; I prefer it too.


Summer and Smoke

Sometimes it fees as if Williams’ characters can’t breathe without their intrinsically skew-sided unhappiness. Ferran’s Alma though takes on a life that transcends this and makes one wonder again.


The Cane

Ravenhill’s apparently muted play works exceptionally well.


The Case of the Frightened Lady

This is still something of a vintage treat, and a rare opportunity to see the old master in action.


The Chalk Garden

Not quite the last drawing-room comedy. But the Janus-faced prophesy of plays that took thirty years to catch up. Chichester’s season of women dramatists is one of the treasurable things of 2018.


The Claim

Ultimately this is a play putting humanity and the limits of empathy on trial, the whole refugee crisis and bureaucracy’s way of distorting, dishonouring witness a corruptive glare that’s universal. It’s a vital, seminal work on how we misunderstand our humanity.


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.


The Daughter-in-Law

This is as pitch-perfect as we’re likely to get for a very long time. Ideas and instincts at war drive this play out of its apparent bounds but not out of Eastwood. And its aftermath is a hushed miracle.


The Dresser

This consummate portrayal of near-disaster ending in a successful one, is as good as it gets at LLT.


The Fall

It’s a play which for theme, formal handling and ingenuity would be highly recommendable alone. Coupled with the excitement of ten young actors getting the measure of this and themselves provides a thrilling reach into tomorrow, including the tomorrows we hope never come.


The Funeral Director

One of the most riveting few minutes of contemporary theatre I’ve seen all year.


The Graduate

There’s so many reasons to see this production. It’s worth hanging around for returns.


The Great Wave

Turnly’s straightforward play treats of a history we’re unfamiliar with, and we need it straight. That’s more than enough to make it thoroughly absorbing, with far more questions than when we entered the space. Do see it.


The Gulf

Gould’s team have made this as authentic as some of U. S. casts who travelled over from The New York Public Theater for the Nelson plays. There’ll always be some who don’t get this kind of theatre, but there’s an increasing appetite for and understanding of it. When you do, like Kendra’s Betty, you’ll be hooked.


The Habit of Art

It’s a triumphant revival. Do see it.


The Leading Man

Doyen has the kernel of something excellent, disturbing and playable.


The Lehman Trilogy

Almost stupefying, but outstanding.


The Madness of George III

This magnificent revival poses even more urgent questions. A twitch on the thread for all of us.


The Meeting

Quieter than Humble Boy, The Meeting juggles ideas as adeptly, and heart more fully perhaps than any Jones play. There’s every reason to celebrate Jones’ return to the stage.


The One

This breaks rules as it makes them. See it.


The Outsider

Like so much from The Print Room, this feels like European theatre. And we need it more desperately than ever.


The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie

It’s not shorter than before, but dare one say it, somehow Sparkier, conveying the author’s economy in a sinewy morality tale.


The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives

The genius of this production is to keep hilarity airborne whilst slipping in something poisonous. You must see this.


The Sweet Science of Bruising

It’s incredibly helpful Troupe champion new writing as good as this. It should go to a prize-fight.


The Tell-Tale Heart

As an electric shock to schlock gothic, theatre doesn’t come much better than this.


The Trench

A small masterpiece.


The Two Noble Kinsmen

We’re looking at a bright Book of Hours. Barrie Rutter’s done it profound service, adding a warmth and agency that opens up this pageant. This is hopefully just the first of many such he’ll bring to the Globe.


The Wild Duck

You should be shocked.


The Winslow Boy

It’s a uniformly excellent cast. For Tessa Peake-Jones and particularly Aden Gillett, Timothy Watson and above all Dorothea Myer-Bennett, this is a treasurable revival of a now classic play, whose themes are every week recalled in political injustices visited by government on defenceless people. ‘Let right be done’ is as sadly relevant as ever.


The Woods

Of this play's witness and power there can be no doubt whatsoever. Compelling and unmissable.


The Writer

This is necessary, exciting, playful, and still unsettling, not just because of what it asks but the manner of narration. It’s also seminal.


The York Realist

Robert Hastie’s revival at the Donmar reaffirms this a modern classic in a production fully realizing Peter Gill’s quiet universality. By the close, when George quotes lines from the York Realist we’re on another plane from a superb play about love. It’s an outstanding play: this revival is as fine as we’re likely to see.


This Restless State

If it comes near you – visit the website – do try and see this pungently-paced meditation on upheaval. This Restless State breathes across its zones as a play with real potential that simply needs a little more daring, a little less peeling back.


Translations

In this pitched-perfect National Theatre production in the Olivier, Translations taps as close to its power as it can. This is the version for a generation.


Translations

In this pitched-perfect National Theatre production in the Olivier, Translations taps as close to its power as it can. This is the version for a generation.


Trial By Laughter

You won’t see a finer comedy till well into the new year.


True West

Another winning piece of Americana from NVT, now the go-to on the south coast for anything pointing true west.


Underground Railroad Game

The most radical piece of American theatre I’ve seen, and certainly the bravest. See it.


Utility

It’s a great phase of U. S. playwrighting, driven by women, and we’re lucky to be living in the middle of it. Schwend unleashes unexpected miracles and is one reason to see this hushed superlative of a play.


When the Wind Blows

BLT have produced in less than two weeks two outstandingly fine full-length productions. This latest offering confirms this theatre’s confidence in producing stark contrasts: an unfashionable yet horribly topical drop of silence into a bustling city.