sun 24/01/2021

Theatre Reviews

The Infernal Comedy, Barbican Hall

Igor Toronyi-Lalic

The Barbican committed a grave sin last night. It forgot that people matter more than art. That their responsibility to the families of those who Jack Unterweger (the subject of John Malkovich's music drama, The Infernal Comedy) murdered trumps any interest in the dramatic potential of Unterweger's bizarre life. However constraining to the autonomy of creativity this may be, these are the rules of common decency.

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Where’s My Seat?, Bush Theatre

aleks Sierz Sharp satire in an empty room: Nina Sosanya in ‘Where’s My Seat?’

They say that moving home is always traumatic. So the Bush Theatre in west London must be feeling a wee bit fragile because it has recently upped sticks and taken up residence in the Old Shepherds Bush Library building just around the corner from its historic but rather leaky former home. Yet it’s typical of this spunky venue that it celebrates the first stages of the move with not only a trilogy of short plays, but also with an invitation to the audience to comment on its new space.

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Betrayal, Comedy Theatre

Fisun Güner

This is a play that begins after the end of an affair, and threads its precise, forensic way back to the very beginning of it. As the lovers are awkwardly reunited after two years, the theme of deceit as a web of competing and ambiguous claims is firmly established. Jerry, a literary agent, has learned that Emma, the wife of his oldest and dearest friend, with whom he had an affair for seven years, may now be having an adulterous relationship with one of his writers.

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Emperor and Galilean, National Theatre

Sam Marlowe

Miracles and omens, blind faith and free will: Ibsen’s epic 1873 drama sinks its teeth into some tough, meaty themes.

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Lend Me a Tenor - The Musical, Gielgud Theatre

David Nice Yes he can: Damian Humbley's Max Garber finds the tenor within while Michael Matus's Tito Merelli leaps for joy

Acid prophecies of this show’s swift demise, as with that of the great Italian tenor whose supposed transformation from il stupendo to il stifferino results in the debut of a surpise new Otello at the "Cleveland Grand Opera", turn out to be greatly exaggerated. Allora, the tunes and the lyrics aren’t prime cut, but it’s slickly done, strongly cast and contains enough frothy set pieces to earn its salt. And any musical which has stylish fun with both the most...

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Shrek the Musical, Theatre Royal, Drury Lane

Matt Wolf

Broadway musicals can have a bumpy transatlantic crossing. For every New York entry that repeats its acclaim on the West End, others quickly fade, while still others never make it to the capital at all: consider The Light in the Piazza, which won six Tonys in 2005 but hasn't yet been seen in the UK south of Leicester. What, then, of Shrek, DreamWorks's entry into the Broadway musical sweepstakes that called it quits in New York after little more than a year? It's way too...

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Luise Miller, Donmar Warehouse

ismene Brown

Time lurches when you see a historical play. But is it a case of autre temps, autres moeurs, or of plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose? Either way, the history needs to slap your face hard with recognition. Schiller’s Luise Miller is a 1784 play that clearly fires at its own vicious contemporary world, a catastrophically corrupt and unruly coalition of German states, and is its world just too far from our own to believe in the tragic young lovers at its core...

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Government Inspector, Young Vic

David Nice

It's not often in classic comedy that you cry with laughter at the opening gags, and even rarer that the final scene of perfectly orchestrated ensemble acting actually crowns the work. More than two decades on from his groundbreaking Old Vic production of Ostrovsky's Too Clever By Half, director of genius Richard Jones is still finding the right mugs and pushing the boundaries of edgy satire.

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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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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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