Wow! James Norton naked! Wow! New play by Ivo van Hove. Wow! It’s four hours long. Wow! Wow! Wow! The much anticipated play of the year, an adaptation of Hanya Yanagihara’s 700-page bestselling novel of 2015 A Little Life, comes to the West End in a huge blaze of publicity.
Anyone who has read the book will know what to expect or if you haven’t then there are enough content warnings to prepare you at least for some of what is to come in Ivo van Hove and Koen Tachelet’s stage adaptation of Hanya Yanagihara’s A Little Life. In practice it is a blistering experience that realigns the source material to create a more integrated theatrical experience using plenty of techniques that van Hove more usually applies to working with his Dutch company.
Sam Steiner’s play Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons at the Harold Pinter Theatre has followed a well-documented path from student drama to West End, thanks partly to the simplicity of its central concept (a society much like ours restricts everyone to a maximum of 140 words, written or spoken, per day), but also its structure as a two-hander with a pair of attractive parts for an attractive male and an attractive female lead.
Culture which arrives from the margins to the mainstream is a classic phenomenon. In the case of Sam Steiner’s Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons it has taken almost a decade for this two-hander to make the journey from a student production at Warwick University, via the Warwick Arts Centre in 2015 — plus outings to the National Student Drama Festival and Edinburgh Festival — before finally arriving in the West End.
“Words, words, words,” Eliza Doolittle was sick of them particularly as empty descriptions of the love she wanted a practical demonstration of. Sam Steiner’s play Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons, Lemons at the Harold Pinter Theatre is first filled with too many of them and then not enough for Bernadette and Oliver, a couple who struggle to express their feelings for one another no matter how many or how few words they are permitted.
This feels like a moment; I haven’t been able to do a best of theatre list since 2019 because of ‘you know what’. It’s been huge fun revisiting the plays I’ve seen – nearly 50. And while that total is down on pre-pandemic levels, it was still tricky to narrow down my choices, but here goes.
A victim of rescheduling because of theatre lockdowns, Good, starring David Tennant, finally gets in front of an audience but is it worth the wait? Tennant is a household name because of his screen work, but he is also a seasoned stage actor, taking on an eclectic mix of roles from Hamlet to Don Juan in Soho, so expectations are high.
C. P. Taylor’s play Good, written in 1981 is about the easy slide into extremism, how a decidedly ordinary, peaceable even tolerant man with no obvious belief in the outcomes of Nazism can actively choose to join and then rise through the ranks to exert a kind of doctrinal influence. And the reason is the thrill of being wanted, of belonging and of being welcomed with open arms even by the leader himself.
Jamie Lloyd’s quietly compelling production of The Seagull features a cast at the top of their game, but Anya Reiss’ adaptation is a little slow to get going.
At the Harold Pinter Theatre this is The Seagull as a tragic love story turned up to the max. It opens up new avenues in what is a familiar play and takes a fresh approach to what you’d expect to see on a big West End stage.
Love London Love Culture’s Emma Clarendon chatted with Mika Onyx Johnson about starring in Jamie Lloyd’s production of The Seagull at the Harold Pinter Theatre.
In her one-woman West End debut in Prima Facie, Jodie Comer lives up to every expectation and delivers a performance that astounds and stays with you long after the curtain comes down.
Jodie Comer’s extraordinary West End stage debut in Suzie Miller’s play Prima Facie at the Harold Pinter Theatre reveals not only strong vocal skill but an absolutely dazzling physical expressiveness and high-voltage emotional power.
Ruth Wilson delivers an acting masterclass in Jean Cocteau modernist classic adapted by Ivo van Hove.
Ivo van Hove puts aside his filmic style for an intimate monologue about the end of love. Starring Ruth Wilson, Jean Cocteau’s play The Human Voice, is a sympathetic study of a woman driven to distraction by a final phone call with her lover.
Jamie Lloyd’s clever and minimalistic production feels even sharper than its previous run at the Playhouse Theatre.
An evening spent in the company of David Suchet is an evening well spent as this fascinating and warm show proves.
This is wonderful. Sometimes a simple short performance can shake, rouse, even change you.
Ruth Wilson will star in Ivo van Hove’s adaptation of Jean Cocteau’s The Human Voice for three weeks only at the West End’s Harold Pinter Theatre from 17 March 2022.
Translating poetry to the stage can be challenging for both performer and audience, the importance of the language while alive and vivid on the page can feel verbose or intangible, even static, when read aloud.