sat 24/08/2019

Theatre Reviews

Aspects of Love, Menier Chocolate Factory

Matt Wolf

The Menier Chocolate Factory could scarcely be on mightier form, or so it seems, punching far beyond its weight as a small, out-of-the-way south London playhouse that is nonetheless responsible at the moment for five commercial transfers between London and New York.

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The Prisoner of Second Avenue, Vaudeville Theatre

Sheila Johnston

Jeff Goldblum is a big guy, 6'4" tall to be precise, and, though his character inhabits an improbably spacious, high-ceilinged New York apartment, he roves around it like a crazy caged animal in this intensely athletic and entertaining revival of Neil Simon's disturbing 1971 comedy.

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The Railway Children, Waterloo Station

alexandra Coghlan

"Oh! My Daddy, my Daddy!" It’s a cry that has echoed through the childhood of generations of English children, reducing all but the very staunchest to tears. Whether encountered through Edith Nesbit’s book or the classic 1970 film, The Railway Children is a national touchstone, sitting alongside Peter Pan and Alice in Wonderland at the core of a proper English upbringing.

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I Was Looking at the Ceiling and Then I Saw The Sky, Theatre Royal Stratford East

David Nice Stewart Charlesworth's closety cop arrests Leon Lopez's Dewain while Leila (Cynthia Erivo), David (Jason Denton) and Tiffany (Natasha J Barnes) look on

John Adams thinks his and poet June Jordan's fantasia on love in a time of earthquake flopped at its 1995 Berkeley premiere for two main reasons. The characters - three blacks, two whites, a Hispanic and an Asian - were deemed too self-consciously multiculti: odd when America knew that was just how LA was then, even more so than Stratford...

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Nevermore, Barbican Theatre

alexandra Coghlan Bretta Gerecke's costumes are Edward Gorey by way of Tim Burton

If there was an opposite to the limitless “ever after” of fairytales, the relentlessly nullifying "nevermore" of Edgar Allan Poe’s raven would come pretty close. A deformed, sickly smiling "musical fable for adults", the ominously named Nevermore is Canadian theatre company Catalyst’s grim(m) take on the life of that greatest of storytellers, Poe himself. Had Little Red Riding Hood decided to meet the Wolf at an S&M club for a spot of burlesque (and had Nick Cave been on hand to...

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La Bête, Comedy Theatre

Sheila Johnston

Infamously, the first production of La Bête, David Hirson's literary satire set in 17th-century France and written in rhyming couplets, closed in New York after only 25 performances.

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Salome, Hampstead Theatre

aleks Sierz Princess as chavette: Zawe Ashton in the title role of Salome

The last time I saw Oscar Wilde’s biblical tale it was performed by dancer Lindsay Kemp at the Roundhouse in London, back in the 1970s, in a production that was high on dope, incense, strange vocal drawling - and which transported you very quickly to hippie heaven. Choked by clouds of fragrant perfume, weird in its singsong language and thrilling in its strangeness, this seemed like an ideal way of realising the crazy vision of this odd piece. But theatre is not about being faithful to fond...

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As You Like It/The Tempest, Old Vic, London

Veronica Lee The Tempest: Edward Bennett and Juliet Rylance as the lovers, and Stephen Dillane as Prospero

The second season of the Bridge Project - a transatlantic relationship forged between between Kevin Spacey, artistic director at the Old Vic in London, theatre and film director Sam Mendes, and Joseph Melillo, executive producer of the Brooklyn Academy of Music - which aims to make theatrical connections in a series of cross-cast co-productions with American and British actors, has opened with a double header of Shakespeare. At first sight, As You Like It and The Tempest ...

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Welcome to Thebes, National Theatre

alexandra Coghlan

“Tragedy reminds us how to live,” declares Moira Buffini’s democratically elected heroine, Eurydice. It’s a reminder the playwright herself and her latest work, Welcome to Thebes, is eager to provide. Following on the well-worn heels of last season’s Mother Courage at the National comes a new play that once again places women in the front line.

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Sucker Punch, Royal Court Theatre

Matt Wolf

The poster for Sucker Punch, Roy Williams's ambitious new play about boxing and race during the schism-prone age of Margaret Thatcher, promises a sort of black British Raging Bull: There in one graphic image are the blood and sweat, the bravado and the pain, of a sport that for self-evident reasons makes it to the stage relatively rarely. How do you set...

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