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‘At the core of this play is the importance of a patient’s quality of life’: THE QUALITY OF MERCY – Courtyard Theatre ★★★★★

In London theatre, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Plays, Reviews by Michael DavisLeave a Comment

Given the nature of the show and its subject matter, The Quality of Mercy is an ‘understated’ affair. However, this is not a criticism or back-handed compliment. Quite the opposite. Flay has distilled all the facts and the myriad of opinions on the matter and created a deftly-fashioned show that lifts the layers off Shipman’s cognitive reasoning and treats the victims with the utmost respect.

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‘Great introduction to mystery drama’: THE FAMOUS FIVE: A NEW MUSICAL – Mold ★★★★

In Musicals, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Regional theatre, Reviews, Touring by Fairy Powered ProductionsLeave a Comment

The Famous Five – A New Musical, a collaboration between Chichester Festival Theatre and Theatr Clwyd, brings a fresh vibe that sees writer Elinor Cook and director Tamara Harvey concentrate on family relationships and climate crisis as opposed to spies.

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‘Finds all of the complexities’: The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore – Charing Cross Theatre

In London theatre, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Plays, Reviews by Maryam PhilpottLeave a Comment

In recent years the ‘rediscovery’ of Summer and Smoke and an impressive production of The Night of the Iguana have awakened an interest in what are considered Williams’ lesser-known major works while the King’s Head Theatre explored identity and desire in some of the shorter pieces under the Southern Belles title, all of which are bringing the writers work to a new audience. Now, Charing Cross Theatre is hoping to do the same for 1962 flop The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore exploring the exploitation of a dying woman grasping for the meaning of her life and refusing to go quietly.

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‘Adds little to our understanding of the play’: ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL – Stratford-upon-Avon

In Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Plays, Regional theatre, Reviews by Tom BoltonLeave a Comment

All’s Well is the definition of a tricky play, with its combination of the fantastical and the emotionally brutal, its historically specific yet confusingly vague setting and its hard-nosed, difficult to love characters. Embracing the oddness is probably the only way to make it work on stage but, despite some promising ideas and strong individual performances, Blanche McIntyre’s production does not feel coherent.

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‘These are two true artists at the very top of their game’: ONLY AN OCTAVE APART – Wilton’s Music Hall ★★★★★

In Cabaret, London theatre, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Plays, Reviews by Alun HoodLeave a Comment

Pitched somewhere between cabaret and recital, but most definitely a piece of true theatre, Only An Octave Apart (the title refers to the fact that Anthony Roth Costanzo is a classical counter tenor while Justin Vivian Bond possesses a resonant deep baritone at home singing everything from torch songs to disco… so they literally do sing an octave apart) is a strange and compelling melange of the screamingly funny and just (exquisitely controlled) screaming.

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‘True crime done right’: THE QUALITY OF MERCY – Courtyard Theatre

In London theatre, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Plays, Reviews by Liz DyerLeave a Comment

Theatre doesn’t get much more personal than this. The Quality of Mercy is the story of serial killer Harold Shipman, written and performed by Edwin Flay – a patient of Shipman’s as a child, and the grandson of Renee Lacey, who died at the Hyde GP’s hands when she was just 63 years old. Set in his cell on the night Shipman will take his own life, the play sees him recording a final tape, looking back on his life and crimes, and attempting to justify his motivation for ending so many innocent lives.

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‘Never a false note’: JOHN GABRIEL BORKMAN – Bridge Theatre ★★★★★

In London theatre, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Plays, Reviews by Libby PurvesLeave a Comment

In great plays a scene, character or domestic confrontation can be both appalling and comic: pity, terror and barks of shocked laughter are not incompatible even within a sentence. Ibsen knew that, but in the Norwegian rebel’s grim late works it takes a relaxed director and some weapons-grade actors to keep that balance. Cue Nicholas Hytner, Simon Russell Beale and Lia Williams: rescuing, for me and for good, a play (John Gabriel Borkman at the Bridge Theatre) I hated last time I saw it.

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‘Smoothly watchable’: JEWS. IN THEIR OWN WORDS – Royal Court Theatre

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

If you accept the documentary verbatim style of Jews. In Their Own Words at the Royal Court, and don’t mind the lack of any real drama, this is an intelligently crafted and committed piece of political theatre that tackles an issue too often swept under the carpet. But I’d love to see a proper play about the subject.

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‘Delivered with engaging energy’: BROWN BOYS SWIM – Soho Theatre

In London theatre, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Plays, Reviews by Laura KresslyLeave a Comment

Most impactful in Brown Boys Swim at Soho Theatre is the unexpected ending where the actual stakes are revealed, after have been largely masked by the frivolity of the premise. There’s some brief foreshadowing, but this is glossed over by the boys’ vivacity and focus on impressing their peers so it’s easy to miss.

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‘For all its polish, the play feels oddly dated’: WOMAN IN MIND – Chichester ★★★

In Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Plays, Regional theatre, Reviews by Libby PurvesLeave a Comment

in Woman In Mind at Chichester Festival Theatre Susan finds herself in mid-life with a dull clerical husband (Nigel Lindsay really enjoying it), obsessed with his dreary parish history pamphlet. His gloomy beige sister lives with them; Muriel (Stephanie Jacob equally relishing every stumping step and grudge). She believes she can conjure up the spirit of her dead husband, and cooks the worst possible food (for an Alan Ayckbourn play this one is short on big laughs, but the good ones are about her omelettes and coffee). Their son has run off to join a cult in Hemel Hempstead.

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‘A brilliant ensemble piece’: EUREKA DAY – Old Vic Theatre ★★★★★

In Comedy, London theatre, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Plays, Reviews by Rev StanLeave a Comment

There is a scene in Eureka Day at the Old Vic during which the audience is roaring with laughter, but it isn’t anything to do with the actors who are on stage or what they are saying. And it isn’t a mistake, it is intended, and it’s a genius scene for a couple of reasons, how the actors carry on regardless and the relatable source of the comedy.

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‘This is outstanding’: THE BOOK THIEF: A NEW MUSICAL – Bolton ★★★★★

In Musicals, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Regional theatre, Reviews by Fairy Powered ProductionsLeave a Comment

The Octagon Theatre is currently home to the world premiere of the new musical based on the novel by Markus Zusak, The Book Thief. The play begins with an introduction from our Narrator, played by Ryan O’Donnell who sets the scene of Nazi Germany and follows the story of Liesel, played by Niamh Palmer.

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‘Powerfully switches between the personal & the public’: FOR A PALESTINIAN – Camden People’s Theatre

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

Identity is the sum of the stories we tell ourselves. Some of these are personal, and some political. Sometimes they blend, sometimes clash. In Aaron Kilercioglu and Bilal Hasna’s excellently staged and thought-provoking For a Palestinian, the performer and co-author Hasna tells two stories: one about himself and his new love for Palestine, and the other about the Palestinian activist and translator Wa’el Zuaiter, and his love affair with Australian-born painter Janet Venn-Brown. Her 2006 book, For a Palestinian, tells the story of Zuaiter and his assassination in Rome in 1972 by Mossad.

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‘There is a good play somewhere in here’: THE SNAIL HOUSE – Hampstead Theatre

In London theatre, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Plays, Reviews by Louise PennLeave a Comment

The set (by Tim Hatley) is absolutely beautiful in the much anticipated, new original play The Snail House from celebrated theatre director Richard Eyre, giving a sense of occasion and opulence. Portraits look on in the private school room, wooden surfaces hold the marks of a long history.

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‘You will still jump out of your seat’: 2:22 – A GHOST STORY – Criterion Theatre ★★★★

In London theatre, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Plays, Reviews by Fairy Powered ProductionsLeave a Comment

It is a testament to Danny Robins’ 2:22 – A Ghost Story at the Criterion Theatre that many people go back for a second viewing – this is lots of fun as you try to spot what is going on and notice foreshadowing. But you will still jump out of your seat!