Theatre

Review: These Shining Lives

By John Nathan, May 24, 2013

North London’s newest theatre, just a stone’s throw from Finsbury Park tube, is already being hailed as a miracle — and no wonder. The £2.5m build costs have been met without a penny of subsidy.

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Review: Relatively Speaking

By John Nathan, May 24, 2013

The conversation based on a misunderstanding is a well-used comedy device. You know the kind of thing, one person is talking about their dog while the other thinks he is talking about his wife. The genius of Alan Ayckbourn’s 1967 West End hit (his first) was that he managed to sustain this kind of gag for almost an entire play.

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Review: The Weir

By John Nathan, May 13, 2013

Best watched with a pint in the hand, there is no more convivial and captivating evening at the theatre than Josie Rourke’s faultless revival of Conor McPherson’s perfect play.

Tom Scutt’s design evokes exactly the run-down charm of a rural County Leitrim boozer and Rourke’s production shows the solitude of men who drink within.

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Review: The Tempest

By John Nathan, May 13, 2013

There’s a world-weary naturalism to Roger Allam’s likeable Prospero. Other actors lay on thick the other-worldly wisdom which the deposed Duke of Milan has adopted ever since he was cast adrift in a sieve-like boat with his baby daughter, Miranda. But not Allam. The Thick of It star brings a shrugging, almost Tony Hancock-style comic fatalism to his Prospero.

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Review: Passion Play

By John Nathan, May 13, 2013

Like Pinter’s Betrayal, Peter Nichols’s 1981 play about marital infidelity turns theatrical convention on its head. Pinter’s work (written in 1978) tells his story in reverse while the big idea in Nichols’s play hinges on married couple Eleanor and James (Zoe Wanamaker and Owen Teale) sharing the stage with their alter egos (Samantha Bond and Oliver Cotton).

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Review: Othello

By John Nathan, May 6, 2013

The two productions that have bookended Nicholas Hytner’s decade as artistic director of the National Theatre, Henry V and Othello, have much in common. There’s Shakespeare, Adrian Lester in the title roles and an ability to do that thing which Hytner has said National Theatre productions should strive for — holding up a mirror to the nation.

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Review: Nineveh

By John Nathan, April 26, 2013

This new work by international company Theatre Témoin takes as its source material the testimony, compiled by director Ailin Conant, of fighters from countries of conflict including Israel, Rwanda and Lebanon.

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Review: #Aiww: The Arrest of Ai Weiwei

By John Nathan, April 26, 2013

Howard Brenton’s play is based on the artist Ai Weiwei’s account of 81 days of detention by the Chinese authorities, as described in journalist Barnaby Martin’s book The Hanging Man. Director James Macdonald presents it as a piece of modern art. The theatre’s stage has been stripped back to whitewashed walls.

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Review: The Table

By John Nathan, April 22, 2013

The inaugural play in the National’s temporary, very big and very red new venue is high on concept, but on contrivance also. The big idea underlying Tanya Ronder’s offering is that of the kitchen table not only serving as the surface on which we eat, work and occasionally have sex, but as witness to a family’s trials and tribulations.

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Review: Children of the sun

By John Nathan, April 22, 2013

Unlike his contemporary Chekhov, it’s not only Russia’s pre-revolutionary privileged class who populate Maxim Gorky’s plays but a hostile and starving proletariat. This work, which the political dramatist and activist wrote from his St Petersburg prison during Russia’s aborted 1905 revolution, gives a sense of them circling the home of scientist Protasov.

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