tue 12/11/2019

Theatre Reviews

Les Misérables, Barbican

Sheila Johnston

It's the Mousetrap of musicals, the wholly unstoppable show and, to mark its 25th anniversary this year (the 30th, if you date it back to the initial French concept album and Paris production), it will be staged in London at three different venues. You can even see them all in a single, mighty weekend bender, if the mood takes you:...

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Krapp's Last Tape, Duchess Theatre

Matt Wolf

A play could be written about, or for, Michael Gambon's fingers, and perhaps Beckett's 1958 Krapp's Last Tape is it. I've seen this solo piece many times, most recently in a studio theatre rendition from Harold Pinter that opened a window on to his own mortality and won't quickly be forgotten.

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Passion, Donmar Warehouse

Matt Wolf

A vital theatrical partnership gets renewed, and then some, in Jamie Lloyd's revival of Passion, a transforming production that not only marks the start of various Donmar-related tributes to Stephen Sondheim in his 80th birthday year but also reminds us that this theatre reopened its doors in 1992 with the UK premiere of Assassins, since which time it has staged...

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The Aliens, Bush Theatre

aleks Sierz

You can see the appeal of being a slacker. You don’t work, you just sit around like a cool dude and shoot the breeze; you smoke, you drink, you take drugs, er, lots of drugs. You can call people “man”. Hell, you don’t even need to wear your sneakers all day - just kick them off and go barefoot. Only one problem: emotional commitment is a big no, no.

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Wanderlust, Royal Court Theatre

aleks Sierz

Middle-class family angst is this season’s theme at the Royal Court Theatre. And, in his new play about sex and intimacy, which opened last night, playwright Nick Payne puts the lust in Wanderlust and creates a contemporary tale of wandering hands and wandering affections. We are in a nice suburban part of England, and the mix of pain and pleasure will be all too familiar to most audiences, whether they are teenagers who can squirm at the antics of the youngsters, or middle...

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Beautiful Burnout, York Hall

Veronica Lee

It's a strange thing that boxing, that most dramatic of sports, hasn't been the subject of more plays. It has a protagonist and antagonist, the ring is a ready-made stage, and the sport has thrown up more than its fair share of larger-than-life characters. So, as with buses, when you're waiting for one to come along, two arrive in quick succession; Roy Williams's...

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House of Games, Almeida Theatre

Sam Marlowe Desire and deception: Michael Landes and Nancy Carroll in 'House of Games'

“I think men will enjoy the thriller aspect,” pronounces the heroine of this audaciously tortuous tale. “The machismo, the twists, the sex.” She may well be right; but if the men get all the best lines, there’s plenty here for women with an appetite for a bit of slick chicanery to relish too. Margaret, writer and celebrated shrink, is describing her own latest pot boiler. But she’s also summarising the plot of Richard Bean’s play, in turn based on David Mamet’s screenplay for the movie that...

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Design For Living, Old Vic Theatre

Veronica Lee

Design For Living is one of Noël Coward’s less performed plays but it fair crackles with bons mots - you know you’re in good hands when delightfully old-fashioned words like “horrid”, “bloody”, “cheap” and “vulgar” are tossed around with, well, gay abandon. What a shame, then, that Anthony Page’s production, while wonderfully easy on the eye and despite some spirited performances from its three leads, doesn’t quite catch fire.

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A Disappearing Number, Novello Theatre

alexandra Coghlan

“I want to disrupt your sense of logic and show you something really thrilling,” explains a young academic, as her animated scribbling on the whiteboard gains pace and incomprehensible complexity. It’s a promise that Complicite’s A Disappearing Number – now making its third London appearance – has little trouble fulfilling.

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Blood and Gifts, National Theatre

aleks Sierz

What is with the National and history plays? On the large stages of this theatre, the main fare is historical accounts of contemporary problems. Maybe the programmers here imagine that their audiences, like T S Eliot’s humankind, “can’t bear very much reality”. History always has a nostalgic glow.

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The Observer, Kate Kellaway

 

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The Times, Ann Treneman

 

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