Theatre

Review: Hair

By John Nathan, April 15, 2010

It will never feel like the age of Aquarius's first dawning in 1968 when Hair delivered a liberating pro-love, anti-Vietnam war message. Yet the hippy musical still feels good. And in an era when war still rages, the first act climax with the cast standing before us naked, remains a poignant reminder of the vulnerability of the human body.

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Review: Apartment 2012

By John Nathan, April 15, 2010

This week President Obama declared that the biggest threat to American security was a nuclear attack. For Julian Sims's comedy, whose unlikely scenario sees a New York Jewish family of refugees surviving a nuclear holocaust by fleeing to "post-glasnost" Russia, Obama's warning makes credible an idea so far-out it goes beyond far-fetched.

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Review: Polar Bears

By John Nathan, April 8, 2010

The debut play by Mark Haddon, whose novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time won the Whitbread Prize, takes mental health as its theme, and for its structure the time-jumping patchwork of events with which the mind compiles a memory.

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Review: The White Guard

By John Nathan, April 1, 2010

You would think that two hours and 40 minutes of never less than enthralling theatre would deserve an unreserved recommendation.

Writer Andrew Upton - aka the husband of Cate Blanchett - has come up with a version of the Bulgakov's novel-turned-play that educates, entertains and clarifies the chaos that reigned in 1919 Kiev, where Russia's gathering revolution crashed against the First World War.

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Review: Mrs Warren's Profession

By John Nathan, April 1, 2010

Surely the whole point of reviving Bernard Shaw's 1894 play, in which an educated young woman discovers that the money with which her mother paid for it all was earned from the oldest profession, is to expose the moral hypocrisy of the not just the 19th century, but the 21st century too.

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He wanted to be a rabbi, now he's playing King Lear

By Judi Herman, March 25, 2010

'I used to be a little bit disarmed when people said: 'Oh you're playing Lear - you're far too young.' But now I'm much more cavalier about it," declares Greg Hicks. "I'll give what I know about life and whatever abilities I have as an actor a whirl." Judging by the reviews he has had for his King Lear in the current Royal Shakespeare Company production in Stratford-upon-Avon, the strategy is paying dividends.

"Anyway, the part wasn't written for an old man," he continues. "It was written for a 38-year-old."

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Review: The Gods Weep

By John Nathan, March 25, 2010

What do you get if you cross King Lear with Richard III and throw in a fistful of Macbeth too? The answer is running at the Hampstead Theatre in the form of the Dennis Kelly's epic, the latest in the RSC's London Season. And while for much of this three-hour play you may suspect you would be better off watching Shakespeare's originals, the sheer drive of Maria Aberg's production, and the utter bravura of Jeremy Irons's central performance as the Lear-like Colm, keeps the doubts at bay.

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The talmudic scholars of gore, horror and ghouls

By John Nathan, March 18, 2010

Just when the theatrical chiller was thought to be something that belonged to the era of cigarette ushers and pot boilers, along comes Jeremy Dyson's and Andy Nyman's Ghost Stories.

The play is the product of the combined talents of the co-creators, writer Dyson - who made the big time with The League of Gentlemen - and Nyman, who has made it big with just about everything he has turned his hand to - acting, magic and that sleight-of-mind aspect of showbusiness, mentalism.

"We absolutely hit it off straight away," says Dyson. "It was a bit like love at first sight," says Nyman.

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Review: The Fever Chart

By John Nathan, March 18, 2010

Three short plays by American writer Naomi Wallace weave together Palestinian and Israeli lives. There could hardly be a more powerful metaphor for the bond that links the two peoples than the Israeli student nurse who breathes with transplanted Palestinian lungs; or the Israeli soldier and grieving Palestinian mother bound by grief and death. Directors Marcus Romer and Katie Posner (who says her Jewish roots informs her attitude to the subject) direct the strong cast with admirable simplicity. But plays about this conflict have to deliver more than a depiction of mutual suffering.

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Review: Love Never Dies

By John Nathan, March 18, 2010

With some startling scene setting and video projections, Andrew Lloyd Webber's long-awaited musical starts with plenty of wow but ends up with nothing but woe. Apart from Bob Crowley's design, this sequel to the hit Phantom of the Opera misses on all fronts.

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