Theatre

Review: Wuthering Heights

By John Nathan, May 21, 2009

This Bollywood musical version by Asian theatre company Tamasha falls between the three stools of classic novel, Western musical and Indian melodrama. Deepak Verma’s book is a dramatically diluted version of Emily Brontë’s original; Felix Cross and Sheema Mukherjee’s score is entirely without wit; but most lacking of all is the one thing Bollywood does best — spectacle.

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Review: A Doll’s House

By John Nathan, May 21, 2009

There was a time when you did not have to write about sex with cats to cause a fuss. Ibsen caused a storm with the notion that women were as entitled as men to think and live for themselves.

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Review: Grasses Of A Thousand Colours

By John Nathan, May 21, 2009

“Do you happen to be interested in the topic of sex?” asks Cerise. “If not, seriously, please get out of here.”

Cerise (Miranda Richardson) is the wife of Ben (Wallace Shawn), an aging scientist, industrialist, philanthropist and memoirist whose meanderings and musings — and that of Cerise, Robin (Hollywood actress Jennifer Tilly) and Rose (Emily McDonnell), the three women in his life — make up an evening of surreal, absurdist and, in the description, though never in the enactment, often quite revolting sexual imagery.

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Council refuses to fund festival for showing Seven Jewish Children

By Leon Symons, May 21, 2009

A new row has broken out in Liverpool over a performance of the play Seven Jewish Children during an annual May literary festival.

Its showing at the Writing On The Wall (WOTW) festival has led Liverpool City Council to refuse the event’s organisers any more funding. The council’s regeneration and culture select committee has given WOTW £9,000 a year for two years.

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Review: Duet for One

By John Nathan, May 14, 2009

Transfers from the Almeida to the West End inevitably lose their intimacy. But Tom Kempinski’s 1980 chamber piece, deftly directed by Matthew Lloyd, retains its power thanks to stellar performances from Juliet Stevenson as the fiery virtuoso violinist struck down by MS, and Henry Goodman as her determined German psychiatrist who must prevent her suicide. What could so easily have been an evening of clichés builds to a moving, funny battle of wills and clash of cultures. It is also the only show in town which reveals the meaning of life!

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Review: Time and the Conways

By John Nathan, May 14, 2009

Director Rupert Goold has taken J B Priestley’s 1937 dramatised theory on the nature of time and threaded it with verve and invention. The Conway family are full of hope after the First World War, and by the start of the Second, full of disappointment. Priestley lurches experimentally between the periods, and it is during these moments of time travel that Goold’s production scores with some astounding effects. The play is almost, though not quite, as interesting as the production.

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Review: Waiting for Godot

By John Nathan, May 14, 2009

I wonder if, deep down, Ian McKellen feels short-changed by Patrick Stewart. These two Royal Shakespeare Company heavyweights go back a long way. Since they last appeared on stage together in 1977 their parallel careers have each delivered acclaimed performances across the classical canon, most recently a nude Lear (McKellen) and a bold Macbeth (Stewart). They were reunited in the X-Men movies as good and evil masterminds — the brooding scowliness of Stewart’s Professor Xavier opposite the scowly broodingness of McKellen’s Magneto.

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Review: Seven Other Children

By John Nathan, May 7, 2009

Actor and playwright Richard Stirling’s 10-minute theatrical response holds up a mirror to the 10-minutes of Caryl Churchill’s now famous, some would say infamous, Seven Jewish Children.

Stirling’s play, directed by Simone Vause, reflects much of the structure, speech patterns and rhythms of the piece that caused so much controversy when it was staged by the Royal Court in London in February (I myself regarded Seven Jewish Children as antisemitic). And, like any reflective surface, it gives a reversed image of the original.

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Review: Rookery Nook

By John Nathan, May 7, 2009

I wonder if, when he decided to revive this old-school farce, the Chocolate Factory’s artistic director David Babani was looking to provide some old-fashioned escapism for these times of recession, depression and repossession?

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Review: The Last Cigarette

By John Nathan, April 30, 2009

Three Simon Grays simultaneously on stage — Jasper Britton, Nicholas Le Prevost and the oddly cast Felicity Kendal — delivers a much more entertaining evening than do most monologues. But director Richard Eyre fails to keep confusion entirely at bay as the trio meander through the late writer’s witty and self-searching prose. This stage version of Gray’s memoir The Last Cigarette springs to life as Gray’s story nears death. The dramatist was a three-pack-a-day man which, he calculated, cost him £6,000 per year — or one death sentence.

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