fri 01/03/2024

West End

Cruel Intentions, The Other Palace review - Uneasy vibes, but hit tunes and sparkling staging makes a super show

Transgression was so deliciously enticing. Back in the 80s 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 for over...

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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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An Enemy of the People, Duke of York's Theatre - performative and predictable

Real life is a helluva lot scarier right now than you might guess from the performative theatrics on display in the new West End version of An Enemy of the People, which updates Ibsen's 1882 play to our vexatious modern day.Matt Smith is in...

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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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The Motive and the Cue, Noel Coward Theatre - National Theatre transfer excels in the West End

Plays about the theatre tend to go down well with audiences. Why wouldn’t they? The danger is that they become too cosy as actors and audience smugly agree on the transcendence of the artform. Jack Thorne’s The Motive and the Cue comes perilously...

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Stranger Things: The First Shadow, Phoenix Theatre review - formidable stagecraft unlocks new depths to the popular series

Stranger Things has shown us over four seasons that the alternate dimension known as the Upside Down can be the seat of many things: terror, mystery, camaraderie, compassion. As it turns out, it can spawn great theatre, too, for Stephen Daldry’s...

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Pandemonium, Soho Theatre review - satire needs a shot of Pfizer's finest to revive tired storylines

In 2020, throughout the country, many people’s lives were affected adversely by an ever-present threat to our already fragile society. Though most got over it, many people still bear the cost every day, sapping them of energy, making them cough and...

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Peter Pan Goes Wrong, Lyric Theatre review - adult panto delivered as jolly chaos

Mischief Theatre set themselves a big challenge when they evolved their brand of knowing slapstick. And not just about how to destroy the scenery without maiming themselves.More crucially, they have to pull off the Janus-faced trick of playing the...

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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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Dear England, Prince Edward Theatre review - still a winner in its new West End home

It was interesting, in the same week that the England football team trounced Italy 3-1 in a Euros qualifier, to see Dear England again, the National Theatre smash that has just embarked on a West End run at the Prince Edward Theatre.One of the three...

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Unbelievable, Criterion Theatre review - Derren Brown-directed show misses his otherworldly danger

Unbelievable is a strange title for a slightly strange show, the brainchild of Derren Brown, Andrew O’Connor and Andy Nyman, a trio with an impeccable pedigree in creating successful magic-based events. It’s a strange title because suspension...

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The Little Big Things, @sohoplace review - real-life story movingly realised onstage

It's rare that a new musical or play opens in the West End with as much positive word-of-mouth as The Little Big Things. Social media has been ablaze over the last few weeks, with critics and bloggers sneaking into previews and authoritative big...

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