Review: Rocky Horror

By John Jeffay, October 7, 2010

Two hunks in tight gold trunks are wobbling on their stilettos.

Welcome to Rocky Horror, the show in which anything and everything goes, and where anyone (male or female) wearing much more than a basque and fishnets will feel distinctly over-dressed. A word for the uninitiated: Rocky Horror is rude. If stimulation, simulation, bare flesh and blurred sexual boundaries are not your thing, do not venture inside. Do not even venture outside. The hunks I mentioned were not part of the cast, they were in the lift at the multi-storey car park across the road from the theatre.


Review: Birdsong

By John Nathan, October 7, 2010

Sebastian Faulks's First World War novel is above all else, conscious of a duty of care over its subject, as is this stage version adapted by Rachel Wagstaff and directed by Trevor Nunn.

During the interlude between the second and third acts, a roll call of names belonging to a tiny fraction of the dead is projected over the safety curtain.

By then, Faulk's gallant English hero Stephen (Ben Barnes) has arrived in the French town of Amien to lodge in the house of a factory owner who abuses his beautiful wife Isabelle (Genevieve O'Reilly) and his starving employees.


Review: Or You Could Kiss Me

By John Nathan, October 7, 2010

The creative forces of Neil Bartlett, a highly respected director, and South Africa's Handspring Puppet Company, highly praised for revealing human and animal essence through their manufactured characters, have combined to produce an evening of mind-numbing, po-faced, self-indulgence.

This is a play of themes rather than plot. Bartlett is interested in the passage of time; how lives are preserved, distorted and lost in the memory, and how we cope with imminent death.


Review: A Streetcar Named Desire

By John Nathan, September 28, 2010

A Streetcar Named Desire is no easy ride. It is a dark and disturbing play in which the desire referred to in the title is largely sexual and largely unfulfilled.

There really is a streetcar called Desire, which runs along the tramlines of New Orleans, where the play is set. Its destination is a road symbolically called Elysian Fields ,where the action unfolds. (Elysian Fields is also the final resting place of heroic souls in Greek mythology.)


Review: Niobe, Regina Di Tebe

By Stephen Pollard, September 28, 2010

One of the most alluring of artistic myths is that of the lost masterpiece. With paintings it is sometimes true; there have even been great novels that have laid undiscovered for decades.

Niobe, Regina di Tebe is an opera by the obscure Italian composer, Agostino Steffani, which was first performed in Munich in 1688. It circulated around Europe for a few years and was then never heard again, until a revival in Germany in 2008.


Review: Yes, Prime Minister

By John Nathan, September 28, 2010

Two of our finest comedy actors unite for the stage version of one our funniest sitcoms. Henry Goodman as Sir Humphrey and David Haig as Jim Hacker make the roles their own - no mean feat with the memories of their late predecessors very much alive.


Review: Passion

By John Nathan, September 28, 2010

Passion is no one's favourite Stephen Sondheim and James Lapine musical. Set in 19th-century Italy, its lesson - that love overcomes all barriers, even between the beautiful and the plain - seems for much of Jamie Lloyd's production to be replaced by the message that emotional blackmail works if you fancy someone enough.

Elena Roger is the dying obsessive who stalks her way into the life, then the heart, of David Thaxton's dashing soldier Giorgio.

Sentimental it may be, but you cannot deny the emotions, the mesmerising Argentine Roger, nor even Sondheim's circular, hypnotic score.


I helped Miller piece together his Jewish play

September 28, 2010

Arthur Miller was well into his seventies when he decided to write a play that focused on antisemitism. It turned out to be the first work that sprung from the core of his Jewishness. True, his canon already included Incident at Vichy, a sideways look at European antisemitism. There was also his only novel, Focus. Published after the war, the book dealt with the American brand of Jew-hatred. But it was not until the 1990s, with a play that was first called The Man in Black, then Gellburg and finally Broken Glass that Miller confronted the subject head on.


Review: Dr Faustus

By John Jeffay, September 21, 2010

A 400-year–old play about a pact with the devil may sound like nobody's idea of fun. But miss it at your peril - it is very likely the most remarkable theatrical event you will see this year.

I suspect director Toby Frow, Patrick O'Kane, who plays the heroic/villainous doctor, and the rest of the cast and crew may have followed in Dr Faustus's own footsteps and traded their own souls with Lucifer to create such a spectacle.


Review: Cosi Fan Tutte

By Stephen Pollard, September 21, 2010

The eighth revival of Jonathan Miller's Royal Opera House production of Mozart's Così Fan Tutte is, if anything, even finer now than when it was first performed in 1995, when most of the interest seemed to be generated by the Giorgio Armani costumes. They have long since been dumped, and have been replaced by "normal-looking" modern dress for this run.