Theatre

Review: Somersaults

By John Nathan, January 10, 2013

When a language dies it is not just a way of speaking that disappears. Literature, storytelling — particularly the kind that depends on aural tradition — songs, conversations, jokes, all eventually follow the spoken word into extinction.

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Review: Lemony Snicket's Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming

By John Nathan, December 7, 2012

Michael Lambourne puts in a fine performance as Latke, the title role in this adaptation of the Lemony Snicket children’s book, in which a frustrated potato pancake attempts to assert his Chanucah identity in a Christmassy world.

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Review: Merrily We Roll Along - the right direction for Stephen Sondheim

By John Nathan, December 6, 2012

There have been some cracking revivals of Stephen Sondheim musicals over the past few years. This one is up there with the best, which is not bad for a debut director.

But then the director in question is the Sondheim-savvy Maria Friedman, who as a bill-topping performer has earned awards while starring in the composer’s musicals, including this one.

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Review: Kiss Me Kate

By John Nathan, November 30, 2012

For those who, 10 years ago, saw Michael Blakemore’s wonderful revival of Cole Porter’s 1948 musical, comparisons with this solid but less inspired version directed by Trevor Nunn are hard to resist.

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Review: Twelfth Night - Stephen Fry lacking in delight

By John Nathan, November 22, 2012

There are not many Shakespearian characters that cause as much pleasurable anticipation as Malvolio. And casting Stephen Fry in the role — who on television was P G Wodehouse’s talented butler, Jeeves, and so has form when it comes to playing an aristocrat’s loyal steward — makes good sense.

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Review: Constellations

By John Nathan, November 22, 2012

Thanks to the Royal Court, the musical-dominated West End has seen a surge of cracking plays. And none is better than Nick Payne’s ingeniously constructed love story that poleaxes the emotions as much as it stimulates the mind.

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Review: The River

By John Nathan, November 2, 2012

How do you follow the expansive, all-conquering Jerusalem, one of the finest plays of the modern era?

Jez Butterworth and his long-time collaborator, director Ian Rickson, do it with a claustrophobic exploration of true love that suggests the emotions that come after experiencing the real thing are a kind of deceit.

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Review: 55 Days

By John Nathan, November 2, 2012

Howard Brenton’s meaty new history play, set during the final 55 days in the life of Charles I, brings to mind a very modern problem.

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Review: This House

By John Nathan, October 22, 2012

In 1974 you could tell a Labour politician from a Tory by the suit he or (less often) she wore.

Or as Labour’s chief whip says in James Graham’s new play, you can tell by the shoes visible under the doors of the Commons toilet cubicles — all the better to flush MPs out before a crucial vote.

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Review: Red Velvet

By John Nathan, October 19, 2012

When in 1833 Edmund Kean, the greatest actor of his generation, collapsed on stage while playing Othello at Covent Garden’s Theatre Royal, the theatre’s manager risked public outrage by hiring an African-American called Ira Aldridge – terrifically played here by Adrian Lester – to step into Kean’s shoes.

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