tue 23/04/2019

Theatre Reviews

Orphans, Soho Theatre

aleks Sierz

Theatre is the art of storytelling, and the best stories are those that constantly change their shape. In Dennis Kelly's storming new play, Orphans, which wowed critics and audiences when it opened in Edinburgh in August, the narrative morphs and flips like a bad conscience. And for good reason. Long before the final climax, you just know that something isn't right.

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Prick Up Your Ears, Comedy Theatre

aleks Sierz

Playwright Joe Orton's untimely death has often threatened to eclipse his life. On 9 August 1967, he was murdered by his lover, Kenneth Halliwell, who then committed suicide. Although Orton had completed the first draft of his masterpiece, What the Butler Saw, he'd never got around to writing a play called Prick Up Your Ears, whose naughty, innuendo-heavy title had been suggested by Halliwell. But the title lived on. First as John Lahr's 1978 biography, then as Stephen...

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Inherit the Wind, Old Vic

Veronica Lee

As anyone who has ever had the misfortune to sit through a real court case knows, they can be deadly dull; but by golly when playwrights get their hands on them they usually become riveting. And so it proves here in Trevor Nunn’s pacy, funny and moving production of Jerome Lawrence and Robert E Lee’s 1955 play.

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Breakfast At Tiffany's, Theatre Royal, Haymarket

Matt Wolf

You might imagine a cultural artefact on the topic of make overs, albeit primarily of the self, to be handled with particular care and attention when it is itself made over, as the Truman Capote novella Breakfast at Tiffany's has now been on the West End. Alas, Sean Mathias's second successive Haymarket production is an object lesson in how not to tamper with the pre-existing goods. Joseph Cross's leading man, William Parsons, sends us into the interval, his jaw dropped open in...

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Speaking in Tongues, Duke of York's

Veronica Lee

Take four superb actors - Lucy Cohu, Kerry Fox, Ian Hart and John Simm - cast them in a revival of a play that inspired a haunting film, and what do you get? On the evidence of last night’s opening performance of Speaking in Tongues, a right mess, that’s what.

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Mother Courage and Her Children, National Theatre

james Woodall

Bertolt Brecht was probably made for them: Deborah Warner directing Fiona Shaw in Mother Courage and her Children is as desirable a coupling, surely, as the Warner-Shaw Richard II or Happy Days, both immensely satisfying showcases for the director's imaginative reach and the actress's fabled versatility.

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The Fastest Clock in the Universe, Hampstead Theatre

aleks Sierz

Behold the gleaming dark. At one point in this spirited and imaginative revival of Philip Ridley's 1992 play, The Fastest Clock in the Universe, one of the characters says, "We're all as bad as each other. All hungry little cannibals at our own cannibal party. So fuck the milk of human kindness and welcome to the abattoir!" Yes, well. As welcomes go, this is about as pleasant as a razor blade hidden in a cupcake - and perfectly apt for this sharp slice of East End gothic.

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Our Class, Cottesloe, National Theatre

james Woodall

Nine years ago, historian Jan T Gross published a book called Neighbours. It chronicled, and tried to analyse the reasons for, the massacre of 1,600 Jews in a north-eastern Polish village, Jedwabne, in July 1941. That was a month after Hitler’s invasion of the Soviet Union, into which, in 1939, this bit of Poland had been absorbed by Stalin. The unexamined historical assumption had been that, like so many similar east European communities, Jedwabne simply fell victim to the by then...

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Talent, Menier Chocolate Factory

Veronica Lee

Talent, Victoria Wood’s first play, premiered at the Sheffield Crucible in 1978 and was made into a television drama the following year for ITV. Roger Glossop asked Wood to revisit the work for a festival he runs at the Old Laundry Theatre in Bowness-on-Windermere and last night it transferred to the Menier Chocolate...

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Othello, Trafalgar Studios

Veronica Lee

For someone who until very recently had an avowed dislike of Shakespeare, stand-up comic Lenny Henry makes a decent fist of Othello. It’s an astonishing role in which to make his stage acting debut - complex emotions are expressed in rhetorical gymnastics and he’s rarely off stage - but not for one moment does one believe Henry guilty of hubris. Rather, this is a man who has come to the Bard late (Henry is now 51) and clearly fallen in love with him.

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