thu 22/08/2019

Theatre Reviews

Days of Significance, touring

Veronica Lee

When the Royal Shakespeare Company asked Roy Williams to write something with Much Ado About Nothing as his inspiration, he didn’t merely update the romantic comedy. Rather he took some characters and plotlines and cleverly wove them into Days of Significance, a shocking and powerful play about the Iraq war, which was staged at Stratford-upon-Avon in 2007. This touring version, which I saw at ...

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If There Is I Haven't Found It Yet, Bush Theatre

aleks Sierz

Family life can be bad for your health. Especially if you are an overweight teenager. Take Anna for example. She's 15, a bit on the plump side, and having a rough time. At school, where - horror of horrors - her Mum is a teacher, she's attracted the attention of some bullies. But worse than unwelcome attention is neglect: her Dad is too busy writing a book about saving the planet from climate change to pay much attention to his daughter, or his wife. But help is on its way. 

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The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, Vaudeville

Veronica Lee

It’s a big ask for any performer to take on a role that was written specially for another actor, but Diana Vickers’ supporters from her appearances in last year’s X Factor on ITV will be pleased to learn that she acquits herself very well indeed. She is Little Voice in Terry Johnson’s pleasing revival of Jim Cartwright’s The Rise and Fall of Little Voice, which began life in the National’s Cottesloe Theatre in 1992 with Jane Horrocks in the title role.

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Annie Get Your Gun, Young Vic

Matt Wolf

What, you mean you didn't know that Annie Oakley, the American sharpshooter whose career hit its stride in the 1880s, was honoured by Winston Churchill but had no use for Adolf Hitler? Then you've been spending too little time in the ever-eccentric world of the maverick director Richard Jones, whose Young Vic revival of Annie Get Your Gun, the 1946 Broadway musical classic, is about as anti-Broadway as a staging can get.

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Endgame, Duchess Theatre

james Woodall

Beckett is less forbidding now than he might have seemed when he was alive, and certainly when his work was first performed. Over the last two decades, crueller and darker plays than his have been written, though none have matched his lyric ingenuity and his pained, sometimes devastating irony remains unsurpassed. Can Endgame, the bleak successor to Waiting for Godot and perhaps the oddest dramatic masterpiece of the 20th century, still hurt us?

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Comedians, Lyric Hammersmith

aleks Sierz

What are the politics of comedy? The great thing about Trevor Griffiths's 1975 classic, Comedians, which opened last night in a solid revival directed by Sean Holmes, is that this subject is debated with grace as well as humour. As six apprentice comedians attend a night class run by the veteran stand-up Eddie Waters, they find that their hunger for stardom clashes with his desire to use comedy to make a difference, to change society.

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Life is a Dream, Donmar Warehouse

james Woodall

A play featuring false imprisonment, family members losing and re-finding each other, fathers and sons, forgiveness and reconciliation: it sounds like late Shakespeare.

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The Power of Yes, National Theatre

aleks Sierz

David Hare is one of the giants of contemporary British theatre. His skill is to be the Balzacian social secretary who records the mood of the day. So his recent work has examined the state of the nation in a poetic rather than a literal way, and the result has usually been emotionally powerful and resonant.

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Orphans, Soho Theatre

aleks Sierz

Theatre is the art of storytelling, and the best stories are those that constantly change their shape. In Dennis Kelly's storming new play, Orphans, which wowed critics and audiences when it opened in Edinburgh in August, the narrative morphs and flips like a bad conscience. And for good reason. Long before the final climax, you just know that something isn't right.

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Prick Up Your Ears, Comedy Theatre

aleks Sierz

Playwright Joe Orton's untimely death has often threatened to eclipse his life. On 9 August 1967, he was murdered by his lover, Kenneth Halliwell, who then committed suicide. Although Orton had completed the first draft of his masterpiece, What the Butler Saw, he'd never got around to writing a play called Prick Up Your Ears, whose naughty, innuendo-heavy title had been suggested by Halliwell. But the title lived on. First as John Lahr's 1978 biography, then as Stephen...

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