Theatre

Review: Reading Hebron

By John Nathan, February 17, 2011

I have long thought that the genre that is the "Israeli-Palestinian conflict play" contains enough good works for a season or two should an enterprising theatre - such as the Tricycle, perhaps, or the Orange Tree - wish to devote its stage to the most intractable problem in the world.

Canadian writer Jason Sherman's drama, which was written a year after Jewish settler Baruch Goldstein massacred 29 Muslims in Hebron, is perhaps unique as the only conflict play written from the point of view of a guilty conscience.

More..

Review: The Heretic

By John Nathan, February 17, 2011

Anyone who was expecting Richard Bean to write a play about climate change without challenging the orthodoxies of the Green movement does not know his work very well.

More..

Review: Clybourne park

By John Nathan, February 10, 2011

American writer Bruce Norris's dissection of racial politics is a defining play of our time.

Dominic Cooke's exquisite production opened to gasps of shock at the Royal Court last year. There were even one or two heckles. A couple of cast changes and a West End transfer later, the play has lost none of its power.

More..

Review: Hamlet

By John Jeffay, February 10, 2011

Rory Kinnear was this week nominated for an Olivier award as best actor for his role as Hamlet in this production.

It is easy to see why. His troubled prince is so frail, so pained, and so "ordinary bloke", dressed in his hoodie and jeans, cigarette in hand for his "To be, or not to be" soliloquy.

Almost everything about this touring National Theatre production, directed by Nicholas Hytner, works brilliantly. But it would be hard not to single out Kinnear (pictured) for his human depiction of one of the most complex characters in literature.

More..

Opera: The Magic Flute

By Stephen Pollard, February 4, 2011

There are few more soul-destroying moments in a theatre than when, moments before the curtain rises, the empty seat in front of you, with its uninterrupted view of the stage, is suddenly empty no more. And it is always the tallest man in the building who comes in last and plonks himself in front of you.

Well, it happens to critics, too. As I was settling into my seat, waiting for Sir Colin Davis to walk into the pit and raise his arms, what must have been not the tallest man, not the two tallest men, but the three tallest men who have ever been seen sat down in the row in front of me.

More..

Review: Mogadishu

By John Jeffay, February 4, 2011

A white teacher is accused of assaulting a black pupil. But it is not clear-cut. There are many shades of grey in the gem - albeit a flawed one - that is writer Vivienne Franzmann's remarkable stage debut.

She draws on her own experience as a teacher, to demonstrate how a malicious allegation can spiral out of control, with catastrophic consequences.

More..

Review: Greenland

By John Nathan, February 3, 2011

You can't accuse the National of not practising what it preaches. The theatre has worked hard to reduce its carbon footprint, from installing low voltage lighting throughout the building, to fitting the loos with, er, movement detectors. So there is a sense with this climate change play, a collaboration between four writers - Moira Buffini, Matt Charman, Penelope Skinner and Jack Thorne - of being preached to by the converted.

More..

Review: King Lear

By John Nathan, February 3, 2011

There are two King Lears currently raging in London. Derek Jacobi's in the Donmar's pared down production has received the most attention. But for my money it is the RSC's epic version that is the more rewarding. Not that Greg Hicks particularly out-performs Jacobi in the role. But what David Farr's RSC production has in spades is context. Here, a post-war, industrial dystopia makes sense of Shakespeare's mystifyingly motivated monarch.

More..

Review: Miss Nightingale

By John Nathan, January 27, 2011

George is the enemy within. He is a Polish Jew taking refuge in London in 1942. And he is gay.

Against the historical backdrop of Hitler's atrocities, and, closer to home, the celebrated trial of 20 Welshmen from Abergavenny for homosexuality, George struggles as a songwriter. But he manages to retain his resolve and ambition.

Miss Nightingale takes its title from his work partner, Maggie, a rags-to riches showgirl, but it is George (Ilan Goodman), who writes her songs, who is very much the star of the show.

More..

Review: Tiger Country

By John Nathan, January 27, 2011

Is there anybody more talented than Nina Raine currently working in theatre? There are those who shine as writers; there are those who glitter as directors. Not many can be both. And when they are, self-indulgence is a huge danger. Not here.

Although Tiger Country is Raine's third offering, it was written before her previous play, Tribes, about a spectacularly argumentative (Jewish) family with a deaf son.

More..