thu 01/10/2020

Theatre Reviews

Fela!, National Theatre

Peter Culshaw

For me there is a trinity of black musicians, visionaries who reshaped music in the last half-century: James Brown, Miles Davis and Fela Kuti. And just as it’s hard to imagine a biographical musical of James Brown or Miles Davis coming off - because which mere actor is ever going to have their charisma, attitude or moves - likewise it seemed a stretch to imagine Fela! being much more than sophisticated karaoke. Karaoke with a message and some groovy dancing, no doubt.

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Inside, Studio Theatre, Roundhouse

Carole Woddis Segun Oliaya as Brownie, hard-man top dog in Philip Osment's extraordinarily original new play

It’s just the luck of the draw. I’ve been sent to prison twice now in the past four days. Last Friday it was Clean Break’s day-long six-play epic in Soho. Last night it was an 80-minute all-male affair at the Roundhouse. Needless to say the encounters were planets apart. Men, after all, come from Mars, already primed for battle, women from Venus. Philip Osment’s Inside,...

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Charged 1 & 2, Soho Theatre

Carole Woddis

Facts first. In the last decade the number of women in prison has increased by 60 per cent: 63 per cent are in prison for non-violent offences. Between 2002 and 2009 there were 55 self-inflicted deaths by women prisoners; in 2008, there were 12,938 reported incidents of self-harm. Goodness knows how many more went unreported. Too few plays reflecting the reality of women’s lives appear on our stages - only 17 per cent of productions in English theatre are by female playwrights.

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A Festival of Brian Friel, The Curve, Leicester

Carole Woddis

Last year Brian Friel became an octogenarian. Yet the Irish playwright who has been greeted by the English like no other has so far failed to have that fact either celebrated or acknowledged with a retrospective festival by theatre’s major shakers and movers. It’s been left to The Curve in Leicester (that remarkable glass-fronted, inside-out, state-of-the art high-tech new theatre designed by Uruguyan, American-based architect Rafael Viñoly) to take the initiative.

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An Ideal Husband, Vaudeville Theatre

alexandra Coghlan

Directing an Oscar Wilde play is rather like being a chaperone at a party: at best you are invisible, at worst actively intrusive. Marshalling Wilde’s politicos, dandies and duchesses through this latest ball of An Ideal Husband, Lindsay Posner is quick to lose himself among the elegant riot of gilded sets and gorgeous dresses.

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The Train Driver, Hampstead Theatre

aleks Sierz Grave concerns: Owen Sejake in Athol Fugard’s 'The Train Driver'

Few playwrights have been so successful at moulding our view of a nation as Athol Fugard. It’s impossible to think of South Africa, especially during the apartheid years, without thinking of his Sizwe Bansi is Dead, The Island or Statements after an Arrest under the Immorality Act. Since the end of the old regime in 1994, the moral fuel that powered his plays may have evaporated, but this new work, one of nine premiered by the 78-year-old author in the past 15...

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Shun-kin, Complicite, Barbican Theatre

alexandra Coghlan

Complicite’s Shun-kin delivers sex and violence aplenty. A warped, wilfully kinky fusion of the two lies at the core of the play and its central relationship – sexy, edgy material with just the right degree of poetry to help smooth its way across the sophisticated palate of London’s theatre-goers. Yet to dwell on this is both to misunderstand and misrepresent Simon McBurney’s generous drama...

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Songs from a Hotel Bedroom, Linbury Studio

Edward Seckerson Frances Ruffelle and Nigel Richards wax lyrical with Weill

Where has this idea come from that Kurt Weill somehow lost his edge or, worse yet, sold out when he headed Stateside? Have the people who perpetrate this nonsense actually heard the Broadway shows? The diversity of subject matter, the individuality of the melodic style, the willingness to be easily assimilated and to embrace and to challenge a tradition that was growing in ambition and sophistication – this was the American Weill. As his wife Lotte Lenya put it: there were never two Weills...

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The Price of Everything, Stephen Joseph Theatre

Veronica Lee Master of all he surveys: Andrew Dunn as self-made businessman Eddie in 'The Price of Everything'

The TMA regional theatre awards are about to be announced, which makes it perfect timing to visit a nominee - one of the UK’s most influential venues, the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough, North Yorkshire. The SJT was the country’s first theatre in the round and has been associated with new writing since it was established, as the Library Theatre, in 1955.

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Novecento, Trafalgar Studios

alexandra Coghlan Mark Bonnar: A bravura display of technique and dramatic stamina

Offbeat in more than just their rhythms, jazz musicians have always had an affinity to the extraordinary, living lives syncopated against the regular tread of society. Maybe it was the informality of their training, or the influence of brothels, bars and back streets that were their concert halls, but the likes of Buddy Bolden and Django Reinhardt have left a legacy of autobiography every bit as bold and unusual as their music. It is in this legacy that Alessandro Baricco’s fictional pianist...

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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.


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