Theatre

Review: The Mentalists

By John Nathan, July 16, 2015

There was a time when theatre audiences were as likely to a see a play because of who wrote it as who starred in it. I'm not suggesting that stand-up comedian and The Office co-creator Stephen Merchant is not worthy of top billing. In his West End debut he convincingly conveys the seething resentment of a man who thinks he should be more important than he is.

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Review: The House of Mirrors and Hearts

By John Nathan, July 9, 2015

You have to admire anyone who sets out to make a new musical. The sheer array of skills required boggles the mind. Arguably the most essential of these is not the writing of the music, but the show's book on which everything is built. This one, however, written by composer Eamonn O'Dwyer and Rob Gilbert, is out of balance with too little work on character and too much reliance on mood.

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Review: The Trial

By John Nathan, July 9, 2015

No one understands loss of identity better than the Czech Jewish writer Franz Kafka. In Metamorphosis, it is lost when the body morphs into an insect. In The Trial (1915) it's lost when bank executive Josef K - played here with indignant outrage by Rory Kinnear - is arrested for unspecified crimes.

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Review: Bend It Like Beckham, The Musical

By John Nathan, July 2, 2015

You expect to leave a show that has Beckham in the title thinking about football. But this musical version of the 2002 hit movie is deeper, funnier and, yes, more important than that. It leaves you feeling good about something that we are constantly told to feel bad about: immigration.

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Review: The Importance Of Being Earnest

By John Nathan, July 2, 2015

David Suchet's Lady Bracknell is not the first instance of Oscar Wilde's battle-axe being played by a man. In 1974, Jonathan Miller wanted to do an all-male production of the comedy with Leo McKern (later Rumpole of the Bailey) suggested as one of those who might play Bracknell. It never happened. Pinter hated the idea, as did Olivier and most of the other National Theatre bigwigs of the time.

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Review: The Motherf**ker With The Hat

By John Nathan, June 25, 2015

In Stephen Adly Guirgis's hometown of New York, where profanity and prudishness can rub up against one another like subway travellers from the right and wrong side of the tracks, some publications did not use asterisks in the title of Guirgis's ferociously funny play of 2011. Instead, they replaced the entire epithet with a motherf**ker-length hyphen.

The logic of this is worth a moment.

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Review: Hang

By John Nathan, June 18, 2015

This short, sharp exploration of capital punishment is by the fearlessly poetic Debbie Tucker Green who has a Pinteresque ear for the staccato rhythms of uncompleted sentences - or ordinary conversation.

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Review: Oresteia

By John Nathan, June 18, 2015

Every so often theatre is capable of lobotomising that part of the brain that constantly reminds itself of the artifice of drama. And when that happens it can leave a viewer so utterly exposed to the rawness of a moment, a kind of post dramatic stress descends in the aftermath.

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Review: Now This is Not The End

By John Nathan, June 16, 2015

After the last Holocaust survivor dies, it's not unreasonable to suppose that the generation of playwrights that have attempted to write about the subject might also dwindle. But, on current evidence, it looks like a new generation is prepared to take it on, spurred in part by the death of first-hand witnesses.

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Review: The Red Lion

By John Nathan, June 15, 2015

The timing could not be much better. We wait nearly a decade for a new work from Patrick Marber and just as it arrives the FIFA scandal gives what might have been a modest little play about football an unexpected urgency.

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