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 – […]
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.
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 […]
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 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, […]
The Ministry of Biscuits Q&A video and photos: Sharing biscuits and a love of G&S with Philip Reeve and co
Charming, delectable, delicious. And those are just the custard creams… It’s not often I get offered biscuits at the post-show Q&As I chair, but at a show called The Ministry of Biscuits, it would have seemed remiss not to.
Since its 1998 premiere, this delightful musical has been scaled down to a bijou four-hander performed by […]
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 […]
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 […]
How does it feel to have a one-woman show written especially for you by one of your country’s leading writers? Pretty damn good, according to Songs for Nobodies’ Bernadette Robinson – though, to be clear, there was nothing passive about this privilege in her case.
In the post-show Q&A I chaired with Robinson at the West End’s Ambassadors Theatre […]
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, […]
You know you’re at a different type of theatre experience when you find yourself singing along – loudly – about how much we all love looking at cocks in the locker room. (Even when you’ve never been in a cocker-room.)
The party spirit for Hot Gay Time Machine starts before the performance as co-stars Toby […]
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, […]
How much do you know about the British tradition of drag? British drag artists are the “punks of performance”, according to Ginger Johnson, who has written, directed, designed and performs in a show that brilliantly illustrates and celebrates this tradition.
How to Catch a Krampus is the latest offering from Sink the Pink. After a decade of […]
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 […]
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 […]
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: […]
So often with the news these days, parallels are drawn with our turbulent political times and the fascism that swept across Europe in the 1930s, and the question is asked: what would you do if…?
Last night, I and the audience at the Union Theatre travelled back to the 1930s care of Midnight, in which […]
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!
Can musical theatre help us find common ground with those with whom we disagree? If so, Unexpected Joy is undoubtedly the musical to do it.
Set in Provincetown, Cape Cod, Unexpected Joy is the story of three generations of female singers, long-held family tensions and a week together where change is in the air. Joy, a baby boomer […]
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 […]
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 […]
Knights of the Rose Q&A video and photos: Defining the new ‘rockspeare’ genre and celebrating understudies (sort of)
On Wednesday afternoon, Jennifer Caldwell was working in the box office at the Arts Theatre, where new musical Knights of the Rose is currently playing. That night, with less than three hours’ rehearsal and having never even seen the show all the way through, she was onstage playing one of the female leads. As […]
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 […]
Andrew Lloyd Webber came up twice in conversation at last night’s post-show for It Happened in Key West. The second pertained to the title of the show which, many years ago, when Jeremiah James was first inspired by a late-night television documentary about Carl von Cosel. James had originally wanted to call this musical Love Never Dies… […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
The Barn Theatre’s inaugural production of The Secret Garden extended by a fortnight – which very helpfully allowed me to fit another trip to Cirencester and a post-show Q&A into the diary. And I’m so glad.
Three weeks on, it was wonderful to revisit this beautiful, new, 200-seat theatre and this stunning, folk-influenced production in […]
When I chaired my first post-show Q&A at Miss Nightingale a year ago, I thought its home then was ideal: The Vaults, in its labyrinth beneath Waterloo Station, so like an air raid shelter, seemed to perfectly fit the setting of London during the Blitz. But now that it’s moved to the London Hippodrome, it’s […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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, […]
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. […]
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 […]
That Man musical had two performances only at London’s Hippodrome Casino yesterday (20 September 2016) and, after the first one, I chaired a post-show discussion in front of an audience of industry guests to talk about the show’s journey to date and where it might go from here.
Yesterday’s presentation – though cast to the […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
Last seen in London in 1981, when its premiere production ran at the West End’s Apollo Theatre after success Off-Broadway, I’m Getting My Act Together and Taking It on the Road has returned 35 years on for a limited season at Jermyn Street Theatre, where Landi Oshinowo takes on the role of pop star […]
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, […]
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 […]
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 […]
The Buskers Opera, set during the London 2012 Olympics, is inspired by John Gay’s 1728 The Beggar’s Opera which, amongst other works, has also inspired Brecht’s 1928 piece The Threepenny Opera, revived later this month at the National Theatre.
But while the basic structure and characters are owed to Gay, the zany genius of The Buskers Opera […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
I’m still reeling after the thrillingly heated and thought-provoking panel discussion I hosted last night at Trafalgar Studios 2. This was the second in a series of post-show events I’ve programmed around issues and themes raised in Jagged Fence’s explosive new production of Strindberg’s The Father, starring Alex Ferns.
We set a high benchmark with last […]
How far have we come with feminism since August Strindberg was writing in the 1880s? “About halfway,” said Polly Toynbee on Monday night at Trafalgar Studios, in the first of a series of post-show panel discussions I’ve programmed and am hosting around Jagged Fence’s explosive new production of Strindberg’s The Father, starring Alex Ferns and […]
Less than 24 hours before my scheduled post-show Q&A at the St James Theatre, I had a temperature of over 103° F (39.4° C). My boyfriend tells me I was semi-delirious. He contacted the producers of Eric and Little Ern and warned them I may not be able to make it the next night.
I’m excited to attend the gala opening tonight of Michael Flatley’s revamped Lord of the Dance: Dangerous Games. I got a sneak peek recently when a few extracts were performed at a preview event at the London Palladium.
In addition to the pounding Irish dancing – performed by a 40-strong company of world champions – […]
As I mentioned in my Theatre Diary today, I cannot recommend Benjamin Scheuer’s The Lion highly enough. This is a beautiful one-man musical about a boy and his father and how that boy became a man and fell in love with playing music.
Last night, after being blown away by the 70-minute performance, I had […]
What a turnout! After a Twitter RT frenzy with the cast of Therese Raquin yesterday, every single one of them joined me for a post-show Q&A after their sensational performance last night at the Park Theatre – including, as promised, feline star, Francois the Cat!
We were also joined by Nona Sheppard, who adapted Emile […]
I had a great time last night (3 July 2014) hosting the post-show Q&A at the hilarious new “two-woman comedy about putting on a one-woman show”, The Frida Kahlo of Penge West. I was joined by writer/director Chris Larner and the show’s two stars, Cecily Nash and Laura Kirman.
Amongst the topics discussed were: comedy […]