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.


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.


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.


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.


Review: Hairspray

By John Nathan, August 26, 2010

The fat lady sang, but the show was far from over. Nor was the fat lady a fat lady. Michael Starke - Sinbad the window cleaner in Channel 4's Liverpool soap Brookside for 16 years - steals this stage musical version of John Waters's 1988 film as the hilarious pantomime dame, Edna Turnblad.

His duet with Les Dennis on an empty stage provides the highlight in this otherwise full-on production. The two of them croon Timeless
To Me, with Starke as the roly-poly mum of heroine Tracy, and Dennis as Tracy's dad Wilbur.


Review: The Merry Wives of Windsor

By John Nathan, August 26, 2010

Shakespeare's only comedy to be set in the country of his birth lays reasonable claim to being the world's first sitcom.

Populated by Windsor's middle classes, it could easily be located in the closeted world of suburbia. There is a daughter whose father wants her to marry for money; there is a fish-out-of-water Frenchman with a funny accent, and central character is a fat bloke who thinks he is God's gift to women.


Lee Nelson's Well Good Edinbra Show

By Lee Levitt, August 20, 2010

Simon Brodkin inhabits his feral comic creation Lee Nelson so completely that it's hard to imagine the north Londoner is anyone other than the sniggeringly amoral south London geezer whose council estate is his universe.


Review: Corrie!

By John Jeffay, August 19, 2010

Two of Manchester's greatest cultural icons kicked off a new season this week. United thrashed Newcastle at Old Trafford. And just across the Manchester Ship Canal, the cast of Corrie! scored their own hit with a stage tribute to Britain's best-loved soap.

Jonathan Harvey, a long-serving scriptwriter for Coronation Street, has crafted a comic masterpiece for the ITV soap's 50th anniversary and the world premiere at the Lowry attracted a host of past and present Street celebs.


Review: Into The Woods

By John Nathan, August 19, 2010

I saw Stephen Sondheim the other day. In London to celebrate his 80th birthday, the greatest genius of musical theatre - certainly still living and possibly ever - and the man director Trevor Nunn brackets with Shakespeare and Chekhov, was sitting in a pub. Perhaps I should have offered to buy him a birthday drink.

Trashy R&B music hung in the air. In front of him was what looked like a glass of water and there was one of those pub-food menus offering burgers and onion rings. It was a bit like peering through an Oxfam shop window to see the Queen trying on a coat.


Review: Les Miserables

By John Jeffay, August 12, 2010

Les Miserables, the world's most successful musical, marks its 25th anniversary in spectacular fashion. Cameron Mackintosh's re-worked production takes the paintings of Victor Hugo – author of the source novel, Les Misérables - as inspiration for remarkable new stage sets and scenery.

The muted colours and dramatic back-lighting reflect the bleak plight of Hugo's wretched characters.