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‘Never a false note’: JOHN GABRIEL BORKMAN – Bridge Theatre ★★★★★

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

In great plays a scene, character or domestic confrontation can be both appalling and comic: pity, terror and barks of shocked laughter are not incompatible even within a sentence. Ibsen knew that, but in the Norwegian rebel’s grim late works it takes a relaxed director and some weapons-grade actors to keep that balance. Cue Nicholas Hytner, Simon Russell Beale and Lia Williams: rescuing, for me and for good, a play (John Gabriel Borkman at the Bridge Theatre) I hated last time I saw it.

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‘Worth the wait’: THE UNFRIEND – Chichester

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

Delayed two years by the pandemic, one of the most hotly anticipated shows of 2020 finally makes it to the stage in 2022. The combination of TV writer and former Dr Who showrunner Steven Moffat, Mark Gatiss and Reece Shearsmith proves irresistible as The Unfriend finally premieres in Chichester’s Minerva Theatre and it has been worth the wait.

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‘A masterclass for fearlessly funny women’: THE FANTASTIC FOLLIES OF MRS RICH – Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon ★★★★

In Opinion, Plays, Regional theatre, Reviews by Libby PurvesLeave a Comment

The RSC’s artistic director Gregory Doran has a kindly sense of balance, so the dourly modern, blokey, bleak and inevitably joyless Macbeth just down the corridor is offset by The Fantastic Follies of Mrs Rich, a merry bit of Restoration fluff and female scorn, by the largely forgotten 17the century writer Mary Pix. Good move, Mr D.

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NEWS: Playground premieres play about pre-Grenfell Westminster Council scandal

In London theatre, Native, News, Plays, Press Releases, Sticky by Press ReleasesLeave a Comment

In the shadow of Grenfell Tower, new west London theatre The Playground will premiere Gregory Evans’ Shirleymander, a dramatization of the Shirley Porter Westminster Council ‘homes for votes’ scandal of the 1980s. This week’s reading stars Tracy-Ann Oberman, Patrick Ryecart and Michael Simkins.

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FRACKED – Chichester

In Opinion, Plays, Regional theatre, Reviews by Matt MerrittLeave a Comment

Fracking is something of a contentious subject in West Sussex, so where better to stage Alistair Beaton’s new comedy Fracked! (or: Please don’t use the word). Littered with references to very recent events (including Boris Johnson and Southern trains) you can’t help but feel the playwright is hidden in the theatre somewhere

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FRACKED – Chichester

In London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Regional theatre, Reviews by Libby PurvesLeave a Comment

You can trust Alistair Beaton to keep a cast learning last-minute lines. Here, just as grace-notes alongside the main theme, are jokes about Brexit, Southern Rail, and the new Foreign Secretary. His central theme, though, in this new satiri-polemico-sitcom, is the cynical, corrupt, socially divisive hypocrisies, political manoeuvring and reasonable anxieties surrounding the technology of shale gas extraction: fracking.

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Dear reader: My epistolary musings about Dear Lupin

In Features, Interviews, London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Regional theatre, Touring by Terri PaddockLeave a Comment

Dear reader Writing a blog in the form of the letter (as I did with my Conversation with Caitlin Moran series) about the stage adaptation of the 2012 book Dear Lupin allows me to both use the word epistolary (my favourite word of the week) and to demonstrate its very definition, which is: “relating to the writing […]


In London theatre, Plays, Reviews by Libby PurvesLeave a Comment

Old army jokes get readopted by every generation. I suspect that one of the most slyly placed laughs in this ultimately charming evening falls into that category. The Sergeant-Major thunders “Recruit Mortimer! I didn’t see you at camouflage practice!” “Thank you very much sir..”. Pause, a gale of mirth as the audience gets it. Nice.

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NEWS: Father-son James and Jack Fox star in West End transfer of Roger Mortimer’s Dear Lupin

In London theatre, News, Plays, Press Releases, Regional theatre by Press ReleasesLeave a Comment

Father and son James Fox and Jack Fox star in this brand new stage adaptation of the best-selling Sunday Times Humour Book of the Year Dear Lupin, Letters to a Wayward Son, in which renowned journalist and author Roger Mortimer’s brilliantly hilarious, often touching and always generous letters to his unruly son Charlie are now vividly brought to life. The production transfers to the West End’s Apollo Theatre following a successful UK tour, opening on 3 August 2015, with previews from 30 July, and runs for a strictly limited eight-week season until 19 September.

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HAY FEVER – Duke of York’s Theatre, West End

In London theatre, Plays, Regional theatre, Reviews by Johnny FoxLeave a Comment

This is a play I know extremely well. My own production (“one of the best the Nuffield Theatre has housed” – Guardian) formed part of my Theatre Studies degree at Lancaster in 1973, the year Noel Coward died. I have seen every major revival, and some dodgy tours, from the splendid Michael Denison and Dulcie Gray version which first inspired me as a teenager at the Grand Theatre Leeds, to glossy London and Chichester productions with Dame Judi, Maria Aitken, Penelope Keith, Geraldine McEwan and Diana Rigg. And the awful one with Lindsay Duncan strutting about in jodhpurs.