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.


Review: Electra

By John Nathan, October 14, 2014

There is a gap between how Kristin Scott Thomas's Electra looks and sounds. Visually, I cannot remember a more haunted figure on the stage. The face is defined by dagger-sharp shadows cast by seemingly starved cheeks.


Review: Speed-the-Plow

By John Nathan, October 7, 2014

There is something inevitable about the faint whiff of anti-climax here. Which is not to say that Lindsay Lohan - a film star with a talent for self-destructive scandal and the reason why this revival of David Mamet's searing 1988 comedy about Hollywood has been the most anticipated West End show of the year - is a disappointment.


Review: The Play That Goes Wrong

By John Nathan, October 7, 2014

If you're the kind of spectator who watches motor racing for the crashes, horse racing for the falls and diving for the belly flops, you are probably the kind of theatregoer who gets immense satisfaction out of a play that goes wrong. Clearly, I am.

This one is a murder mystery with a country house set and a whodunnit plot.


Review: Teh Internet Is Serious Business

By John Nathan, October 2, 2014

In 2011 a group of very young, mostly teenage people held multinational corporations and some of the world's most powerful security services to ransom. And they did it from their bedrooms. They were the hacktivist cream of the online anarchic Anonymous collective.