Theatre

Review: House of Games

By John Nathan, September 21, 2010

Richard Bean's adaptation of David Mamet's 1987 film is the latest attempt to revive the stage thriller. Lindsay Posner's production delivers all the guilty pleasures of the genre. Though why the pleasure of watching

con artists and cardsharps ply their trade should induce guilt is beyond me. Something has gone wrong if theatre is not first a form of entertainment. Tick that box, then by all means offer a moral.

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Review: Design for Living

By John Nathan, September 21, 2010

Noël Coward wrote his 1933 comedy as a star vehicle for himself and the glamorous acting couple Lynn Fontanne and Alfred Lunt.

Three acts, three lovers, three cities - Paris, London and New York, the essence of each captured by designer Lez Brotherston's interiors - adds up to an irresistibly satisfying construction. In Anthony Page's production, Tom Burke, Andrew Scott and Lisa Dillon sparkle as the three points in a love triangle. But the performances would have more brightly had Page darkened the mood.

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Review: Evita

By John Jeffay, September 16, 2010

It was almost a triumph. Some of the audience - a couple of dozen of Evita die-hards maybe - rose to their feet at the end. But it did not quite qualify as a standing ovation. Most of the applause was polite, enthusiastic… and seated.

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Review: Tiny Kushner

By John Nathan, September 16, 2010

These small but perfectly formed one-act pieces by Tony Kushner provide an insight into what preoccupies the very clever, very Jewish, very political and often very funny mind of one of America's finest playwrights. Two focus on psychiatry, one on a tax fraud, while another sees a guilt-ridden Laura Bush, wife of George W, read Dostoyevsky to dead Iraqi children. This last is as hard hitting a play as any I've seen on American foreign policy.

(Tel: 020 7328 1000)

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Review: Blood and Gifts

By John Nathan, September 16, 2010

American playwright JT Rogers has illuminated his country's murky, covert campaign of the 1980s to kick the Soviet army out of Afghanistan. By the end of this compelling modern history lesson, directed by Howard Davies and set mostly in Islamabad, we have a good impression of how the CIA colluded with Pakistan and the British to supply favoured warlords with weaponry, and ended up arming the very forces America and Britain are currently fighting in Afghanistan.

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Review: Deathtrap

By John Nathan, September 16, 2010

Matthew Warchus's production of Ira Levin's 1970s thriller presses all the right buttons. Simon Russell Beale charms and chills as the writer whose writer's block tempts him to kill. There is terrific support from Claire Skinner as his wife and Glee actor Jonathan Groff. Other than saying that he too has writing ambitions, I cannot reveal much about Groff's role without giving away the plot. But while the evening is enjoyable in a guilty pleasure kind of way, only a new thriller will mark the genre's revival. This is more like an exhumation. (www.noel-coward-theatre.com)

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Review: Clybourne Park

By John Nathan, September 7, 2010

There is a white guy in Lorraine Hansberry's classic, Chicago-set, 1959 play, A Raisin in the Sun, who offers the African-American Younger family money to not move into a house in his white neighbourhood, Clybourne Park.

It is this house, that scene and that guy (played here by Martin Freeman) on which American writer Bruce Norris's has built his gobsmackingly entertaining response to Hansberry's play.

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Why Republicans are at the top of Kushner's hit list

By John Nathan, September 7, 2010

To get an instant impression of the subject of this article you could do worse than tap the words "Tony" and "Kushner" into YouTube. There is an eight minute, 57-second video which shows the Pulitzer- and Tony-winning playwright saying thank you for his latest honorary degree.

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Review: Witness For The Prosecution

By John Jeffay, September 2, 2010

This is everything you would expect from the queen of whodunnits - and more.

The 1957 film of Agatha Christie's tale Witness for the Prosecution carried this sombre message as the credits rolled: "The management of this theatre suggests that for the greater entertainment of your friends who have not yet seen the picture, you will not divulge, to anyone, the secret of the ending."

More than half a century later the twists at the end of this gripping courtroom drama still draw gasps from the audience.

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Review: The Woman In Black

By John Nathan, September 2, 2010

Thriller theatre is making a comeback. While a revival of Ira Levin's Deathtrap opens next week, Jeremy Dyson and Andy Nyman's Ghost Stories have proved that reports of the genre's death have been exaggerated. The truth is, it never died. For over 50 years, The Mousetrap has been putting food on the table for its producers, and last year was the 20th anniversary of The Woman in Black.

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