sun 20/10/2019

Theatre Reviews

theartsdesk MOT: The Woman in Black, Fortune Theatre

alexandra Coghlan

A good ghost story never ends. Its twirling impetus sets a narrative top in motion that continues to spin indefinitely in the mind, propelled by the force of a listener’s imagination. As good ghost stories go, The Woman in Black is among the most insidious, having reduced audiences of metropolitan adults to whimpering, night-light clutching infants since 1987.

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Earthquakes in London, National Theatre

aleks Sierz

What sound does a screaming foetus make? It’s not the kind of question that most theatre plays provoke you to ask, but Mike Bartlett’s new piece about climate change is not a normal play. At the end of the first half of this rollercoasting epic, dazzlingly directed by Enron maestro Rupert Goold and which opened last night, the image of a foetus crying out in the womb seems perfectly reasonable.

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Stephen Sondheim at 80, Royal Albert Hall

David Nice

Everybody in the business says don’t think Sondheim is easy. I’ve seen galas where big names stumbled in under-rehearsed numbers, and last night Bryn Terfel and Maria Friedman slipped and almost fell on the same banana skins that had done for them in a hastily semi-staged Sweeney Todd. Not enough to matter, though, and they rightly brought the house down. And the show as a whole?

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Alan Moore's Unearthing, Old Vic Tunnels

joe Muggs

It's very hard to ever know what to expect from Alan Moore, the Mage of Northampton. The author of era-defining comics like Watchmen, V For Vendetta and From Hell has long maintained that art and magic are one and the same, and since the mid-1990s his works have often tended to be long and complex explications of various occult principles, which while eye-opening can often lose readers in all their baroque unfoldings.

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theartsdesk MOT: The Phantom of the Opera, Her Majesty's Theatre

alexandra Coghlan

With summer now fully upon us, and tourists flocking to the West End, it seems a good time to lift the bonnet on the tireless engine of London’s long-running hit shows.

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Anne Boleyn, Shakespeare's Globe

David Nice

Never have the Tudors seemed so real. After decades of TV and film characters keeping us at a teasing, ermined distance, Hilary Mantel's dazzling novel Wolf Hall brings it all to life as never before, and the Globe's still-running Henry VIII has vigorously built on that. But the Stuarts?

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The Prince of Homburg, Donmar Warehouse

Veronica Lee 'The Prince of Homburg': Charlie Cox moves from dreamily boyish lover to heroic leader of men

This, Heinrich von Kleist’s last play, was completed not long before he committed suicide, aged 34, in 1811, when the map of Europe - and indeed that of his native Prussia - was changing with indecent frequency. It is loosely (very loosely) based on the real Prince of Homburg and events at the Battle of Fehrbellin in 1675, and with its leitmotif of honour, duty and loyalty to the Fatherland, it is no wonder that the play was appropriated (with suitable adjustments) by the National...

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The House of Bilquis Bibi, Hampstead Theatre

Carole Woddis

What makes a good piece of theatre? Is it the atmosphere generated? Is it the acting? Or is it the ability to communicate ideas clearly? I don’t mind if sometimes I can’t hear or understand words. In the past, I have been overwhelmed by Polish versions of Dostoyevsky’s The Idiot. I have watched open-mouthed at Kabuki without surtitles and when Federico Garcia Lorca’s Yerma was first seen in this country, in Peter Daubeny’s World Theatre seasons, back in the Sixties, you...

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The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists, Chichester Festival Theatre

bella Todd 'Like Animal Farm in reverse': The workforce play their exploiters in 'The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists'

If you could boil down Robert Tressell’s brilliant socialist novel to a single observation, it would be that rich people do nothing, while the poor work their (ragged-trousered) arses off. So it’s a very clever conceit on the part of Howard Brenton’s new adaptation for the Chichester Festival, as well as a thrifty move for what must be one of its lower-...

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Danton's Death, National Theatre

james Woodall

The longest and most densely historical play by Georg Büchner (1813-37) is a potential monster. In German, Dantons Tod can run to four hours or more. There's little action and much speechifying. In plays by his equally wordy, history-obsessed predecessor, Friedrich von Schiller, there are at least fights, battles, a lot of love - and some sex.

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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*
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