wed 17/07/2024

new writing

Nineteen Gardens, Hampstead Theatre Downstairs review - intriguing, beautifully observed two-hander tilts power this way and that

A middle-aged man, expensively dressed and possessed of that very specific confidence that only comes from a certain kind of education, a certain kind of professional success, a certain kind of entitlement, talks to a younger woman. Despite the fact...

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Backstairs Billy, Duke of York's Theatre review - starry and gently subversive, too

Rarely has a play's opening been so opportune. Just when it looked as if the West End was slipping into decline, along comes the smart, shrewd Backstairs Billy to allay mounting fears of late that the commercial theatre had lost all sense of quality...

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Lyonesse, Harold Pinter Theatre review - a step backwards for #MeToo

Penelope Skinner’s new play is one of the most eccentric things I’ve seen in a long time. It’s undoubtedly entertaining, with an engagingly bonkers attempt by Kristin Scott Thomas to navigate an almost impossible role, perched between victim,...

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The Flea, The Yard Theatre review - biting satire fails to sting

A flea bites a rat which spooks a horse which kicks a man and… an empire falls?James Fritz has won writing awards already in his developing career, but he has set himself quite the challenge to weave a thread that can bear that narrative weight. Two...

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Imposter 22, Royal Court Theatre review - ace on representation, less so on structure

The Royal Court’s collaboration with Access All Areas (AAA) may not be theatre’s first explicit embrace of the neurodiverse community on stage: Chickenshed has five decades of extraordinary inclusive work behind them and Jellyfish, starring Sarah...

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Infamous, Jermyn Street Theatre review - Lady Hamilton challenges the patriarchy and loses

Towards the end of the 18th century, Lady Emma Hamilton (like so much in this woman's life, hers was a title achieved as much as bestowed) was the “It Girl” of European society.They’ve always been around – women who have the combination of...

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Disruption, Park Theatre review - relevant and resonant

Plays chronicling the unscrupulous collision of high finance and big tech seem 10 a penny these days. Some writers, such as Joseph Charlton, seem to have built entire careers around telling glossy tech morality tales (for my money the best in this...

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Stumped, Hampstead Theatre review - Beckett and Pinter, waiting for Doggo

Much of cricket comprises waiting – you wait on the boundary to hear news of the toss, you wait your turn to bat, you heed the call of your batting partner to wait to see if a run is on, you wait for the rain to stop. A friend once told me that he...

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Dear England, National Theatre review - filtering the national narrative through sport

"Is everything loss?" the great Oliver Ford Davies once asked on the National's Olivier stage, in the closing moment of David Hare's masterful Racing Demon. That question informs another masterful play, James Graham's Dear England, newly opened...

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Jacqueline Rose: The Plague review - tracing our response to tragedy

In The Plague: Living Death in Our Times, Jacqueline Rose makes a surprising pivot from her usual topics – Sylvia Plath, children’s fiction, Zionism, to name a few – to throw a spotlight on the Covid-19 pandemic. It was hard to process the...

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Caleb Azumah Nelson: Small Worlds review - Ghana and London dance together

Small Worlds, the second novel from Caleb Azumah Nelson, is a delight: a book with a real feeling for sound and dance, and a sense of place from London to Ghana and back again. It’s a story of a first romance, the intricacies of family life, the...

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Andrey Kurkov: Jimi Hendrix Live in Lviv review - a city speaks its multitudes

Rock music helped to subvert the Soviet Union by glamorising youthful rebellion and the West. In the opening scene of Andrey Kurkov’s novel Jimi Hendrix Live in Lviv, a bunch of ageing hippies gather at night on the anniversary of the American...

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