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KING LEAR – RSC, Stratford & London

In London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Regional theatre, Reviews, Touring by Jonathan BazLeave a Comment

William Shakespeare’s tragedy depicting the 17th Century King’s descent into madness has been given a pared down, modern retelling by director Gregory Doran in this new production at the RSC. The audience draw is clearly Antony Sher, taking on the eponymous role (the Stratford run is apparently returns only) but this production has much to commend it.

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PARADE – Manchester

In Musicals, Opinion, Regional theatre, Reviews by Jonathan BazLeave a Comment

As musicals go, Jason Robert Brown’s Parade is a tough gig. His Tony-winning score is an immense fusion of the sounds of America’s South, tackling a monstrous story of love in adversity and the utter depths of man’s capacity to hate. The Leo Frank trial in the early 20th century split America, laying bare the racist core of the Confederacy. 80 years later, Brown’s show was to become a troubling piece that held a mirror to its country’s soul – a mirror that to this day a large part of that nation still resolutely refuses to look in.

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SHOW BOAT – West End

In London theatre, Musicals, Opinion, Regional theatre, Reviews by Jonathan BazLeave a Comment

Show Boat at Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre was the best musical that I saw last year and its London transfer is setting a very high bar for 2016. Daniel Evans’ production, mounted on Lez Brotherston’s spectacularly evocative set doesn’t just reprise one of Broadway’s greatest ever musicals, it recreates America’s Southlands and Midwest at the turn of the 20th century, with a spine-tingling intensity.

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FUNNY GIRL – West End

In London theatre, Musicals, Opinion, Reviews by Jonathan BazLeave a Comment

“People”, who didn’t manage to nab their seats fast enough for the Menier Chocolate Factory’s Funny Girl can most definitely rest easy in the knowledge that this acclaimed and triumphant revival is an even bigger and better show following its transfer across the river to the Savoy. Sheridan Smith’s Fanny Brice simply oozes star quality.

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SUNSET BOULEVARD (with Ria Jones as Norma Desmond) – London Coliseum

In London theatre, Musicals, Opinion, Reviews by Jonathan BazLeave a Comment

At the curtain call, co-star Michael Xavier bowed down before Ria on stage and producer Michael Grade was first to grab her in the wings as the sound of the cast applauding her enveloped her. A class act, indeed and one I am so privileged to say I witnessed up close and personal from the front row. It was a night I will never forget.

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ON BROADWAY: The Color Purple

In Broadway, International, London theatre, Musicals, Opinion, Reviews by Jonathan BazLeave a Comment

It says much for London’s modest but acclaimed Menier Chocolate Factory that their production of The Color Purple, first staged three years ago, has been shipped back to Broadway to a rave reception. John Doyle’s simple staging that worked so well in the Menier’s cockpit, all stripped-back wood and chairs, has been neatly expanded to fit the Bernard B Jacobs’ cavernous stage and the transition works well.

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BUG – Found 111

In London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Reviews by Jonathan BazLeave a Comment

Tracy Letts’ Bug at the Found111 space is a pressure cooker of paranoid chaos, as fascinating as it is terrifying. It draws a thin line between reality and neurosis, trapping the audience in a claustrophobic motel room, which represents both a cosy haven and a nausea inducing prison. The nature of fear, reality and human companionship are all held literally under the microscope in a breathlessly disquieting evening.

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THE FATHER – West End & touring

In London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Regional theatre, Reviews, Touring by Jonathan BazLeave a Comment

With three Olivier Nominations just announced, Florian Zeller’s modern French masterpiece The Father and its remarkable insight into the effects of Alzheimer’s Disease makes a four-week return to the West End. Translated by Christopher Hampton, himself unrivalled in capturing the nuances of French prose for an English audience, this one-act journey thrusts us into the world of the ageing André, whose mind has succumbed to the ravages of the disease.