View Post

‘It gets you with its musical energy & defiant storytelling’: THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES – Almeida Theatre

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

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.

View Post

‘A hopeful & meaningful night’: THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES – Almeida Theatre

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

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.

View Post

‘The play struggles for dramatic momentum’: WOMEN BEWARE THE DEVIL – Almeida Theatre

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

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.

View Post

‘Brings a devastating new clarity to the play’: A STREETCAR NAMED DESIRE – Almeida Theatre

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

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.

View Post

‘It’s a piece of bravura & massively entertaining’: TAMMY FAYE – Almeida Theatre ★★★★

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

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.

View Post

‘Elements of the story connect in ways that surprise’: PATRIOTS – Almeida Theatre

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

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.

View Post

‘Confrontational, shocking, classic in its focus’: PATRIOTS – Almeida Theatre

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

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.

View Post

‘Saoirse Ronan is a Lady Macbeth to remember for years’: THE TRAGEDY OF MACBETH – Almeida Theatre ★★★★★

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

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 →