sat 19/09/2020

Theatre Reviews

Hard Times, Murrays' Mills, Manchester

philip Radcliffe This version of 'Hard Times' is in effect a classic TV series live: Alice O’Connell as Louisa Gradgrind and Verity May Henry as Sissy Jupe

Dickens wasn’t wrong – hard times they were. Around 1300 men, women and children worked at the Murrays’ Mills complex in the Ancoats area of Manchester in its mid-19th-century heyday (if you can call it that). Arrive a minute later than 7am and you were locked out, without pay. Now that actors are treading those same worn and oil-stained boards with an imaginative new version of Hard Times, you won’t get in after 7pm (and you’re the one paying, of course).

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American Trade, Hampstead Theatre

aleks Sierz

Some theatre genres seem indestructible. One of these is the satirical city comedy, for which playwrights dip their pens in poison and spray their venom over the teeming mass of the shallow, the stupid and the successful. When they do this today, they inevitably recall all manner of past plays from Jacobean and Restoration times to Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s The School for Scandal, and beyond.

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Chicken Soup With Barley, Royal Court Theatre

Matt Wolf

"Love comes now. You have to start with love," urges Sarah Kahn (Samantha Spiro) early in Chicken Soup With Barley, and it's inconceivable that Dominic Cooke's knockout production of Arnold Wesker's 1958 play could have sprung from any other starting point. There's talk later in Wesker's three acts (taken here with only one...

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Butley, Duchess Theatre

Sam Marlowe Ego in academia: Dominic West and Martin Hutson

Ben Butley is poisonous, spiteful, a bully, a sadist and a snob. So how does Simon Gray, who created his titular anti-hero in 1971, ensure that an audience can endure his company? He equips him with the kind of lacerating verbal dexterity that makes you catch your breath, appalled and a little awed all at once. And in Lindsay Posner’s fine revival, this nasty, sad, desperate piece of work who,...

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Tactical Questioning, Tricycle Theatre

aleks Sierz

Verbatim theatre has been the flavour of political theatre for the past two decades, and no theatre has done more to promote this style of public witnessing than the Tricycle in Kilburn, north London. Its artistic director, Nicolas Kent, has created a special style of verbatim drama called tribunal theatre, where the results of long-running public inquiries or trials are edited into an evening’s viewing. His latest venture, Tactical Questioning: Scenes from the Baha Mousa Inquiry,...

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Into Thy Hands, Wilton's Music Hall

alexandra Coghlan Let's get metaphysical: Donne (Varla) and his wife Ann (Murphy) in their marital bed

“Where once was certainty is now only void.” The age of John Donne was also the age of Galileo, Milton, of Hobbes, Francis Bacon and, of course, the King James Bible, whose 400th anniversary we celebrate this year. At the intersection of politics, religion and scientific philosophy, Donne’s life under James I holds up a mirror to the...

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Much Ado About Nothing, Wyndham's Theatre

james Woodall

If a great whorl of bubblegum were plonked on Trafalgar Square's fourth plinth all summer long, would there be any point in complaining about it? How do you criticise the uncriticisable? A new Much Ado About Nothing at Wyndham's is Shakespeare-by-television: failsafe.

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Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare's Globe

alexandra Coghlan

Everybody’s talking about Much Ado About Nothing. At dinner tables, the pub and on the Bakerloo Line the only cultural conversation to be overheard having is whether David Tennant and Catherine Tate will be as wonderful as we all want them to be as Shakespeare’s feuding lovers Beatrice and Benedick. Their West End show opens next week, and among all the hype and headlines another production (and it was always going to be the “other production”) has quietly opened down at Bankside –...

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Pygmalion, Garrick Theatre

alexandra Coghlan

With The Cherry Orchard just opened at the National Theatre and The School for Scandal at the Barbican, summer is quickly proving itself the season for classic theatrical revivals. The latest to join the London line-up is Shaw’s perennially beloved comedy of love and the English language, Pygmalion.

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One Man, Two Guvnors, National Theatre

Matt Wolf

Dropped trousers, audience participation and an onstage skiffle band fronted by a singer/songwriter boasting specs by way of Buddy Holly: what has become of the National Theatre's Lyttelton auditorium? Well, let's just say that for the entire first act of One Man, Two Guvnors, it's got to be easily the giddiest theatrical address in town. And when the momentum flags, as it does somewhat after the interval, not to worry.

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Pages

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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