mon 10/08/2020

Theatre Reviews

Beasts and Beauties, Hampstead Theatre

aleks Sierz

Once upon a time there was a free spirit called Tim, who fell in love with olde folk tales and created little shows all about spells and wonders, and peopled them with princes and princesses, farmers and animals. When he was more grown up, he formed a gang with another free spirit and then with a lady known as the Poet Laureate, who came from a cold, snow-covered country in the North. Then the three of them created a bigger show and staged it in a city called Bristol in the West of England...

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A Flea in Her Ear, Old Vic Theatre

Veronica Lee

Most critics have their own indicator of shows they have enjoyed hugely; for my part, if I fail to take anything but the most basic notes it’s because I’m so engrossed in the story or I’m laughing too much. And so it proved last night, when I found only hastily scribbled words - great this, wonderful that - in my notebook, enough to tell me that Richard Eyre's production of Georges Feydeau's 1907 farce A Flea in Her Ear is a hoot.

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Get Santa!, Royal Court

aleks Sierz

Incongruence is always interesting, so the news earlier this year that Anthony Neilson, bad-boy author of adult plays such as Penetrator, The Censor and The Wonderful World of Dissocia, was penning a Christmas play — suitable for kids — at the Royal Court came as something of a delightful surprise. It was also clearly a chance to make amends for The Lying Kind, his 2002 seasonal venture at this address, which received what are politely called mixed reviews...

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Macbeth, BBC Four

Adam Sweeting

Via the Chichester Festival and acclaimed runs on Broadway and in the West End, director Rupert Goold's Macbeth has made a sizzling transition to television. Set in an anarchic, war-torn Scotland and suffused with imagery of murder, torture and Stalin-style purges, it placed Patrick Stewart's thunderous central performance in a spinning black hole of evil, into which he was remorselessly sucked as the action developed.

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Antony and Cleopatra, RSC/Roundhouse

David Nice

For quirky authority in Shakespeare, Kathryn Hunter is surely up there with Mark Rylance. Her production of Pericles was one of the two best things I’ve seen at the Globe – Rylance in Twelfth Night being the other - her characterisations of Lear and Richard III as compelling as any.

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The Animals and Children Took to the Streets, 1927, Battersea Arts Centre

alexandra Coghlan

Welcome to the stinking, sprawling Bayou Mansions – the thorn in a prosperous city’s side, the “short-and-curly hair in the mouthful of sponge cake”. So cramped there isn’t even room to swing a rat (and there are plenty), so corrosive that everything here starts life as a bad smell. Forget the enchanted worlds of fable and fairy tale, this is a dystopian childhood fantasy masterminded by the select team of Kurt Weill, Kafka and the Wicked Witch from Snow White. As delicious as it is...

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Season's Greetings, National Theatre

Sam Marlowe

Ding dong, merrily on high! Christmas is almost upon us, and those girding themselves for a ghastly family get-together, complete with forced good cheer, paper hats and booze-fuelled bust-ups can see all their worst domestic nightmares enacted in Alan Ayckbourn’s bilious tragi-farce. Painfully funny and piercingly desolate, it’s a side-aching, heartbreaking depiction of loneliness, self-delusion and misery in middle-class suburbia.

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Matilda the Musical, RSC/Stratford-upon-Avon

Matt Wolf

A lot of ink gets spilled about the quest for the next great new British musical, which results in pedestrian endeavours - you know who you are - being elevated beyond all common sense. And now, along comes Matilda, a holiday entertainment about a surpassingly smart young girl who is capable of magic, and guess what? The show itself is as smart and magical as its pint-sized, eponymous heroine, and something more than that, as well.

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Swallows and Amazons, Bristol Old Vic

mark Kidel

Swallows and Amazons is a quintessentially English story: a heart-warming hymn to decent values, the codes of sailing and the youthful spirit of adventure. Set in 1929, at a time when the country faced financial meltdown, it is perhaps not surprising, in our equally uncertain times, that Arthur Ransome’s feelgood Lakeland classic should have been adapted for the stage.

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King Lear, Donmar Warehouse

james Woodall

It's the right season for a frosty Lear. With people being frozen on the open road by temperatures rarely visited upon the land, we're reminded that nature can be our greatest adversary, that we're placed in the universe as much to fight its innate physical savagery as we are to fight each other.

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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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