mon 25/03/2019

Theatre Reviews

Cock, Royal Court Theatre Upstairs

Matt Wolf

Indecision takes the characters to the point of psychic collapse and beyond in Cock, the provocatively titled Mike Bartlett play that forsakes nudity for a far more troubling collective baring of the soul. Ben Whishaw is the name draw for a run that is already pretty well sold out, but James Macdonald's production is scathingly acted across the board; this is a play best seen with someone you fully trust.

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The Habit of Art, National Theatre

ismene Brown

It sounded a dry subject and a dry title for Alan Bennett’s first play for five years - a fictional meeting between composer Benjamin Britten and poet W H Auden 25 years after they fell out, two old buggers, one furtive, the other extrovert. But at last night's premiere The Habit of Art proved an excruciatingly funny play, ribald, merciless, and as much about the bad habit of Theatre as that of the higher-toned Art.

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The Making of Moo, Orange Tree Theatre

aleks Sierz

Reviving rarely performed plays is a high-risk strategy. On the one hand, there’s the chance of discovering a forgotten gem; on the other, there may be good reasons for the play being rarely performed. Nigel Dennis’s The Making of Moo was first staged at the Royal Court in 1957 with a cast that included Joan Plowright, John Osborne and George Devine, and provoked accusations of blasphemy. How has this satire on religion stood the test of time?

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Mixed Up North, Wilton's Music Hall

aleks Sierz

At first glance, verbatim theatre is a total bore. This form of drama, which collects the words spoken by real individuals and puts them into the mouths of actors, has been a central plank of the rebirth of political theatre since 9/11, but its pleasures tend to be cerebral rather than visceral, moral rather than physical. Attending a verbatim theatre event - such as Out Of Joint's latest show, Mixed Up North - usually makes you feel good as a citizen rather than as a person.

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Architecting, Barbican

Veronica Lee Kristen Sieh: Scarlett O'Hara in the TEAM's innovative play Architecting

There’s always a danger that when one raves about a play at the Edinburgh Fringe, seeing it a year later in another theatre and with a slightly different staging can be a disappointment. But that’s not the case with Architecting, a devised piece by New York-based ensemble the TEAM in a co-production with the...

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Shraddha, Soho Theatre

aleks Sierz Your mother should know: Miranda Foster and Jade Williams in Shraddha

Oh dear, poor Pearl is in a bit of pickle. She's 17, and her mum wants to know what she's doing talkin' to Joe, a young lad from the local estate. After all, Pearl is meant to be engaged to Clive, her childhood sweetheart. And he'd come running if only Pearl would whistle. But she ain't interest'd. Anyhow, Pearl's mum knows what's what, and she reckons that mixed marriages never work. You see, Pearl is a Romany Gypsy and Joe is just a "Gorger" boy - that's Romany for anyone who isn't "one of us...

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Mrs Klein, Almeida Theatre

Matt Wolf Eine Klein(e) nachtmusik: Clare Higgins in her third stand-out stage performance this year

Don't be put off by the deliberately dim interior that first greets you at Mrs Klein, the Nicholas Wright play that has been scorchingly revived at the Almeida Theatre by the director Thea  Sharrock and a cast including Clare Higgins in her third stand-out performance on the London stage this year. Those who feel as if they've had enough theatrical psychiatry-speak from the Almeida courtesy of that venue's recent revival of Duet For One, think again: a play that can emerge...

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Pains of Youth, National Theatre

aleks Sierz

Dateline: Vienna, 1923. In a boarding house, seven young people - most of whom are medical students - find the air of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire’s capital city a heady mix of the sexually invigorating and the morally asphyxiating. At the opening last night of Ferdinand Bruckner's rarely performed play, Pains of Youth, there were moments when the event felt as if Egon Schiele was meeting Sigmund Freud at a madhouse performance of La Ronde.

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Days of Significance, touring

Veronica Lee

When the Royal Shakespeare Company asked Roy Williams to write something with Much Ado About Nothing as his inspiration, he didn’t merely update the romantic comedy. Rather he took some characters and plotlines and cleverly wove them into Days of Significance, a shocking and powerful play about the Iraq war, which was staged at Stratford-upon-Avon in 2007. This touring version, which I saw at ...

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If There Is I Haven't Found It Yet, Bush Theatre

aleks Sierz

Family life can be bad for your health. Especially if you are an overweight teenager. Take Anna for example. She's 15, a bit on the plump side, and having a rough time. At school, where - horror of horrors - her Mum is a teacher, she's attracted the attention of some bullies. But worse than unwelcome attention is neglect: her Dad is too busy writing a book about saving the planet from climate change to pay much attention to his daughter, or his wife. But help is on its way. 

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