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‘Contains some remarkable writing’: HERE – Southwark Playhouse

In London theatre, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Plays, Reviews by John ChapmanLeave a Comment

When individual members of a family are facing a variety of problems, can looking back at their collective past help to resolve matters or does that simply serve to make things worse? This is the premise behind Here by debut playwright Clive Judd, the 2022 winner of the Papatango Prize for new writing currently in production on Southwark Playhouse’s main stage

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‘Perfectly packaged Christmas show’: ELF THE MUSICAL – Dominion Theatre ★★★★

In London theatre, Musicals, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Reviews by Olivia MitchellLeave a Comment

If you’re looking for some festive magic this year, look no further than the Dominion Theatre for a gloriously Christmassy, sparkly production of Elf The Musical. Based on the cult classic film, it tells the story of Buddy the Elf who finds out he’s really a human, so makes the journey from the North Pole to New York City to meet his biological father and experience the world. This musical adaptation has all the most iconic parts of the film plus a heap of theatrical magic that makes it the perfect festive treat.

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‘It’s the performances that make this Christmas show shine’: PINOCCHIO – Unicorn Theatre

In Children's theatre, London theatre, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Plays, Reviews by Laura KresslyLeave a Comment

The use of fairytale, music and the goodie/baddie dichotomy remain in Pinocchio at the Unicorn Theatre, but the eggy, set gags and joke routines of panto are thankfully left out. Colourful, detailed design (by Jean Chan) and puppetry (by Chris Pirie) give the show a festive lushness, but it’s the performances that make this Christmas show shine.

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‘Feels like a lost treasure restored’: LONDON WALL – Tower Theatre

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

Office-based plays are relatively few and far between particularly those from the 1930s, so the revival of John Van Druten’s London Wall at the Tower Theatre is particularly interesting, not least for its focus on the female staff of a busy London law firm who struggle to be seen as equals by their male colleagues who treat them either as secretaries or a prizes to be won.

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‘Munro’s writing is sharp & fearsome’: MARY – Hampstead Theatre

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

Rona Munro’s latest piece, Mary, treads similar ground to historical trilogy The James Plays in its examination of Mary Queen of Scots and the series of fateful activities that led to her being deposed in favour of her infant son in 1567. This superbly written 90-minute drama passes in the blink of an eye but the fate of a country, a Queen and a scandal-ridden woman are brilliantly contained within.

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‘What does Williams think is the root of this reaction?’ KING HAMLIN – Park Theatre

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

Gloria Williams takes a more decided position on good and evil in the world premiere of her play King Hamlin at the Park Theatre in which an almost inevitable decline into crime is born out of poverty, desperation and class as the protagonist becomes an all-too-aware if unwilling participant in his own destruction.

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‘The central performance is phenomenal’: THE POLTERGEIST – Arcola Theatre

In London theatre, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Plays, Reviews by John ChapmanLeave a Comment

Philip Ridley’s The Poltergeist is an irresistibly restless creation which emulates the troublesome violent spirit conjured up by the title. The firework cracking solo piece has had a checkered history. It was first produced at Southwark Playhouse where its run was stymied by Covid lockdown but played out in a deserted auditorium to broadcasting cameras for a criminally brief three performances; it blew away the competition to scoop the Off West End OnComm award for a live streamed piece. It then became an on demand video which has haunted the recesses of the internet ever since and been spoken of with increasing admiration for those of us who saw its glorious beginnings.

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‘An extremely important story’: The Shadow Whose Prey the Hunter Becomes – Touring

In London theatre, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Plays, Regional theatre, Reviews, Touring by Laura KresslyLeave a Comment

Framed by the lens of the intrusive and boundary-breaking rise of artificial intelligence, The Shadow Whose Prey Becomes the Hunter by Back to Back Theatre serves as a wake-up call on how non-disabled people alienate people who have what are referred to in Australia as ‘intellectual disabilities’.

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‘There’s certainly heart to the story’: BUT I’M A CHEERLEADER – Turbine Theatre ★★★

In London theatre, Musicals, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Reviews by Olivia MitchellLeave a Comment

Since its opening in 2019, the Turbine Theatre in Battersea has been a leading player in showcasing new musicals, while providing a safe space to try out modern and exciting work. Their most recent is a musical version of the cult classic film But I’m a Cheerleader. Producer, Paul Taylor-Mills has been championing this show for several years and after personally seeing it as a workshop version at MT Fest, it’s great to see how the musical has developed and progressed to its current form.

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‘A spooktacular treat’: THE CANTERVILLE GHOST – Southwark Playhouse ★★★★★

In London theatre, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Plays, Regional theatre, Reviews, Touring by Debbie GilpinLeave a Comment

Fear and laughter often go hand-in-hand (you only have to look at work from the likes of Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith to see that), so Tall Stories’ approach to the Oscar Wilde novella The Canterville Ghost is not as bizarre as it may first seem. Their vaudeville stage adaptation is currently playing at Southwark Playhouse, before heading to Bristol and Newcastle.

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‘Hauntingly different & mostly in a very good way’: THE DARKFIELD TRILOGY – Canary Wharf

In Immersive, London theatre, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Plays, Reviews by John ChapmanLeave a Comment

Darkfield promoted site specific theatre even when we couldn’t actually go anywhere. Their neat answer was to get you using spaces in your own home or in permitted public places such as a park bench. Now they’ve gone back to an idea which they used prior to the great lockdown with a trio of short pieces taking place in converted shipping containers currently located in Canary Wharf in London’s Docklands.

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’An increasingly affecting experience’: GOOD – Harold Pinter Theatre

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

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.

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‘Some may find it ponderous while others will be fascinated’: BLUES FOR AN ALABAMA SKY – National Theatre

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

Looking across cultural representations of women in the past 100 years it is possible to draw connections between characters such as Hester Collier in Terence Rattigan’s The Deep Blue Sea, Patrick Hamilton’s Jenny from Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky, even up to Kyo Choi’s Kim Han-See in The Apology, all of whom are in pursuit of a fantasy life that will never be fulfilled. Pearl Cleage’s Blues for an Alabama Sky, opening at the National Theatre, adds another unknowingly tragic heroine to that list, singer Angel who will grasp at an opportunity to get out of Harlem in 1930.

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‘Finds all of the complexities’: The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore – Charing Cross Theatre

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

In recent years the ‘rediscovery’ of Summer and Smoke and an impressive production of The Night of the Iguana have awakened an interest in what are considered Williams’ lesser-known major works while the King’s Head Theatre explored identity and desire in some of the shorter pieces under the Southern Belles title, all of which are bringing the writers work to a new audience. Now, Charing Cross Theatre is hoping to do the same for 1962 flop The Milk Train Doesn’t Stop Here Anymore exploring the exploitation of a dying woman grasping for the meaning of her life and refusing to go quietly.

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‘Experience it if you can’: ROSE – Park Theatre

In London theatre, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Regional theatre, Reviews by John ChapmanLeave a Comment

September 2020 and the pandemic was quietly raging. So too was Maureen Lipman in Hope Mill Theatre’s online production of Martin Sherman’s intense monologue Rose; her performance was routinely recognised as a tour de force. The piece won many plaudits including an Off West End Offie and featured as one of my 20 For 2020. Since then it has been restreamed more than once and also appeared on Sky Arts – indeed it is still available on their catch up channel Now TV. But for the real undisputed deal, and if you’re near enough, head to the Park Theatre in Islington where the production is playing until mid-October.

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‘Powerful without being sentimental’: THE APOLOGY – Arcola Theatre

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

Kyo Choi’s new play, The Apology, looks at sexual slavery in the Second World War and insists that a tactical political apology isn’t remotely enough for the women and their families denied official acknowledgment of responsibility from modern governments.

It always takes one lone voice, someone brave enough to stand up and speak about what happened to them. Soon, others will follow inspired by that first individual and that is how truths eventually come to light. With Maria Schrader and Rebecca Len…

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‘A smart adaptation that works well in surprising ways’: THE CHERRY ORCHARD – The Yard

In London theatre, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Plays, Reviews by Laura KresslyLeave a Comment

The Yard, London – until 22 October 2022 Through his most recent play An Adventure, writer Vinay Patel proved he can masterfully sustain family dramas grappling with big themes. By sticking close to Chekhov’s original story, this adaptation of The Cherry Orchard set in the distant future does similar. A spaceship replaces the estate, but the strict social stratification with …

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‘Certainly makes a statement’: WHO KILLED MY FATHER – Young Vic Theatre

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

It is always exciting seeing van Hove’s work for the Internationaal Theater Amsterdam with its cinematic vision encapsulated in theatrical form. Here in Who Killed My Father at the Young Vic Theatre there is both intimacy and scale that neatly capture the contradictions and complexities of loving a family member. The title of this work may not be a question but it certainly makes a statement.

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‘Gabriel Byrne is a magnetic presence’: WALKING WITH GHOSTS – Apollo Theatre ★★★★★

In London theatre, Opinion, Other Recent Articles, Plays, Reviews by Debbie GilpinLeave a Comment

Following in the footsteps of the likes of David Suchet and Ian McKellen, celebrated Irish actor Gabriel Byrne brings his memoir, Walking With Ghosts, to the stage. This brief West End run comes off the back of an engagement at Dublin’s Gaiety Theatre earlier this year, and a stint on Broadway will follow next month.