Theatre

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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Review: The White Guard

By John Nathan, April 1, 2010

You would think that two hours and 40 minutes of never less than enthralling theatre would deserve an unreserved recommendation.

Writer Andrew Upton - aka the husband of Cate Blanchett - has come up with a version of the Bulgakov's novel-turned-play that educates, entertains and clarifies the chaos that reigned in 1919 Kiev, where Russia's gathering revolution crashed against the First World War.

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Review: Mrs Warren's Profession

By John Nathan, April 1, 2010

Surely the whole point of reviving Bernard Shaw's 1894 play, in which an educated young woman discovers that the money with which her mother paid for it all was earned from the oldest profession, is to expose the moral hypocrisy of the not just the 19th century, but the 21st century too.

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He wanted to be a rabbi, now he's playing King Lear

By Judi Herman, March 25, 2010

'I used to be a little bit disarmed when people said: 'Oh you're playing Lear - you're far too young.' But now I'm much more cavalier about it," declares Greg Hicks. "I'll give what I know about life and whatever abilities I have as an actor a whirl." Judging by the reviews he has had for his King Lear in the current Royal Shakespeare Company production in Stratford-upon-Avon, the strategy is paying dividends.

"Anyway, the part wasn't written for an old man," he continues. "It was written for a 38-year-old."

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Review: The Gods Weep

By John Nathan, March 25, 2010

What do you get if you cross King Lear with Richard III and throw in a fistful of Macbeth too? The answer is running at the Hampstead Theatre in the form of the Dennis Kelly's epic, the latest in the RSC's London Season. And while for much of this three-hour play you may suspect you would be better off watching Shakespeare's originals, the sheer drive of Maria Aberg's production, and the utter bravura of Jeremy Irons's central performance as the Lear-like Colm, keeps the doubts at bay.

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