Mindgame has been touring for years in bursts, having just delighted the Isle of Wight: so tell the cast of three they’re coming ‘Up West’ for a couple of weeks, keep the tickets well under the 50 mark, set up bargain packages and hope for thrilled bums-on-seats.
What begins as a comedy of manners in Present Laugher does turn gradually into true farce: wrong people behind doors, disastrous revelations of affairs, panic. And in this area director Sean Foley is wholly reliable.
Nicola Werenowska has certainly found fertile ground for the setting of her play: the decline of English seaside towns (in this case Clacton) from the first flashback to 1963 up to today.
Naomi Sheldon’s solo, semi-autobiographical Good Girl comes from Edinburgh crowned with plaudits, though cunningly in the programme she does an “alternative poster” of rude things people have said about it.
Directors stop being scared of the Scottish Play and return to more reflective and respectful renderings. Meanwhile, the unfortunate A level set-book class of 2018 are at risk of associating it only with concrete, gaffer-tape, plastic dollies and carpet-sweepers.
Yet somehow, I’m not quite buying it. We are used to gore and nasty things hung on trees and lots beheadings, ever since the technology for reproducing actors’ heads improved. Fine. But unlike the Hytner Othello – set in a modern army camp – or his Hamlet in a recognizable police-state, the misery-world evoked here gives no sense that there ever were nobilities to be breached by the Macbeths. It’s just chaos, and you expect no better.
The second half, in particular, is full of strong laughs, some nicely smutty, some manic, and many particularly fun for Hull people (I came with my husband, a former Radio Humberside man, who got them all).
In a time of Holocaust memory and an uneasy sense of reanimated antisemitism, Rothschild& Sons at the Park Theatre reminds audiences of the troubled, talented, vigorous history of the Jewish diaspora in Europe.
Everyone loves the film. Something in the nostalgic British psyche likes to think of a gang of ruthless desperadoes lodging with a dear old lady, pretending to be a chamber music quartet, but being foiled by her innocence and their own incompetence.
What I like – as well as the daft jokes and a ridiculous sauna scene in sock-suspenders and full tweeds — is the disciplined slickness of it: that Reduced-Shakespeare or play-that-goes-wrong quality which lifts shows like this out of the tiresome arent-we-amusing college revue level and into proper theatre.
It’s an old tale and a magical one. The deployment of spectacle and effects under John Tiffany’s direction and the remarkable tech and design team are not allowed to overshadow its old-fashioned moralities.
It is at times hilarious, with some fine deadpan 1950s performances from the cast of 10 and three supernumeraries doing the trundling.
When The Woman in White debuted at the Palace Theatre in 2004, much of the commentary focused on it being a technological feat, with digital projections in abundance. With this first revival, directed by Thom Southerland, the more intimate setting seems to lend itself more readily to Wilkie Collins’s gothic source material.
Officially the star is Marcus Brigstocke, best known as a Radio 4 standup comedian: but actually, the real star is the ensemble.
It would be more interesting if we were allowed to see some proper emotional underpinning: clearly Tony needs his big brother, and not only for somewhere to live.
Bryan Cranston certainly earns every award going for his craggy, convincing Beale, moving from Dimblebyesque authority to a crazed Learlike breakdown, a self-indulgent, unwell despair.
It is a brave theme that Chris Thompson – a former social worker – has chosen. It is also a darkly, and accidentally, topical one since a court case is still running in which the younger of two gay male partners is accused of violence towards their baby.
Often I had a restless sense that there is a seriously good play trying to be born here and almost making it, and I hope another version will rise. The Jermyn, intimate and intense, has always been a good place for reigniting history.
In the final days of the great Rutter’s leadership of Northern Broadsides, he is directing and starring in Blake Morrison’s adaptation of Alain-René’s 18th-century satirical comedy Turcaret, and giving at least half the characters an extreme Yorkshire argot.
Nikki Amuka-Bird is captivating as Ellida, and Ellie Bamber as Hilde and Helena Wilson as Bolette are wonderful as the daughters, their strength, intelligence and humour tempered with the fragility of living in a world owned by men.