Blackout Songs is another sharp, pared-down studio production: in 95 minutes Joe White delivers a necessarily painful two-hander about youthful alcoholism and the disaster of colliding addictions. We watch two lovers, over an uncertain wavering timeline, who can neither control nor remember their lives and real selves: we get flashes, snapshots of their meeting, coupling, celebrating, fighting, betraying.
For 400 years the reputation of Mary, Queen of Scots, has been battled over: she has been called victim and whore, murderess and heroine, flighty and heroic. Romance flowers in drama and opera: she was a young mother, beautiful, imprisoned, finally executed by her cousin Elizabeth I. But in this static but powerful 90-minutes, in which the Queen herself is offstage except for two glimpses, Rona Munro concentrates on the period before her forced abdication in 1567.
Rarely in the history of Islington playgoing have so many first-nighters whooped so enthusiastically at Gospel rock. When cheers for Elton John’s anthems in Tammy Faye at the Almeida Theatre briefly abate it is often for quite different whoops, laughter at James Graham’s dry sharp script or moments of enchanted shock at an unexpected popup.
The first of a double-bill I watched last night at the King’s Head Theatre Pub, Fame Whore (the creation of Tom Ratcliffe – writer/director, and Gigi Zahir – lyricist/performer) finally sashays its way onto the stage after a COVID enforced absence.
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.
So we know where we are with Eureka Day at the Old Vic: joyfully satirising middle-class liberal-cum-hippie angst, parental protectiveness and the age of offence-taking, as in beloved recent comedies like God of Carnage and Clybourne Park. But as it heats, the focus shifts to the even more topical theme: digital misinformation, rumour and fake news getting indiscriminately sucked in and solidified into identity politics.
Shiny though the shell is, Richard Eyre’s play The Snail House at Hampstead Theatre becomes a frustrating stew of ideas, attitudes and family tensions which doesn’t quite hit the finishing line. Directed by the author himself it is rarely less than entertaining, always emotionally recognisable and interestingly topical: but it’s too humble, too restrained.
Love London Love Culture’s Emma Clarendon chatted to Julian Forsyth about starring in The Woman in Black as Arthur Kipps in London’s West End.
These two Ukrainian Plays at the Finborough Theatre were both both first born at the time of the 2014 conflict in Ukraine, the second particularly in the Donbas where ugly divisions erupted between Russian sympathisers and supporters of the elected and legitimate government in Kyiv.
A real life adventure told with wit, flair and some stunning movement sequences
Patriots at the Almeida Theatre is a fresh history play: confrontational, shocking, classic in its focus on vast flawed characters and pretty close to documented – and very recent – reality. It has all the elements: a kingmaker whose creation turns on him, acolytes and shifting alliances, self-serving arrogance, passionate romantic patriotism, politics and big money and tragedy and defeat.
Cultural appropriation doesn’t just take place across different nations
That Harry Hill is the writer explains the rumbustious irreverence of Tony! [The Tony Blair Rock Opera] at the Park Theatre, but Steve Brown’s tunes and lyrics are much of its glory.
Elle Woods is back in London in a new production of the musical Legally Blonde at Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre but what have critics had to say about it?
What do you do when the artistic muse has deserted you? Or when it has never really arrived?
A cheering musical to be sure, but But I’m a Cheerleader is ill-suited to the intimacy of the Turbine Theatre, it needs a bigger stage (and a bit of an edit) to truly shine.
If some of the detail of Mike Bartlett’s Cock now feels a little dated, the skill of his writing is as fresh as ever, performed brilliantly at the Ambassadors Theatre.
A father and son meet in a wine cellar. The son is a recovering alcoholic, and his dad (a ghost, who left the son a nice bottle of red wine in his will) doesn’t seem to understand the harm a glass of booze will do.
The Red – the newest digital produ…
This enchanting celebration of work by Marvin Hamlisch, Michel Legrand and Stephen Sondheim is certainly worth catching for the range of music and stories that are shared.
The Wicker Husband is a show that has my heart entirely. A future life is surely going to happen but catch it now at the Watermill Theatre while you can.