This scenario is a ready-made play, a situation where some of the greatest scientific minds of their time are confronted with the consequences of their personal and political actions. The transcripts of the Farm Hall recordings were published in the 1990s, and other plays have been produced using their contents. However, Katherine Moar’s play, which has its first full production at the Jermyn Street Theatre, makes good use of the material to create a compelling drama, in which a large cast is handled well.
‘Visceral, animalistic & strange’: MACBETH – Southwark Playhouse
It is an unusual Macbeth that comes to life with the Porter’s scene, the play’s disconcerting post-murder comic interlude – even more so when it is performed without words. Dale Wylde’s mimed scene is a weird and captivating interlude. It encapsulates the strengths and weaknesses of Flabbergast Theatre’s version at Southwark Playhouse.
‘As a metaphor, the idea is powerful’: Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons Lemons – Harold Pinter Theatre
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.
‘Ludicrous, funny, then sinister’: THE WALWORTH FARCE – Southwark Playhouse Elephant
It is more than 15 years since Enda Walsh’s play The Walworth Farce arrived in London and, like many big hits, the scale of its popularity then has been matched by the speed with which it has been forgotten. It is well due a revival, and the Southwark Playhouse’s revival, directed by Nicky Allpress is exciting.
‘Energetic, clever & questioning production’: TITUS ANDRONICUS – Shakespeare’s Globe
Jude Christian’s new production of Shakespeare’s least reputable play, Titus Andronicus, has an all-female cast telling us immediately that perceptions of power will be tested to destruction. The presence of a guillotine on stage strongly suggests they will also be chopped up into little pieces.
‘Original & fascinating’: HAMLET – Southwark Playhouse
Lazarus’ production of Hamlet at the Southwark Playhouse (Borough Road branch) strips the older generation from the play, leaving us with only the younger characters. Battered, used and confused, the play reveals how focusing on their experience can show us a familiar text in a new and disturbing light. Hamlet is, among many other things, a tale of an older generation destroying their successors to serve themselves.
‘Everyone is set free’: AS YOU LIKE IT – @Soho Place
Plenty of productions search fruitlessly for the magic in As You Like It, but Josie Rourke’s version at the new @sohoplace theatre makes it seems effortless. This is greatly helped by the delightful new space, designed by architects Haworth Tompkins as that rare thing – a theatre in the round.
‘Flawed but fascinating show’: SARAH – Coronet Theatre
Sarah at the Coronet Theatre is an authentic alcoholic’s tale, sentimental and entirely self-centred, but transformed in the telling if, just for a moment, we can buy into the drinker’s mindset. His name is Scott, and the fact he is telling us this at all hints at some sort of redemption. He may be alive, but this is not a redemptive story.
‘Adds little to our understanding of the play’: ALL’S WELL THAT ENDS WELL – Stratford-upon-Avon
All’s Well is the definition of a tricky play, with its combination of the fantastical and the emotionally brutal, its historically specific yet confusingly vague setting and its hard-nosed, difficult to love characters. Embracing the oddness is probably the only way to make it work on stage but, despite some promising ideas and strong individual performances, Blanche McIntyre’s production does not feel coherent.
‘Ludicrous & surprisingly moving’: THE REST OF OUR LIVES – Edinburgh Festival Fringe
The Rest Of Our Lives at Summerhall, Edinburgh ends in a remarkable moment of mass dancing as the audience descends on the stage, suddenly finding themselves at full emotional stretch thanks to an unashamed expression of personality from these two delightful performers.
‘Exceptional & thrilling dance’: ANTIGONE, INTERRUPTED – Edinburgh Festival Fringe
Antigone, Interrupted is exceptional and thrilling dance and, like several productions at this year’s Fringe, reverts to Greek myth to provide stories for our trouble times, with remarkable results.
‘Remarkably revealing & painfully honest’: THE SILENT TREATMENT – Edinburgh Festival Fringe
Sarah-Louise Young is brisk, charming and authoritative, engaging the audience in vocal warm-ups as they take their seats. Her confident stage demeanour sets the scene for one-woman show The Silent Treatment at Summerhall that becomes remarkably revealing and painfully honest.
‘Carefully choreographed & absorbing’: THE LAST RETURN – Edinburgh Festival Fringe
Sara Joyce’s production of The Last Return for Druid Theatre at the Traverse is carefully choreographed and absorbing. Sonya Kelly has re-imagined Ionesco for the post-colonial era, and leaves us feeling we’ve seen something we won’t forget in a hurry, even if its exact meaning is elusive.
‘Elements of the story connect in ways that surprise’: PATRIOTS – Almeida Theatre
Peter Morgan’s new play Patriots at the Almeida Theatre is a history lesson, filling in the gaps in our understanding of how we ended up where we are now. Specifically, it connects events in Russia after the fall of Communism with the high profile deaths in the UK of Russians who had fallen out with Vladimir Putin and, more implicitly, with the invasion of Ukraine and the state of Russia today.
‘It is definitely the kind of theatre we need’: THE DANCE OF DEATH – Arcola Theatre
Lindsay Duncan and Hilton McRae reveal the full depths of The Dance of Death’s ambiguity in production that is funny and strangely touching. Directed by the Arcola’s own Mehmet Ergen, the couple – married in real life – interact with a naturalness that takes the edge off their barbed attacks on one another, even as they push one another further and further and, almost, over the edge.
‘Tightly choreographed & highly absorbing’: THE LESSON – Southwark Playhouse
It says something about national cultures that the French equivalent of The Mousetrap is Eugène Ionesco’s short play, The Lesson. It has been running at Théâtre de la Huchette in Paris since 1951, and is as far from the contained, comforting threat of Agatha Christie as drama has to offer.
‘Kirkwood’s ambition is admirable’: THAT IS NOT WHO I AM – Royal Court Theatre
That Is Not Who I Am by Dave Davidson – Royal Court Theatre, London (This review consists almost entirely of spoilers) The nudge-nudge cover story for this play – that it’s the debut by someone who has worked in ‘the security industry’ for 38 years – is fairly transparent, and suspicions are confirmed when the Royal Court’s … Continue reading That Is Not Who I Am
‘An exceptional piece of theatre’: GIRL ON AN ALTAR – Kiln Theatre
An exceptional piece of theatre, Girl on an Altar at the Kiln Theatre remakes a story that is part of Western cultural heritage, with deceptive ease, as though it could have happened yesterday.
‘An alarmingly current piece of work’: THE FATHER & THE ASSASSIN – National Theatre
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.
‘Judged just right’: MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING – Globe Theatre
The Globe’s main, outdoor theatre has not staged shows with a full audience since the summer of 2019, so the opening of its summer season with Lucy Bailey’s production of Much Ado About Nothing feels like an occasion.