Review: Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

By John Nathan, January 15, 2015

The colourful, Spanish brand of kitsch that made Pedro Almodovar's film so vivid has an energising effect on director Bartlett Sher's London version of this musical.


Henry IV Parts I and II

By John Nathan, January 8, 2015

The differences could not have been starker. Before coming to this production, with a brilliant Antony Sher as the old rogue Falstaff, the previous version I saw of Shakespeare's two-parter was the Donmar Warehouse's. Phyllida Lloyd's all-woman production compressed the plays into two uninterrupted hours and set the action in a modern female prison.


Interview: Olivia Jacobs and Jon Fiber

By John Nathan, December 18, 2014

Who are the most successful collaborations in theatre? Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber? Rodgers and Hammerstein? Well, you can, with only a little exaggeration add husband-and-wife team Olivia Jacobs and Jon Fiber who are responsible for - count 'em - five shows running simultaneously over the festive holidays.


Review: The Merchant of Venice

By John Nathan, December 18, 2014

This RSC production's original Shylock in 2011 was played by Patrick Stewart who, before cutting his pound of flesh, covered his head with a tallit and intoned a prayer. Ah yes, that would presumably be the little-known Jewish prayer recited before killing a Christian.


Review: 3 Winters

By John Nathan, December 11, 2014

Before my job as a theatre journalist, I happened to spend a week or so in Croatia as a press photographer during the war years in the 1990s. Among my strongest memories are of Paddy Ashdown striding passed shell-shocked Bosnian refugees on his way to a meeting to promote peace. But I also remember the feel of a country that, like much of the region, was in the grip of nationalism.


Review: Assassins

By John Nathan, December 4, 2014

The idea that musicals are brimful of high kicking chorus lines and glitzy optimism must surely have had its throat cut a la Sweeney Todd by now; or been beaten to death as happens in Urinetown, or electrocuted - a fate agonizingly dwelt upon in The Scottsboro Boys.

In Sondheim's little-revived 1990 musical - the darkest of the lot - the chair is just one form of premature death.


Frankie and Johnnyin the Clair de Lune

By John Nathan, November 27, 2014

I'm a fan of Hollywood. But off the top of my head, I can't think of a single occasion when Tinsel Town has taken an original work and held back on the tinsel: made it darker instead of lighter, more like real life instead of less, truer as opposed to falser or where it has dumbed up instead of dumbed down.


Review: Behind The Beautiful Forevers

By John Nathan, November 20, 2014

In this rambling David Hare adaptation of Katherine Boo's brilliant book of reportage, we learn a lot about the underclass of India's slum communities – perhaps most valuably that they are very much like us. Actually that feels like a trite observation on my part. Probably more useful is that the show left me with a sense of shame that I ever needed to be reminded of the fact.


Review: John

By John Nathan, November 13, 2014

You go to shows by physical theatre company DV8 for the mesmerising movement rather than the storytelling. This one is based on interviews with the show's eponymous subject, played by Hannes Langolf.

John tells us first about a life of abuse. As so often with DV8, the way in which the story is told serves as an uplifting antidote to the bleakness of its subject.


Review: Made In Dagenham

By John Nathan, November 6, 2014

There's no doubting Gemma Arterton's range. The former Bond girl was last on stage as a serene Duchess of Malfi and now here she is as factory worker and reluctant strike leader Rita O'Grady.

This new musical's story, based on the 2010 film, pays tribute to the 200 women workers at Ford's Dagenham car plant who went on strike for equal pay.