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FIREBIRD – West End

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

Tia is fourteen and lives with her foster mum in Rochdale. She’s had a rough life growing up the care system, and no one seems to care about her. When she meets “youth worker” AJ in a kebab shop, he gives her a cigarette, offers to buy her chips and take her to a “party” in his flash car. A bit of attention and some small gifts, and Tia’s sold. She gets more than she expects in Phil Davies’ first full-length play, though. Manipulation and lies lead to her rape rewarded with new clothes, booze and fags. Not just once, but again and again.

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FIREBIRD – West End

In London theatre, Musicals, Opinion, Plays, Reviews by Jonathan BazLeave a Comment

Transferring from a sell-out run at Hampstead’s Downstairs theatre last year, Phil Davies’ Firebird tackles the ghastly undercurrent of child sexual exploitation that blights so many of this country’s towns and young people. Pitched in a fictional Northern town, the play is at its most touching in the exchanges between the deeply harmed and 14-year-old Tia (played by Callie Cooke), who has been placed in local authority care since a baby and her friend Katie, who by contrast has at least a loving mum in her life and a background sheltered from ruthless violent abuse.

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THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY – West End

In London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Reviews by Caroline Hanks-FarmerLeave a Comment

When The Picture of Dorian Gray was first published in 1890 by Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine, it caused a great scandal, despite already having been heavily censored by the magazine’s editor. Later, when adapting the story to be published as a book, Oscar Wilde himself removed further material, in particular some of the more homoerotic passages.

THE HOMECOMING – West End

In London theatre, Plays, Reviews by Caroline Hanks-FarmerLeave a Comment

It’s fair to say that Pinter is not for the faint hearted of theatre goers. The complexity, controversial and sometimes baffling storylines dealing with sexism, antiquated values, male chauvinism and anger does not make for a necessarily enjoyable evening. An awkward reminder of bygone days is an unusual choice to celebrate its 50th anniversary. However what makes this production is the artistic direction of Jamie Lloyd and a cast of brilliant actors each at the height of their profession.

THE WASP – West End

In London theatre, Plays, Reviews by Laura KresslyLeave a Comment

Hampstead Theatre does it again with another powerful, thought-provoking transfer after last month’s Four Minutes Twelve Seconds. Heather and Carla went to secondary school together about 20 years ago, live in the same town, but have little else in common. Heather comes from a stable, middle class family, is now married and lives quite comfortably. Carla is working poor, pregnant with her fifth child, and has a drunkard for a husband. Both had a terrible time in high school: Carla came from an abusive home, and Heather became one of a Carla’s targets after a brief friendship in year 7. They haven’t seen each other since school, but out of the blue, Heather asks Carla for coffee and makes her a surprising offer in Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s both horrifying and enthralling The Wasp.

THE WASP – West End

In London theatre, Plays, Reviews by Caroline Hanks-FarmerLeave a Comment

New writing as many of my regular readers will know is my passion which I seek to support and champion at every opportunity. This second consecutive transfer into the Trafalgar Studios from Hampstead was eagerly anticipated by me and as I took to my seat I could already feel it was going to be something rather special.

THE HOMECOMING – West End

In London theatre, Plays, Reviews by Aleks SierzLeave a Comment

A true theatre masterpiece can survive any directorial mugging. By this definition, Harold Pinter’s 1965 play, The Homecoming, is a robust work of genius. It has to be because, from the very start of this starry 50th anniversary revival, director Jamie Lloyd seems determined to turn it into a lurid mix of cartoon and nostalgia-fest. As the evening begins, the drama’s grubby setting, given a retro look by designer Soutra Gilmour with the addition of a couple of sticks of period furniture, is bathed in bright red light while pounding drums and throbbing bass evoke something like the Swinging Sixties.

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INTERVIEW: Warren Mitchell — Mark Shenton’s interview with the actor in 2008

In Features, Inspiring people, Interviews, London theatre, Plays by Mark ShentonLeave a Comment

In 2008 I interviewed the veteran actor Warren Mitchell, who died yesterday (November 14) at the age of 89, ahead of his final West End appearance in a play called VISITING MR GREEN that came to London’s Trafalgar Studios. That performance was described by Charles Spencer in a review for the Daily Telegraph as “unmissable”.

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FOUR MINUTES TWELVE SECONDS – West End

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

What do you do if your teenaged son’s ex-girlfriend accuses him of sexual assault? What if her family refuses to go to the police and takes justice into their own hands instead? Di (Kate Maravan) and David (Jonathan McGuinness) don’t know either, and they’re living this nightmare every moment of Four Minutes Twelve Seconds. They have huge aspirations for their bright boy, hoping he makes it out of the Croydon that they themselves never managed to leave. But those dreams are teetering precariously on top of vicious rumours…or are they facts?

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FOUR MINUTES TWELVE SECONDS – West End

In London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Reviews by Aleks SierzLeave a Comment

Very well-deserved West end transfer for thrilling new play about ethics in the age of the internet… How well do parents know their kids? Especially their teenage kids. Jack appears to be a nice, well-spoken 17-year-old youngster about to take his exams. You see, he has ambitions to study law at Durham University. His parents, David and Di, think he’s a normal boy and they are really proud of all of his hard work. And of his good grades. But, in James Fritz’s compelling 90-minute play, they are about to be disillusioned. And the trick is that we never get to see Jack: he remains offstage, so all we are left with is the reactions of his parents and friends.

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ORESTEIA – West End

In London theatre, Opinion, Plays, Reviews by Caroline Hanks-FarmerLeave a Comment

This is a review I’ve been pondering for a week or more now: where to start was my biggest issue. The epic proportions of this show are hard to comprehend, namely because, when you think about it, this is a trilogy of Greek tragedies that were written over 2000 years ago circa 458 BC. So you may be forgiven for thinking what relevance this theatrical event of the year has in today’s society?

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NEWS: Almeida’s Oresteia transfers to West End’s Trafalgar Studios

In London theatre, News, Plays, Press Releases by Press ReleasesLeave a Comment

The Almeida Theatre’s critically acclaimed, sold out production of Oresteia, by Aeschylus, re-imagined for the modern stage by Almeida Associate Director Robert Icke (The Fever, Mr Burns, 1984) will transfer to the Trafalgar Studios in the West End from 22 August. Press night 7 September 2015. Robert Icke’s Oresteia was acclaimed during its Almeida run as one of the theatre …

AS IS – West End

In London theatre, Plays, Reviews by Jonathan BazLeave a Comment

As one sits in the Trafalgar Studios waiting for Andrew Keates’ production of As Is to begin, there is an awareness of a gentle backdrop of conversation that eventually distils into individuals speaking of when they learned of their AIDS diagnosis. Gradually it builds, with statistics about the numbers of people dying or infected beginning to get louder. Perhaps the most uncomfortable soundbites are the (1981) news stories declaiming in loud American voices the menace of “The Gay Plague” along with vox pop interviews of members of the public saying how “they only have themselves to blame”.

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AS IS – West End

In London theatre, Plays, Reviews by Caroline Hanks-FarmerLeave a Comment

Sometimes as a reviewer, you sit in a theatre space and you just feel this is going to be an incredibly important piece of theatre. As Is is one of those such occurrences. Written by William M. Hoffman and directed by Andrew Keates, this is billed as “the first AIDS play”.