tue 26/01/2021

Theatre Reviews

Tender Napalm, Southwark Playhouse

aleks Sierz

Playwright, film-maker and polymath Philip Ridley has had a great couple of years. All over the place, there have been powerful and revealing revivals of his 1990s classics, such as The Fastest Clock in the Universe. His 2000 play, Vincent River, enjoyed an outing in the West End and his 2005 shocker, Mercury Fur, got a new and exciting site-specific production.

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Little Eagles, Hampstead Theatre

aleks Sierz Reach for the sky: Darrell D’Silva as Sergei Pavlovich Korolyov in ‘Little Eagles’

Space is a great subject for theatre. I’m not sure why but it might be something to do with the contrast between the irreducible groundedness of live performance and the imaginary flights of fancy that the audience yearns to take. Whatever the reason, memorable past explorations of this subject, from the Soviet side of the space race, include Robert Lepage’s The Far Side of the Moon and David Greig’s The Cosmonaut’s Last Message to the Woman He Once Loved in the Former Soviet...

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Electra, Gate Theatre

james Woodall

Certain big dramas can work really well in small places. Sophocles’s revenge play Electra (end of the fifth century BC) is as consequential, and influential, as they come; the Gate Theatre one of the smallest spaces in London. It continually produces sparky, original productions of old and new work.

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Lakeboat/ Prairie du Chien, Arcola Theatre Studio 2

Carole Woddis 'Lakeboat': Chris Jarman, Ed Hughes and Nigel Cooke as Mamet's competitive crewmen

David Mamet plays can, nearly always, be relied upon to be muscular. Leastways, when you think about his early signature plays – American Buffalo (1975), Sexual Perversity in Chicago (1976) and the Pulitzer award-winning Glengarry Glen Ross (1983) – the first thing that springs to mind is the manner and cadence of male speech and communication. A consistent critique of capitalism, Mamet’s early works did it by exploring masculinity and brilliantly dissecting...

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London Road, National Theatre

Sam Marlowe

The murders of five prostitutes in Ipswich: it’s hard to imagine a less likely subject for a musical, not least because the memory of the crimes of forklift-truck driver Steve Wright, committed in late 2006, is still so horribly fresh. But there is nothing lurid about this exceptional piece of theatre, created by Alecky Blythe and composer Adam Cork, and directed with restraint, tenderness and potent simplicity by Rufus Norris. It’s moving, fascinating and even funny.

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Betty Blue Eyes, Novello Theatre

Matt Wolf

Foot fetishists will have a field day at Betty Blue Eyes, given that the producer Cameron Mackintosh's latest venture is also the first in my experience to sing of bunions, calluses and corns, the last encompassing a passing reference to a lyric from Oklahoma!: another show on Sir Cameron's CV.

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Moonlight, Donmar Warehouse

james Woodall Trying but mainly failing to connect: David Bradley and Deborah Findlay in 'Moonlight'

One wants to be antagonised by Harold Pinter. In his substantial early dramas (The Homecoming, The Caretaker, The Birthday Party), aggression and menace coil through the texts like rattlesnakes. He was, then, revolutionary. Maybe it's glib - critical shorthand - to suggest that there were, thereafter, two to three decades of falling away; but some of us...

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Thrill Me, Tristan Bates Theatre

Matt Wolf Fatal attraction: Jye Frasca and George Maguire plot the perfect murder

Does the perfect murder make for the perfect musical? One doesn't have to make undue claims for the work's chamber-size appeal to warm to Thrill Me, the American two-hander that has arrived at the Tristan Bates Theatre as this season's entry in retelling the story of the Chicago killers, Leopold and Loeb. (Last season's was the superb Almeida Theatre revival of Rope...

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The Tempest, Cheek By Jowl, Barbican Theatre

james Woodall

Tradition, in the form of Victorian performance, conferred on The Tempest the VC of Highest Shakespearean Poetry, though it probably wasn't Shakespeare's final play. John Gielgud was in an important sense the last great Victorian English thesp and, in the apparently valedictory role of Prospero, took the island parable to an Olympus of rhetoric.

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Brontë, Tricycle Theatre

alexandra Coghlan

“Too fat, too miserable, too pinched” for love and life, the Brontë sisters famously made a kingdom out of their dingy rectory home in rural Yorkshire. Denied not just a room but an existence of their own, these three Victorian spinsters found authority and expression in novels the world would have them unfit to read, let alone write.

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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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