sun 03/03/2024

family relationships

Memory review - love, dementia and truth

Procul Harum’s “A Whiter Shade of Pale” is given a new lease on life in Mexican director Michel Franco’s moving, complex film, full of fine performances.Saul (a wonderful Peter Sarsgaard), who has early-onset dementia, plays the song constantly. It’...

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Cruel Intentions, The Other Palace review - uneasy vibes, hit tunes and sparkling staging

Transgression was so deliciously enticing. Back in the Eighties when I saw Les Liaisons Dangereuses in the West End on three occasions, life was simpler – or so us straight white men flattered ourselves to believe. Consent was for unproblematic...

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Nachtland, Young Vic review - German black comedy brings uneasy humour and discomfiting relevance

If Mark Twain thought that a German joke was no laughing matter, what would he make of a German comedy? That quote came to mind more than once during Patrick Marber’s production of Marius von Mayenburg’s 2022 play, Nachtland. I know it’s...

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The Merchant of Venice 1936, Criterion Theatre review - radical revamp with a passionate agenda

It’s an unhappy time to be staging Shakespeare’s problematic play, given its antisemitic content, so hats off to adaptor-director Brigid Larmour and actor Tracy-Ann Oberman for persevering with this updated version, now in the West End. Their...

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The Big Life, Stratford East review - musical brings the joy and honours the past

Is there a healthier sound than that of laughter ringing round a theatre? There are plenty of opportunities to test that theory in Tinuke Craig’s riotous revival of The Big Life, two decades on from its first run at this very venue. Much has...

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Samuel Takes a Break... in Male Dungeon No. 5 after a long but generally successful day of tours, The Yard Theatre review - funny and thought-provoking

You do not need to be Einstein to feel it. If the only dimension missing is time, 75% of a place’s identity can invade your very being, hollow you out, replace your soul with a void. It happened to me at Auschwitz and it’s happening to Samuel at...

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The Hills of California, Harold Pinter Theatre - ladies' night for Jez Butterworth

Art makes for unexpected bedfellows, and so it proves in Jez Butterworth's moving if meandering The Hills of California. Butterworth's first play in seven years owes a lot more to as unexpected a source as the musical Gypsy than it does to such...

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Dear Octopus, National Theatre - period rarity is a real pleasure

Sisters are doing it for themselves, just as families as a whole are, too, on the London stage these days. Dear Octopus follows Till the Stars Come Down and The Hills of California as the third domestic drama I've seen in the last 10 days and...

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The Iron Claw review - pancakes and beefcakes

The Iron Claw is the sort of solid, mid-market Hollywood “programmer” that is often said to no longer exist on the big screen, and this family saga set in the world of Texas wrestling certainly has the feel of a museum piece. Many have warmed to it...

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Othello, Sam Wanamaker Playhouse review - 21st century interpretation delivers food for thought

Detective Chief Inspector Othello leads a quasi-paramilitary team of Metropolitan Police officers investigating gang activity in Docklands. With a chequered past now behind him, he has reformed and has the respect of both the team he leads and his...

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Bronco Billy, Charing Cross Theatre - schmaltzy musical brings the feelgood factor just when it's needed

When entering a particular, well-populated region of MusicalTheatreLand, one has to check in a few items at the border. Weary cynicism, the desire for narrative coherence, that nerve that starts to throb when sentimentality oozes across the fourth...

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The Most Precious of Goods, Marylebone Theatre review - old-fashioned storytelling of an all-too relevant tale

As last week’s news evidenced, genocide never really goes out of fashion. So it’s only right and proper that art continues to address the hideous concept and, while nothing, not even Primo Levi’s shattering If This Is a Man, can capture the scale of...

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