Theatre

The actress who's a real-life Hamlet

By Jessica Elgot, May 13, 2010

Brenda Adelman never had the typical Jewish Brooklyn family. Her mother was, she says, a "kooky and wild" bohemian photographer who dressed like Marilyn Monroe and smoked a pipe. Her father kept his 35-calibre handgun under his pillow when he slept, carried it with him wherever he went. Father and daughter bonded when he taught her how to shoot.

But her childhood was happy and the family was close-knit. "I was really close to both my parents. My mother was my best friend and I was daddy's little girl," says the 45-year-old New Yorker.

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Review: Love The Sinner

By John Nathan, May 13, 2010

So devoid of charm is the man at the heart of Drew Pautz's play, it is a wonder that we care as much as we do about his crisis of conscience.

Michael (Jonathan Cullen), you see, is an everyman. Which in this case rather means he is not quite anybody. He is a husband, Christian and envelope manufacturer. And he is gay too, though he would much rather he was not.

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Review: Women Beware Women

By John Nathan, May 6, 2010

If, like me, you need reassurance before committing to three hours of Jacobean tragedy, the name Marianne Elliott should do the trick.

Elliott is the director of the National's stonking hit War Horse, now packing 'em in, and raking it in, in the West End. And what she did with Michael Morpurgo's moving but thin First World War story she has also done with Thomas Middleton's 1622 revenge tragedy - that is, turned it into a time-crunching epic upon which the eye can feast even if occasionally the brain and the heart get peckish.

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Review: The Real Thing

By John Nathan, April 28, 2010

If there is an Achilles heel in Kevin Spacey's now undoubtedly successful reign at the Old Vic, it is new British writing.

And that is not because it has not been any good, but because there has not been any at all. Conspicuous in recent Old Vic programmes is a picture of the most thrilling production I have seen at this or any other theatre. It came courtesy not of a home-grown play, but of David Mamet, with Spacey and Jeff Goldblum in full flow in the very American Speed the Plow.

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Neil Simon's Broadway blues

By John Nathan, April 28, 2010

You do not need to read newspaper articles to learn about the life and times of Neil Simon. You could just watch his plays. His early, depression-era childhood was the inspiration for Brighton Beach Memoirs (recently revived on Broadway and at Watford's Palace Theatre). His time billeted in the Deep South with the US Army became Biloxi Blues; his struggle to escape the treadmill of television provided the motive and material for his first play Come Blow Your Horn. That is only three, and Simon has written over 30 plays and musical scripts. And he is still writing, on and off.

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Review: Behud (Beyond Belief)

By John Nathan, April 22, 2010

In 2004, a little-known playwright called Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti changed this country's theatrical landscape with Behzti (Dishonour), a play which featured a rape scene in a Sikh temple. Protesters rioted and the play was shut down. Briefly, the mob ruled. The threats from the Sikh author's own community were scary enough for Bhatti to have to go into hiding. This play is about that experience.

Bhatti has chosen an absurdist style with which to tell the story and relate the fear, self-loathing and identity crisis she suffered.

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Review: Beyond The Horizon/Spring Storm

By John Nathan, April 15, 2010

Every now and then an artistic director has an idea which must have other theatre heads kicking themselves for not thinking of it first. Laurie Samsom's was to pair and cross-cast two rarely seen early works by Eugene O'Neill and Tennessee Williams.

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Review: Hair

By John Nathan, April 15, 2010

It will never feel like the age of Aquarius's first dawning in 1968 when Hair delivered a liberating pro-love, anti-Vietnam war message. Yet the hippy musical still feels good. And in an era when war still rages, the first act climax with the cast standing before us naked, remains a poignant reminder of the vulnerability of the human body.

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Review: Apartment 2012

By John Nathan, April 15, 2010

This week President Obama declared that the biggest threat to American security was a nuclear attack. For Julian Sims's comedy, whose unlikely scenario sees a New York Jewish family of refugees surviving a nuclear holocaust by fleeing to "post-glasnost" Russia, Obama's warning makes credible an idea so far-out it goes beyond far-fetched.

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Review: Polar Bears

By John Nathan, April 8, 2010

The debut play by Mark Haddon, whose novel The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time won the Whitbread Prize, takes mental health as its theme, and for its structure the time-jumping patchwork of events with which the mind compiles a memory.

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