sun 22/09/2019

Theatre Features

On An August Bank Holiday for a Lark

Deborah McAndrew

Shall I let you into a secret? Barrie Rutter isn’t always right. I’ve enjoyed a creative and rewarding professional relationship and personal friendship with Barrie for almost 20 years now, and I think I can say that without fear of him falling out with me. He isn’t always right – but he often is, and one of the things he’s right about is that a tragedy isn’t a tragedy until it’s a tragedy.


theartsdesk in Sydney: Upside Down Under

Christopher Beanland

Sydney has a nervous tic. People think Australians are brash and bolshy but that's not true. There's a deep sense of ingrained anxiety here. That anxiety comes from being at the edge of the world, a long way from Europe and in an unfamiliar and unrelenting land. It has been expressed through the art of Australia for 200 years. Today the country and its biggest city are both more confident, so the anxiety expresses itself in subtler ways.


The Resurrection of Conor McPherson

Jasper Rees

The transfer this week to the West End of The Weir has reminded theatre-goers of Conor McPherson’s hypnotic powers as a dramatist. In the Donmar's revival of the play you can palpably feel the playwright’s storytelling magic casting its spell all over again as, on a windy evening in a rural Irish pub, character after character unburdens himself - and finally herself - of a supernatural tale.


Arise, Sir Michael Codron

Jasper Rees

The fledgling career of Michael Codron, who has been knighted in the New Year's Honours list at the age of 75, might have ended almost as soon as it began. He embarked on a career as a solo impresario in 1956 and had staged three shows, none of which prospered. Then he went to Cambridge and saw a promising undergraduate revue, written by Bamber Gascoigne.


Listed: The 12 Derangements of Christmas


We at The Arts Desk are as fond as the next person of swans-a-swimming, partridges and pear-trees, not to mention gold rings, but be honest: 'tis already the season to be jolly sick and tired of all those knee-jerk compilations of Slade, sleighbells and Celine Dion's "O Holy Night". Without wishing to audition for the role of Ebenezer Scrooge, it’s time to admit that not everything made in the name of Christmas is of the highest artistic merit.


Listed: The Many Faces of Nelson Mandela

Jasper Rees

Nelson Mandela had a nose for the dramatic gesture. The evidence is there in his speech at the Rivonia Trial in 1964, in his symbolic walk to freedom as he emerged on foot from captivity in 1990, his astute performance at the Rugby World Cup in 1995 and then finally in death, announced just as an epic new film of his life was being premiered in London, the seat of the old colonial power.


Immigration riots and the hand of Shakespeare

Jonathan Bate A

It begins on the street, nastily. An immigrant has got his hands on an English woman. Trouble is brewing. Then there is a dispute about money, involving a “Lombard” – the identification originally applied to immigrants from Lombardy in northern Italy, famous for its banking, but it had gradually become a term of abuse for all foreigners engaged in trade or banking, a word bandied around in the same way as “Jew”.


Listed: Who shot/staged/fictionalised JFK?


On 22 November 1963 President John F Kennedy was shot, yoking his name to an ex-marine and sometime defector to the USSR called Lee Harvey Oswald. Everyone old enough to remember is said to know where they were when they heard. As America dealt with its trauma, the conspiracy theories started,and spawned well over 1,000 books. The assassination also became the focus for artists in all art forms - in literature, theatre, film and even music.


Perfect Nonsense: adapting Jeeves and Wooster

David Goodale

“She paused and heaved a sigh of relief that seemed to come straight from the cami-knickers.” Recounted our brother Andy, many years ago……. "A silence ensued." This was not his own observation, but a quote from P.G. Wodehouse, whom neither Bobby nor I had ever read. “I call her a ghastly girl because she was a ghastly girl.” He continued.


Listed: Nights to remember at the National Theatre

Matt Wolf

The National Theatre tonight hosts its 50th-birthday gala, 11 days after the English-speaking theatre's most important and influential address in fact reached the half-century mark. With celebration comes recollection, not least for those of us for whom the brutalist portals of Denys Lasdun's concrete structure have come over the years to seem nothing less than a second home. 



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A compulsive, involving, emotionally stirring evening – theatre’s answer to a page-turner.
The Observer, Kate Kellaway


Direct from a sold-out season at Kiln Theatre the five star, hit play, The Son, is now playing at the Duke of York’s Theatre for a strictly limited season.



This final part of Florian Zeller’s trilogy is the most powerful of all.
The Times, Ann Treneman


Written by the internationally acclaimed Florian Zeller (The Father, The Mother), lauded by The Guardian as ‘the most exciting playwright of our time’, The Son is directed by the award-winning Michael Longhurst.


Book by 30 September and get tickets from £15*
with no booking fee.

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