thu 01/10/2020

Theatre Reviews

My Dad's a Birdman, Young Vic

joe Muggs 'My Dad's a Birdman': "Dad" and "Mr Poop"

There's a kitchen-sink feel to this children's play by David Almond – indeed, nine-tenths of it takes place in a Newcastle kitchen – which adds a certain edge to it. Even though the broad, cartoonish comedy is signalled from the off, there's an initial hint of real-life grimness in the scenario of a little girl trying to care for her unkempt father who won't eat properly, emits abrupt shrieks and is convinced he is a bird. There's an engagement with loss that runs through the play too, a...

Read more...

Les Parents Terribles, Trafalgar Studios

Veronica Lee Smotherly love: Frances Barber and Tom Byam Shaw

This is the final production in the Donmar Warehouse’s 12-week season at Trafalgar Studios (which showcases the work of its resident assistant directors) and is a revival of Jeremy Sams’s translation of Jean Cocteau’s play - first seen in Sean Mathias’s acclaimed production at the National Theatre in 1994, with a cast that included Jude Law, Alan Howard and Sheila Gish.

Read more...

Alan Bennett and The Habit of Art, More4

Matt Wolf

Few theatrical collaborations have been as successful as that achieved over five plays, two films, several decades, and numerous awards by the playwright Alan Bennett and the director Nicholas Hytner, who had jointly made a habit of art well before Bennett decided to write a play of that very name, premiered in November 2009 at the National Theatre. Now, More4 has come along with a documentary chronicling the two men's collaboration on a work that is itself about a collaboration. And if Adam...

Read more...

The Cradle Will Rock, Arcola Theatre

David Nice Aaron Shirley's corrupt supremo meets his match in steelworker Larry Foreman (Chris Jenkins)

Events surrounding the birth of the unrepentantly "un-American" Marc Blitzstein's early (1936-7) shot at socially aware music-theatre prove much more interesting than the show itself. Heck, I got more out of reading the programme than I did sitting through the whole darned thing. Let's face it, Blitzstein's mostly foursquare marriage of words and music sucks. Not that the dynamic Mehmet Ergen's latest Arcola team didn't give it their best shot.

Read more...

The Invisible Man, Menier Chocolate Factory

Sam Marlowe

“It’s this ghost they’re talkin’ about. I’m feelin’ an emanation meself. Unless I ‘ad too many pickled eggs last night.” If that’s the sort of crack that tickles your fancy, you’ll find plenty to make you chuckle in Ken Hill’s spoofish take on H G Wells’s novella, first presented at Theatre Royal Stratford East in 1991.

Read more...

Kin, Royal Court Theatre

aleks Sierz

Middle-class family angst continues to be this season’s theme at the Royal Court Theatre, but this time it is seen through the eyes of 10-year-old girls at a 1990s boarding school. But don’t expect this to be an episode of Malory Towers or even the rather good-natured naughtiness of St Trinian’s. No, this is a bleak institution where the girls are foulmouthed and vicious in their rivalry. As Mrs B, who supervises the dorms, says to the headmistress: “They are small dogs...

Read more...

The Rivals, Theatre Royal, Haymarket

alexandra Coghlan Weather-beaten she-dragon: Penelope Keith as Sheridan's beloved duenna Mrs Malaprop

“Suicide, parricide and salivation!” Not the ecstasies of a masochist, but the mangled verbal fanfare announcing that The Rivals – Richard Brinsley Sheridan’s classic comedy of manners – is once again a fixture in London’s West End. When it comes to powerhouse comedic casting, the National Theatre has long had the laurels for 2010 sewn up in Simon Russell Beale’s voluminous britches. Partnered by Fiona Shaw in Dion Boucicault’s London Assurance, the pair were mighty indeed...

Read more...

End of the Rainbow, Trafalgar Studios 1

David Nice

"Can't go on, ev'ry thing I had is gone". Hear Judy Garland deliver those lines from Arlen's "Stormy Weather" live at Carnegie Hall in 1961 and you'll know that no singer, not even Callas, could go further turning heartbreak into art and serving up the naked truth. I wasn't expecting this production of Peter Quilter's play, previously seen in Northampton, to do much more than echo your average queen's "such a tragic life" line, nor Tracie Bennett to go beyond a Star Impersonation.

Read more...

The Master Builder, Almeida Theatre

Sam Marlowe

Halvard Solness and Hilde Wangel have stalked each other among the shadow goblins of Henrik Ibsen’s extraordinary symbol-laden drama in two major productions this year. In Chichester, Philip Franks’s staging and David Edgar’s new version of the text gave us a shivery, haunted-house interpretation. Now comes American director Travis Preston’s modern-dress offering, starkly designed by Vicki Mortimer, but performed with such over-deliberate mannerism and stylised Expressionist movement by...

Read more...

The Glass Menagerie, Young Vic Theatre

Matt Wolf

Just about the time you're losing patience with the Young Vic revival of Tennessee Williams's The Glass Menagerie - wondering at some of the variable accents and directorial overembellishments and the heavy sledding accompanying this most fragile and beautiful of plays - along comes one...

Read more...

Pages

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.


latest in today

John Lanchester: Reality, and Other Stories review - campfir...

What do you do when your phone rings, but you know the person ringing isn’t alive? In many ways, the cleverly named Reality, and Other Stories...

Album: Melanie C - Melanie C

There’s a lot to like about Melanie Chisholm. She was always the ...

Bach’s The Art of Fugue, Angela Hewitt, Wigmore Hall – the m...

How do they do it? Bach and Angela Hewitt, I mean, transfixing and...

Bob Woodward: Rage review - terror and tyranny in the White...

“Build the wall!” exhorted Trump, at rally after rally back in the days when we’d all acknowledged his moral repugnancy but still believed he...

Blu-ray: Beau Travail

This fifth feature from...

Ottessa Moshfegh: Death in Her Hands review - a case of murd...

Death in Her Hands was a forgotten manuscript, the product of a...

Sudhir Hazareesingh: Black Spartacus review – the life, and...

The former slave, and coachman on a sugar plantation, began one of his early public proclamations in a typically defiant vein: “I am Toussaint...

Ian Williams: Reproduction review - a dazzling kaleidoscope...

Ian Williams’s writing is always in motion. For his 2012 poetry...

Academy of St Martin in the Fields review - from solo medita...

Clearly it takes peculiar circumstances for some of us to hear the Academy of St Martin in the Fields within its eponymous church – that’s a first...

Emma Cline: Daddy review - scintillating short stories by th...

The Girls, Emma Cline’s acclaimed debut novel of 2016, was billed as a story based on the Manson murders. But in fact, like some of the...