wed 27/01/2021

Theatre Reviews

Top Girls, Minerva Theatre Chichester

bella Todd

The remarkable thing about Caryl Churchill, Max Stafford-Clark has said, is that she is "completely new, every time she comes out of the box". Watching the first act to his revival of her most celebrated work, which Stafford-Clark revisits for Chichester Festival 29 years after he directed its Royal Court premiere, you feel Top Girls isn’t so much being lifted fresh from that box as bursting through the lid.

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Richard III, Old Vic

james Woodall

It's the hard-hitting hoedown of high summer. Old Vic supremo Kevin Spacey being reunited with director Sam Mendes for the first time since 1999's American Beauty was bound to make 'em whoop, and their new production of Richard III doesn't disappoint.

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The Beggar's Opera, Regent's Park Open Air Theatre

Veronica Lee

John Gay’s 1728 satirical drama was the first ballad opera. The vernacular work not only cocked a snook at the Italian operas that were so in vogue in 18th-century London, but it also lampooned Whig politician Sir Robert Walpole and the British love for scoundrels. It was an instant, huge hit; as a witticism of the time had it, The Beggar’s Opera made Rich gay, and Gay rich.

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Lullaby, Barbican Pit

alexandra Coghlan Octopuses perform a stately pas de quatre, tentacles aloft.

There are few absolutes left in contemporary theatre. Fourth walls have long since crumbled underfoot; site-specific and immersive theatre experiences have further done away with divides between theatre and world, performer and audience. The one principle you can rely on is that consciousness is generally a good thing – that a play capable of putting you to sleep is bad. Oh, and that turning up to an opening night in your pyjamas is guaranteed to get you sent straight home again. Step...

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Hundreds and Thousands, Soho Theatre

aleks Sierz

One of the many strengths of new writing for the stage is that it’s not afraid to go into the darkest and most upsetting places of the human psyche. Whether at the Royal Court or at the Bush or Soho theatres, young playwrights have dived in to explore the grimmest reaches of our imaginations. Hundreds and Thousands, which opened last night, is Lou Ramsden’s powerful and compelling account of one family’s descent into a nightmare.

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Shakespeare Double Bill, Propeller, Hampstead Theatre

Matt Wolf Stealing a march, and then some, on Kevin Spacey: Richard Clothier plays Richard III

As further proof that Shakespeare plays come these days not as single spies but in battalions, the London leg of the all-male Propeller ensemble's lengthy tour has pitched up...

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Doctor Faustus, Globe Theatre

alexandra Coghlan Faustus (Paul Hilton) gets to grips with some of Mephistopheles's fleshier spirits

There be dragons aplenty, angels, demons and ghastly creatures both fleshy and feathered in the Globe Theatre’s inaugural production of Doctor Faustus. Christopher Marlowe’s take on the familiar Faust legend, bold in its religious content, was a controversial hit of its day, but the play’s almost medieval apposition of high thinking and knockabout farce by no means guarantees it success in the contemporary theatre. If...

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Being Shakespeare, Trafalgar Studios

alexandra Coghlan All the world's a stage: Simon Callow and Jonathan Bate bring Shakespeare to life

There’s a lovely moment in A Midsummer Night’s Dream where Peter Quince assigns roles to his company of rude mechanicals. Unsatisfied with the part of the hero, Bottom interrupts, insisting he be allowed to play not only Pyramus but heroine Thisbe too, as well of course as the murderous lion. It’s hard not to see just a little of Bottom’s eagerness in Simon Callow’s...

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Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Theatre Royal Haymarket

Matt Wolf

Lightning hasn't quite struck twice at the Theatre Royal Haymarket, where Trevor Nunn's dazzling reclamation of early Terence Rattigan (Flare Path) has been followed by the same director's transfer from Chichester of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, Tom Stoppard's first play. How does this 1966 gloss on Hamlet by way of Beckett hold up today? Engagingly enough, not least when its two tireless leads are in full existentialist flow.

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The Flying Karamazov Brothers, Vaudeville Theatre

ismene Brown The Flying Karamazov Brothers: The same routines for 30 years have done them no harm whatever

The Flying Karamazov Brothers give a new meaning to the word “practised”. Their first stage show in 1981 was called Juggling and Cheap Theatrics - a smart title that they could have kept for the show they bring to London’s West End, largely made of routines that this celebrated US comedy-juggling act have been doing for decades. It’s weird to see in YouTubes of their early performances some of the material I watched last night at the Vaudeville. Still, the fact is those old...

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★★★★★

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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