The premise of an airliner exploding over Fulham after being hit with a Russian man-portable infrared surface-to- air missile, or as intense Londoner, Graham, who was caught up in the aftermath puts it, ‘it looks you know, like a bazooka…’, in a terrorist attack is extremely compelling. Compelling, because it could happen.
Seventy years ago, J B Priestley’s thriller An Inspector Calls was first staged in the UK. Twenty-five years ago, Stephen Daldry’s acclaimed, progressive production opened at the National. His approach shook up the insular, drawing room script in order to highlight the selfish elitism of the middle and upper classes and has been regularly staged since 1992.
This is that finely balanced thing: a comedy built around a tragedy. Six summers ago, a new-fledged critic for the Times, I wrote about its British premiere: “Bruce Norris’ play is billed as a satire on race and property in America, in 1959 and then the present day, but it reaches wider. Norris is in fact occupying territory somewhere between Arthur Miller and vintage Ayckbourn, and holding it triumphantly.”
Halvard Solness is afraid. He’s afraid of young people displacing him, and heights. But he is revered as the master builder of his town, a self-made man with luck on his side. The middle aged, unwell Halvard is surrounded by similarly unwell people: a wife who never recovered from past losses, a dying employee and […]
Shakespeare’s history plays are some of his best. Epic tales with tragedy and comedy, love and war, politics and history are brought to life on stage, with the storyline of some characters spanning years and multiple plays. The RSC and Barbican have, over the last few years, presented the first four as separate productions but to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death this year, unite them as a single ticket.
Meggie (Katherine Carlton) and her bookbinder father Mo (Paul McEwan) love books. They also share a fantastical gift that’s causing them to be chased all over the world (or Europe, at least) by fictional characters that aren’t very nice at all. Cornelia Funke’s young adult novel Inkheart is adapted for the stage by director Walter Meierjohann in a high-spirited production with inventive staging.
Carmen Disruption This Simon Stephens deconstruction bore little resemblance to the opera. Instead, we had a cast of dysfunctional, damaged characters unable to connect with the world around them on any meaningful level. They filled the Almeida with an electric loneliness that grasped the desperate humanity residing deep inside us all before chucking us out, […]
The WWII image of dejected, scrappy children with brown tags around their necks, clutching their most precious belongings as they are re-homed with strangers in the countryside is a powerful one. It’s one that inspired author Michelle Magorian to write Goodnight Mister Tom, adapted by David Wood for the stage, now in London after a successful run at Chichester and before heading off for a national tour. The audience meets little William, who is sent from Deptford to Dorset and assigned to live with the reclusive Tom Oakley. With a focus on Tom more so than the relocated children, this is a story about finding love again after a devastating loss. This part of the production is moving, but the story is slow to develop over a long time period and the flimsy, thin dialogue doesn’t support the large cast of characters, their development and the devastation of wartime.
Punks Paul, Jan and Louis are working-class lads living in south London. School didn’t do much for them and unemployment is high, so they hang around and smoke, nick cars and try to pull girls. They’re bored, angry and frustrated at the lack of opportunities available to poor kids like them. They want to improve their quality of life and feel like they belong in society, but society’s too busy fighting terrorism and racism to pay them any attention so they do their best to get by, or not. It sounds like the present, right? Nope.