Review: Really Old Like Forty Five

By John Nathan, February 10, 2010

If ever there were a play that had state-of-the-nation ambitions it is Tamsin Oglesby’s satire about ageing and ageism. But what a missed opportunity this is, not just to be funny about a scary subject, but to say something interesting about a big problem. Oglesby’s vision of the near future sees the old used as guinea pigs for potentially fatal anti-dementia drugs. Paul Ritter provides a high-octane stand-out performance as the minister in charge of pioneering research hospitals where old people are experimented on but die happy.


Review: Waiting For Godot

By John Nathan, February 4, 2010

Last year I wondered if Sir Ian McKellen felt let down by Sir Patrick Stewart. So brilliant was McKellen’s Estragon and so bland was Stewart’s Vladimir — now played by Roger Rees — any deep-down satisfaction McKellen might have felt about acting Stewart off the stage must have been tempered by the knowledge that when it comes to Beckett’s waiting tramps, it takes two to tango.


Puccini in a pub? How bohemian

By Deborah Harris, January 28, 2010

‘I touched the head of a bald man by mistake,” exclaims bass singer Georgios Papaefstratiou.

“And during the fight scene we nearly fell into the audience,” adds baritone Matthew Duncan. The two singers were responding to my question about the pitfalls of putting on a grand opera in the cramped setting of Kilburn’s Cock Tavern.

So, La Bohème in a fringe venue — who could have imagined it? I certainly wanted to, which is why I got involved with the OperaUpClose’s production of Puccini’s gypsy love story.


Review: I Am Yusuf And This Is My Brother

By John Nathan, January 28, 2010

There are a lot of plays about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It is a subject that exercises playwrights across the political spectrum and the theatrical landscape, from the top of the establishment to the fringiest agitprop.

So many offerings are there in fact, you would think that a major season would have sprung up by now. Such an event might allow audiences who seek out one perspective to be exposed to another.


Review: The Little Dog Laughed

By John Nathan, January 28, 2010

What fun. And what paradoxes are exposed when a ruthless lesbian Hollywood agent (Tamsin Greig) attempts to hide the sexuality of her gay client (Rupert Friend) so that he can land the role of a gay – yes, gay – character in a breakthrough movie.

The point so eloquently made by Douglas Carter Beane’s cracking little comedy on Hollywood hypocrisy — and so wittily expressed by Greig’s megalomaniacal Diane — is that for a straight actor to take on a gay character is brave, whereas for a gay actor, it’s more like bragging.


When a Jew loves an Arab

By John Nathan, January 21, 2010

So vast and varied is London theatre that sometimes it throws up unplanned seasons on its own, with no controlling hand. Plays about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict abound. Well, there are a few.


Review: Six Degrees of Separation

By John Nathan, January 21, 2010

The title refers to the notion that no more than six people connect any two individuals on the planet. Whether it is the Queen and an Inuit fisherman or, as in John Guare’s still-relevant 1990 play, a black hustler called Paul and the wealthy New York couple into whose life he inveigles himself by pretending to be the sophisticated, highly educated son of the Hollywood actor Sidney Poitier.


Review: Legally Blonde

By John Nathan, January 14, 2010

This is the popular Broadway musical version of the famous film that was based on the American novel that nobody had heard of.

It appears a pattern has formed. Legally Blonde arrives in London hardish on the heels of Sister Act, another musical version of a Hollywood comedy.


Review: The Lady Or The Tiger

By John Nathan, January 7, 2010

Michael Richmond’s and Nola York’s quirky little musical made its debut at the Orange Tree in 1975 and, judging by this revival, overreached and overachieved when it transferred to the Fortune Theatre in the West End.

Perhaps it became a victim of its own success. The show built up quite a following when it first appeared. Queues went around the block when the block was the pub in whose upstairs room founding Orange Tree artistic director Sam Walters set up shop in 1971. These days the venue has its own building over the road.


A shtetl wedding on the trapeze

By Simon Round, December 30, 2009

Think of acrobats, jugglers and clowns in Eastern Europe and the image that comes to mind is the Moscow State Circus.

However, there is a show coming to London which uses traditional circus skills in a new context — a unique cultural fusion called Circus Klezmer. The performers use circus tricks to tell the story of a wedding in an Eastern European shtetl, to the accompaniment of klezmer music. And if all that is not culturally fused enough, all the parts and instruments are played by a cast from the Spanish Catalan region.