fri 20/01/2017

Theatre Reviews

Winter Solstice, Orange Tree Theatre

aleks Sierz

A day or so after Theresa May’s keynote speech about Brexit the words Europe and European carry an electric charge. For Leavers, they represent the evil empire; for Remainers, a world we have lost. In this context, seeing a play by Germany’s most performed playwright feels more than usually significant.

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Picnic at Hanging Rock, Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh

David Kettle

We probably think we know the story. From Peter Weir’s cult 1975 film, or even from the original 1967 novel by Joan Lindsay. An excitable gaggle of Australian schoolgirls from an uptight, English-run boarding school take a trip to sinister volcanic Hanging Rock, where four vanish – three students, one teacher – leaving no clues as to what’s become of them.

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Wish List, Royal Court Theatre

aleks Sierz

You could call it the Corbynisation of new writing. In the past couple of years, a series of plays have plumbed the lower depths, looking at the subject of good people trapped in zero-hour contracts and terrible working conditions. Like Ken Loach’s dreary film, I, Daniel Blake, these plays have integrity, but very little dramatic content. Market leaders of this new fashion are two plays devised under the direction of Alexander Zeldin, Beyond Caring and Love.

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The Kite Runner, Wyndhams Theatre

Jenny Gilbert

Khaled Hosseini's 2003 bestseller ticks all the boxes as an A-level text. A personal story with epic sweep, it interweaves the bloody recent history of Afghanistan with a gripping family saga.

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The Trackers of Oxyrhynchus, Finborough Theatre

Jenny Gilbert

When a leading fringe theatre starts the year with a production whose gender ratio is 8:1 in favour of men, it had better have a good reason. When seven of those eight are wearing prosthetic penises, it had better have a very good reason. And a plan in place for a glut of women on its stage next season.

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Best of 2016: Theatre

matt Wolf

Life threw numerous, possibly irrevocable curveballs at us all during 2016, which in turn made one even more aware of how lucky we were to find ourselves in the midst of so much sustenance by way of art.

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Christmas Book: When Broadway Went to Hollywood

david Nice

Tinseltown's relationship to its more sophisticated, older New York brother is analogous to Ethan Mordden's engagement by Oxford University Press. The presentation is a sober, if slim, academic tome with an austere assemblage of black-and-white photos in the middle; what we get in the text is undoubtedly erudite but also racy, gossipy, anecdotal, list-inclined, sometimes camp and a tad hit and miss.

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Art, Old Vic

sarah Kent

I avoided seeing Art when it was first staged in 1996, even though Matthew Warchus’ production created a huge buzz and won an Olivier Award for Comedy. (On receiving the award, Yasmina Reza joked that she thought she’d written a tragedy not a comedy.)

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Saint Joan, Donmar Warehouse

aleks Sierz

How’s this for a Christmas-week story? Joan, a young peasant girl – played in this version by the charismatically attractive Gemma Arterton – grows up in the bleak French countryside. She hears voices. It’s 1429, and they tell her to lift the siege of Orleans and defeat the English invaders. She inspires troops, she inspires the Dauphin. She helps crown him King of France. She is betrayed, captured by the English, tried as a heretic and burnt at the stake. Some 25 years later, the...

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Mary Stuart, Almeida Theatre

david Nice

Two rich, full December Saturdays of unsurpassable theatre, four great plays that grow more meaningful with passing time, above all supreme female teamwork to crown 2016. So Juliet Stevenson and Lia Williams playing Schiller's Elizabeth I and Mary Stuart – yes, both roles at different performances – may not be part of an all-woman cast like Harriet Walter, first among equals in the stunning Donmar Shakespeare Trilogy.

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