As a world of harmony tilts into filth you can feel the jolt going through the audience in Athol Fugard’s personal play set in apartheid era South Africa, ‘Master Harold’… and the boys at the National Theatre.
Underneath Birthdays Past, Birthdays Present beats Ayckbourn’s sorrowful, understanding heart, showing us that comedy is just tragedy on its way to happening.
In a tight 90 minutes Nancy Harris’ new play Two Ladies moves from a sharp, occasionally funny observation of this wifely condition into a meditation on politics both gender and global:
Marina Litvinenko’s final address in A Very Expensive Poison, reminding us of our political cowardice and idly greedy tolerance of crooked Russian money in our capital city, will bring theatres to their feet in admiration for her and shame at our shabbiness. It needed telling.
Deep under the trees, beyond Jimmy’s meerkat and camel enclosures lies a 1960’s beach: shelter, deckchairs and lounging teens, Mods and Rockers, Montague and Capulet.
The Ring Cycle is opera’s biggest box set: a sixteen-hour binge of dwarves, nymphs, dragons, gods, heroes and monsters, all suspended inside one of the greatest philosophical conundrums expressed by the human mind – and set to glorious, extraordinary music.
What Gregory Doran frames most brilliantly in Measure For Measure at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford upon Avon is the is the central confusion of morality.
It felt like a pilgrimage, homage to pay. Thirty-seven years ago Michael Frayn’s greatest of comedies, Noises Off, a wicked love-song to the great age of touring rep, premiered in this very theatre.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream at the Bridge Theatre is a dream of a Dream. One expected fun from the combination of Nicholas Hytner, a roiling mass of promenaders in the pit and a Bunny Christie design which makes the most of this fresh big theatre’s technical tricks.
Psychology, social rage, human sadness and betrayal move in an elegant circle in Rutherford & Son at the National Theatre and Findlay’s direction doesn’t miss a beat of it.
Small Island is a terrific yarn, both romantic and tough, about history and Empire and sex and frustration, escape and hope and love and racism: about promises turned to dross and the great seas of misunderstanding that roll between people.
Five mice for White Pearl at the Royal Court Theatre because it’s different and clever and useful, and horribly good fun.
This is gorgeous. Funny, truthful, wise, and bravely original in form. Anyone with a a family – past, present, remembered, or merely observed in cautious auntly incredulity – should see Tim Firth’s musical This Is My Family.
Specific though the SA setting is, Kunene & The King opens great vistas of heart-stopping universal wisdom about death, guilt, reconciliation and human need.
If we accept that people are widely diverse, we have to accept that paedophiles are too. Not all the same identi-monster. Moreover, if their horrifying actions pose us questions we need to think very clearly about answers.
Nine Night is an honest and beautiful play which by being so particular and rooted in one community becomes a conduit of universal emotional truths. Fabulous.
Has the performance of A Christmas Carol, and Simon Callow, changed over the years? Probably, but not from ego or bravura, no cheap tricks, no knowing modernities: if anything the sincerity has deepened.
You gasp and laugh and shiver in recognition and, yes, love. However many times you have seen it this tight, intimate, heartfelt production at the Menier Chocolate Factory sparks new life into Fiddler On the Roof.
A Christmas Carol at The Old Vic is, if possible, even finer and more heartfelt and gripping, tuneable and serious and moving than last year.
Marianne Elliott’s production of Company is the comeback kid, another demonstration that Britain is natural Sondheim country: all dry wit and laughing resignation.