wed 27/01/2021

Theatre Reviews

The Knot of the Heart, Almeida Theatre

Matt Wolf

The Knot of the Heart takes its title from a Sanskrit phrase, but David Eldridge's new play for the Almeida Theatre is likely to speak forcibly to anyone who has witnessed, not to mention experienced, the addiction unsparingly charted across two hefty acts. That the play may hit some too close to home was strongly evidenced on press night by responses ranging from audible sobs to walk-outs and a woman who fainted early on.

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The Holy Rosenbergs, National Theatre

aleks Sierz

Home truths have a unique power to grab at your entrails and tear at your peace of mind. But so often, in so many families, the truth remains too painful to acknowledge, and togetherness is bought by means of keeping secrets. And, of course, in any family drama worth its salt, those secrets will inevitably come tumbling out. On stage, the effect can be both thrilling and emotionally powerful, as evidenced by Ryan Craig’s excellent new play, which opened last night at the National Theatre.

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Ecstasy, Hampstead Theatre

aleks Sierz

Film-maker and playwright Mike Leigh simply doesn’t do revivals. His method of working - which involves a group of actors improvising characters and situations until a story emerges - runs contrary to any notion of returning to a play after its premiere.

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In a Forest, Dark and Deep, Vaudeville Theatre

Sam Marlowe

Dark this new one-act drama by American playwright Neil LaBute may be; deep, not so much. It has all the author’s usual hallmarks: an accumulation of sinister tension, disturbing sexual politics, the threat of violence. And in a taut, pacey production heralded by an opening soundtrack of punishingly loud grunge-rock music and directed by LaBute himself, it’s acted with conviction by Olivia Williams and Matthew Fox, best known for TV’s Lost.

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Flare Path, Theatre Royal Haymarket

Sam Marlowe

Tender, funny and overwhelmingly moving, Trevor Nunn’s revival of this 1942 drama by Terence Rattigan – part of the playwright’s centenary-year celebrations – is a masterly piece of theatre. The big box-office draw may be Sienna Miller, but she’s by no means the star of the show: if there is one, it’s Sheridan Smith, whose performance is nothing short of glorious.

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The Hurly Burly Show, Garrick Theatre

alexandra Coghlan Miss Polly Rae slips into something a little less comfortable

It’s not often you find yourself advised at the start of a West End performance that “mobile phones, photography and fellatio are not permitted”, but then The Hurly Burly Show isn’t exactly your average theatrical fare. The first time the West End has seen a major burlesque revue, the show’s move from a small cabaret club in Soho to the Garrick Theatre reflects a changing attitude to this ancient art. If you believe the hype, women across the UK, in bedrooms, boardrooms and the...

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Blithe Spirit, Apollo Theatre

Sheila Johnston

Blithe Spirit was born in the shadow of the Blitz: Noël Coward, whose London home had just been bombed, wrote it in Portmeirion, Wales, in 1941 over a brisk six days. But the evil Hun never once puts in an appearance (over breakfast, the characters briefly wonder whether there's anything of note in the morning's Times; of course, there is not). Another, more complicated war is being waged here: the battle of the sexes.

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Mogadishu, Lyric Hammersmith

aleks Sierz

Recently, some British playwrights have gone back to school, and found that it feels very much like a war zone. All the old tensions between teachers and pupils have escalated into open conflict: knives are drawn, punches thrown and arguments are settled by fights. Likewise, the language is disrespectful at best, and always expletive-heavy.

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Honest, Queen’s Head Pub, London

aleks Sierz

Dave is a bomb, waiting to go off. He’s dangerous because he seems so ordinary. Late-twenties, he’s nothing much to look at. He wears a suit. Works as a civil servant in some absurdly obscure government department. No girlfriend. If truth be told, a bit of a piss-head really. But the thing that makes him dangerous is that - as the title of DC Moore’s 2010 play makes clear - he fancies himself as a truth-teller. He’s painfully honest, and, worse, he uses honesty as a weapon.

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The Wizard of Oz, London Palladium

Sam Marlowe

If it only had a heart. Animal cruelty, a sadistic green-faced witch, flying monkeys: L Frank Baum’s story, which spawned the MGM movie that made Judy Garland a star, is downright grotesque. And when it’s not unsettling you with its rusty Tin Man, straw-brained Scarecrow and camp Cowardly Lion, it’s making you gag on its sickly platitudes about best friends, family and finding your heart’s desire in your own backyard.

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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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