mon 24/06/2019

Theatre Reviews

The Late Middle Classes, Donmar Warehouse

aleks Sierz Helen McCrory and Laurence Belcher: upper-middle-class characters and their difficulties with communication

The late Simon Gray, who died in 2008, lived a ragged, bruised and battering life. I usually think of him as the John Prescott of playwrights, except that he was miles more articulate, and eventually rewarded by a CBE rather than a peerage. Anyway, he was pugnacious and out of step with playwriting trends. In an age of lefty state-of-the-nation dramas, Gray explored the emotions of upper-middle-class characters and their difficulties with communication. Although he could be irascible, and his...

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All My Sons, Apollo Theatre

ismene Brown

A young Arthur Miller wrote this highly moralistic, redemption-seeking play soon after the Second World War, a parable about an older generation’s dubious pragmatic principles versus the bewildered idealism of their children who were Miller’s generation, the soldiers’ generation.

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Paradise Found, Menier Chocolate Factory

Matt Wolf

There's bizarre, and then there's Paradise Found, a new musical that falls so short of the not always clearly defined mark that audiences may likely be mulling over what went wrong for years. What do the two acts have to do with one another? What in heaven's name is the point? How much weight in water is leading man Mandy Patinkin losing per performance?

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Ingredient X, Royal Court Theatre

aleks Sierz

Nick Grosso is a good example of the “now you see him, now you don’t” playwright. In the mid-1990s, he was feted as a lads’ writer for his funny plays about masculinity, such as Peaches, Sweetheart and Real Classy Affair. Then he dropped out of view. He resurfaced briefly in 2002 with the deliciously surrealistic Kosher Harry. Then nothing. Until now.

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Henry VIII, Shakespeare's Globe

Matt Wolf A history play with heft: Dominic Rowan as Henry VIII

After Wolf Hall and The Tudors, Shakespeare's Globe is arriving rather late at this particular historical party, especially given that the Bankside venue brings with it a closer connection to the period than most. Can this theatre animate a rarely performed Shakespeare play - well, make that Shakespeare and John Fletcher, in accordance with...

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Canary, Hampstead Theatre

aleks Sierz The cast of 'Canary': Harvey creates a kaleidoscope of history by filling the air with a mix of funny one-liners and wry observation

One of the least lamented (by me at least) genres that has fallen foul of social changes in the past two decades is the 1980s gay drama. You know the kind of thing: right-on coming-out speeches, painful but ridiculous instances of homophobia, and the compulsory dying-of-AIDS scene. The irony is that Jonathan Harvey, whose 1993 classic Beautiful Thing did so much to pull the gay play out of its ghetto, has now returned to this 1980s genre. His latest play, which opened last night and...

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I Am a Warehouse, Newhaven Fort, Brighton Festival Fringe

David Nice Anna-Maria Nabirye taking on the role of the bombed Gaza warehouse

Just say "Gaza" and it's like throwing a bombshell marked "Darwin" in among the Creationists. Only in this case it's not always clear who the antagonists might be. Several seemingly liberal theatre venues in Israel, where this project originated as a clear statement of the UN Relief and Works Agency's humanitarian role, cancelled at the last minute; more recently, supposedly enlightened sponsors suddenly withdrew substantial support. None had seen or read the content. It seems that telling the...

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Ditch, Old Vic Tunnels

aleks Sierz Gethin Anthony as James: the new arrival is soon introduced to the horrors of war

Dystopia is a genre that works like a rhetorical device. Take a government policy — let’s say the war in Afghanistan — then list the bad effects that this has had on the British people, exaggerate by a factor of ten, or more, add some obscure but sinister language, extrapolate by throwing in some nightmarish horrors, and then wrap it all up for a small cast. If you’re lucky, as Beth Steel has been with her debut play which opened last night at the Old Vic Tunnels, you’ll get a really...

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Peter Pan, Barbican Theatre

alexandra Coghlan

“All over the world children are safe – but not here, not on my ship.” Despite its wild pack of homeless children, a flesh-eating crocodile and some of the most gut-punching depictions of parental grief in all literature, J M Barrie’s Peter Pan has somehow been consigned to the theatrical remainders bin, its old-fashioned sentimentality acceptable really only at Christmas, or in pantomime form.

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A Thousand Stars Explode in the Sky, Lyric Hammersmith

aleks Sierz Ann Mitchell, Nigel Cooke and Harry McEntire: ‘Much of the dialogue is obstinately ordinary, with a deliberately insistent quotidien feel’

During the past week, as the first coalition government for 70 years has been formed in the UK, we were frequently warned that failure to find a solution might be the end of the world. It’s a solid, if usually over-used, metaphor. But what would happen if we really did face the end of life on Earth? You know, the real thing: a total catastrophe — the implosion of the universe — which we could predict, but not prevent? That is the premise of this unusual new play, a joint effort by playwrights...

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