sun 10/12/2023

Theatre Interviews

10 Questions for Playwright Julian Mitchell

Jasper Rees

When Julian Mitchell wrote Another Country in a couple of months in 1980, Anthony Blunt had just been exposed as one of the Cambridge spy ring. Donald Maclean and Kim Philby were still living in Moscow and the Cold War had another decade to run. The play was set in a boarding school in which adult authority figures are entirely absent, leaving prefects to run the place like a English establishment.


I Found My Horn: Afterlife of a Book

Jasper Rees

When a book is published, there are broadly speaking three alternative fates which lie in wait. It goes global, it sinks without trace, or it sells modestly and steadily to the readership for whom it was intended. There is, however, another potential option, which is that it catches a thermal and veers off in an unforeseen direction.


theartsdesk Q&A: Director Daniel Evans

Jasper Rees

The board of Sheffield Theatres has a history of appointing actors to run the show. Michael Grandage had very little directing experience when he became artistic director of the city’s three theatres. Then came Samuel West. He was followed by Daniel Evans, who had directed no more than four plays.


10 Questions for Director Tom Morris

Jasper Rees

Two lanky, totemic marionettes with stern carved faces – one male, one female – coast haltingly around a rehearsal room in Bristol. They are being operated from inside metal framing by actors who coax tentative movement into arms and necks. “Use stillness as one of the things in your arsenal,” suggests a South African voice from the wings. “How are you doing for fatigue?” enquires a patrician English voice.


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.


10 Questions for Actor Simon Russell Beale

Adam Sweeting

It’s difficult to give Simon Russell Beale a brief introduction, so encyclopedic is his list of stage and screen acting credits. He has cruised masterfully through Shakespeare, Ibsen, Chekhov, the Restoration playwrights, Shaw and Pinter, and recently camped it up madly in a revival of Peter Nichols’s Privates on Parade. He has been such a mainstay of the National Theatre that the building may have subsided into the Thames without him.


theartsdesk Q&A: Actress Sheridan Smith

Jasper Rees

There’s a song in the musical version of Legally Blonde, in which peroxide ditz Elle celebrates her impending good fortune. “Oh my god, oh my god, you guys,” she sings exultantly as she prepares to accept her beau’s proposal of marriage. Since leaving the role at the start of 2011, Sheridan Smith has continued hollering the words more or less non-stop.


Bald on blondes: what makes Terry Johnson tick?

Jasper Rees

Who is Terry Johnson? For a period of two decades between, say, 1982 and 2003, he was predominantly a playwright. He was sufficiently successful at it that for a period in 1995, three of his plays were on in the West End at once. But the plays have slowly dried up – the last was in 2006 – and nowadays he is very largely a director. His latest gig as a director is a 20th-anniversary revival of his play Hysteria!


theartsdesk Q&A: Songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman

Jasper Rees

There is no formula for creating a hit musical. If there were, the history of the West End and Broadway would not be haunted by the many ghosts of bygone disasters. Let us not list them here. The lack of a roadmap notwithstanding, the long-awaited version of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is ticking all the right boxes.


10 Questions for Actor James McAvoy

Jasper Rees

There has always been a keen air of propulsion to the career of James McAvoy. He made his name on television in State of Play and Shameless, while early film roles in Starter for 10 and Inside I’m Dancing swiftly promoted him up the leading man’s ladder to appear in The Last King of Scotland, Atonement, The Last Station, X-Men: First Class and, as of this month, Welcome to the Punch.



Advertising feature


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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