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: 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: 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: 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: The House of Bernarda Alba

Adaptor Alice Birch takes the House apart like Rachel Whiteread’s sculpture. Harriet Walter is magnificent: staring out like a jailor, patrolling. Hainsworth remains hypnotic and terrible, joyously sexual and headlong as her Juliet in self-destruction.


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: 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: The Merchant of Venice

Shakespeare told in flashes of lightning maybe, but with the thunder of laughter and a ghost of wrongs rumbling long after the lights go down. A gem of distillation, dispatch and truth. If you can, go.


Review: The Proposal/The Bear translated by Stephen Mulrine

Elaine Larkin’s production is all of a piece and like all original readings asks of Chekhov what he wants. Larkin also makes demands on her actors they mostly cope very well with, and two excel in: though some of Chekhov’s subtleties – they exist even here – are bleached out. Firmly recommended though.


Review: The Changeling

The closer Ricky Dukes sticks to the original, the more accessible, visceral, true this production is.


Review: Compositor E

Charlie Dupré’s fast-paced, dazzlingly original Compositor E cuts into how the anonymous assert fingerprints: brilliant, unsettling, absorbing. McCarthy and the Omnibus team deserve huge credit for a work that might play to a larger space.


Review: As You Like It

It’s the trio of cousins and lover who ensure this production enjoys its fathoms-deep in love. An As You Like It with an inviting new prologue by Travis Alabanza, underscoring the forest’s healing as well as magical inversions; but shorn of its Epilogue. When you see how that Epilogue’s so rich in queerness and transgression it seems an own goal to the fluffier part of this production’s vibes.


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: Romeo and Juliet

One of the finest OFS productions. Its velocity, tumbling comedy and bawdy, tragedy through lightning brawls, rapier-wit foiled in quicksilver, rapiers foiling wit, headlong teen despair, the exaltation of love flown in lyric sonnets and defying stars: it’s all here, principally because of three outstanding actors. The Romeo of newcomer Isabella Leung, who’s never played Shakespeare in her life, the return of Catie Ridewood as Juliet. And the return from that golden season of 2021: David Samson as Mercutio.


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: Nearly Lear

Mischievous charm, tragic depth, and hilarious wit, all fueled by an intense and energetic inventiveness. A Must See show


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: Play On Shakespeare Globe Wanamaker

An invigorating not to say complicit evening by the end. Whilst I have questions about the limits of the texts used, and the understanding of how the texts developed and still – with some academics – the deeper questions of syntax which some adaptors clearly work with – this is exciting.


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: Romeo and Juliet

It’s not just that Isis Hainsworth’s Juliet is the sun here, though her outstanding performance is the heart of this Romeo and Juliet. This is one of the most thrilling, sometimes harrowing Romeo and Juliets I’ve seen. Fittingly a world where sun and extinction flash and vanish, it’s the Shakespeare production of the summer.


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: Bakkhai

The Tale of Your Times. Of Old Times. Of Times Yet To Come.


Review: A Bunch of Amateurs

Directed by Jacqui Freeman, this latest LLT offering sparkles in a heart-warming tribute to amateur dramatics, with a plot denouement as dizzying as a Shakespeare comedy. There’s not a weak link here. Indeed it’s to be hoped several newcomers will return.


Review: Havisham

As ever with Heather Alexander, this is a masterclass in acting. It’s also a masterclass in directing and technical address. The outstanding one-person show of the Fringe so far


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: Phaedra

Stone suggests only someone as demonstrably damaged and damaging as Helen (Phaedra), in other words a politician, might pursue self-destruction so relentlessly; and devastate so many. It’s brilliantly achieved elsewhere than with the core relationship.


Review: The Winter’s Tale

An enormously satisfying reading that happens to be groundbreaking. It’s Sean Holmes’ finest production yet.


Review: Titus Andronicus

One of the Globe’s most lucid recent productions; and the most consistently-realised aesthetic. It knows what it is: a stunningly thought-through, musically inspired production.


Review: Henry V

Bracing, fresh, wholly re-thought in every line, emerging with gleaming power, menace and wit. And I defy anyone not to smile at this new take on Shakespeare’s downbeat ending.


Review: David Copperfield

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


Review: Pericles

Kelly Hunter’s team have wrought a miracle of flight, realised by an outstanding cast who here at least, make us rank Pericles with Shakespeare’s other late Romances.


Review: The Seagull

A Seagull for the initiated, a meditation rather than the play itself, it’s still a truthful distillation, wholly sincere, actors uniformly excellent


Review: Hamlet

Destined as one of the toughest OFS undertakings, it comes through with a blaze


Review: The Comedy of Errors

One of the most vivid, aesthetically cogent, certainly funniest OFS productions


Review: Classic!

A world record attempt at 42 classic texts in one go that provides joy in an uneven presentation.


Review: The Tempest

A joyous production, that without its gimmicky close, could certainly furnish a way in for many


Review: Jack Absolute Flies Again

What Richard Bean and Oliver Chris manage is homage, both to Sheridan’s shade, his early bawdy, and despite anything a memorial to those who laughed at themselves to death. A must-see.


Review: Much Ado About Nothing

This isn’t the most revelatory Much Ado, but the most consummate and complete for a while.


Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

An exciting sense of being at the cusp of a new generation. There’s no knowing where this Dream might end.


Review: Julius Caesar

If you’re a habitual groundling, go before this production vanishes back on tour


Review: The Dance of Death

Highlights the truth of its bleak laughter. Humane Strindberg. Now there’s a thing.


Review: King Lear

Rarely has a Cordelia and Fool scaled such equal terms with such a Lear, rendering a kind of infinity.


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: 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: 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: The Last

Chittenden’s done a great service not only to Mary Shelley’s novel, but to the way we imagine. And Amy Kidd’s exemplary.


Review: Henry V

The definitive Henry V of our time


Review: Hamlet

A great Hamlet almost realised


Review: The Merchant of Venice

A reading of Adrian Schiller’s Shylock as probing as other great productions of the past decade; and of Sophie Melville’s nearly-rounded, brittle Portia.


Review: When We Dead Awaken

Ibsen’s elusive masterpiece is so rarely performed seeing it is an imperative. Played with such authority as here, in Norwegian and English, it’s not a luxury but a must-see.


Review: Measure for Measure

Immerse yourself in Blanche McIntyre’s quizzical production. You’ll come nearer to this play.


Review: The Tempest

Do see this Tempest, not only subtly outstanding, but pulsing with human connectivity and warmth.


Review: Hamlet

Jumbo’s Hamlet strips out accretions and ghosts you into asking who or what Hamlet is. See it if you possibly can.


Review: Macbeth

Building out of Macbeth a recurring epic of structural violence not ended with one overthrow, sets the seal on this outstanding production.


Review: Metamorphoses

The overriding sense, not surprisingly with these actors, is joy.


Review: Julius Caesar

A fleet powerful Julius Caesar, with some outstanding performances


Review: Twelfth Night

With Michelle Terry as Viola, one of the most touching and truthful Twelfth Nights I’ve seen.


Review: Romeo and Juliet

A fleet, brilliantly upending, wholly relevant take on the Verona-ready toxicity feeding male violence and young depression


Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Outdoors, this has grown prodigously. Some actors give transcendent performances up there with London’s finest. Out in the slant air this proves magical.


Review: The Tempest

Café Voltaire in ruffs invokes a magical Tempest.


Review: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Some actors give transcendent performances up there with London’s finest. Out in the slant air this will now prove magical.


Review: Paradise

A sleeping classic in the making


Review: Richard II

One of OFS’s strongest productions, it’s also a return to roots.


Review: The Odyssey

As spellbinding as Circe and Calypso in one


Review: Sweet William

Naturally enriched by living with Shakespeare Michael Pennington unearths local habitations and names for him.


Review: Troy Story

Again the most educative stand-up and a thrilling presentation. Oh and bloody funny on war, male sexuality and the Bechdel Test.


Review: Miss Julie

The end is like life-blood draining away. It’s what Strindberg meant. See it.


Review: Jekyll & Hyde

The most viscerally convulsive realisation of Jekyll or Hyde imaginable