It would be unsurprising, indeed completely understandable, for a new state-of-the-nation play focusing on the treatment of, and opportunities for, disabled people in present-day UK, to fetch up on stage as a furious, ranty polemic. Francesca Martinez’s dramatic writing debut, All Of Us at the National, goes down a rather more unexpected and interesting route however.
If the plotting is predictable, and the story arc unremarkable, the image of life represented is both strongly compassionate and often very pleasurable. In true welfare state style, comedian Francesca Martinez’s debut play All of Us at the National Theatre not only informs and educates, but also entertains.
A star danced, and under it was Simon Godwin’s joyful, 1930s Riviera production born. Quite apart from the fact that it is nice to have the earnest NT enjoying two outbreaks of frenetic jitterbug dancing at once – Jack Absolute upstairs at the Olivier, and here Much Ado About Nothing set in the Mediterranean hotel world of Noel Coward – where it feats with unexpected neatness.
Simon Godwin’s new production of Much Ado About Nothing for the National initially seems to be going for the full-on romantic escapism, from the bougainvillea and sun-kissed (Amalfi?) coast of the front curtain to the gorgeous Art Deco-meets-Italianate Palazzo mixture of colour and elegance of Anna Fleischle’s hotel setting
Who knew that Caroline Quentin could achieve (almost) the splits, while strumming a ukulele? Or that that Richard Bean and Chris Oliver – who a decade ago created the National Theatre’s world-conquering One Man, Two Guvnors – would for their next 18c update, Jack Absolute Flies Again, attempt a mashup of Sheridan’s classic frothy Restoration romcom The Rivals, and set it in a WW2 RAF base?
“What will happen in England after we have won this war? Bunting! Bunting everywhere!” Richard Bean and Oliver Chris’ new play Jack Absolute Flies Again at the National Theatre takes R.B. Sheridan’s 1775 farce The Rivals and updates the setting to a Sussex country house in The Battle of Britain. The romantic pursuits, mistaken identities and malapropisms from The Rivals are combined with Bean’s typically bawdy sense of humour, some impressive aerial dogfights and a dose of WWII patriotism. The result is an entertaining, albeit safe and slightly too long, comedy with pathos.
Delayed by Covid for over two years, Jack Absolute Flies Again finally lands on the Olivier stage when we have never needed Richard Bean and Oliver Chris’ goofy and hilarious romp more. An adaptation of Sheridan’s The Rivals relocated to a 1940s air base on a Sussex estate, there is a care in the construction of the play and a determination that everyone watching should have a good time that speaks to a wider need for lighter fare.
Anupama Chandrasekhar’s new play The Father And The Assassin about Nathuram Godse, the man who murdered – assassinated – Mohandas Gandhi in 1948, is an alarmingly current piece of work, but you wouldn’t know that from watching it.
Love London Love Culture’s Emma Clarendon what discovers what critics have had to say about Anupama Chandrasekhar’s play The Father and the Assassin now being performed at the National Theatre.
David Eldridge’s play Middle at the National Theatre’s Dorfman space is a sketch, a watercolour on the landing of middle life: sensitive, accomplished but not likely to stop you in your tracks.
David Eldridge’s trilogy about relationships, which started in 2017 with the hit show Beginning, now reaches its second part with Middle, which has opened at the National Theatre.
Even 20th century drama is under threat. So can the National Theatre buck this trend with this rediscovery of The Corn Is Green, and some help from its star, Nicola Walker?
Two Almeida musical revivals – Cabaret in the West End and Spring Awakening – were the biggest winners at the 31st annual Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards, for the first time held just one week before the Olivier Awards.
Emma Rice dips into her usual bag of theatrical tricks for a highly expressive take on Wuthering Heights but possibly to diminishing returns.
It’s not unusual for artistic directors of national companies to pursue the holy grail of producing a hit musical — not just for the financial security of the venue they are running, but also for their own.
East Is East is a recent addition to National Theatre’s At Home catalogue and only appeared as a live production back in October.
Just a little bit late… Here’s 10 of my favourite shows, both online and onstage but fully acknowledging that I saw a lot less than usual, I might actually have broken the back of this theatre obsession – it just took a global pandemic to do it…!
Ruth Wilson is strong casting in the central role with a, for once, restrained Ivo van Hove directing.
We all know how we feel about 2021. What we need to do is celebrate what made it fabulous so here is my pick of what the year had to offer.
Race, rage and relevance: sensitive revival of American writer Alice Childress’ 1955 anti-racist play shines bright.