The Good Scout post-show video and photos: How worried should we be about parallels between the 1930s and today?
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 […]
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, […]
How much do you know about Nina Simone? Guaranteed: after you see Black Is the Color Of My Voice, the one-woman play with music written by and starring young American theatremaker Apphia Campbell, you will be inspired to learn more.
The “High Priestess of Soul” Nina Simone was born Eunice Kathleen Waymon in Tryon, North […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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: […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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. […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
I have tried as much as possible to ignore the press around Jeremy Corbyn’s attendance of the Stop the War organisation’s Christmas do this week. Frankly, I just didn’t want to get myself wound up so close to the holidays over some (in my opinion, ill-judged) engagement in Corbyn’s social diary.
Labour Party leader endorses […]
On Friday night, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn emailed me (and other grassroots members of the Party) asking what I think Britain should do about the civil war in Syria, our national security, the threat of ISIS and, specifically, “Should Parliament vote to authorise the bombing of Syria?” He wanted to know my thoughts by the […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
I was pleased to be invited to an event at the Arcola Theatre last night, to hear Labour leadership contender Jeremy Corbyn launch his new Arts Policy document. This is the latest in more than a dozen Policy documents that Corbyn has released during the party leadership race since June.
Nine days before the deadline […]
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 […]
My newfound Tony Benn obsession has also got me thinking anew about the “most dangerous” Labour man in Parliament before him: the Welsh politician and founder of the National Health Service, Aneurin Bevan (1897-1960).
And thinking of Bevan reminded me that I still hadn’t got round to blogging about actor Michael Sheen’s brilliant speech at […]
I knew embarrassingly little of Tony Benn before seeing Andy Barrett’s new play Tony’s Last Tape this past Sunday. (Read my separate blog on the production and interview with its star Philip Bretherton here.)
But since Sunday, boy have I been making up for lost time. After leaving the Bridgehouse, I’ve devoured obituaries and other articles […]
After success at Nottingham Playhouse, Tony’s Last Tape has transferred to south London’s new fringe theatre, the Bridgehouse in Penge SE20, for a three-week run in election month.
I imagine that Labour Party faithful and others of a particular political persuasion have more pressing matters on their mind just at the moment. But I do […]