Vardy V Rooney, the theatrical take on the trial that had the country enthralled, transfers to the Ambassadors Theatre for a limited run before embarking on a UK tour. But what have critics had to say about it?
‘It’s a compelling concept’: SNOWFLAKES – Park Theatre
We’re partial to a dark and twisty grown-up show so our interest was immediately piqued by the press release for Snowflakes, a black comedy promising a cross between Black Mirror and Inside No. 9. Exploring themes of morality, justice and revenge, Robert Boulton’s debut play offers a dystopian take on trial by social media, where the consequences of cancellation are distinctly more permanent than being hounded off Twitter.
‘Pretty essential viewing’: THE BEEKEEPER OF ALEPPO – Touring
To call The Beekeeper of Aleppo a story for our time would be an understatement. Christy Lefteri’s original novel is the epic, moving tale of a family escaping war-torn Aleppo at the outset of the Syrian civil war and embarking on the dangerous journey to safety – crossing multiple borders before finding safety in Yorkshire
‘You leave it thinking hard’: RETROGRADE – Kiln Theatre ★★★★
If we think we suffer from a paranoid cancel-culture, we should note this reminder of mid-1950s America – notably Hollywood – in the McCarthyite witch-hunt against suspected communists. Retrograde at the Kiln Theatre is a three-hander by Ryan Calais Cameron (who gave us For Black Boys…). It lays out in 90 minutes real time – though sometimes too slowly – a meeting in a movie office.
‘A razor-sharp satire on all things ableism’: IT’S A MOTHERF**KING PLEASURE – Soho Theatre
After a surprisingly (to them) successful stint at this year’s Vault Festival, disability-led FlawBored Theatre returns with It’s a Motherf**king Pleasure at the Soho Theatre, their razor-sharp satire on all things ableism. And yes, it is indeed a pleasure.
’An exploration of love & friendship’: JULES & JIM – Jermyn Street Theatre
Jules and Jim at the Jermyn Street Theatre is an exploration of love and friendship told through the lens of three people living an unconventional lifestyle. Jules (Samuel Collings) is a German poet who meets Frenchman Jim (Alex Mugnaioni) in Paris. They share a love of art and travel together until Kath (Patricia Allison) arrives with an enigmatic smile that mirrors the one they saw on a statue of a Goddess in Greece. Naturally, they both fall in love with her.
REVIEW ROUND-UP: Dixon & Daughters at the National Theatre
Love London Love Culture’s Emma Clarendon take a look at what is being said about Deborah Bruce’s new play Dixon and Daughters, making its debut at the National Theatre.
‘Appealingly done’: AIN’T TOO PROUD – Prince Edward Theatre
The latest in a long line of jukebox musicals to be impeccably performed but dead behind the eyes – Ain’t Too Proud – The Life and Times of The Temptations opens at the Prince Edward Theatre
’It’s grand in its scope, telling stories within stories’: Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead – Touring
In Complicité Theatre’s Drive Your Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead, Kathryn Hunter keeps the audience engaged as her confidante and our gateway into shining a light on the anti-ecological policies of local government. The production team, especially Dick Straker’s video design, should also be commended.
‘Looks set to become this season’s sleeper hit’: SHUCKED – Broadway ★★★★
To be honest, if it’s an evening of laugh-yourself-silly fun, catchy tunes, inspired lunacy and bona fide triple threat star turn performances that you’re after, it doesn’t get much better than Shucked at the Nederlander Theatre, New York.
‘It gets you with its musical energy & defiant storytelling’: THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES – Almeida Theatre
The playwright Lynn Nottage – double Pulitzer winner – has plunged here into a full musical version of Sue Monk Kidd’s rather odd novel The Secret Life of Bees at the Almeida Theatre. The lyrics (excellent ones) are by Susan Birkenhead and the music by Duncan Sheik. It’s bluesy, a bit gospelly, sometimes rock, all wonderfully sung. As the characters develop the songs offer every nuance from romantic gentleness to the immense defiant ‘Hold this House Together!’ anthem near the end.
‘Not afraid to tackle taboo topics’: THEY CALL ME, “WOMAN!” – International Online Theatre Festival 2023 (Online show) ★★★★
“They Call Me, “Woman!’’ (written by Ayo Jaiyesimi and presented by Thespian Family Theatre & Productions, Nigeria) is a set of five monologues spotlighting some of the issues confronting the African woman. Whilst there’s strong advocacy for gender recognition, equality and equity all over the world, the struggles of African women, educated or illiterate, young, or old, modern, or traditional, need to be felt in order to be understood. This is our spotlight.”
‘Filthy & funny’: ANIMAL – Park Theatre ★★★★★
Animal arrives in London riding high on rave reviews – believe the hype! John Bradfield’s unflinching but hilarious play is a queer, inclusive joy. Filthy and funny, it’s unmissable entertainment.
’An excellent piece of drama’: THE DRY HOUSE – Marylebone Theatre ★★★★
The Dry House at London’s Marylebone Theatre an excellent piece of drama that attempts to tackle some of the more pervasive issues of the day – in a theatrical, but sobering, way.
’It gets under your skin’: DANCING AT LUGHNASA – National Theatre ★★★★
Brian Friel’s Dancing at Lughnasa is a memory play told from the perspective of Michael (Tom Vaughan-Lawlor), nephew to five sisters living in a cottage near the fictional town of Ballybeg. It is slow to get going, but it gets under your skin, and you don’t realise it until long afterwards. It’s a play that is joyful and sad, charming and moving.
‘Heartwarming & passionate’: VILLAGE IDIOT – Theatre Royal Stratford East
Ramps on the Moon’s Village Idiot at Theatre Royal Stratford East is entertaining in many ways but it does need to tone down the crudeness a tad to make more of an emotional impact – despite the wonderful way in which the characters have been written and the way in which the story has been framed.
‘Entertaining, charismatic & soulful journey’: AIN’T TOO PROUD – Prince Edward Theatre ★★★★
Ain’t Too Proud is a wonderful addition to the West End that features dazzling production value, and timeless music. A celebration of The Temptations and their impact on Motown, it will leave you humming their hits long after the curtain falls.
‘Cooper gets under the skin of Joplin’s doubts’: TOMORROW MAY BE MY LAST – Old Red Lion Theatre ★★★★★
Written and performed by Collette Cooper, Tomorrow May Be My Last is an unabashed love letter to Joplin, and her legacy as a performer and human being. Anyone who knows anything about Joplin’s life knows that there is a lot to unpack and near impossible to convey succinctly or in-depth.
‘Fascinating & informative’: THE MAKINGS OF A MURDERER – Touring
The Makings of a Murderer at the Adelphi Theatre is certainly worth catching if it comes near you on tour, though a strong stomach and nerves of steel certainly are highly recommended.
‘A compelling play for our times’: SNOWFLAKES – Park Theatre
For Chronic Insanity’s latest piece entitled Snowflakes the company has partnered up with Dissident Theatre in a production at London’s Park Theatre. It’s a dystopian alternative reality comedy drama – more the latter than the former – which doesn’t exactly break new ground content wise for the group or more generally.