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.
Love London Love Culture’s Emma Clarendon takes a look at what critics have had to say about this revival of George Stiles and Anthony Drewe’s musical Betty Blue Eyes at the Union Theatre.
Eugene O’Hare’s astonishing three-hander, The Dry House, premiering at the new Marylebone Theatre in a well nigh perfect production by the author himself, continues to demonstrate his remarkable ability to pan beautiful gold from ugliness.
It doesn’t take long to understand why Rafaella Marcus’ debut play Sap garnered so many rave reviews at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe. The quality of the writing and its exceptional delivery under Jessica Lazar’s direction make an instant impression, even before the complexity of the play and its themes fully comes to light.
We are not meant to be sure of anything, but the author is no Florin Zeller. What we do know is that the infuriating, self-consciously poetic piece Sea Creatures at the Hampstead Theatre was written by Cordelia Lynn during a four week writers’ “residency” in America.
Wow! James Norton naked! Wow! New play by Ivo van Hove. Wow! It’s four hours long. Wow! Wow! Wow! The much anticipated play of the year, an adaptation of Hanya Yanagihara’s 700-page bestselling novel of 2015 A Little Life, comes to the West End in a huge blaze of publicity.
For Black Boys Who Have Considered Suicide When the Hue Gets Too Heavy at the Apollo Theatre is a powerful and thought-provoking production which offers a unique perspective on the challenges faced by young black men in today’s society.
The Union Theatre reopened some time ago but Betty Blue Eyes is its first in house production since then, a revival of the Stiles and Drewe musical from 2011 about social mobility, the wedding of Princess Elizabeth in 1947 and a pig heist.
Love London Love Culture’s Emma Clarendon looks at what is being said about Berlusconi – A New Musical, based around the politician Silvio Berlusconi. The musical continues to play at the Southwark Playhouse’s Elephant venue until 29 April 2023.
Following the news of Paul O’Grady’s unexpected death, this specific performance of The Way Old Friends Do at London’s Park Theatre was dedicated to the comedian and drag legend, whose voice opens the show. Writer and star Ian Hallard paid tribute to O’Grady before curtain-up, and we started the post-show talk with Ian and director Mark Gatiss recalling how enthusiastically O’Grady recorded his voiceovers – despite not loving ABBA.
“It’s not a f***ing musical. it’s an opera you c**t!” This statement, from the lips of Silvio Berlusconi as imagined in this uneven but technically inventive show packed with pulsating rock rhythms, gives you a feel for this world premiere Berlusconi – A New Musical, by Ricky Simmonds and Simon Vaughan.
Anyone who has read the book will know what to expect or if you haven’t then there are enough content warnings to prepare you at least for some of what is to come in Ivo van Hove and Koen Tachelet’s stage adaptation of Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life. In practice it is a blistering experience that realigns the source material to create a more integrated theatrical experience using plenty of techniques that van Hove more usually applies to working with his Dutch company.
Taking as his central text American journalist John Reed’s seminal book Ten Days That Shook The World, Matthew Jameson’s “labour of love” project Ten Days (it has taken a mere 10 years or so to get this work finished) provides a convoluted history lesson which sets out the main events in some detail and introduces a whole gallery of historical figures who played their part in the process.
This scenario is a ready-made play, a situation where some of the greatest scientific minds of their time are confronted with the consequences of their personal and political actions. The transcripts of the Farm Hall recordings were published in the 1990s, and other plays have been produced using their contents. However, Katherine Moar’s play, which has its first full production at the Jermyn Street Theatre, makes good use of the material to create a compelling drama, in which a large cast is handled well.
What does it take for a man to become a feminist – and why does it matter? In seven diverse and poignant vignettes from his own life, Peter Pruyn (pronounced “prine”), an American trauma therapist who works with female survivors, takes the audience on his journey in Up: One Man’s Journey To Feminism on the afternoons of 31 March and 1, 2, 7 and 9 April 2023 at London’s Hen & Chickens Theatre.
In Olivier Award-nominated actor and activist Danny Lee Wynter’s Royal Court debut, the attractively titled Black Superhero, the ambitious theme of black queerness is explored through the conceit of hero worship in a show whose cast is led by the author.
Deep in the Hundred Acre Wood, just off the Hammersmith Bridge, Pooh Bear goes on search of some ‘hunny’ and has a host of adventures with his friends in Winnie the Pooh: The Musical at Riverside Studios. Heading across the pond for a musical extravaganza created by Jonathan Rockefeller, we follow Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger, Kanga, Roo, Rabbit and Owl in a technically-slick show for little ones.
Artificial intelligence and robotics have long been a boon to us ethical-scifi buffs, films like AI and I, Robot mercifully saving us from rocket ships and aliens called Xzxvyvrgg. In Jordan Harrison’s play Marjorie Prime at the Menier Chocolate Factory it is inner space – and a recognisable world – which gets invaded by parasitic cyberthink.
Oliver Sykes’ debut children’s novel is inspired by growing up as a keen amateur boxer in a single parent family on the breadline. Having long been a passionate advocate for underrepresented voices, Sykes brings his own personal experiences to the page in Alfie’s First Fight, which promises to be a cross between Jacqueline Wilson and Rocky Balboa.
Expertly directed by the ever dependable Mark Gatiss, The Way Old Friends Do at the Park Theatre is a surprising delight which does what it says on the tin, and then a bit more.