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.


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: After All These Years

Giles Cole’s extending from one wistfully comic short to a three-act Chekhovian elegy for the dance of age, is in a defining league of its own.


Review: Then, Now and Next

The Book and Lyrics are peerless for this scale, or indeed anywhere: and we can only look forward to much more from Orton and Robyns. This is a heart-rending, heart-warming piece. Laughter certainly, tears, yes those too. The must-see musical of the summer.


Review: Goodbye Jolene

A gentle tribute to singing, its people and touching disabilities that affect us all (in this case one in seven), it’s a major sixth in Siobhan Nicholas’ own augmented chord of plays. If you’re attracted by any of the themes, it’s a must-see, but it’s worth anyone’s 90 minutes.


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: The Swell

An absorbing play, as breathtaking as one of its surfing epiphanies. The Swell will break over your head. Let it. You’ll come up for air changed. A small masterpiece.


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.


Review: Tony!

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: 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: Hope has a Happy Meal

A balloon dystopia announces Tom Fowler Hope has a Happy Meal. It’s a smiley killer-clown place with real clowns; very funny at times though charged with melancholy for what might have been. Despite one or two moments, Hope feels a solid world, rather than a sketchy work distended into a play. Fowler’s settling into himself, definitely both worth seeing and pursuing.


Review: The Goat

Martin Malone more than revives Edward Albee’s 2002 masterpiece The Goat, at the New Venture Theatre; he rethinks how we can receive it. An exemplary revival of a play Michael Billington named one of his 101 Greatest – even over Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Make up your own mind; see it. Martin Malone more than revives Edward Albee’s 2002 masterpiece The Goat, at the New Venture Theatre; he rethinks how we can receive it. An exemplary revival of a play Michael Billington named one of his 101 Greatest – even over Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Make up your own mind; see it.


Review: Wagatha Christie

The brilliance of movement, lighting, script-editing and strong performances, with physical jokes make this a greater thing than it might be, and this production’s gained a notch of humanity in its tour. But to wish for something more human falls into the very intrusiveness that gave rise to the trial. It’s a tribute to Wagatha Christie – and Liv Hennessy – that it raises that paradox.


Review: all of it

Still the most sheerly thrilling yet intimate piece MacDowall has written, though all three pieces amplify that. A miniature classic of snatched meaning its staging too flashes by with shocking brevity. In all it lasts just 90 minutes. Catch it.


Review: Des Kapital

Revolutionary songs sung by a lusty audience in the heart of Hove. A revolution in itself. If you’ve any sympathy, antipathy or subversive sense of humour towards a way at laughing at history’s atrocities, and thinking there must be a better way - this is the show for you.


Review: The Last Night Out

Very-well written, darkly comedic, more touchingly true, writer Paul M Bradley and Georgie Banks take this just as far as it’ll go. Highly recommended.


Review: A Caravan Named Desire

Anything by Alexander and Helen Millington is worth coming for. A Caravan Named Desire isn’t yet at the level of I Love Michael Ball but by the time you see it, it almost certainly will be. This is a team to watch and queue for.


Review: Surfing the Holyland

A profoundly joyous and a joyously profound show, touching on all those issues of assimilation, marriage drift and acceptance; as well as self-discovery. For most of all as Erin Hunter brings out with sparkling wit and straight looks, this is about women’s agency. Dive in, you’ll surface with a whoop.


Review: I Believe in One Bach

An absorbing, extraordinarily well-written short play on letting go of your identity, the part giving it meaning. It’s also excoriatingly funny. On a mundane level, it’s case of ‘work won’t love you back’; on another, to quote the Narrator, this work’s not a noun but a verb. In addressing how we live up to the transcendence we create for ourselves, it affirms the unanswerable. The finest new short play of the fringe.


Review: I Love Michael Ball

Alexander Millington’s I Love Michael Ball is, in the words of one director, the absolute spirit of the Fringe. That is, brilliantly oddball, in fact deranged. Millington, wholly in command, is winningly able to return us to the sanity of sheer good singing. So make a date.


Review: After All These Years

Giles Cole’s extending from one wistfully comic short to a three-act Chekhovian elegy for the dance of age, is in a defining league of its own. A superb play, it will now reach the West End.


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.


Review: Lovefool

Though it might be red-topped as a Fleabag for the abused, it’s so much more excoriating. It’s also a work profoundly moving, necessary and – particularly for Gintare Parulyte - an act of courage. Lovefool’s on till May 26th; do rush to this 55-minute must-see.


Review: Awful People

As someone who lists one of her pastimes as ‘spite’ Julie Burchill - who’s written the play Awful People with Daniel Raven – seems in remarkably forgiving mode. It’s a benign intergenerational tussle. Burchill and Raven have built up chuck-lists of late boomer assumptions. When the crisis arrives, outcomes are well-devised and pacy.


Review: Tony!

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: My Brilliant Divorce

Like any first-rate actor, Louise Faulkner lets each eyebrow rise and fall: Quizzical, hurt, amused, they all register. A work to be savoured for its exuberant telling of one of the most painful things to hit any of us, through nightmare to laughter to loving oneself, to the hope of love. Highly recommended.


Review: Wagatha Christie

The brilliance of movement, lighting, script-editing and strong performances, with physical jokes make this a greater thing than it might be. But to wish for something more human falls into the very intrusiveness that gave rise to the trial. It’s a tribute to Wagatha Christie – and Liv Hennessy – that it raises that paradox.


Review: Bakkhai

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


Review: Manic

A new solo show that combines puppetry, spoken word and theatre to bring an honest look at sex and trauma to Brighton Fringe 2023


Review: The Way Old Friends Do

In a show celebrating the revival of friendship, twice, through the love of a non-binary ABBA tribute band, it’s good to know who you can rely on. You can rely on this scintillating, bittersweet play too. Absolutely recommended.