Theatre

Review: The Tragedy Of Thomas Hobbes

By John Nathan, November 27, 2008

Look hard enough and there is an instructive history play here. Unfortunately it is contained within Adriano Shaplin's rambling epic which has been cut to over three hours. Yes, cut.

Two thirds of that time would have been enough to focus on the fascinating themes uncovered by Shaplin's research, the most promising of which is how scientific experiment served as entertainment in the 17th century, when Oliver Cromwell closed the theatres.

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Review: Eddie Izzard - Stripped

By John Nathan, November 27, 2008

There is probably no easier target for a comedian than God. According to Eddie Izzard, if God existed he would have come down during the Nuremberg rallies and decapitated Hitler with a flick of his finger.

"Did Leni Riefenstahl catch that on camera?"

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Review: The Family Reunion

By John Nathan, November 27, 2008

This spooky verse drama makes for an uncertain centrepiece to the Donmar's T S Eliot festival. The play's ingredients - an English aristocratic country house; a confession of murder; even the arrival of a policeman bearing bad news - all bring to mind the pot-boiler.

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Review: In The Balance

By John Nathan, November 20, 2008

What would happen if the outcome of the American election rested on the vote of one man who had forgotten to vote? And what would happen if that man was Larry Bloom (David Burt), a none-too-bright low-rent Jewish crooner from Florida?

According to co-writers John Steinberg and (director) Ray Kilby, who have set their fitfully entertaining comedy in the near future, a press pack would doorstep Bloom's home and the crucial vote would be cast on live television in his living-room. All of which I can quite well believe.

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Review: Treasure Island

By John Nathan, November 20, 2008

These days, piracy is a word most likely to be used by copyright lawyers. Yet as Ken Ludwig's new stage adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic swashbuckler took to the stage, a real- life pirate drama was unfolding off the coast of Somalia with the hijacking of a Saudi oil tanker. But if the show is anything to go by, the least interesting of all kinds of pirate activity is the old-fashioned, skull-and-cross-bones kind.

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Review: Imagine This

By John Nathan, November 20, 2008

Rarely, if ever, have more doubts been expressed about a show before its world premiere. Doubts about the wisdom of opening a musical with an unfamiliar score in a recession; doubts about whether a largely non-Jewish audience will take to a story with Jewish heroes; but most of all, doubts about whether it is in good taste to set a musical in Warsaw's Jewish ghetto in 1942 with the Holocaust as the background.

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Review: Ordinary Days

By John Nathan, November 13, 2008

If, like me, you are partial to American musicals and view the presence of annoyingly self-regarding New York neurotics as a price worth paying to hear some decent songs, then give composer Adam Gwon a chance.

You will have to forgive that he has directed his talents to creating a New York cliché populated by characters who hang out at the Metropolitan Museum and who might not make it as a couple (yawn) or as friends (is that the time?). But wait.

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Review: Rank

By John Nathan, November 13, 2008

Two of the most enjoyable plays at the most politically committed venue in the country have had nothing to do with politics. Conclude from that what you will, but the Tricycle has not hosted a show so deserving of hit status since The 39 Steps, which for the past two years has gone on to enjoy success in the West End and on Broadway.

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Review: Gethsemane

By John Nathan, November 13, 2008

David Hare's latest play arrives amid a rash of disclaimers and denials. There is even a whiff of affidavit in the programme note, in which Hare says his play is drawn from "public events" yet is a work of "pure fiction". The words "eat", "have" and "cake" come to mind.

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Why our ‘Holocaust’ musical is not offensive

By John Nathan, November 6, 2008

The headlines are calling it a Holocaust musical, a phrase so loaded with bad taste that it immediately conjures images of Springtime For Hitler, the show in Mel Brooks' The Producers created to guarantee Broadway failure.

But headlines can be misleading. Imagine This, which began previewing at the New London Theatre this week, is a musical. And true, its story, which takes place in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942, is, of course, set against the background of the Holocaust.

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