Mates blogger: Aleks Sierz


Aleks Sierz is one of over 45 theatre bloggers who are part of the MyTheatreMates collective. This page features Aleks's posts on MyTheatreMates. Take a look at our full list of theatre bloggers and our aggregated feed of all our Mates' posts. We’re always looking for new theatre bloggers. Could that be you? Learn about how to join us.
Aleks Sierz
Aleks Sierz FRSA is a theatre critic, and author of the seminal study of new 1990s playwrights, In-Yer-Face Theatre. His other books include Rewriting the Nation, The Theatre of Martin Crimp, John Osborne’s Look Back in Anger, The Methuen Drama Guide to Contemporary British Playwrights and Modern British Playwriting. His latest book (co-authored with Lia Ghilardi) is The Time Traveller’s Guide to British Theatre. He also works as a journalist, broadcaster, and lecturer. Aleks blogs independently at www.sierz.co.uk and tweets at @alekssierz.
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The latest from Aleks on MyTheatreMates

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‘Neither a straight play nor an absurdist drama’: SEA CREATURES – Hampstead Theatre

In London theatre, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Plays, Reviews by Aleks SierzLeave a Comment

The Downstairs studio space of the Hampstead Theatre manages to continue to offer an opportunity to go beyond the usual naturalism of traditional storytelling, and this is exemplified by Cordelia Lynn’s new play Sea Creatures, which is an experiment in new writing, partly a family play and partly a symbolist drama. While not entirely successful, it does have its good points.

‘Neither a straight play nor an absurdist drama’: SEA CREATURES – Hampstead Theatre

In London theatre, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Plays, Reviews by Aleks SierzLeave a Comment

The Downstairs studio space of the Hampstead Theatre manages to continue to offer an opportunity to go beyond the usual naturalism of traditional storytelling, and this is exemplified by Cordelia Lynn’s new play Sea Creatures, which is an experiment in new writing, partly a family play and partly a symbolist drama. While not entirely successful, it does have its good points.

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‘There are several beautiful moments of tender humanity’: THE JOURNEY TO VENICE – Finborough Theatre

In London theatre, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Plays, Reviews by Aleks SierzLeave a Comment

The memory play is a theatrical genre which allows the playwright to locate their characters in the here and now while at the same time travelling back in time. It is the form adopted by Bjørg Vik, a Norwegian writer and journalist who died in 2018, for her short play, The Journey to Venice.

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‘Feels like a really essential piece of contemporary culture’: TRUTH’S A DOG MUST TO KENNEL – Battersea Arts Centre

In London theatre, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Plays, Reviews by Aleks SierzLeave a Comment

Has theatre’s time passed? In Tim Crouch’s latest 70-minute show, Truth’s a Dog Must to Kennel, first staged at the Royal Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh last year and now at Battersea Arts Centre (BAC) in south London, the nature of live performance is interrogated by this innovative and imaginative theatre-maker, with a little help from a virtual reality headset and William Shakespeare.

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‘Makes for an entertaining show’: TROUBLE IN BUTETOWN – Donmar Warehouse

In London theatre, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Plays, Reviews by Aleks SierzLeave a Comment

Donmar Warehouse, London – until 25 March 2023 With the fast-approaching anniversary of the latest war in Europe, our culture’s continued fascination with the second world war gets a contemporary boost from Trouble in Butetown at the Donmar Warehouse. Written by Diana Nneka Atuona, this follow-up to Liberian Girl, her 2015 debut, won the 2019 George Devine Award for most …

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‘If you blink you’ll miss the bruises’: GRACELAND – Royal Court Theatre

In London theatre, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Plays, Reviews by Aleks SierzLeave a Comment

Is new writing becoming increasingly literary? Recently, some of the language being used by younger playwrights seems to me to be becoming too subtle, something to be savoured on the page rather than strongly felt in a live performance. Certainly, this is true of Ava Wong Davies’ Graceland, which won the 2022 Ambassador Theatre Group Playwright’s Prize, having been developed as part of an Introduction to Playwriting group at the Royal Court, where it gets a studio production.

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‘Has some wonderful moments’: LINCK & MULHAHN – Hampstead Theatre

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With the total loss of its Arts Council funding, Hampstead Theatre’s future as a specialist new writing venue is in doubt. But before anything drastically changes, the playwrights and plays developed by Roxana Silbert, who was edged out as artistic director in December last year, are still coming through. One of them is Ruby Thomas, whose Either, her 2019 drama in the studio here, was thrillingly experimental. Boy, can she write! Her latest, this time on the main stage, is Linck & Mülhahn, a historical queer love story which features a gender-pioneering couple.

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‘A blend of rom-com & dystopian fantasy’: Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons – Harold Pinter Theatre

In London theatre, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Plays, Reviews by Aleks SierzLeave a Comment

Culture which arrives from the margins to the mainstream is a classic phenomenon. In the case of Sam Steiner’s Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons it has taken almost a decade for this two-hander to make the journey from a student production at Warwick University, via the Warwick Arts Centre in 2015 — plus outings to the National Student Drama Festival and Edinburgh Festival — before finally arriving in the West End.

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‘A show whose electric ending pushes you higher’: SOUND OF THE UNDERGROUND – Royal Court Theatre

In Cabaret, Comedy, London theatre, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Plays, Reviews by Aleks SierzLeave a Comment

Ever been to a queer club? You know, drag cabaret night at Madame Jojo’s, or the Black Cap or Her Upstairs. No? Well, not to worry — the Royal Court’s latest provides a fabulously extravagant simulation of the experience with its staging of Sound of the Underground, a play written by Travis Alabanza — whose contemporary classic Burgerz is coming to the South Bank’s Purcell Room in March — and directed by his co-creator Debbie Hannan.

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‘No amount of vegan-shoe jokes can save it’: KERRY JACKSON – National Theatre

In London theatre, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Plays, Reviews by Aleks SierzLeave a Comment

Billed as an examination of gentrification, Kerry Jackson at the National Theatre has disappointingly little to say about this subject. Its main characters have clichéd opinions and stereotypical attributes, and De Angelis spends a lot of time getting them to tell us who they are, what they think and how they feel.

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‘One of the more original plays of 2022’: PARADISE NOW! – Bush Theatre

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How many plays pass the Bechdel Test? Originally featured in a comic strip, and popularised in film criticism, it simply states that to pass this test your story has to have: 1) at least two women in it; 2) who talk to each other; 3) about something other than a man. Well, one of the brilliant things about Irish writer Margaret Perry’s new dark comedy, Paradise Now! is that it passes this test with an A Plus grade.

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‘A ray of optimism in a horrible world’: SONS OF THE PROPHET – Hampstead Theatre

In London theatre, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Plays, Reviews by Aleks SierzLeave a Comment

In his award-winning play, which premiered in Boston in 2011, American playwright Stephen Karam examines the issues in a thoroughly original, brilliantly constructed and thematically compelling way. Now getting its belated European premiere at the Hampstead Theatre, Sons of the Prophet is an enthralling experience, both intellectually and emotionally.

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‘Enormous contemporary resonance’: 12:37 – Finborough Theatre

In London theatre, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Plays, Reviews by Aleks SierzLeave a Comment

Julia Pascal is a resourceful theatre-maker who is unafraid of controversy. Her interest in the relationship between the personal and the political, and sympathy with both the victims of the Nazis and those of Israeli expansionism, means that her work is often provocative, and always unsentimental. She has also been active in bringing some less known episodes of Jewish history to public attention. In her latest play, 12:37, she explores the relationship between a couple of Irish Jews and the fight to create a Jewish state in 1940s Palestine, where the main colonial power was Britain.

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‘Either way the play does make you feel’: BAGHDADDY – Royal Court Theatre

In London theatre, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Plays, Reviews by Aleks SierzLeave a Comment

At best Baghdaddy at the Royal Court Theatre is a surreal trip into traumatic memory, at its worst it’s a self-indulgent mess. If you think that American crime are worse than Saddam’s you’ll love this show; if you like playwrights wagging their finger at you, you’ll love this show; if you believe that parental trauma can be inherited and then self-consciously joked about, you’ll love this show.


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