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.
The source material for The Secret Life of Bees may have a perhaps overly simplistic plot and limited character development but Lynn Nottage, Duncan Sheikh and Susan Birkenhead have done much to bring this story to life through the much more grounded civil rights frame and ongoing challenges faced by working communities, while the music brings a real soulful and impassioned perspective that builds audience engagement.
Women, Beware The Devil at the Almeida Theatre is a difficult play to pin down. It starts in the modern day with the ‘literal’ devil (Nathan Armarkwei-Laryea) breaking the fourth wall to lament how he isn’t evoked or blamed for anything anymore. He also cheekily spoils the plot of the play.
What are the limits of a woman’s ambition at a time when she had no power? Lula Raczka’s new play Women Beware the Devil explores accusations of witchcraft and the meaning of evil at the outbreak of the Civil War in the early part of the 1640s, but while that makes for an interesting premise and context, the story is really about the ambitions of three women of different ages and class in the same house trying to control their environment and the future through their actions.
Find out what critics have been saying about Rebecca Frecknall’s production of Tennessee Williams’ play A Streetcar Named Desire, now officially open at the Almeida Theatre.
However, Rebecca Frecknall’s production of A Streetcar Named Desire at the Almeida Theatre is an unusually youthful reading of a play usually marinated in the disappointments of middle age, which duly casts it in a bold, bracing new light.
Director Rebecca Frecknall tackles one of the greatest plays of all time, Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire back in the intimacy of the Almeida Theatre and brings a devastating new clarity to it, eschewing the distraction of a heavy set and the cliches that tend to dog interpretations of Williams, from the exaggerated Southern accents to Blanche’s affected gentility.
Rarely in the history of Islington playgoing have so many first-nighters whooped so enthusiastically at Gospel rock. When cheers for Elton John’s anthems in Tammy Faye at the Almeida Theatre briefly abate it is often for quite different whoops, laughter at James Graham’s dry sharp script or moments of enchanted shock at an unexpected popup.
Peter Morgan’s new play Patriots at the Almeida Theatre is a history lesson, filling in the gaps in our understanding of how we ended up where we are now. Specifically, it connects events in Russia after the fall of Communism with the high profile deaths in the UK of Russians who had fallen out with Vladimir Putin and, more implicitly, with the invasion of Ukraine and the state of Russia today.
Patriots at the Almeida Theatre is a fresh history play: confrontational, shocking, classic in its focus on vast flawed characters and pretty close to documented – and very recent – reality. It has all the elements: a kingmaker whose creation turns on him, acolytes and shifting alliances, self-serving arrogance, passionate romantic patriotism, politics and big money and tragedy and defeat.
Jeremy O’Taylor is a much-feted American playwright (a Tony for Slave Play) adept at drilling in to the moment: BLM, fashionable white guilt, showy theatricality and retro-intellectual themes.
Emma Clarendon rounds up the reviews for Omar Elerian’s revival of Eugène Ionesco’s absurdist comedy The Chairs. Real-life husband and wife Marcello Magni and Kathryn Hunter star.
Despite the fact that theatres were once again up and running for about half the year (varying from place to place), there was still a massive appetite for digital productions going into 2021.
I’m not sure even the greatest admirers of this 2006 Broadway smash will be prepared for the emotional and visceral impact of this jaw-droppingly fine new production by the Almeida’s artistic director Rupert Goold.
Directed by Rupert Goold with a cast of highly talented young performers, this energetic production about teenage desire and the failure of parental direction is a rare musical choice for the Almeida.
The Almeida Theatre has announced its line-up of productions for spring 2022, including two rescheduled premieres that were postponed by the pandemic.
Saoirse Ronan makes her UK stage debut in Yael Farber’s testosterone-fest, which is vivid, but much too long.
At more than three hours, The Tragedy of Macbeth stretches the patience at the Almeida Theatre, despite strong work from Saoirse Ronan and James McArdle.
On LoveLondonLoveCulture, Emma Clarendon rounds up the reviews for the Almeida Theatre’s new production of Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Macbeth. It stars James McArdle and Saoirse Ronan, directed by Yael Farber.
THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH. Almeida, N1 THE SCOTTISH PLAY WE NEEDED Say what you like about star-casting and auteur-ish directors messing with Shakespeare, but sometimes a multiple Academy Award nominee has a trumpeted on a British … Continue reading →