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: Turning the Screw

This six-hander is a 90-minute announcement of a major talent. An almost flawless play.


Review: Before After

A pristine, heartwarming Valentine of a musical, it fully deserves its revival


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: The EU Killed My Dad

Do see this, preferably alongside its sometime co-runner The Beautiful Future is Coming. A dizzying theatrical gem.


Review: Afterglow

It’s conquered both sides of the pond. Stunning, heartwarming, heartbreaking. We need this.


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: The Good John Proctor

A valuable corrective to anticipate both real events and Arthur Miller’s take on Abigail Williams


Review: 1979

Political history told in Mamet-fast satire, imagined conversations and accurate stats. What could be more thrilling? 82 minutes later you won’t ask why this three-hander is like curing New Year’s hangover with Red Bull, ice, something illegal and a vodka chaser.


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: 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: The Silence and the Noise

It’s understated, there’s no howl here no explosive projections about what this half-life must be like. The fade here though is like a quiet cheer, as something might be salvaged as terrible things are left behind. Do see it.


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: Ghosts

Tom Hill-Gibbins emphasises the original’s shock in conversational prose-style too. Stripped to a straight-through 100 minutes is hurtles like the Greek tragedy with reveals it essentially is.


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: 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: 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: Knocking On The Wall

Exquisite slivers of a great talent, this three-piece-suite could not be more expressively rendered than at the Finborough, home of such miniatures, and occasionally, epics.


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: Retrospective: Soldier/Sailor

Exquisitely-calibrated theatre. A gem. Mark Burgess will hopefully return with more of his past and possibly new plays. There’s plenty of them.


Review: Retrospective

This is a first-rate ensemble and Parry has mastered a superlatively-layered interaction. Forget reading, this is a brace of vibrant performances.


Review: The Confessions

Though not the ordinary made phenomenal, Alexander Zeldin’s touchstone, it’s an outstanding personally-inflected testament and striking advance.


Review: Blue Mist

A stunning debut, linguistically brilliant, very funny, freighted with critique and truthful.


Review: You.

You’s Rialto production at the Rialto won a FringeReview award in 2015. No reason to change that verdict.


Review: Dead Dad Dog

McKay is even-handed, and very funny. And don’t you just love a ghost in 1985 who’s never heard of Margaret Thatcher?


Review: The Yellow Wallpaper

Stephanie Mohr’s adaptation is a remarkable manifestation (no other word seems more apt) of the Charlotte Perkins Gilman short story The Yellow Wallpaper, an important realisation of a key feminist awakening. It’s good enough for you not to want it depicted in any other way.


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: 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: 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: 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: 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: Arc: Amy Rosenthal Birth, Alexis Zegerman Marriage, Craig Ryan Death

This 65 minutes takes you on a traversal of human, not simply Jewish experience, out of all proportion to its length. One of the highlights of the latter dog-days, or as here, the long night of the hamster. Three leading playwrights showcased by Emanate, which in just two years has shown how essential it already is, how indispensable it can become.


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: 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: The Ruffian on the Stair and Funeral Games

Joe Orton’s The Ruffian on the Stair and Funeral Games come to the Lantern Theatre for four performances. This in-house double bill of one-acters is directed by Daniel Finlay and Mark Burgess respectively. A fitting end to the Lantern’s extraordinary week


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: 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: 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 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: 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: Fleabag

Original, raw, brilliantly funny and devastating. This production is Fleabag neat. Its harrowing streak of genius burns like a healing scar torn.


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: 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: 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: A Brief List of Everyone Who Died

“Death is the most natural thing in the world.” Not to five—year-old Gracie, whose life of resistance as Gracie, Grace but mostly Graciela Jacob Marx Rice traces in A Brief List of Everyone Who Died. Yet again Finborough have mounted – and nurtured – a first-class work miles from larger fare that fades. Do rush to see it.


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: Chemistry

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: 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: 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: A Manchester Girlhood

Julia Pascal’s A Manchester Girlhood is a rich work, a slice of generations happening. Rosie Yadid’s musical arrangements furnish the greatest amplification of this lighting-sketch of heritage, rendering soul and hope, the essence of generations.


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 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: 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.


Review: Jules et Jim

A thoroughly worthwhile, and in several senses heady undertaking. And certainly worth seeing.


Review: Strike!

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: You Bury Me

An essential play so rich in its one-hour-forty you emerge dazed with possibilities. Director Katie Posner hopes it’ll change you. So do I.


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: SAP

SAP will endure as both a superb play and key witness in a struggle for acceptance, to be heard. See it.


Review: Sugar Coat

Essential theatre. Five singer-actors, memorably punchy music, witty and heartbreaking – most of all groundbreaking – storytelling. 90 minutes of this and you’ll know just what to do with the patriarchy.


Review: Beginning

Beginning is the kind of play we all know we need: wincingly heartwarming, devastatingly joyous. It’s quite wonderful. Don’t miss it.


Review: Dance of Death

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


Review: Farm Hall

A stunningly confident debut. My outstanding play of the year so far.


Review: Mad(e)

A mind-altering experience, and in writer and director one of the most inspiring partnerships I’ve seen


Review: The Journey to Venice

Wiebke Green possesses the measure and tempo as well as delicacy of Bjorn Vik’s work. An exquisite gem worth seeing more than many larger, longer, louder shows.


Review: Graceland

Understanding traumatic narrative from the outside: seeing through a skylight, darkly. An impressive debut


Review: Irrelevant

Keith Merrill and Debbie Chazen have crafted an Everywoman (and man) for whoever’s gifted yet still never makes it. Look forward to a lot more of this kind from Merrill’s Le Gallienne.


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: James and the Giant Peach

With memorable music and ensemble singing added to a first-rate BLT production, there’s no better Christmas show in town.


Review: Dinner With Groucho

McGuinness produces one of his finest works wrought from the sawdust of others and rendered it the burst of stars that irradiate the end.


Review: Sarah

An unnerving testing of that space between naturalism and hallucination, redemption and blank unknowing, studded with a language that flies off the page.


Review: Not One of These People

Worth 95 minutes of anyone’s time, you come out heavier with the weight of where you’ve been.


Review: Something in the Air

An outstanding development in Gill’s oeuvre, and of permanent worth.


Review: The Solid Life of Sugar Water

What theatre can do, how it can change us, how completely different it is from any other experience, has few examples that come close to this.