Why is intimacy so hard? In the bedroom, when can drugs be a help and when a hindrance? How much should we reveal to a new partner? What new demons do today’s young gay men carry with them into relationships?
After the fun we had last month with My Dad’s Gap Year at the Park Theatre, […]
Why is intimacy so hard? In the bedroom, when can drugs be a help and when a hindrance? How much should we reveal to a new partner? What new demons do today’s young gay men carry with them into relationships?
A lot has been said about All in a Row online (especially on Twitter around #puppetgate) – about the play itself, its depiction of autism and its use of a puppet in portraying the non-verbal autistic 11-year-old character. Last night we were able to take the conversation offline.
I felt a great responsibility in chairing what I view as […]
Gently Down the Stream Q&A podcast and photos: Martin Sherman on passing on gay history and happiness
“It’s so rare these days to see a play about optimism,” the wonderful actor Malcolm Sinclair told me after Wednesday night’s performance of Gently Down the Stream at the Park Theatre. Malcolm had attended the press night two days earlier and loved Martin Sherman’s new play so much that he returned with his partner […]
The bookworm in me adores everything about libraries and they don’t get much more atmospheric, or historic, than The London Library, the world’s oldest independent lending library – and now a highly unconventional theatrical venue for Creation Theatre Company’s latest offering.
Dubbed by Stephen Fry as a “gym of the mind”, The London Library, with its […]
One of the reasons I love chairing post-show Q&As so much is the chance I get to learn new things from incredibly talented and knowledgeable panellists. Last night’s event for Jean Anouilh’s play The Orchestra at Omnibus Theatre was a special treat as the expert on hand was also an old friend of mine: award-winning director, […]
The Showstoppers Q&A video and photos: ‘Just give us something with heart’ say the musical improv masters
I’ve been following the insanely talented improv geniuses of The Showstoppers for most of their eleven years. How do they do it? I still can’t really fathom it, but I was pleased to gain a few more insights – and a new well of admiration – after chairing a post-show Q&A with them this […]
I started this past weekend in a room full of wonderful, talented and inspiring women (and some great male allies) at London’s Tristan Bates Theatre chairing a BOSSY all-female panel after a performance of Robert Luxford’s Nuns.
Thanks to the Dutch Dame Productions’ co-founders Cecile Sinclair and Natalya Wolter-Ferguson, She’s Diverse co-producer Valerie Isaiah-Sadoh and their company […]
Dialektikon Q&A video and photos: How much do you know about Stokely Carmichael? (And four other big thinkers)
Author Jacky Ivimy was inspired to start writing Dialektikon after coming across film and transcripts from the Liberation of Dialectics Congress.
At this two-week event, held at London’s Roundhouse in 1967, some of the late 20th century’s leading thinkers convened – including Trinidadian-born civil rights activist and Black Panther Stokely Carmichael, English scientist Gregory Bateson, […]
An Honourable Man Q&A video and photos: Has there ever been a more poisonous time in UK politics? (Insiders’ views)
Populism, patriotism, political theatre, predictions for Brexit and the fast-paced nature of life-imitating-art-imitating-life were amongst the topics covered in an incredibly good-natured discussion across a wide partisan spectrum at the post-show debate I chaired on Wednesday night at the premiere of An Honourable Man.
Michael McManus’ play had a sell-out, try-out week in June, which attracted […]
One of my favourite reviews of Fanatical, the new British musical currently receiving its world premiere season at London’s Playground Theatre, opines: “It will remind you why you love whatever it is that you’re a fan of”.
This warm, big-hearted, unashamedly geeky show is indeed “a love letter to fandom”, and at last night’s post-show […]
The Acting Gymnasium, founded by Gavin McAlinden, runs weekly creative performance workshops that help individuals develop their acting skills, build confidence, exercise their imagination, improve vocal techniques and… perform in a professional show.
You can see the product of their work in a season of French comedies running now at London’s Theatro Technis. On Friday, […]
Looking for Gatsby Q&A video and photos: How does F Scott Fitzgerald’s story look from Daisy’s perspective?
Swift but swinging! We had less than twenty minutes for last night’s post-show Q&A for new musical Looking for Gatsby but – taking a leaf out of this incredible company’s book – we made the most of it. It’s amazing how much you can ground you can cover when you’re up against the clock!
What happens […]
Federico Garcia Lorca spent three months in Cuba in 1930 – six years before he was assassinated (aged just 38) by Franco nationalists in his native Spain. He fell in love with the Caribbean island nation and it with him. And it’s this association that inspired Jorge de Juan in his new adaptation of Lorca […]
Does a soldier ever stop being a soldier? “No!” shouted several from the audience at last night’s post-show discussion for Soldier On at The Other Palace.
The play, dubbed “The Full Military Monty”, was developed and workshopped with real soldiers and their families and shows how all are affected by PTSD. It’s performed by a […]
A Guide for the Homesick Q&A video and photos: How did Doctors Without Borders & homophobia inspire this new play?
The night after they faced the press, the team behind the European premiere production of A Guide for the Homesick faced a packed audience, most of whom stayed on to take part enthusiastically in our post-show discussion.
Ken Urban’s play was commissioned in 2011 and had its world premiere last year in Boston. This new production […]
When a show has as many twists and turns as Glenn Chandler’s KIDS PLAY, there are special challenges in live-streaming and live-tweeting a post-show discussion. Last night, Chander, his London stars David Mullen and Joseph Clarke, myself and the audience at Above the Stag did our best to avoid spoilers. Though it was difficult at points!
Should country of birth define your identity or determine where you end up?
Set in the near-future, Stand and Be Counted Theatre’s highly political new play Where We Began imagines a world where a new universal law mandates that everyone must return to where they were born and stay there. Borders are built everywhere and strictly enforced: […]
What a reminder that live theatre is LIVE, that things can go wrong and that that’s all part of the excitement.
At the Omnibus Theatre last night, Blood Wedding’s 7.30pm start time was delayed as one of the actors was trapped on a broken down overground train. I was already there to chair a post-show Q&A […]
Adrenaline still pumping as I type this! SIX The Musical was the undisputed hit of this year’s Edinburgh Fringe and it’s now transferred back to the West End’s Arts Theatre for an extended run at the Arts Theatre, where it had a handful of showcase performances over the Christmas/New Year period.
I first saw the show […]
Dust Q&A photos and podcast: Really talking – and listening – to Milly Thomas and Sara Joyce about suicide
Are we really talking about mental ill health? Or just talking about talking about it? Are we listening – actively listening – to those in need? What stops someone from committing suicide? How much do you know about Samaritans, the world’s first-ever 24-hour helpline after 999?
Milly Thomas wrote Dust after feeling frustrated at not […]
How do you buy drugs online? What was Silk Road? Could the libertarians on it actually be steering us towards a more humane drug policy? Or is a play about this dark-web marketplace glamourising drugs? What do you do with a bitcoin production donation? Who’s actually read Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island?
Not the usual questions […]
Are women punished in drama for liking sex and drink? What has modern classic The Rise and Fall of Little Voice got in common with Greek drama? What’s the secret to vocal impressions?
I was delighted to return to Cirencester this weekend to chair my third consecutive post-show discussion at the pioneering Barn Theatre. For this […]
Pressure Q&A video and photos: How did David Haig come to write and star in a play about unsung Scottish hero and weatherman James Stagg?
If you’d never heard of the James Stagg before David Haig’s latest play Pressure, don’t feel bad: neither had he. Haig was approached by director John Dove and Edinburgh’s Royal Lyceum Theatre who wanted to create a play about an unsung Scottish hero. They drew up a list of possible candidates and Stagg caught […]
A warning to start: Beirut is not for the prudish. In this two-hander, Robert Rees’ Torch starts the evening buck naked (doing pull-ups) and he and co-star Louisa Connolly-Burnham, as his lustily willing-to-risk-anything girlfriend Blue, spend the next 65 minutes in various stages of undress, tumbling in and out of bed (well, a single mattress on […]
The Yellow Wallpaper Q&A video and photos: What does a 19th-century American short story tell us about modern misogyny and mental health?
Audience member Jessica McClellan at the Omnibus Theatre tweeted that last night’s post-show discussion for The Yellow Wallpaper was “deep AF” (I’ll assume you know what the AF stands for in social media speak…). It was pretty deep, in keeping with the extraordinary performance we’d just witnessed of Gemma Yates-Round as Alice, a woman suffering from […]
Before the performance at Tristan Bates Theatre, the 16-strong company of San Domino entertain theatregoers in the bar with some jaunty patriotic songs, with which they lead them into the auditorium. It’s somewhat akin to the chilling scene in Kander and Ebb’s Cabaret when the Hitler Youth sings “Tomorrow Belongs to Me”.
Inside the auditorium, we […]
Schism Q&A video and photos: Talking feminism, diversity, accessibility and toxic relationships with author-actor-activist Athena Stevens
Two scratch-your-head stats shared during my post-show Q&A for Schism last night at London’s Park Theatre: one, less than five percent of the UK population has dated someone with a disability, and two – wait for it – only one in four have even had a conversation with a disabled person.
Is it any wonder that diverse […]
When I first saw the Barn Theatre revival of Simon Stephens’ 2003 play One Minute, the things that struck me most were, in no particular order: the ground-breaking video projection design (by PJ McEvoy, film sequences by Ben Collins), the delicate performances of the five-strong cast, the seamless-but-sinister weaving of social media into a […]
So much laughter at last night’s post-show Q&A for Katy Brand’s debut play 3Women, now running at the West End’s Trafalgar Studios 2 until 9 June 2018!
Brand’s 80-minute comedy-drama explores what it means to be a woman in the 21st century and the consequences of the generational gap on attitudes, cultural expectations and family dynamics. It’s set […]
Another post-show Q&A first for me. Due to a last-minute scheduling conflict, Spanish playwright Guillem Clua had to cancel his flight to London to attend last night’s performance of his acclaimed two-hander THE SWALLOW at the Cervantes Theatre, but he desperately wanted to take part in the post-show discussion – so the game team at […]
The Big Things, currently running at Barons Court Theatre, brings us into the world of Grace who, after meeting and falling in love with Malcolm and becoming a parent, is diagnosed with autism.
The London premiere is presented by Kibo Productions, who selected it from some 200 scripts received after an open submissions call. It’s […]
I won’t name and shame but will admit that some of my trickiest moments over my many years hosting post-show discussions have been at plays set in the United States when audience members have, sometimes very unkindly, faulted the English actors for their American accents.
Quite the opposite happened this weekend at The Gulf. The matinee audience included a large group […]
How did Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting become a cultural phenomenon? I’m finally ready to immerse myself
I’ve always been squeamish about needles. And I’m not much better with graphic drug-taking by any other method either. I first saw Harry Gibson’s stage adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting in the 1990s when I was a recently-arrived-from-America twenty-something in London. My memory of the experience involves nausea and confusion (I wasn’t able to understand much of what the […]
I’m pretty certain that my event last night at SOLDIER ON was my largest-ever panel for a post-show Q&A: in total, there were 19 of us, including me. Thank goodness the Playground Theatre had plenty of chairs and just enough room to arrange them in arc across the stage (I chose to stand and rove!).
Such enthusiasm for the piece […]
When you hold a post-show Q&A on Mothering Sunday, it’s awfully helpful to have a mother of one of the show’s stars in the cast. (Though I do hope After the Ball cast member Emily Tucker treated her mum to a slap-up meal afterwards in the buzzing bar and restaurant at the Gatehouse!)
Inevitably, we […]
If an elderly relative in enormous physical pain begged you to help them to die, would you? Would you ever ask the same of someone else? What is a ‘decent death’? Should we all have the right to one? Or, put another way, should euthanasia be legalised in the UK?
Those are some of the […]
I’ve been raving about Julius Caesar to everyone over the past few weeks, and particularly the experience of seeing it in the pit of the staggeringly versatile Bridge Theatre. This second production in the new 900-seater founded by former National Theatre Nicks Hytner and Starr really flaunts its wide-ranging ambition with this modern-dress Shakespeare.
Updated 8 March 2018 following third event: This post has been updated with podcasts, photos and other content from all three post-show Q&As in the ANGRY series.
In November 2016, a week after the election of Donald Trump, I chaired a post-show Q&A at Philip Ridley’s Tonight with Donny Stixx. That one-man show, which follows a would-be magician […]
What’s the point of philosophy? According to Ludwig Wittgenstein, as portrayed in Ron Elisha’s moving and thought-provoking two-hander The Soul of Wittgenstein now running at Clapham Omnibus:
“It creates the illusion of knowledge. Which gives one a sense of order. Which, in turn, suggests a measure of control. Which rolls back the waves of raw fear.”
Rothschild & Sons Q&A podcast and photos: Broadway legend Sheldon Harnick on why the Jewish story must be told
The Jewish story must continue to be told, Sheldon Harnick told me and a packed house at London’s Park Theatre after Tuesday night’s performance of Rothschild & Sons, for which he wrote the lyrics to the music by late collaborator Jerry Bock.
My post-show Q&A with Sheldon, and the UK premiere of Rothschild & Sons the night […]
It’s natural that your reactions to shows are filtered through the prism of the current social and political climate. And savvy theatres, of course, seek to judge the mood and programme accordingly.
In the case of Harvey Weinstein, #MeToo, #TimesUp, the BBC pay gap furore and all related issues around sexual misconduct and gender inequality, […]
Q&A video and podcast: Commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Nanking massacre at Into the Numbers
What an incredibly brave, brilliant and inspiring woman Iris Chang was. What an unimaginably horrific atrocity the Nanking Massacre was. How ashamed I am to have known next to nothing about either before INTO THE NUMBERS.
Last night – thanks to a mesmerising performance followed by a thought-provoking post-show discussion with director Georgie Staight and […]
I feel incredibly privileged to have been “in the room where it happens” to see the European premiere of HAMILTON last night at the West End’s Victoria Palace Theatre.
There is so much to love about Lin-Manuel Miranda’s blockbuster hip-hop musical about one of my homeland’s founding fathers, Alexander Hamilton, not least a glorious British cast, under the assured stewardship of […]
WATCH: My thoughts on Off-West End musicals Miracle On 34th Street, The Little Match Girl, The Woman in White and Barnum
Does this count as a vlogmas? Probably not, but here’s my attempt at a theatre diary vlog in any case, which includes two Christmas shows!
The emphasis is on Off-West End musicals I’ve seen recently, all of which have things to recommend them – Miracle on 34th Street and The Little Match Girl to […]
Another fascinating rediscovery from Troupe Theatre. J.M. Barrie is best known, of course, for Peter Pan (and there are no shortage of revivals and spin-offs of that around Theatreland at the moment), but he also authored myriad novels and numerous other stage works, including The Admirable Crichton, Quality Street, Echoes of War, the opera […]
Three Off-West End musicals I’ve seen in the past few weeks – well, two musicals and a play with music – have served up slices of modern history to entertaining effect.
The end of The End of History is nigh – and I don’t mean North Korean nuclear threats, though perhaps Kim Jung-un will feature in […]
It was a packed house – including many therapy professionals – for last night’s performance of Matthew Campling’s new play The Secondary Victim at the Park Theatre. Which made for some very knowledgeable comments and insights at the post-show Q&A, for which I was joined by Campling, director Matthew Gould and the entire cast.
A cheeky Twitter follower (yes, I’m talking about you Johnny Fox) requested that I ask the three stars of Patrick Marber’s locker room drama The Red Lion – Stephen Tompkinson, John Bowler and Dean Bone – to explain the off-side rule at the post-show Q&A I chaired at Trafalgar Studios 2 last night. I threatened […]
Understandably, as theatremakers and audiences try to make sense of our turbulent times, political plays are de rigueur – and it’s not just ones written by James Graham either. And even productions that you wouldn’t categorise as such, inevitably take on political overtones when filtered through our consumption of daily headlines. I’m not sure if every […]
Can we love someone whose belief system we fundamentally disagree with? If we love someone, can we denounce what we believe just to please them? Family and faith compete in thoughtful three-hander The Busy World Is Hushed, showing both sides of a tormented mother-son relationship.
At a seminary in New York, Hannah (Kazia Pelka), a widowed Episcopalian minister […]
I can’t get out of my mind the idea of touring two new, one-act plays I’ve seen recently – Jane Upton’s All The Little Lights and Kieran Knowles’ 31 Hours – as a double bill. It’s something that would absolutely warrant generous funding for tackling important and urgent social issues, and you could map out the tour […]
In the past month, two musicals have got me up on my feet and dancing all the way out to the bar. At Five Guys Named Moe, I joined a conga line at the interval after attempting to singalong Calypso-style to “Push Ka Pi Shi Pie”. At Hair, I flailed around at the finale to […]
How do we talk to those that we hate? How do we speak across the anger that divides us? Those are the opening lines in Chris Hannan’s provocative new play, What Shadows – and they were also amongst the questions raised in the Q&A I chaired with the cast after last night’s packed performance at London’s Park […]
I’ve had a rich few weeks for playgoing. In addition to productions I’ve already written about elsewhere – including, of those still running, Arrows and Traps’ Frankenstein at Brockley Jack and Stephen Clark’s Le Grand Mort at Trafalgar Studios 2 – here’s a quick round-up of some other smart plays I’ve seen recently and […]
Living in SE1 in London, I’m absolutely spoilt for theatres. The South Bank powerhouses of the National Theatre, Old Vic and Young Vic, Shakespeare’s Globe, and, as of later this month, the new Bridge Theatre under the auspices of former NT uber-duo Nicks Hytner and Starr, are all within ten minutes’ walking distance. But […]
It has been so fascinating to see Arrows and Traps’ startlingly fresh adaptation of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, just opened at Brockley Jack Theatre, and Ian Dixon Potter’s one-act drama The Test, finishing this weekend at the White Bear Theatre, in the same week on the London fringe.
Both stories centre on Promethean ambitions: scientists who, like […]
There are only a few days left to catch Che Walker’s new in-the-round production of John Patrick Shanley’s Doubt, which finishes at London’s Southwark Playhouse this Saturday (30 September 2017).
While catching up with friends last night, including the show’s producer Darren Murphy, a group of us started arguing anew over the central question in the […]
There was a moment I’ll never forget from the Q&A I hosted after last night’s performance of Stephen Clark’s Le Grand Mort at Trafalgar Studios. Julian Clary, who is of course best known as a much-loved comedian and cabaret artist, had commented that it wasn’t really up to him whether he did more straight […]
What do you need to know about Dominic Cooke’s revival of Stephen Sondheim’s Follies at the National Theatre? It’s a great big, sumptuous, stellar hit.
I was lucky enough to see a preview myself this past weekend – standing ovation – and give a surprisingly alert-looking Dominic a hug afterwards. Any nerves he may have […]
Did you get lucky in the ticket ballot for #RADAHamlet, which on Twitter has also gained the predictable #HiddleHamlet hashtag thanks to its title star, Tom Hiddleston? The fundraising production, directed by none other than Kenneth Branagh (who previously directed Hiddleson onstage in Ivanov and onscreen in Thor and has long wanted to direct […]
The plays may have been written 420-odd years apart, but I was really struck by how many parallels there were between the discussion I hosted last week, to the European premiere of Jordan Tannahill’s Late Company at Trafalgar Studios, and the one I hosted last night, to Christopher Marlowe’s 16th-century classic Edward II.
Late Company, set […]
It’s not just umbrella festival programmes, as I blogged earlier, that keep myself and other London theatregoers busy in August. Here’s a round-up of some of the other plays and musicals I’ve seen recently that are worth a look. Get booking if any tickle your fancy – all are limited seasons finishing in the […]
I’m in the slightly odd position this month of working on an Edinburgh show while not being in Edinburgh at all. (Mind you, I have seen the show, in China in May, so can knowledgeably recommend it – so, if you’re in Edinburgh, by all means, do! It’s China Goes Pop!, a great East […]
From Page to Stage Q&A podcast and photos: How is the international scene changing for new musicals?
Two years ago, I chaired the opening night discussion at the third annual From Page to Stage festival of new musicals founded by Aria Entertainment’s Katy Lipson. The central question on that occasion was “are we doing enough to nurture new musicals?” And the central answer was no. Amongst the suggestions made by the audience […]
Most of nights last week was devoted to just one play, Preethi Nair’s Sari: The Whole Five Yards, which I’m trying to help find a future life. But I have managed a few memorable evenings over the past fortnight that I can also recommend: Bob Dylan-inspired Girl from the North Country at the Old Vic, […]
My plays diary this week isn’t terribly varied. I’m spending most nights at the Tristan Bates Theatre, all in aid of one production: Preethi Nair’s Sari: The Whole Five Yards. That said, I’ll be lucky if I say the play once – demand for tickets is so high that I can’t get in any night […]
The King’s Head Theatre attracted widespread coverage this week for its announcement that it is moving out of the King’s Head pub on Upper Street in Islington, north London, its home for the past 47 years, and into a purpose-built, two-auditoria space in the new £400million Islington Square complex.
We covered the announcement – including […]
I’ve had issues with sleep – or rather lack of sleep – since I was a teenager. I won’t be an insomnia bore and tell you ALL of the so-called remedies I’ve tried over the years, including several sessions with a private, and very expensive, sleep therapist.
(Touch wood, the problem isn’t so bad at […]
Is Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew inherently misogynistic? Particularly with its treatment of spirited Kate, the Shrew of the title, who is starved and mentally tormented (gaslighting long before Patrick Hamilton, Ingrid Bergman or Donald Trump: “I say it is the moon [not the sun] that shines so bright”) into the role of […]
It’s always a real privilege to have the playwright involved when you’re chairing a post-show Q&A. But when the play is also based on the playwright’s own best-selling memoir… When the memoir recounts his relationship with a legend like Lucille Ball… Well, that’s extra special.
Add to the presence of I Loved Lucy author Lee Tannen the show’s […]
Before I attended King Kong, Daniel Clarkson’s bonkers stage parody of the 1933 film classic, last week at The Vaults, I never knew there was such a thing as a nose flute.
Now I will never forget! A diva nose flautist is one of the hundreds (?) of characters portrayed by King Kong’s multi-roling cast of […]
How many creatives does it take to make a one-man musical? The answer can be “quite a few”. And that it is in the case of SUPERHERO, the British one-man – or rather “one-dad” – musical now receiving its world premiere at London’s Southwark Playhouse.
At a post-show Q&A I chaired after last night’s performance, I was joined […]
My theatre week last week started and ended with musicals.
My partner Peter and I rushed back from our – rather too work-filled – fortnight in Mallorca just in time for West End Live. It’s incredible how much this free, two-day event has grown in its 13-year history. Having started out with a handful of […]
Just 11 months after I chaired my first post-show talk for Jon Brittain’s Rotterdam – then at Trafalgar Studios for its West End premiere – and so much has changed. The play went on to win an Olivier Award and transfer to New York before now returning for its second West End run, this […]
What’s the most important lesson in a prison ‘education’? HELD is a hard-hitting new British prison drama exploring the broken lives of five inmates, including two young offenders (both played by Jack Brett Anderson) incarcerated for the first time and learning fast that there’s a price to pay for everything…
Originally two interlinked one-act plays, […]
A string of hits, a cast of two, ‘Forever Plaid’ meets ‘I Do, I Do’. James Hindman’s 2000 Off-Broadway musical two-hander Pete ‘n’ Keely gets its European premiere at Tristan Bates Theatre, where it’s now runs to 20 May 2017. The production, directed by Matthew Gould, stars David Bardsley and Katie Kerr as the […]
Here’s a round-up of productions I’ve seen it recent weeks which I haven’t already covered in Press Passes (do please dance your way as soon as you can into seeing both An American in Paris and 42nd Street in the West End) or other blogs. What do all four of these have in common? […]
As a Twitter geek, one of the things I enjoyed most about David Baddiel’s latest one-man show My Family: Not the Sitcom, which is now enjoying its second West End run at the Playhouse Theatre after premiering last year at the Menier Chocolate Factory, is how he so successfully employs social media in his […]
One little postcode in New York City has been attracting a lot of stage real estate in London in recent years: the blocks around Times Square. The area is, of course, well known to theatre lovers around the globe as Broadway – both the physical street and the wider showbiz environment it encapsulates – […]
What a great way to get the Bank Holiday weekend off with a swing. Last night, I hosted a post-show Q&A at MISS NIGHTINGALE. This original British musical is now in its sixth iteration – musicals, as Sondheim says, aren’t written but re-written – since starting life as a short piece in Ipswich and […]
The second massive New York import in less than a month, 42nd Street brought its lullaby of Broadway to the Theatre Royal Drury Lane last night. In addition to their transatlantic journeys, An American in Paris and 42nd Street are both dance-based shows – with big budgets (£8 million is the word on the latter), huge casts […]
If you’re seeking life affirmation, celebrations of female solidarity (of a quintessentially British variety) and general uplift, my two current West End recommendations that tick all three boxes are The Girls, Tim Firth and Gary Barlow’s new musical adaptation of the story of the Calendar Girls from Yorkshire, and Maria Friedman’s revival of Richard […]
What would Bertolt Brecht have made of Donald Trump? Brecht’s “epic theatre” was sparked by the rise of Nazism in 1930s Germany. Many pundits have likened the political period we’ve now entered – with Trump in the Oval Office, Brexit under way and hard-right populism on the rise across Europe – with that dark […]
I’m pleased that the Old Vic has added a week to the run of its 50th anniversary production of Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, now booking until 6 May – it gives me another chance to tell you to go see it.
There’s a special thrill seeing Stoppard’s breakthrough play back on the same […]
Here’s what London is crying out for: an escape to Paris. And not the Paris of Marine Le Pen or any other modern foes and woes, but the sumptuous Hollywood Golden Age version now bursting into technicolour life onstage at the West End’s Dominion Theatre via New York and, yes, appropriately, Paris.
It’s a slew […]
Not long left to see two Off-West End musicals I can recommend: The Wild Party at The Other Palace and The Sorrows of Satan at Tristan Bates Theatre.
The Wild Party has, of course, created waves not least for being the inaugural production of The Other Palace, the St James Theatre as was, given a quick […]
Steve Waters’ Limehouse is as much a rallying call as a play: a rallying call for those of us left politically homeless by Jeremy Corbyn’s failed Labour Party.
It takes its name from the east London district where the “Gang of Four” – then-Labour politicians Roy Jenkins, Shirley Williams, Bill Rodgers and David Owen (played respectively […]
I’ve never voted Conserative. Indeed, the morning after the 2015 General Election, I was so horrified that, after five years of austerity, the Tories had not only got back in but had done so with a majority, that I immediately joined the Labour Party and vowed to get the Tories out at the next election. […]
Two Off-West End plays have recently inspired my other half Peter Jones to compile Spotify playlists of his youth – terribly convenient as I’ve tasked him with providing background music for a milestone birthday party this weekend (shhh… he’s celebrating the big 5-0).
In Matthew Seager’s debut play In Other Words, at the Hope Theatre, music […]
The American gothic rock musical LIZZIE, which is now receiving its UK premiere in a limited season at London’s Greenwich Theatre, opens and closes with a nursery rhyme I memorised in my own American youth about the real-life 19th century crime:
“Lizzie Borden took an axe,
And gave her mother forty whacks;
When she saw what she […]
In his review this morning, Michael Billington has – to borrow a phrase from Meat Loaf – taken the words right out of mouth. At last night’s West End premiere of The Girls, I was telling anyone within listening distance that, after already remarkable success as a film and a stage play (both also […]
What were you doing on 9/11? And, if you were in London, on 7/7? I thought about this recently when watching Stuart Slade’s excellent new play BU21, which this weekend completes its West End run at Trafalgar Studios 2 after last year’s premiere at Theatre503.
The play centres on a group of Londoners who were […]
A few thoughts on musical productions I’ve seen recently, with my on-the-night tweet thoughts further below.
Less than a week left to see this rarely seen Broadway musical – the first London production, in fact, since its 1969 West End premiere. I have fond memories of the Oscar-winning 1960 film The Apartment, which starred […]
This week the president of the United States Donald Trump said (or rather tweeted) that those who participated in protests against his administration fell into one of three categories: “professional anarchists, thugs or paid protestors”.
His White House Secretary Sean Spicer reiterated the last in a television interview, insisting that protestors are definitely paid, that protest has […]
A year ago when blogging about the annual Critics’ Circle Theatre Awards, my headline was “Critics’ Circle Award winners: Are they the only ones that make sense anymore?”
I didn’t know then that Critics’ Circle Drama Section Chair Mark Shenton would go on to ask me to produce these awards, nor that, in a moment […]
Stage shows based on Joseph Moncure March’s 1928 narrative poem The Wild Party are like buses. Ahead of next month’s much-anticipated UK premiere of the Michael John LaChiusa’s musical version, directed by Drew McOnie and starring Frances Ruffelle at the re-branded Other Palace (currently the St James Theatre), comes this month’s two-hander performance care […]
What are the hottest shows coming up this year? Based on the ones that are most likely to appear on top picks’ lists in my round-up of commentators’ round-ups, they are:
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Trump-tweeted hit Hamilton;
Ivo van Hove’s production of Obsession, starring Jude Law at the Barbican;
the New York transfer of The Glass Menagerie, directed by Harry […]
What’s most absurd about absurdist comedy LUV? That it’s virtually unknown in this country – despite an incredible pedigree.
Long before he wrote the screenplay for the hit 1982 film Tootsie starring Dustin Hoffman, American Murray Schisgal made a name for himself in New York with this 1964 stage play, which is a riotous celebration of the […]
It’s taken 35 years, but Broadway hit Dreamgirls, inspired by the story of The Supremes, finally received its West End premiere last night (14 December) at the Savoy Theatre. Was it worth the wait? Based on most overnight reviews, the answer is a – very very loud (possibly over-amplified) – YES!
And as for Glee […]
I have become even more spoilt for choice for theatre on my doorstep with the arrival of my SE1 neighborhood’s newest venue, The Bunker. This subterranean black box is so close to another one of my locals – the Menier Chocolate Factory – that it shares the same full postcode; it’s converted from an […]
I saw two two-hander musical gems this past weekend: Her Aching Heart at the Hope Theatre in Islington and, on the opposite side of town, Another Night Before Christmas at the Bridge House Theatre in Penge. Though they’re on different ends of London’s north-south axis, these two lovely pub theatres have a lot in common, […]
What does Sam Shepard’s 1978 play Buried Child have to tell us about America after the presidential election of Donald Trump? The West End transfer of the New Group’s production, first seen in New York this past February, was announced in September, when the likelihood of a Trump presidency was still being dismissed by […]
A new musical – especially one not based on a film and/or arrived from Broadway trailing Tony Awards – is always a risky proposition. One received way of establishing a level of recognition and excitement for a piece before it opens is to “get the music out there” first.
Technologically speaking, getting the music out […]
There’s something in the water with The Beggar’s Opera at the moment. Lazarus Theatre’s new, modern-dress, 80-minute version at Brockley Jack Studio Theatre is the third major London presentation of the story of womanising highwayman Macheath this year.
Dougal Irvine’s musical The Buskers Opera, set in post-Olympics London with a Boris Johnson-like mayor (premiered on the day […]
Here’s everything you need to know about last night’s West End premiere of School of Rock: The Musical in a nutshell: Andrew Lloyd Webber has a monster hit on his hands; the show is both a return to hit factory form for the Lord and also not at all what you’d expect from a Lord; […]
In the days before this year’s US presidential election, Donald Trump predicted that the result would be “Brexit-plus-plus-plus”. For me personally, “Brexit-plus-plus-plus” is a fair description of my personal reaction to the news: as an American who has lived in London most of her adult life, someone who has dual nationality, someone who campaigned hard in […]
Everyone’s on drugs at the Park Theatre, I tweeted last Monday night. For a theatre that consistently impresses with the diversity of its received productions, it’s interesting that it should be hosting premieres in both of its houses, opened within days of each other, that both concern drug abuse. Admittedly, abuse of a very […]
Update: Since first tweeting this morning, the response to this piece has been fantastic, and I’ve been alerted to more pairings. I’ve added one into the main list (taking my original 9 to 10) and am trying to include all others in the tweet list below as they come in. Tweet me @TerriPaddock if […]
The (new) Union Theatre and Southwark Playhouse are always a pleasure to visit – not least because both venues are practically on my doorstep, within a ten-minute walk. At the moment, they’re both showing quirky, seldom-seen musical revivals.
I lost track of the number of times that people told me Moby Dick! is “bonkers” on […]
My first gut response to yesterday’s news that Emma Rice was leaving Shakespeare’s Globe, announced after less than a year – and only one summer season in post – was simply “Oh my God!”. In my years of commenting on theatre, I have never been as shocked by the news of someone’s leaving a job […]
What an astonishing way to make your playwriting debut. Theresa Ikoko’s first full-length play GIRLS was a Verity Bargate finalist and winner of both the Alfred Fagon Award (for Black British playwrights) and the George Devine Award (for new writers). The premiere production – co-produced by Talawa Theatre, HighTide Festival and Soho Theatre and directed by […]
Two rarely seen short plays by Steven Berkoff are professionally performed together for the first time in this much-anticipated West End premiere. LUNCH and, written 20 years later, its sequel THE BOW OF ULYSSES are both set at the seaside where a couple first passionately collide and, decades later, sit reflecting on their wasted […]
If you have to work on your birthday, this is just the kind of work you want. After watching the wonderful Amanda Muggleton rip through her 90-minute one-woman comedy The Book Club on Friday night, I joined her one-on-one on the onstage sofa for more hilarity.
In The Book Club, Amanda plays suburban housewife Deb, whose […]
I’m delighted to be able to deputise for my friend and My Theatre Mates co-founder Mark Shenton for two dates of his weekly West End chat show in October. Coq-Tales and Conversations takes place each Thursday or Friday afternoon as part of the Live at Zedel season, programmed by renowned American composer Scott Alan, […]
As a vehicle for the combined – and considerable talents – of Kerry Ellis, Ramin Karimloo, Victoria Hamilton-Barritt and Norman Bowman, Murder Ballad is made to order.
In this sung-through rock musical, Hamilton-Barritt plays the jaded narrator (and some key ancillary characters) to the story of Ellis’ New Yorker Sara caught between her muscly and menacing ex-boyfriend […]
I experienced frequent flashbacks while watching The Libertine last night at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. Here’s another Restoration-set comedy to hit the West End in which much of the action (and myriad in-jokes) takes place in and around a London theatre. The Libertine even shares characters with Jessica Swales’ Nell Gwynn (though Nell herself is only referred to) […]
Critic Matt Trueman described Elinor Cook’s Pilgrims, about a pair of young mountain climbers, as the “peak of playwriting”. I got to talk mountain climbing, metaphors and much more with this whipsmart George Devine Award-winning playwright at last night’s Q&A after the performance of Pilgrims at London’s Yard Theatre.
For the Q&A, we were also joined by […]
Are you in a happy relationship? An unhappy one? Or just a normal one with standard-fare ups and downs? Ever thought about cheating on your partner?
Owen McCafferty’s play Unfaithful, now in its London premiere run at Found111 in Charing Cross Road, could either be viewed as either a cautionary tale or a call to […]
After a run in New York and a short UK regional tour, Sean Mathias’ much-anticipated production of Harold Pinter’s 1975 play No Man’s Land officially opened in the West End last night (20 September 2016).
The production reunites Mathias with his two leading men, Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart, who starred in his award-winning 2009 […]
Is it pure coincidence that many of the plays I’ve seen recently feature actors as characters? And, consequently, a range of views on the life of actors and the nature of acting, which got my quote-taking pen twitching. For any actors or FFOAs (friends or family of actors) reading, please tell me which most closely […]
What if everything you’re ever known was thrown into question? And everything you ever trusted was subjected to doubt? When San Diego housewife Karen Ruiz’s husband is accused of being a terrorist, she endeavours to clear his name. Can she maintain her faith in her husband, her marriage and her government? Or will she […]
Starting out as cheerleaders: Lauren Samuels, Ashleigh Gray and Lizzy Connolly in Vanities at Trafalgar Studios. © Pamela Raith
Cheerleaders generally get a bad rap. When I went back to the States for my twenty-year high school reunion a few years ago, I witnessed first hand just how bad that rap can be.
There was a […]
This instalment of my theatregoing recommendations could be called not just my musicals diary but my musicals-on-my-doorstep diary. All three shows – Children of Eden, Allegro and Groundhog Day – are playing at what I consider neighbourhood theatres, within five to ten minutes’ walk of my front door: Southwark Playhouse (more like two minutes), […]
Are there any stage taboos left? John Ford’s 17th-century romantic thriller ‘TIS PITY SHE’S A WHORE, centring on an incestuous relationship between brother and sister Giovanni and Annabella, is one of the most controversial in the classical canon and was not performed in the UK for more than 200 years until the mid-twentieth century. Does […]
If the line “Laughter through tears is my favourite emotion” makes you nod your head, then you must see the play from which it comes: Robert Harling’s Steel Magnolias, now revived at the Hope Theatre. If you’ve already seen the 1989 film of the same name, which was released two years after the stage […]
Could the dream team behind multi award-winning, all-over-the-globe hit Matilda – director Matthew Warchus, composer and lyricist Tim Minchin, choreographer Peter Darling and designer Rob Howell – possibly strike gold again with their very next musical? Judging by reactions of the first batch of reviews for Groundhog Day, the answer is a resounding […]
July was a big month for Q&As for me so I’ve been a little pre-occupied by follow-up blogs on those. But in addition to musicals I’ve hosted events at – I’m Getting My Act Together and Through the Mill, both of which have now completed their strictly limited runs at, respectively, Jermyn Street Theatre […]
What a treat it was to not only see Jon Brittain’s Rotterdam again last night, but to be able to question this hugely talented young writer about his bittersweet comedy, which ranked amongst my Top Ten new plays of last year.
The play – set in the titular Dutch city, where Jon once spent months (unhappily) working in a call […]
Ahead of the double-show gala day at the West End’s Palace Theatre this Saturday, a galaxy of stars have already turned out for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. And I’m not just talking about Emma Watson and other celebrities who have sneaked in during seven weeks of previews.
(The Cursed Child started performances in […]
Has anyone else had difficulty getting back into their theatregoing after the results of the EU Referendum? The two – excellent – plays I have managed to see since the UK voted to leave on 23 June, have both, in a strange way, deepened my Brexit despair too.
Neither Florian Zeller’s The Truth nor Faith Healer by […]
The first-night bookers could never have imagined that the timing of Aladdin’s West End opening could feel so incongruous with what’s happening in the real world. For producers Disney themselves, it’s been a week of sadness and horror: a boy killed by an alligator at their resort in Orlando, Florida, where, of course, 49 […]
I’ve spent a lot of time over the past two months campaigning on behalf of Britain Stronger in Europe and Labour In for Britain. In these final days leading up to the EU Referendum next Thursday, 23 June, I’m actually IN Europe, on a long-planned holiday to my favourite European escape, Mallorca. And I’m feeling […]
In my years of covering theatre, I’ve seen a lot of Hollywood stars make their West End debuts, but I’ve rarely, if ever, seen it done with quite so much aplomb. Jesse Eisenberg and Kunal Nayyar – best known internationally for, respectively, multiple films including The Social Network, and US sitcom The Big Bang […]
I’ve long been a fan of Katy Lipson at Aria Entertainment and have followed her fast-growing career with great interest. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to physically follow her to Manchester, where she’s recently branched out into venue programming and management with the team behind the city’s newest fringe venue, the Hope Mill Theatre. […]
Did you know that Sideways was an unpublished novel – rejected, like the efforts of the character Miles in the story, some 66 times – when the film rights were first picked up? In fact, the novel and film, about middle-aged buddies Miles and Jack on a pre-nuptials road trip through California wine country, were […]
Having never met him before, in less than a week, I’ve crossed paths with Jon Lansman, chair of Momentum, twice. Last Thursday, he attended the monthly meeting of my constituency Labour party (CLP), in which one of his colleagues threatened the deselection (or to be precise, the “mandatory reselection”) of my MP. Tonight, I […]
I took slight umbrage with arts journalist Richard Brooks the other week. “You have probably not heard of Barney Norris,” started one of Brooks’ item in his weekly column in the Sunday Times’ Culture section.
“Yes, I absolutely have!” I harrumphed. I have been a vocal champion of Barney’s since seeing his award-winning debut play […]
When Monster Raving Loony was announced a few months ago, I got a bashing on Twitter when I cheekily asked dramatist James Graham if he’d considered writing his next political play about the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn – “or if that was too close to his current subject”.
I don’t want to attract more […]
When the news came in late yesterday that, just a fortnight after opening, Show Boat had posted West End closing notices, I was both shocked and not the least bit surprised.
To be clear, Daniel Evans’ Sheffield Crucible production isn’t shuttering immediately at the New London Theatre, where it opened on Monday 25 April, following […]
I’m not a great one for horror films: I scare way too easily. Even Shaun of the Dead gave me nightmares, and no, I’m not kidding about that.
I’ve never seen any of the original Troma cult classic screen incarnations of The Toxic Avenger, which launched in 1984, but I’m happy to report that the […]
How much has changed for female playwrights since 1985 when Charlotte Keatley wrote her landmark play, My Mother Said I Never Should? The play is now receiving its first major London revival in a critically acclaimed production starring Maureen Lipman and Katie Brayben at the St James Theatre, and as part of the limited […]
I’ve met up with two friend couples since seeing Nick Payne’s new play Elegy at the Donmar Warehouse on Saturday afternoon – well, seeing it via the loop in the theatre bar as a coughing fit drove me out of the auditorium five minutes into the performance – and I’ve posed the play’s central […]
To my theatregoing readers: in the wake of Paris and Brussels, how secure do you feel going to the theatre?
Yesterday, I chaired an event looking at security risks currently facing Theatreland. As far as terrorism threats go, let me share some good news from our guest speaker, Rob Hoblin, a Cognitious Ltd consultant who […]
I shared some of my own thoughts about Jamie Lloyd’s new production of Doctor Faustus – along with choice quotes (be they care of Christopher Marlowe or Colin Teevan) – last night. This morning’s other coverage following the star-studded opening night is, like the story itself, a mixture of heaven and hell.
While most critics […]
The first thing you need to know about Jamie Lloyd’s new production of Doctor Faustus – apart from the fact that it stars Kit Harington (a.k.a. Jon Snow from TV’s Game of Thrones), which every Throner undoubtedly already knows – is that it is not for the squeamish.
There is A LOT of blood – […]
Celebrations for an important family milestone – my partner Peter’s mother’s 70th birthday – prevented me from taking part in festivities around the 400th anniversary of the death of Shakespeare on the day itself yesterday. But I’ve had fun catching up on some of it today.
The Globe’s Complete Walk was a fantastic cultural installation […]
Just a fortnight ago, bets were already being placed on Glenn Close to secure the 2017 Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical for her commanding turn as Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard – but I’d say all bets are off again. Sheridan Smith as asserted her claim to declare “I am the […]
As I round up the overnight reviews of Sunset Boulevard, I can’t stop Norma Desmond’s signature diva song, “With One Look”, spooling round and round in my head. I have a feeling it may stay there for awhile.
On Sunday night, the Olivier Awards felt the absence of some of the artists involved in Sunset Boulevard […]
After my frustrated efforts to both attend and tweet from the Olivier Awards nominations announcement back in February, I concluded that it was impractical to even attempt to attend this year’s ceremony and stand a chance of covering it with my various theatre media hats on. So instead I booked myself – thanks very much […]
I recently wrote about super-hot French playwright Florian Zeller’s London hat trick – with The Father, The Mother and, still running at the Menier Chocolate Factory, The Truth.
As I sat down to catch up on my Theatre Diary of other plays I’ve seen recently, however, I realised London’s theatre landscape is going Gallic for […]
This time last week I was coming down from the buzz of BEAM:2016. Today, as I was re-reading my notes and other people’s write-ups for this blog, I received news on casting for The Toxic Avenger, starring Mark Anderson (who I saw performing at Beam) and produced by Aria Entertainment’s Katy Lipson (one of the […]
My partner Peter and I spent most of this weekend in a frenzy of DIY-ing and de-cluttering, with an emphasis on the latter. We live in a small two-bedroom flat near Waterloo and, in a matter of weeks, will be joined by my good friends Richard and Justin, and their dog Crumpet, emigrating from […]
I have all sorts of bias when it comes to Bar Mitzvah Boy: my friend Lara Stubbs stars (as the somewhat spoilt, Jewish princess older sister of bar-mitzvahed boy in question); the show is directed by Stewart Nicholls, with whom I worked last summer on Robbie Sherman’s Love Birds; and it’s produced by the […]
Yes, I am posting this #PressPass at gone 4am – blame those incessant Motown hits that keep spinning round and round and round my head after attending tonight’s (technically, now last night’s) West End premiere of the Broadway hit, Motown the Musical.
You will know, of course, that this is the (company?) bio-musical telling the […]
What’s the difference between political theatre and theatre about politics? Can theatre be a catalyst for real change? Do right-wing political perspectives get a fair hearing onstage or is theatre the preserve of the left-wing? And how much does modern political theatre owe to Bertolt Brecht?
These were just some of the questions that arose in a lively […]
It was hugely inspiring attending the presentation of the 2016 Susan Smith Blackburn Prize at the National Theatre on Monday night. Inspiring to hear about so many brilliant plays written by women. Inspiring to hear from so many of the authors of those plays, not least the winner, Lynn Nottage, for her play Sweat. […]
“I clapped so hard I dented my ring” + Press pass: All the reviews and news on Mrs Henderson Presents
I gave Mrs Henderson Presents a very enthusiastic response at the curtain call of last night’s West End premiere – so enthusiastic that, as I tweeted at the time, I dented my ring. This is not good, it was my favourite ring, but I couldn’t help myself and I don’t begrudge the show. (A […]
The poster of Nell Gwynn shows a saucy, bare-shouldered Gemma Arterton and promises “fun, funny and joyous… a cast of 20! and a band… naughty songs… merry dances. And a dog!”
And Christopher Luscombe’s lively production of Jessica Swale’s bawdy, feminist, Restoration-style romp delivers every one of those items it advertises. It’s also the perfect […]
I wrote last night about my personal response (including misgivings) to Matthew Perry’s playwriting debut, and return to the West End stage, in The End of Longing which I saw last week. And now the national newspaper critics have all filed their verdicts, which are – on the whole – so savage that the news […]
Near the end of an interview Matthew Perry gave with The Times last weekend, the interviewer Sarfraz Manzoor commented “having made so many people so happy it feels only right to wish some happiness for him”.
That’s the same feeling I carried with me into the Playhouse when I saw The End of Longing a […]
Is Florian Zeller the new Yasmina Reza?
Certainly, he’s the most successful French playwright to hit English shores since Reza, whose 1990s hits – Life x 3, The Unexpected Man and, of course, the long-running (eight years in the West End), starry cast-rotating Art – were followed more recently by 2006’s God of Carnage in […]
I had an image in my mind of Andy Capp – the flatcap pulled low, fag and beer in hand cartoon image, that is – but didn’t know too much about him. Though I was always aware of the existence of Reg Smythe’s internationally famous comic strip, now celebrating its 60th year, I don’t […]
In November, I blogged about three ‘new’ musical schemes, including The S and S Award, which was held at the St James Theatre. On Friday, I was back at the St James covering another great scheme – and award – to add to the list.
The Perfect Pitch Award, co-presented by Theatre Royal Stratford East, […]
The audience at yesterday’s National Theatre press conference gave the biggest cheer to news that hasn’t generated headlines anywhere: artistic director Rufus Norris invited journalists to wish bon voyage to the theatre’s head of press Lucinda Morrison and we did so volubly, the applause only ending when Lucinda motioned for us to cut it […]
My partner and I saw, and were deeply moved by, The Pianist of Willesden Lane when it had its London premiere at the St James Theatre last Friday.
The play is based on the book The Children of Willesden Lane: Beyond the Kindertransport: A Memoir of Music, Love, and Survival, written by Mona Golabek (with Lee […]
The annual best of lists are always a good indication of who’s likely to triumph at the Critics’ Circle Awards, which were presented this afternoon at the Delfont Room in the West End’s Prince of Wales Theatre. Understandably so as it’s critics who, by and large, draw up those lists and critics only – […]
I’m well overdue for a theatre diary, aren’t I? So here goes with a quick one on more new plays I’ve seen in recent (and not-so recent) weeks that I’d recommend catching and haven’t yet managed to squeeze in to separate blogs. As usual, I’ve listed productions in closing date order: the first three finishing […]
You don’t need me to tell you that Alan Rickman passed away last week, or how shocking and unexpected his death from cancer was at the age of 69, just days after his contemporary David Bowie shuffled off this mortal coil in similar circumstances.
I had just sat down at my laptop mid-day last Thursday after returning […]
The American writers of Grey Gardens are clearly delighted with the European premiere production of their musical (See Also my #PressPass round-up), now being staged at London’s Southwark Playhouse in a limited, six-week (and already sold-out) season. “We feel enormously blessed,” said composer Scott Frankel, at a post-show Q&A, chaired by My Theatre Mates’ colleague […]
Producer Danielle Tarento and director Thom Southerland have created another Off-West End mega-hit musical. In fact, Grey Gardens has broken all box office records at Southwark Playhouse where it has already sold out, eclipsing the pair’s other much-loved Broadway musical reclamations at the same address over the past five years: Grand Hotel (2015 – […]
For years Guys and Dolls has been all but ruined for me: that’s what happens when you are lucky enough to see a definitive production and performance. I speak, of course, of Richard Eyre’s legendary National Theatre revival of this 1950 roadway classic. And, what’s more, I didn’t even see the original. (Much referenced by other […]
The 2016 West End season got off to a rollicking start this week with Wednesday’s opening of Guys and Dolls, the latest Chichester Festival transfer to the Savoy Theatre, which follows fast on the heels of the last CFT transfer of another Broadway musical revival, Gypsy. It was a surprisingly star-studded, red carpet affair for […]
After rounding up various publications’ #theatre2015 highlights yesterday, it’s time to reflect on my own year in the stalls (well, mainly in the stalls, occasionally in the dress circle).
I don’t pretend for a minute that these lists are definitive of the theatregoing year overall; they represent only my personal opinions on the shows I’ve […]
If you know me at all well, you’ll know that I’m a Twitter addict – which includes a love for all sorts of nerdy things to do with Twitter management and monitoring. And that includes Twitter Analytics, which has been coming on leaps and bounds over the past year.
And so, after an engrossing few […]
After my two-week Christmas roadtrip in the US, I’m finally back at my desk and able to catch up on all the 2015 UK theatrical year round. Have you been keeping up in my absence?
Fear not either way, because once again – and as promised on Twitter – I’ve rounded up the round-ups to […]
After Anna Francolini on Monday and the Judy Garlands yesterday, I’m going for a hat trick of blogs about amazing women today so that I can tell you this: if you haven’t yet seen Linda at the Royal Court yet, get your skates on.
You’ve only got until 9 January to see this new play […]
Take your pick of Judy Garlands.
On the London stage this week alone, you’ve got a choice of three – Helen Sheals, Belinda Wollaston and Lucy Penrose – in Ray Rackham’s brilliant new play with music Through the Mill.
In the new year, Peter Quilter’s Olivier and Tony-nominated End of the Rainbow returns, with Lisa Maxwell (from TV’s The […]
“Who are you?” It’s the only real question, according to wonder.land via Lewis Carroll. But the main question that kept running through my mind while watching the Damon Albarn musical at the National Theatre the other night was: “Who is Anna Francolini?” Or more precisely, why isn’t she a bigger star?
Anna has been performing […]
When wonder.land premiered at the Manchester International Festival in July, reviews were decidedly mixed. National press who made the trip north were underwhelmed, bestowing a raft of three-star ratings, while local critics were kinder, bumping it up to a four-star show. In the intervening months, rumour has it, there’s been extensive redevelopment of this […]
When news of the Park Theatre’s pantomime, Rapunzel, came through earlier this year, I remember clocking the name of the hero character Prince Corbyn – names are never a coincidence when it comes to pantomimes, surely?
But had naming considerations also played a part in casting the role? Finding an actor named Alex Hope to […]
With the House of Commons Syria vote last night, it may be surprising that any other news gets a look-in in today’s newspapers. But in musical theatre happenings, the big news was London’s first major revival of Jule Styne’s Broadway classic Funny Girl. The big question: could Sheridan Smith lay to rest the ghost […]
A year ago I was gorging myself on turkey and pumpkin pie and basking in family love in Huntsville, Alabama. It was my first time back to the States for Thanksgiving in over 20 years and it reminded me what a top-drawer holiday it is. You get a Christmas meal with all the family […]
In case it escaped your notice, the second annual #LoveTheatreDay (that’s opposed to last year’s #LoveTheatre Day, for the record) took place last Wednesday. I’d had it marked in my calendar for months and had intended to indulge fully this time, cognisant that for last year’s inaugural event, I’d overdosed fairly quickly, feeling Twitter punchdrunk after […]
I usually prefer to spend Sunday nights in winter holed up at home, but I was glad to make an exception – especially thanks to the considerately early start time of 5.30pm – last night for The S and S Award gala at the St James Theatre. As I previously wrote, this is an […]
I’ve been thinking a lot about new musicals recently. That’s not meant to be a blatant plug for my new website Stage Faves. Apart from the small detail that #StageFaves’ covers revivals and long-running blockbusters too, the fact is that, by the time a musical reaches the West End, it’s unlikely to be ‘new’ […]
People who see me in the theatre no doubt assume I’m always armed with my little notebook and scrambling for the pen that always seems to have fallen to the bottom of my bag because I’m a critic. [Readers of this blog know, however, that I never lay claim to that label.]
But I’m not […]
Press pass: Reviews and everything else you need to know about Kenneth Branagh’s The Winter’s Tale and Harlequinade / All On Her Own
There’s nothing like a major theatre event to warm the cockles on a winter’s day. And the opening of Kenneth Branagh’s return to the West End with a year-long season as actor-manager was undoubtedly an event with a capital E.
And also a bit of a marathon, albeit one with a long pit-stop. The 2pm […]
Maybe I’m just an old softie. Okay, yes, let’s admit it, I am. I’m also a lifelong believer in the restorative power of Christmas music which, like Katrina and the Waves’ “Walkin’ on Sunshine”, is my go-to Spotify choice if I’m feeling down – never mind if it’s a July heatwave, sleigh bells have […]
Belarus Free Theatre (BFT), the underground theatre group routinely censored and persecuted in its state-controlled homeland, is celebrating its tenth birthday this month.
Founded by human rights activist husband-and-wife Nikolai Khalezin and Natalie Koliada, joined by director Vladimir Shcherban, BFT’s inaugural production in May 2005 was Sarah Kane’s 4.48 Psychosis, which tackles Belarusian taboo subjects […]
The play Pig Farm, which is currently receiving its UK premiere at London’s St James Theatre, is written by American Greg Kotis, who also wrote the book for the Urinetown, the musical which also received its UK premiere at the St James before transferring to the West End last year.
Attending Pig Farm’s opening last week, […]
Regular readers of this blog will know that, a few weeks ago, I was blown away by Tooting Arts Club’s revival of Barbarians, Barrie Keeffe’s 1977 modern classic about disaffected London youth. So much so that I practically begged the producer Rachel Edwards to let me come back and chair a post-show discussion on the […]
What an honour! Last night I had the privilege of helping to open the third annual From Page to Stage season of new musicals. From Page to Stage is the brainchild of Katy Lipson of Aria Entertainment, who also produced The House of Mirrors and Hearts, for which I chaired a post-show Q&A at […]
Obviously I go to the theatre a lot: but last night truly was special. I had the huge privilege of attending a premiere, at the White Bear Theatre, that marked the playwriting debut of a dear friend, whose scripts I’ve had the honour of reading over many years.
That’s not to suggest that said friend, Dave Cantor, is […]
The new play’s the thing, even when it’s very old…. Here are four I’ve seen over the past few weeks, three of which I haven’t managed to squeeze yet into separate blogs due to lack of enough hours in the days, but that I’d nevertheless recommend. As usual, I’ve listed productions in closing date order.
The exception on […]
Next weekend, the 85th birthday of American composer and lyricist Stephen Sondheim will be marked (albeit, somewhat belatedly – his actual birthday was on 22 March) in grand, celebratory at the West End’s 2,000-seat Theatre Royal Drury Lane, care of the Sondheim Society.
The company of HEY, OLD FRIENDS! An 85th Birthday Tribute to Stephen […]
Tonight should have been the night that Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s new Out of Joint play Jane Wenham: The Witch of Walkern, inspired by the last woman in England to be charged with witchcraft in the 18th century, visited the Ipswich High School for Girls as part of its rural touring in East Anglia and Essex.
I’m not the only theatre person who was focused on the Conservative Party Conference last week.
Though she may not have anticipated quite the extent of the spitting, pig mask wearing protests outside the gates of the “Tory scum” meetings, Tooting Arts Club producer did intentionally time the opening of her Tooting Arts Club revival […]
I wish I could have been in Manchester last week for the Conservative Party annual conference. Not because I’ve suddenly gone “true Blue” and definitely not because I wanted to spit at those who are.
I joined the Labour Party the day after this year’s General Election and, despite (not because of) Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership […]
How well do you know the work of composer-lyricist Leslie Bricusse? How many songs can you name by this living legend… apart from “Pure Imagination” (and the “Oompa Loompa” theme) from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?
How about, for starters, Bond classics “Goldfinger” and “You Only Live Twice”, “If I Ruled the World”, “What Kind […]
I’ve known the Showstoppers for many years, both the company and its producers (James Seabright and Suzanna Rosenthal), and over that time, I’ve seen the show many times – or rather I’ve seen many shows care of the Showstoppers exactly one time each.
On one of those occasions, when the company was resident at the King’s […]
Playwright Barney Norris has followed his award-winning debut Visitors with Eventide, which is now running at London’s Arcola Theatre before touring until 15 November 2015, care of Up in Arms, the theatre company he co-founded with director Alice Hamilton.
I’m a huge fan of Barney, both as a great writer and a great thinker. In this second […]
I’ve been looking forward to Barney Norris’ new play ever since I caught his acclaimed four-hander Visitors at the Bush Theatre last year. The play, which centred on an elderly couple dealing with the devastating consequences of dementia, affected me deeply. Partly, that was because of my own family’s experience with my father’s recent post-operative delirium, but […]
Off-West End, out of town and out of this world. I’ve seen a few shows recently that have left me feeling distinctly disquieted… for their visions of the future, their distortions of the past and potential Armageddons.
As usual, I’ve listed productions in closing date order, and the first on the list, Only Forever , finishes […]
This morning I’m delighted to be in agreement with most of the overnight critics awarding a slew of four stars to last night’s opening: the London premiere of another New York import. Of course, this import has a strong British pedigree. I’m talking about Kinky Boots, of course, the Broadway musical based on the […]
I love it when I disagree with the critics. No, really I do. I’m fascinated that we can all have such widely variant opinions on the same thing – and I’m very happy for mine to be challenged. While for me, Photograph 51 never really developed into compelling drama, most overnight critics have awarded […]
How many shows can you name that have their opening night more than a fortnight after their run was scheduled to end? Dusty is London’s own Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, a fraught high-tech show that has attracted more headlines for its delays and backstage bust-ups than for anything happening onstage.
Over the summer, a […]
A couple of weeks ago, as part of the ongoing Hamlet hysteria, I was amazed that such an apparent uproar was caused by director Lyndsey Turner’s experimenting with the placement of the play’s most famous soliloquy, “To be or not to be”. When I was contacted by the Independent (article link below) for comment […]
Yesterday wasn’t just a miserably wet Bank Holiday Monday in London (and most of the rest of England): north of the border, it was also the conclusion of the world’s largest arts festival, the glorious Edinburgh Fringe (and its parent, the more auspicious and less chaotic Edinburgh International Festival).
So Edinburgh was on my mind […]
We owe the phrase “you won’t succeed on Broadway if you don’t have any Jews” to Spamalot – so it only officially entered the theatrical lexicon circa 2005 when the Monty Python musical opened on Broadway (and I first heard it live a year later, when it had its West End premiere at the […]
As one critic stated upfront: the press night is a major anti-climax. Nevertheless, while the verdicts don’t make a blind bit of difference to the box office on a production that sold out at record speed a year ago, it’s time to take pause and review the reviews for #HamletBarbican, a.k.a. the Benedict Cumberbatch show. While […]
My theatre diary: Musicals, magic and monsters including Impossible, Splendour, Seven Brides and Heartbreak Hotel
Apart from my Edinburgh blitz, I like to take August a little slow on the theatregoing front. These few weeks offer a brief respite while many people are away on holiday or still up at the Fringe (which I’m not the slightest bit jealous about – no, really) before the ‘autumn season’ kicks off […]
Food poisoning, the infamous “festival flu” or some other strain of (literally) gut-wrenching misery? Whatever it was, I became quite violently ill on the train journey home from Edinburgh yesterday. When we arrived at King’s Cross station in London, my partner Peter had to half-carry me into a taxi to take me home, where […]
Writing a blog in the form of the letter (as I did with my Conversation with Caitlin Moran series) about the stage adaptation of the 2012 book Dear Lupin allows me to both use the word epistolary (my favourite word of the week) and to demonstrate its very definition, which is: “relating to the writing […]
Birth-wise, more than three decades separate The Who’s Tommy and Green Day’s American Idiot, but location-wise, the distance is only three short train stops, from London’s Charing Cross to Greenwich. That is, for the next few weeks in any case.
It’s a happy coincidence that these two “rock operas” based on groundbreaking “concept albums” are both […]
I had ninety, non-stop magic moments at the Menier Chocolate Factory earlier this month at the opening of What’s It All About? Bacharach Reimagined.
Sat on one of the (extremely comfy) onstage sofas, I felt as if I was in the middle of a Burt Bacharach mega-mix mash-up music video. A seven-strong company of terribly talented twenty-somethings, led by […]
If you have never been unlucky enough to find yourself in the middle of a legal dispute, I can almost guarantee you – or, at least, 99% of you – that you can’t afford it. Certainly not if it drags on for months or years, as such matters tend to; certainly not if it […]
I had a life-changing moment on Thursday night. I showed up to an event where I didn’t know anyone and discovered it was exactly where I belonged.
Relationships aside, I’ve had this powerful an epiphany of self-realisation only twice before in my life. The first was when I came to the UK as a student […]
Since I got back from my month of remote working in Mallorca, I’ve been lucky enough to pack in lots of trips to the theatre, including this quintuplet of limited season plays that are all worth a look.
As usual, I’ve listed productions in closing date order, and the first on the list finishes this […]
Comics were out in force and applauding warmly at last night’s opening of The Mentalists, in which fellow stand-up and The Office co-creator Stephen Merchant made his West End acting debut – but what did critics think?
Most overnight reviews fall in the three-star range, underwhelmed more by the choice of play than the performances of […]
The adage – usually attributed to Sondheim – that “musicals aren’t written, they’re rewritten” was central to the post-show discussion that I hosted last night at London’s Arcola Theatre. It was the final preview performance of The House of Mirrors and Hearts, the new British chamber musical by Eamonn O’Dwyer and Robert Gilbert, which faces critics […]
Shakespeare aside, is there any playwright more quotable than Oscar Wilde? And, of all his plays, is there any more quoted than his 1895 comedy of manners, The Importance of Being Earnest? And of the famously feckless characters who populate this Wildely famous play, is there any who delivers more of those quotable quotes […]
Is it all a Blur? That’s a pun you may hear frequently in relation to the musical theatre debut of the seminal 1990s band’s frontman, Damon Albarn, which opened in Manchester last night.
wonder.land is Albarn’s digital-age take on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, the Lewis Carroll children’s classic celebrating its 150th anniversary this year.
Albarn has […]
Unless you spotted my occasional beach tweets or are one of my personal Facebook friends, you may not have noticed that I’ve been away recently. My partner Peter and I spent all of June in Mallorca.
Now don’t be too jealous – and with heatwave weather like we’ve come back to here in the UK, […]
The reviews are in, and there’s no doubt about it – the West End musical makeover of Bend It Like Beckham has scored big with the critics. Perhaps the show’s impeccable timing – as the Women’s World Cup takes place in Canada and Fifa continues to reel from its corruption scandals – helped, but […]
UPDATED January 2016: The Father is returning to London for a second limited West End season, running at the Duke of York’s Theatre for a limited season from 24 February to 26 March 2016. CLICK HERE FOR TICKETS.
It’s the last chance this week to catch the French playwright Florian Zeller’s mind-bending play The Father, in which […]
Most actors don’t read their reviews – or, at least, most actors say they don’t read their reviews.
And when it comes to stage acting, I can see their point. Critics review a single performance, one night. After reviews are published, the actors have still got to go out onstage every night and critical words […]
(Updated: Since first writing this, yet-another magic show has been announced for the West End. The Illusionists, featuring Britain’s Got Talent’s Jamie Raven, has now been added below.) There are few things that excite me more at a party than when I meet someone who says they can do card tricks. I will move […]
If I had a bigger flat with lots of nice empty walls, I’d be ringing Hampstead Theatre and putting my name on a waiting list for some of the props in the current production of Peter Souter’s romantic comedy Hello/Goodbye.
In it, Shaun Evans plays Alex, “a lister, a filer, a collector”, who unpacks boxes […]