Despite singing the songs of Sinatra since he was a teenager in Wolverhampton, Richard Shelton was turned down multiple times for a part in concert show The Rat Pack. So when he was invited to audition for the much darker play with music, Rat Pack Confidential, which ran at the West End’s Whitehall Theatre […]
I’m a huge fan of the late, Pulitzer Prize-winning American playwright (and Oscar-nominated actor) Sam Shepard. How wonderful to be able to see and discuss one of his late plays, Ages of the Moon, which now receives its UK premiere two years after Shepard passed away (on 27 July 2017 at the age of 73).
Shepard’s many […]
As part of an ongoing series, I’ve chaired post-show talks with various Mischief Theatre casts this year, all of whom waxed lyrical about the brilliance of the company founders. Last night, I had a chance to pose questions to those original mischief-makers themselves.
Co-writers Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields and fellow founding members […]
I feel like I’ve known writer Sarah Rutherford for years… that’s one of the positives of social media. (We follow each other on Twitter.) The irony is it’s her new play, The Girl Who Fell, about some of the negatives of social media that finally precipitated my meeting her in person.
And what a great […]
A philosophising cat, a famished dog and a family of mites all make appearances – and strong impressions – in Mites, a new play by up-and-coming young British playwright James Mannion, written in the best traditions of the Theatre of the Absurd.
Ruth, a lonely woman abandoned by her husband, lives in isolation with her beloved cat […]
A Day in the Death of Joe Egg Q&A video and photos: What did the late Peter Nichols think of this historic West End casting?
I was back at Trafalgar Studios last night for this much-anticipated revival of Peter Nichols’ 1967 masterpiece A Day in the Death of Joe Egg. And there was so much to discuss with this production, making history for a number of reasons.
Along with Passion Play and Privates on Parade, A Day in the Death of Joe Egg remains […]
The Permanent Way Q&A video and photos: Why is a play about railway privatisation more relevant than ever?
I was lucky enough to see the original Out of Joint production of The Permanent Way at the National Theatre in 2003. I remember being horrified by David Hare’s verbatim play about railway privatisation, based on first-hand accounts, including the people behind the body counts of the four major rail disasters between 1997 and 2002.
With Alexander […]
Can you be a racist if you don’t think you are? Is there a difference between racism and ‘racist attitudes’? How do you find sympathy for white supremacists? By finding sympathy are we making excuses? Peter Hamilton’s new updated staging of his 2005 play Danelaw prompted some serious discussion at my post-show Q&A at […]
The Comedy About a Bank Robbery Q&A video and photos: From UK-wide tour to the West End with a new cast
What fun to return to the Criterion Theatre to see a brand-new cast put their stamp on Mischief Theatre’s The Comedy About A Bank Robbery, as the first in a series of monthly post-show Q&As with the comic geniuses.
In fact, while new to London, many of them recent drama school graduates making their West End […]
At this year’s annual HighTide Festival in Aldeburgh, Suffolk, I was privileged to chair an hour-long “In Conversation With” platform discussion with legendary director Deborah Warner, reflecting on nearly 40 years in the business.
Since launching her career at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 1980, Warner has gone on to direct plays and operas at […]
The Eyes of the Night Q&A video and photos: Using darkness to enlighten audiences about visual impairment
A middle-aged businesswoman hires a blind man to spend an hour with her in a hotel room. Why are they really there? Will she be able to experience the darkness in order to see the light?
The Eyes of the Night, written by one of Spain’s leading playwrights Paloma Pedrero, headlines the second Contemporary Spanish […]
Are you worried about the state of politics and society in the UK today? That’s the question I asked at the start of last night’s post-show Q&A at London’s Lion & Unicorn Theatre. The hands of all my panellists and nearly everyone sitting across from them in the audience shot up.
Proforca Theatre’s new play At […]
Arrows & Traps’ 18th production in its five-year history is also its tenth at London’s Brockley Jack Theatre, where it is now an associate company, and its third in a Gothic trilogy. And it’s a corker.
Following versions of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Arrows & Traps founder, writer and director Ross McGregor, […]
The Crown Dual Q&A video and photos: How to condense two Netflix seasons into 70 minutes… with more to come
We were all madly checking our phones for news in the bars afterwards, but while much of last night’s Westminster drama was going on, at Wilton’s Music Hall, we were getting to glorious grip with the (affectionate) comedy potential of the monarchy with The Crown Dual.
In Dan Clarkson’s new comedy The Crown Dual, transferred for […]
Can we ever really know what happened between two people behind closed doors? That’s the question at the heart of Anna Zeigler’s provocative new two-hander Actually, and one the company, audience and I grappled with after Friday’s performance.
One night. Two people. Three truths.
Actually revolves around Amber and Tom, two newly arrived freshmen at American Ivy […]
After last week’s runaway success with The Girl on the Train post-show Q&A, director Anthony Banks and I had to squeeze in another one together to his second current hit, Games for Lovers – which also meant I got to return to The Vaults for producer James Seabright’s third offering this summer.
What a giggle this […]
The Time Of Our Lies Q&A video and photos: Did historian Howard Zinn predict our era of Trump & #fakenews?
A quick show of hands at last night’s Q&A at the Park Theatre bore out my suspicion: most people, even left-leaning people, have not heard of Howard Zinn. Like those in the audience, before this show, I counted myself amongst them. So by that measure alone, Bianca Bagatourian’s The Time Of Our Lies is a […]
Q&A video and photos: Discussing Paula Hawkins’ hit thriller The Girl on the Train with Samantha Womack and cast
What is it about a great whodunnit thriller? What makes us keep turning the page? How does that inquisitive excitement translate onstage?
As modern thrillers go, they don’t get much more successful than Paula Hawkins’ The Girl On the Train. First published in 2015, it quickly became an international publishing phenomenon and has sold more […]
I’m a firm believer that one of the best means of ensuring a long career is an ability to create your own work. Patrick Bayele has honed this skill very early on… and, after seeing what he’s accomplished with his triple-threat professional debut – actor, director and producer (not to mention co-deviser), I feel confident we’ll […]
After chairing events for London transfers of Creation Theatre’s The Pit and The Pendulum and Dracula, I was chuffed to be invited to see them on their ‘home turf’ in Oxford and host a post-show Q&A for their new gaming take on Shakespeare’s The Tempest.
I’ve seen a few productions of The Tempest – including earlier this […]
How many different ways can one play be interpreted? The company of Equus were very keen not to impose their opinions but the audience at last night’s post-show Q&A at Trafalgar Studios had plenty of their own. Which were right? All of them!
And what a knowledgeable audience it was. Many had seen this or other previous […]
How did New Old Friends come to adapt Anthony Horowitz’s 1986 children’s novel The Falcon’s Malteser into a hit family stage show? How has a new gender-equal, four-strong cast brought it to life for its London premiere? And what do the kids – and parents – in the audience think?
I had such a giggle […]
Dylan Coburn Gray’s Citysong won the 2017 Verity Bargate Award for new and emerging playwrights and now receives its world premiere in this acclaimed co-production between Dublin’s Abbey Theatre and London’s Soho Theatre.
I was mesmerised by this time-hopping, Dublin-set urban poem – originally commissioned for a spoken word festival – which, over the course of […]
Q&A photos: Exploring the cosmos with Matthew Broderick, Elizabeth McGovern and The Starry Messenger cast
How fitting to hold a post-show Q&A for The Starry Messenger during Loneliness Awareness Week. Kenneth Lonergan’s beautifully delicate play considers the torment of, as New York Times’ critic Ben Brantley puts it:
“fallible, contradictory, lonely souls who can never quite articulate what’s missing in their lives but always feel the void”
In the play, set in the […]
Philip Ridley’s Vincent River was premiered at Hampstead Theatre in 2000 and has been revived fairly regularly in the intervening years, including this production which was first seen at the Park Theatre last year and has now transferred to the West End’s Trafalgar Studios, where an earlier production ran in 2007. How worried should we […]
Q&A video and photos: How The Wardrobe Ensemble devised Education Education Education… to a 1990s soundtrack
Remember D:Ream’s “Things Can Only Get Better”? I was bopping along in my seat to that New Labour anthem and so many other chart-topping hits from my youth before curtain up at Education Education Education last night at Trafalgar Studios.
The music from the 1990s forms a backbone to this love-letter to the decade and the […]
I closed out #MischiefMay, celebrating the world-dominating achievements of the comedy masters at Mischief Theatre, with my second of two post-show Q&As to the company’s two current West End hits.
The Comedy About a Bank Robbery was the third West End offering from Mischief, following The Play That Goes Wrong (still running at the Duchess Theatre) […]
#MischiefMay: Celebrating 1,999 performances (sort of) with The Play That Goes Wrong‘s West End cast
#MischiefMay is all about celebrating the world-dominating success of the comedy genius of Mischief Theatre onstage (running on all continents except Antarctica) and, increasingly, onscreen. I’m delighted to play a small part of this month’s mischievous activities with back-to-back post-show Q&As to Mischief’s two current West End hits, starting last night with The Play […]
Salome Q&A video and photos: What would the censor have made of this regendered version of Oscar Wilde’s play?
After The Tempest and Lord of the Flies, my last of three post-show Q&As with Lazarus Theatre company for their 2019 season at Greenwich Theatre was last night to their new version of Oscar Wilde’s Salome, adapted and directed (and designed!) by artistic director Ricky Dukes. Ending on a (messy!) high.
“Salomé, Salomé, dance for me.
I pray […]
Visits to the Coronet Theatre, until last week known as The Print Room at the Coronet, make me miss the days when I lived in Notting Hill (or rather, near enough, Ladbroke Grove). Last week, I went to attend the venue’s relaunch and season announcement under its new-old name; last night, I returned to […]
Bromley Bedlam Bethlehem Q&A video and photos: How to turn traumatic family history into life-affirming drama
Ahead of Mental Health Awareness Week next week, Rachel Tookey’s award-winning new play Bromley Bedlam Bethlehem receives its full-length premiere this week at the Old Red Lion Theatre. I got to speak to Rachel and her producer-sister Hannah about how their own family inspired this story exploring how trauma and mental illness can be […]
The Cervantes Theatre’s headlines its third New Spanish Playwriting season with the full UK and English-language premiere of Denise Despeyroux’s one-woman show The Reality, which had a dramatised reading at the theatre last year.
Can you love the living like you like the dead?
Is darkness hindered by light?
In this haunting new play, written by Denise Despeyroux and […]
Are you a David Bowie fan? What first turned you on? Was it seeing his Top of the Pops debut as Ziggy Stardust? Was it your parents taking you to your first Bowie concert when you were still a baby? Was it memorising the album liner notes in your bedroom?
Bebe Barry inherited her love of […]
I had a fabulous time last week in Stratford-upon-Avon seeing Justin Audibert’s new re-gendered production of Shakespeare’s early “battle of the sexes” comedy The Taming of the Shrew (1591), set in a parallel Elizabethan universe where women are in charge.
Afterwards, I had the privilege of chairing a discussion about the play as part of the “Society […]
I’ve spent quite a lot of my Easter weekend thinking about Donald Trump. As a thankful respite from trying to read the 448 pages of the Mueller Report, it was for positive reasons on Good Friday night at Southwark Playhouse.
‘They can pass all the laws they want. All they do is change the rules – […]
Intra Muros Q&A video and photos: What is the point of theatre? How do actors marry up their dual lives?
What does theatre mean to you? How do actors marry up the dual emotional demands of their chosen profession? How many ‘characters’ or versions of ourselves to the rest of us play in our own lives?
Those are some of the questions which are raised in Alexis Michalik’s fascinating play Intra Muros and which we […]
How lucky am I? Last night I got to spend a second night in a row with lovely Olivier Awards nominee Marc Antolin.
After sitting behind him at the ceremony at the Royal Albert Hall on Sunday night, when he was nominated for Best Actor in a Musical for Little Shop of Horrors at the Open Air […]
Tony’s Last Tape Q&A video and photos: What would Tony Benn have thought of Brexit, Corbyn & this play about him?
This past Wednesday (3 April 2019) would have been Tony Benn’s 94th birthday. Great celebratory timing for the return of Tony’s Last Tape, the one-man play celebrating the Labour firebrand, who died in 2014. And last night, I was delighted to return to the play myself and to chair a warm and celebratory post-show discussion.
Many in the […]
Half Me, Half You Q&A video and photos: It’s not easy to talk about racism & hate crime, but it’s necessary
Did seeing fascist Tommy Robinson denouncing Muslims and immigrants on a big screen in Whitehall terrify you? What are the long-term consequences of today’s political rhetoric in Trump’s America and Brexit Britain? How much does it fuel hate crimes against minority groups? How worried should we be? What can we do about it?
Debut playwright […]
Last night I chaired my second of three post-show Q&As with Lazarus Theatre Company as part of their 2019 residency at Greenwich Theatre – their highly acclaimed return production of Lord of the Flies.
William Golding’s novel was published in 1954 and was highly influenced by the wartime experiences he’d lived through. “Anyone who moved […]
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, […]
How can a 60-seat black box studio above a pub stand out amongst nearly 100 Off-West End and fringe theatres in London? THIS is how.
There was palpable excitement in the room on last night at Proforca Theatre Company’s industry relaunch of the Lion & Unicorn Theatre, with a very warm reciprocal embrace for the company’s […]
Do You Love This Planet? Q&A video and photos: Philosophy, individual responsibility and climate change
How often do you ask yourself this question: Do you love this planet? No, but seriously, do you really love this planet? How much? And how much are you willing to sacrifice to prove it in the face of impending Armageddon? What are you actually doing?
What philosopher and life-long nuclear disarmament activist Alexander Matthews […]
It was a great big family affair for my post-show Q&A at Call Me Vicky at the Pleasance Theatre this weekend. The new one-act comedy-drama marks the playwriting debut for sisters Stacey and Nicola Bland, who also perform in the cast, and their mum, dad and nan were in proud attendance.
Call Me Vicky is […]
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 […]
The Tempest Q&A video and photos: What happens when Prospero & Miranda becomes a mother-son relationship?
In my first of three post-show Q&As this year with Lazarus Theatre, I was at Greenwich Theatre for this pioneering ensemble company’s exciting re-examination of Shakespeare’s The Tempest. Sure, we’ve had Prospero played by a woman before – not least Vanessa Redgrave, Helen Mirren and Harriet Walter – but what happens when you take […]
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 […]
My Dad’s Gap Year Q&A video and photos: Launching Tom Wright and Rikki Beadle-Blair’s unstoppable collaboration
The Park Theatre was absolutely buzzing last night with two sell-out shows, including in Park 90, Tom Wright’s debut play My Dad’s Gap Year, which has nearly sold out the rest of its run too. What’s the secret alchemy between Wright and his director Rikki Beadle-Blair?
I suspect that a key element is their mutual […]
It’s only a matter of days until the UK is scheduled to depart the European Union. As anyone who follows me knows, Brexit is an outcome I’ve been fighting, marching and campaigning against since David Cameron first announced the date for the 2016 referendum.
So to be invited to chair Counting Sheep, in a new co-production with Belarus Free […]
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, […]
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 […]
Coming Clean Q&A video and photos: Why has it taken 37 years for Kevin Elyot’s play to get its West End premiere?
In the first of my two back-to-back King’s Head Theatre post-show Q&As, I was at Trafalgar Studios for the West End premiere of Kevin Elyot’s first play, Coming Clean, 37 years after the actor-turned-writer made his playwriting debut with it at London’s Bush Theatre.
Artistic director Adam Spreadbury-Maher’s acclaimed revival was first seen at the […]
There’s a staggering amount of up-and-coming talent on display with the world premiere of “post-Weinstein, post-Spacey drama” Anomaly, now running at London’s Old Red Lion Theatre.
In the young Wild Child Productions company, there are no fewer than three debuts: for playwright Liv Warden for two of the three-hander’s actors, Alice Handoll and Katherine Samuelson. Even […]
My final post-show Q&A of the year, to the stage premiere of Chasing Bono, was an absolute Irish corker! After a revealing discussion about the fine line between success and failure and the perils of fame, it ended with an impromptu song performance. Could someone in stage management get us a guitar at Soho Theatre? They could and […]
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 […]
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, […]
The Pit & the Pendulum Q&A video and photos: Reimagining Edgar Allan Poe’s horror story with hijabs and headsets
Edgar Allan Poe wrote the short story The Pit & the Pendulum in 1842, inspired by the idea of a political prisoner tormented during the Spanish Inquisition.
In this new version, written and directed by Christopher York for Oxford-based site-specific specialists Creation Theatre Company, the inmate is a woman from Tehran (played by Iranian-British actress Afsaneh […]
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 […]
The Wider Earth Q&A video and photos: Puppetry evolution & Charles Darwin at the Natural History Museum
The Wider Earth is billed as one of the theatre events of the year – and, on this occasion, that’s no exaggeration. What a privilege for me to play a small part in helping to launch this spectacular and historic production, which tells the story of a young Charles Darwin and is staged in […]
The Sweet Science of Bruising Q&A video and photos: Why’s now the right time for a play about Victorian female boxers?
This weekend, I got to enter the boxing ring at London’s Southwark Playhouse to chair a post-show Q&A at Troupe Theatre’s world premiere production of Joy Wilkinson’s The Sweet Science of Bruising.
London, 1869. Four very different Victorian women are drawn into the dark underground world of female boxing by the eccentric Professor Sharp. Controlled by men […]
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!
How much do you know about the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939)? Who fought on the side of the Republicans and who for the Nationalists? What happened to those who got caught in the middle, such as Paulino and Carmelo in Jose Sanchis Sinisterra’s Ay, Carmela!?
In the 1986 stage play, famously made into a 1990 Spanish […]
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: […]
The pub beneath the Finborough Theatre, where Proud Haddock’s revival of Tony Harrison’s Square Rounds, is currently closed for refurbishment. So what does Proud Haddock artistic director Jimmy Walters do on the night of our post-show Q&A? Bring in drinks from the off-licence for everyone, both onstage and in the audience. I’ll drink to that!
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 […]
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 […]
What is an intimacy director? How do they change the power dynamic on a production? Why have we had to wait for the #MeToo backlash to get them?
Vicky Jones’ debut play The One, about a toxic and violent modern relationship, won the Verity Bargate Award in 2013 and received its world premiere at Soho […]
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 […]
If you had to choose just three Hollywood legends to build a theatre show around, who would you choose? For Sirens of the Silver Screen, Beth Burrows selected Judy Garland, Audrey Hepburn and Marilyn Monroe. At last night’s post-show discussion at the Tabard Theatre, she explained why she did, how much fun she had researching […]
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 […]
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 […]
A keen audience of Anthony Horowitz fans and super sleuthers last night at Mindgame made for a highly revealing post-show Q&A. How many set secrets did we correctly identify? And which character, plot and research twists?
Warning: if you want to be surprised when you see this mind-bending thriller, absolutely DON’T listen to the podcast beforehand. But rise to the […]
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 […]
What a provocative play and post-show discussion! Are we all racist? How different are racial relations in 21st-century America versus Britain? How do we get more unheard voices onstage? Can white men tell valid stories about minority groups? Should they?
Joel Drake Johnson’s four-hander Rasheeda Speaking caused a stir when it was first seen in Chicago and New […]
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 […]
I missed a trick with my questions last night at the world premiere of DAMES, the surreal comedy about six millennial women who meet in a nightclub loo, which marks the playwriting debut of Charlotte Merriam and the producing debut of Siberian Lights, the company she co-founded with three of her peers at Royal Welsh College […]
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.”
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
Sales of George Orwell’s 1984 surged by a staggering 9,500% after the election of Donald Trump to become Amazon’s biggest seller. Orwell himself died, at the age of 46, in January 1950, just seven months after 1984 was published. What might he have written after 1984, and his earlier hit novel Animal Farm (published in 1945), if he’d lived […]
I had my own Godotesque moment to start last night’s Waiting for Godot Q&A. The stage was bare. Where were the chairs? Was anyone bringing chairs? How long would we be waiting for chairs? Did such things as chairs exist? In the end, five chairs did materialise – just enough for the show’s director and […]
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 […]
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 […]
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, […]
I was recently hired by the producer of Waiting for God to interview the show’s stars and writer as it embarks on a major UK tour. Here’s the first in a three-part series. Waiting for God continues touring until 8 July 2017. Visit the show website for full dates and tickets.
Jeffrey Holland stars in the new stage […]
I had a hunch that this would be an especially amusing post-show Q&A and the company and audience of American hillbilly comedy Out There on Fried Meat Ridge Rd., now transferred to the West End’s Trafalgar Studios 2 for a limited season, did not disappoint.
After a sell-out performance last night, I was joined by […]
I was recently hired by the producer of Waiting for God to interview the show’s stars and writer as it embarks on a major UK tour. Here’s the first in a three-part series. Waiting for God continues touring until 8 July 2017. Visit the show website for full dates and tickets.
Nichola McAuliffe stars in the new stage […]
I was recently hired by the producer of Waiting for God to interview the show’s stars and writer as it embarks on a major UK tour. Here’s the first in a three-part series. Waiting for God continues touring until 8 July 2017. Visit the show website for full dates and tickets.
Michael Aitkens conceived and created the […]
Q&A photos and podcast: Why has James Shirley’s The Cardinal been overlooked since the 17th century?
James Shirley’s 1641 tragic masterpiece THE CARDINAL, one of the last plays staged in England before Oliver Cromwell’s ban on theatre, this month receives its first major production since the 17th century. This critically lauded rediscovery is directed by Justin Audibert for Troupe Theatre in a limited season now running at London’s Southwark Playhouse […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
UPDATED: The Boys in the Band transfers to the West End’s Vaudeville Theatre for a strictly limited season from 7 to 18 February 2017. Buy tickets here.
Mart Crowley’s seminal play, The Boys in the Band, premiered in New York in 1968, just 14 months before the Stonewall riots that ignited the gay rights movement. […]
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 […]
I made my HighTide Festival debut this weekend and what a privilege. Over the course of the weekend at this ten-day annual event, held in the beautiful Suffolk coast town of Aldeburgh and now marking its tenth anniversary, I had the privilege of chairing three hour-long “Face to Face” talks with world-class artists.
In this […]
A New York artistic commune in the early 1940s – occupied by British exiles Benjamin Britten, WH Auden, American novelist Carson McCullers (The Heart is a Lonely Hunter) and stripper Gypsy Rose Lee amongst many other artists – is the setting for Zoe Lewis’ new play Britten in Brooklyn, which has just premiered at […]
Two hapless understudies on a production of Waiting for Godot occupy their time backstage, trying to understand art, life, theatre and their precarious existence within it. Dave Hanson’s hit New York comedy Waiting for Waiting for Godot receives its European premiere at London’s St James Theatre and, just before he flew back to New […]
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 […]
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 […]
I first – and last – saw Neil LaBute’s Some Girl(s) in its world premiere in the West End in 2005, in a production that starred Friends’ David Schwimmer along with “girls” including Catherine Tate and Lesley Manville. In this first major London revival, Charles Dorfman takes on the pivotal role of a writer (never addressed […]
What does The Trial of Jane Fonda, concerning the actor-activist’s controversial protests during the Vietnam War (in which the UK did not support our US allies), have to tell us about more recent conflicts in Syria and Iraq (in which we did)? Particularly in the wake of the Chilcot Report? (And was the timing of […]
I first saw – and adored – Through the Mill when it premiered at the London Theatre Workshop (then above a pub in Fulham) last year. I was delighted when the show, which revolves around three pivotal periods in the life of Judy Garland, announced its transfer to the – much larger, more centrally […]
Most theatregoers will have only learned about Carl Peter Værnet from watching Claudio Macor’s new play Savage, now running upstairs at the Arts Theatre. But the Nazi doctor from Denmark has played a large role in the life of LGBTI activist Peter Tatchell for decades.
It was in the late 1980s that Tatchell first learned of Værnet, […]
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 […]
Character portraits aren’t just for Harry Potter. Photographer Darren Bell gained access to the new cast of Buckland Theatre’s revival of Neil LaBute’s Some Girl(s) to snap these beauties.
In the play, directed by Gary Condes, Guy (played by Charles Dorfman) is desperate to clear his conscience before he gets married. So he sets off on […]
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 […]
Celebrity photographer Charlie Gray has shot three sets of exclusive character portraits of the grown-up characters from JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series, along with the next generation, which feature in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. The wildly anticipated two-part stage play receives its world premiere this summer at the West End’s Palace 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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
What’s the essence of good comedy? And what marks out an Alan Ayckbourn comedy in particular? What does the UK’s most prolific, produced playwright (80 plays and counting) demand of actors and directors? And, despite the (often onerous, occasionally near-impossible) demands, why do actors and directors relish coming back for more?
These were some the […]
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 […]
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. […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
On this Sunday’s Andrew Marr Show on BBC One, in amongst an interview with David Cameron and other reports from this year’s Conservative Party conference in Manchester, I was delighted to see Marr, perched in the circle at the West End’s Duke of York’s Theatre, chatting with actor Mark Rylance.
Theatregoers know, of course, that […]
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 […]
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 […]